How to write a good research paper on the death penalty

Written by nicole thelin
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How to write a good research paper on the death penalty
The death penalty is a controversial court sentence. (PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The death penalty is a complex topic that evokes strong emotions in most people. Quality research papers see through the passion and prejudice to establish a clear focus and defensible facts. While expository papers should be objective, fact-finding and free of bias, persuasive papers use the writer's bias to convince readers that the writer's opinion is correct. While the approach to the paper depends heavily upon the perimeters of the assignment, there are several fundamental steps that will yield a superior expository or persuasive essay on the death penalty.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Narrow the topic. Adequately covering all aspects of the death penalty in a single research paper would be difficult, time-consuming and require extensive work. Choose a single aspect of the death penalty to discuss in the paper. Aspects include the history, current use, procedures for and controversy surrounding the death penalty.

  2. 2

    Gather information. Research the specifics online and in textbooks for a wide variety of materials. Give special attention to .edu and .gov domain names, as they tend to be the most reliable online sources. Avoid questionable sources, such as discussion forums, user-generated question and answer sites and collaborative sites ("wiki" sites). Find as much information as possible about the narrowed topic. Document the biographical information as you take notes. Gather at least three short quotes that you will use within the document, and cite the source for each quote.

  3. 3

    Determine the thesis. The thesis statement defines the purpose and content of your paper. The thesis must directly relate to the information researched. Thesis statements will vary depending on whether the essay is persuasive or expository. Persuasive papers are intended to convince the audience to believe as you do. An expository essay simply explores the facts of the subject without addressing any personal opinions. Writing about the death penalty is likely to stir strong emotions for or against the subject, but these opinions cannot be addressed in an expository paper.

  4. 4

    Organise the information you gathered into an outline that supports your thesis. The information should be organised logically. An essay discussing the history of, or procedures for, the death penalty would be best organised chronologically. Other essays are organised conversationally, where one point leads directly into another. Each outline should include an introduction paragraph that includes the thesis statement and a conclusion at the end of the paper.

  5. 5

    Evaluate the outline. Each statement should have at least three supporting facts. Remove any information that does not directly relate to the thesis statement. If a considerable amount of information seems irrelevant, rewrite the thesis.

  6. 6

    Write the first draft. Cover the information in the order depicted in the outline. Use transitional expressions, such as "However," "Additionally," "Consequently," etc. to fluidly transition between ideas in sentences or paragraphs. Summarise the main points of the paper in the conclusion.

  7. 7

    Revise the draft. Verify facts. Evaluate the thesis statement for clarity. Ensure that all the material is covered and that the information is presented logically. Check for repetitive words or phrases, and use a thesaurus to create variety. Change all contractions (e.g., "can't") to full phrases (e.g., "cannot"). Check each paragraph for proper topic sentences, adequate supporting information, proper sentence structure and transitional quality. Complete a spell check. Have someone proofread the paper and provide a critique.

  8. 8

    Type the final draft. Create a cover page by centring the paper's title, author's name and college (if applicable) on the front page.

  9. 9

    Perfect the "Works Cited" page. Make sure that all the bibliographical information is correct and complete.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid plagiarism. Put all the information you gather into your own words. Use an online plagiarism checker to ensure that there is no plagiarism in your paper.

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