A research essay has much in common with the persuasive essay as it relies heavily on the evidence the writer has acquired through reading and what ideas have contributed to the resulting thesis.
The thesis is the most crucial aspect of the research essay so the writer should take great care when selecting not only what the thesis is going to be but how the thesis statement is going to be presented. The thesis statement should be clearly stated whilst allowing room to accommodate possible limited qualifiers. The thesis statement also gives focus to the research you have done.
You should ensure that your thesis is original by setting it in textual context i.e. by finding out whether anyone else has previously proposed the same idea. The only way to do this is by thorough research of your chosen topic; there are no short cuts. While carrying out your research, remember to make notes of all your reading, using the referencing style you have been asked to use. Keeping an ongoing list of references will ensure that you do not unintentionally plagiarise, or simply repeat, another’s ideas and will also save you time when compiling your bibliography. It should be stated that in a research essay the bibliography will be even more important in the assessment of your work than in other essays and will probably be more extensive, including the most recent thinking on a subject by means of journal articles or other theses as well as critical works.
The research essay should follow the usual structure of an academic essay, with the introduction containing a strong statement of your thesis and the main body encompassing the argument and evidentiary support. The conclusion should restate the thesis, with quotation if necessary, but new evidence should not be introduced at this stage. Remember that with a research essay the single most important aspect is originality of thought emanating from evident thorough research; this is what the reader will be looking for and what will earn most marks in the assessment process.
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