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How to Write an English Research Paper and Avoid Common Mistakes


Students tend to make certain mistakes when it comes to writing an English research paper. Being aware of these common mistakes can help you avoid them entirely, taking away a tremendous amount of frustration and stress.

Here’s how to write an English research paper and avoid the five most common mistakes:

  • Lack of research. All too often students will rush through the selection of a topic on their paper and fail to make a strong connection between their research and central argument. Doing some preliminary research before settling on a topic helps you find a topic that is genuinely interesting and has ample resources available to research.

  • Lack of a strong thesis. As soon as you select your topic you should work towards developing a strong and concise thesis statement that will guide your research. A strong thesis should show that you have taken a position on an issue or a question. On its own the thesis statement should express a single compelling idea and warrant further discussion.

  • Failure to connect supporting statements with the thesis. The body of your paper is comprised of the supporting statements that flow from your thesis statement and end with your conclusion. The best English research papers are sustained discussions of a stimulating and well-defined topic. Your writing should transition seamlessly from your thesis statement to your supporting evidence.

  • Lack of evidence to support statements. All of the supporting statements in your research paper should be backed up by relevant resources that substantiate your main argument. Supporting statements should flesh out your central argument and contain good evidence that is cited and can be verified by your reader.

  • Failure to cite sources properly. You need to give proper credit to all references used in your paper. MLA style format is the most commonly used citation type for English research papers, but always check with your professor to make sure he or she doesn’t prefer a different style. There are a number of free citation guides online that show the most common instances that require citation, but picking up a copy of an MLA style guide is a good idea if you expect to write several papers.

Being aware of these common mistakes will improve your chances of avoiding them altogether, and will take you a long way towards a high-quality English research paper that impresses your readers.

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