MODULE 2: The Research Process:
Section 3 of 6, OVERVIEW, page 1 of 1.


“There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”

—Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Having a writing plan

Make a written list of the things you need to do, as well as a written timeline for completing specific phases.

Selecting a topic.

Creating a thesis statement.

A thesis is the writer's proposition—a statement of something they intend to demonstrate—to explain the how and why of.

Rather than a thesis statement, some papers may just have an introduction. An introduction is appropriate for papers that tell the reader what—papers that simply present or summarize facts, e.g., a biographical sketch of George Washington Carver.

Preparing an outline.

Writing a first draft.


This is the process of setting up your title page, the headings, page numbers, and margins. Some writers prefer to do this as soon as they begin word processing, while others choose to wait until later in the process (especially if their early stages of writing are taking place on paper or note cards, not a computer).


This is the process of placing brief citations in the body of a paper—citations that refer the reader to longer references or notes elsewhere in the paper that document outside information sources used in the creation of the paper. While it is critical to create at least basic citations as you write, some writers choose to leave the detailed aspects of the citations, as well as the writing of the references, until later in the writing process.


Revising involves rewriting (and re-rewriting)—adding, deleting, or rearranging sentences, paragraphs, or entire sections (adjusting the outline as needed). Revising may involve gathering additional information sources.


It is the editing process that helps to ensure that you accomplished what you set out to.

Editing is the phase where you step back and ask yourself:

  • Have I addressed the assignment as it was presented to me?
  • Is my paper, presentation, or speech, targeted to my audience, in terms of both style and content?
  • Is my wording clear, concise, and correct?
  • When I read my paper aloud or have someone read it to me, does it read smoothly, and, most importantly, does it make sense?


Proofreading should take place after revising and editing. Proper proofreading is a formal, systematic process to make sure the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. Proofreading involves separate sets of checks for grammar, mechanics, punctuation, spelling, usage, and more. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Click here for a detailed guide to proofreading.

One's ability to write a good paper is something that improves only with time and practice. The outline above is a bare-bones list of steps typical in the writing process. There are a number of excellent guides that can assist you with each of these steps as well as with other aspects of writing.

One major resource is the Troy University Writing Center <click here for more information>.

Recommended online sources: Writing a Research Paper by Sarah Hamid, from the University of Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL). The Writing Process, from Cleveland State University.

Recommended reading (always use the latest edition):

Text books: Your college composition class text book—at TROY, that book is usually A Writer's Reference, by Diana Hacker. Other highly reputable book of this nature are Hodges' Harbrace Handbook by Cheryl Glenn and Loretta Gray, and Write for College: A Student Handbook by Patrick Sebranek, Verne Meyer, Dave Kemper, and Chris Krenzke.

Popular books: Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers by Laurie Rozakis;The Everything Guide To Writing Research Papers Book: Ace Your Next Project With Step-by-step Expert Advice! by Cathy Spalding; and How to Write Term Papers and Reports by L. Sue Baugh. Tip: The Schaum's book can be accessed online via the NetLibrary database (a demonstration of NetLibrary is provided in Module 3 of this tutorial).

Style manuals: A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers by Joseph Gibaldi. While one of the major purposes of these guides is to define formatting and documentation styles (i.e., Turabian and MLA styles), these books also provide excellent guides to the process of writing a college paper. <click here for more information>.

SEE ALSO: Module 8 of this tutorial addresses writing from a broader perspective, and includes information about other writing resources.

END OF SECTION: OVERVIEW, Having a writing plan


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