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Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this page is to serve as a starting point for writing a research paper at the college level.  It is not intended to circumvent or bypass specific instructions provided by teachers and professors in your classes.  The best place to find information on how to write a research paper is in the class syllabus, research paper assignment, and assignment rubric.  The final authority on whether or not your paper is written correctly and well is your teacher or professor.  

Writing in the Health Sciences

Many papers and assignments for classes in the health sciences have subject-specific criteria to meet the requirements of the assignment.  Some examples of health sciences-related assignments: research papers on a certain topic in the field, creation of patient education information on different diseases or treatment options, etc. The approach from a writing and research perspective do not change from the basic steps outlined below.  However there are some things to consider when approaching a health sciences-related assignment.  

The key steps when it comes to health sciences-related assignments:

  1. Read and understand the assignment in detail and consult the rubric thoroughly and often.
  2. Create an outline that works to keep you organized as it relates to the requirements of the assignment.  Hint: The rubric is essential in creating the outline!
  3. Evidence-based resources are often a requirement -- consult your teacher and a librarian on the best research methods for finding these resources.  Hint: It is easier and takes less time to find these resources using the library vs. Google!

Basic Steps in Writing a Paper

  1. Read and understand the instructions for your assignment.  If there is a rubric, study it carefully.
  2. Choose a topic that is interesting to you and do some preliminary research to see if there are sources out there to support your paper
  3. Build a basic outline for your paper based on the assignment's instructions 
  4. Find your sources by doing research and make a list of them (get citations while you do research!!!)
  5. Take notes on the research you've found
  6. Organize your notes into topics or categories
  7. Based on the outcome of step six, decide what are the strongest points to make in your paper
  8. Consult the outline as you write your paper
  9. Edit paper and fill in all in-text citations and finish Works Cited or References Page

Using Outlines Efficiently

The outline does not need to be comprehensive.  Rather it should serve to keep you on track as you begin writing.  All writing assignments are different, so you will need to adapt the following to the design of your paper:

  1. Topic paragraph that states the argument that you are going to make
  2. Explain your thesis or argument
  3. Supply evidence that supports or explains the thesis or argument -- this comes from your research
  4. If appropriate, discuss a counterargument -- again, this comes from your research
  5. Explain why your argument is more valid and tie it to any broader concepts or issues that are relevant to strengthen your argument
  6. Conclusion that restates your thesis or argument

Writing in the Health Sciences Online Guides

Writing in the Health Sciences: a comprehensive guide published by the University of Toronto

This publication contains individual guides that offer advice and strategies for undergraduate writers in the health sciences.

Subjects include, but are not limited to:

  • APA Style
  • Critical Argument
  • Producing an Evidence-based Report
  • Help with Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
  • Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies
  • Oral Presentations
  • Poster Presentations
  • Reviewing Research Articles

Purdue OWL Healthcare Writing guide will help you write in healthcare and/or scientific contexts.  Subjects include but are not limited to:

  • Patient Education Materials
  • SOAP Notes
  • Writing for Nurses and a list of Nursing Resources


Online Books About Writing Research Papers