How to Determine the Purpose of Your Paper

Once you have narrowed down the focus of your research paper you need to decide what you hope to accomplish with your paper. The earlier you can figure this out the better as it will help you to properly channel your research time and efforts. With that said, though, you may find yourself changing your goals based on your research.

One possible goal of your paper may be to provide an overview of a subject. In such a paper you would clearly explain the various positions surrounding a particular issue while noting each of their benefits and problems. This is an excellent paper to write when people need help understanding a complicated issue.

Another possible goal is to argue a particular side in a topic. In this example, you would attempt to argue why one particular side is correct by demonstrating the strengths and advantages of that position while noting the shortcomings and problems of the opposing views. This is a great paper to write when you passionately believe in one side or another.

Points to Remember

  • Try to determine early on the purpose or goal of your paper
  • You may end up changing the goal of your paper based on your research (for instance, if you find yourself convinced by one position you may want to switch from a general overview paper to one that argues a particular side)
  • Having a clearly defined goal or purpose will help direct your research time, energy and focus

The 8 Steps to Writing a Great Research Paper

  1. Pick a good, well-focused topic that you are interested in
  2. Determine the goal and/or purpose of your paper
  3. Gather together the best resources available on your topic
  4. Study and take notes of your resources
  5. Turn your notes into a well-organized outline
  6. Write a rough draft
  7. Revise (over and over again) your rough draft
  8. Get feedback from friends, colleagues and experts (then rewrite again)