Highlighting the Most Important: How to Write an English Research Paper

A well-written English research paper will effectively and properly synthesize your views on a literary piece with outside critiques and perspectives of other writers. You will emphasize the author’s original insight as well as the interpretations of other experts in the field of literature, but it should ultimately be an expression of your research of a specific topic that interests you.

Understanding the goal of an English research paper is one thing, writing one is something else entirely. Too many students forget the basic principle that what a research paper should do is highlight the most important details about their research as it relates to the original work. This is achieved by following these three basic principles:

Analyze the Original Work

An English research paper requires you to invest your time to critically analyze the work you have been assigned or chose to make the subject of your research. It isn’t enough to read once or twice and then paraphrase. To write a great research paper you will have to extract specific excerpts and consider them in a number of different ways. You are asked to interpret the work as though you were teaching it to your own students. There are number of different criticisms you can take – new criticism, feminist theory, classical theory and so forth – so be sure to look at the work from different angles.

Analyze Secondary Sources

After you’ve developed your own interpretation and ideas, it’s time to analyze other critics’ works. Your research may be limited to books on that particular author or essays written on the particular piece you’ve written, but you should be able to find secondary sources that offer some agreement or disagreement to your ideas. Part of your analysis is that you generate your own thoughts on what these other writers have to say. It’s your goal to engage secondary sources and not just restate their findings.

Make Connections

The last principle of writing a great English research paper is making connections between your analysis, critics’ analysis and the original work. By now you will have gathered more than enough content to write your paper, but you should focus only on the most important connections. How do you know what is most important? Simply review your thesis. The most important parts for your research paper should all be related to your central argument. You wouldn’t talk about love or death when you are focusing on politics within a work.

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