Ideas for a Research Paper on an Invention

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Writing a research paper about an invention can be easy if you follow the correct format. Once you find an invention you would like to research, come up with a clear thesis statement about the invention and enough supporting details about the inventor, where and when it was invented, and how the invention is used. Be sure to explain why the invention is important. And remember, neatness counts, along with spelling, grammar, punctuation and organization.

1 Research Paper Basics

When writing a research paper about an invention, think of a strong thesis statement. For example, in the case of the yo-yo, the thesis might be that the yo-yo, invented by a Filipino immigrant in the 1920s, continues to be enjoyed by children today. The thesis statement is placed in the introductory paragraph. The following paragraphs are called the body paragraphs, and they each deal with a topic that relates to the thesis. The last paragraph sums up the essay and restates the thesis. Once you finish the first draft, the essay should be proofread for organization and for mechanics such as punctuation, spelling, grammar and word usage. Asking a classmate or two to edit the essay can also improve the draft.

2 Research

Adequate research is essential to write a good essay on an invention. Use library resources like encyclopedias, books and the Internet to find an invention you want to discuss. Make sure you know something about the inventor, and the historical era surrounding the invention. This can give you some hints about why the invention caught on at the time. Record your research and sources on index cards, using a number system to keep track. Each source can be assigned its own number. Then organize the material to figure out the topics of your body paragraphs. For a research essay, you might think of the “five Ws” and an "H" – who did it, what they did, when and where they did it, along with why and how.

3 The Inventor

It is generally interesting to find out about the life of the inventor and how his or her background enabled him to complete the invention. In the case of our example, the yo-yo, the actual “invention” was made by an immigrant, Pedro Flores, who adapted the toy from one he had played with as a child in the Philippines. To publicize the toy he hired demonstrators and sponsored contests. But that is not the end of the story. In 1928, Donald Duncan noticed the yo-yo while on a business trip and bought out Flores. The Duncan yo-yo became one of the most popular toys for decades. You can give similar details pertaining to your inventor.

4 Historical Perspective

Sometimes it is interesting to find out about what was going on historically when the invention was made. That way you may be able to pinpoint circumstances that contributed to the success of the invention. In the case of the example, the yo-yo, it became popular during the years following the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. Research might show that there was a connection between economic circumstances and the wildly popular inexpensive yo-yo, which provided a diversion. You can investigate your invention to find a similar link between the popularity of the invention and the historical context.

Sharon Penn is a writer based in South Florida. A professional writer since 1981, she has created numerous materials for a Princeton advertising agency. Her articles have appeared in "Golf Journal" and on industry blogs. Penn has traveled extensively, is an avid golfer and is eager to share her interests with her readers. She holds a Master of Science in Education.