Choosing a Topic: Your research paper is an opportunity for you to be creative and explore a philosopher, theory or problem that is of interest to you. Ask yourself what issue or philosopher seems most urgent or vital to you. If you do not care about the topic, you probably are not going to write a good paper. Your topic should be specific enough to be addressed in a paper of the length assigned. A topic such as “Abortion” or “Metaphysics” is too broad. As far as possible, narrow down your topic to a single, specific issue. For example, under the general topic of “abortion,” you might want to write on “do minors need parental consent for an abortion,” or instead of “Metaphysics,” you might want to write on “Aristotle’s Concept of Substance.”
Doing the Research: Your research should be current, authoritative, broad and deep. Especially when citing empirical data, it is vital that your facts be as current as possible. Take care that your sources are reputable. For example, academic presses and scholarly journals are preferable to blogs and partisan websites. Consult a wide variety of resources. A bibliography that includes journal articles, books and scholarly websites is preferable to one that includes only websites. The number and quality of sources is a good indication of the work you have done.
Structuring Your Paper: Your paper should have a beginning, middle and end.
Citing Your Sources: All ideas, facts, figures and quotations taken from external sources must be properly cited. If they are not cited, they are plagiarized. In addition, all direct quotations require an in-text attribution. When giving a quote, you must tell the reader whom you are quoting. For example, you cannot simply insert the quote “All is flux” into the body of your text. You must include a phrase such as “According to Heraclitus” or “As Heraclitus stated” or “In the words of Heraclitus,” “All is flux.” It is often good to engage relevant primary works.
Making an Argument: Your paper should attempt to persuade the reader that your position is the best one. To do this, you need to back up your claims with solid evidence and good reasons. Ask yourself, “What is my point?” “Is it a point worth making?” “How do I support my point?” Your argument will be more effective if you consider multiple perspectives and opposing points of view. Also, provide solid real-life examples and creative illustrations.
Proofreading: Your work is not done when you have written the required number of pages. A successful paper requires multiple proofreads and multiple rewrites. The more people that read and provide feedback on your paper, the better it is going to be. Make sure that your paper is in final form when you hand it in. There is no reason to submit a paper with spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting errors. These distract from what you are trying to say, and they disrespect the reader. Careful proofreading and revision is perhaps the bigg