Objective Writing Tips: Keeping Your Research Paper Free of Bias
Objective writing is essential for writing an effective and credible research paper. Bias weakens your position and your paper. You can keep your research paper bias free by paying close attention to your research, language and construction and looking at the following aspects of your paper:
- Source material
- Opposing viewpoints
- Chosen language
- Pronoun usage
- Expressed thoughts
Objective writing tip #1: Evaluate your sources for bias
For any research paper, you want reliable, credible sources. Every source should be evaluated during the research process to maintain objective writing. Sticking with scholarly journal articles and publications is one way to avoid bias. A second is to seek websites that have “.edu,” “.gov” or “.org” domain extensions. Not every site, article or book presents information free of bias. In addition, some sources have hidden agendas. Because of this, always evaluate your sources.
Objective writing tip #2: Balance your position with the opposing view(s)
A good research paper is balanced with every side or argument of a topic. Objective writing means including arguments that take a different position and explaining those opposing viewpoints thoroughly within the body of your paper. You can refute opposing views with supporting evidence that logically shows why your unbiased argument is a stronger one. In addition, include reliable details and evidence that is supportive of your assertions and thesis statement.
Objective writing tip #3: Use objective language
Objective writing is about always presenting information fairly and credibly to allow someone to draw conclusions. Avoid subjective language whenever possible to increase the credibility and objectivity of your words. For example, avoid using any language that is construed as a value judgment, such as “wonderful,” “awesome” or “sarcastically.” Similarly, avoid overly emotional phrasing and any adjectives or adverbs that exaggerate. For example, avoid using “very” or “really” to emphasize a point. Also reword any language that singles out a specific group of people in a negative light.
Objective writing tip #4: Avoid first-person and second-person pronouns
While taking one side of an issue over another is clearly based on your opinion, you can make objective writing a reality by avoiding first-person and second-person pronouns. The fact that the paper is yours makes it clear that the ideas, thoughts and conclusions that are not cited are your own. Unless you are conducting primary research and discussing it, write in the third person using third-person pronouns when applicable. Otherwise, personal comments, such as “I think” or “my opinion is” come across more as a biased opinion rather than a logical argument with supporting evidence.
Objective writing tip #5: Express your thoughts explicitly
Objective writing is also achieved through expressing your thoughts explicitly. The more specific you are with certain pieces of information, the stronger your argument and the stronger the supporting evidence. For example, instead of writing “most of the world,” write “82 percent of the world’s population.” Specifics help keep your writing objective and your argument credible.
Keeping your writing objective is essential to writing an effective, credible and well-presented research paper. By following these tips to keep your writing bias free and working through the research process and the writing process, you can achieve objective writing that keeps your argument and supporting evidence as the main factors that help your readers draw conclusions.
1. Begin the class with the following starter question, which may be written on the board ahead of time if desired: “What is a thesis statement? Explain its purpose in an academic essay.” Give the class about 5 minutes to settle in and respond to the question in writing. Then, open a short discussion and review the responses. Students should understand that the thesis is a sentence in the opening paragraph of the essay which tells the reader the main idea of the paper overall. Ask the class if they know how to write a thesis statement (some students will say yes, others no- allow the class to offer their ideas and knowledge). Ask the class if anyone in the room has ever felt daunted at the idea of having to write or identify a thesis statement in an essay (some may be more confident than others). Let the class know that there is an easy way to compose a thesis, and that is by knowing a simple formula: Subject + Opinion = Thesis (you may write this on the board- it is a very simple formula for thesis writing, and if you would like to substitute another formula for thesis writing, you may teach your own technique here).
2. Once students understand that a thesis statement is merely the main topic of the essay and the author’s opinion or position on that topic, they may begin practicing thesis creation. Give the class some sample subjects on the board and invite several students to offer their opinions on these topics. Then, construct complete thesis statements by stating the topic and opinion in one sentence, using academic language.
3. Pass out the handout “The Thesis Statement” to each student. Students will practice identifying, creating, and correcting thesis statements to ensure that they understand the concept. This assignment may be done individually or in pairs, depending on your class composition. Allow about 10-15 minutes for this activity, while traveling around the room to offer help and answer questions.
Any remaining time should be used by students to work on their final project essays. Encourage the students to look carefully at their essays to make sure that the thesis is clearly stated in the opening paragraph of their essay. If they have a rough draft of their essay available, ask them to underline their thesis statement in pen. If the students cannot find their thesis or their thesis statements are incomplete, have students make the necessary corrections with your guidance.
Assign the second worksheet “Practice: Creating Thesis Statements” for extra practice. This should be due the following day.