Research papers serve to show a student’s academic knowledge on the subject. If your assignment is to write a research paper, you should bear in mind some important facts. It will be an academic paper, so it will have to be written thoroughly, with deep knowledge on the topic. The studies you do before you start writing can be based on different scientific methods. You either look through trusted sources (articles, books, scientific journals, etc.) using the scientific research that already exists, or you do the experimental part and draw your results.
The content of your paper should be carefully structured. As it is a scientific paper, you will have to write it using special terminology and sticking to an academic style and proper formatting.
What is the research process? It is a systematic approach that uses scientific methods to answer an important question, explain or identify a research problem. There are several key steps of a basic scientific method:
- Define the main question of the research, formulate a hypothesis;
- Collect the information or observe;
- Analyze data and the testing of the hypothesis;
- Make conclusions;
- Prove the hypothesis to be true or false based on the facts.
Before you start conducting research, choose and evaluate an interesting and meaningful topic for your paper. You have to be enthusiastic about it. Don’t make the topic too broad, focus on something more specific, on some aspect of the theme.
There are three types of academic papers: argumentative (if you contradict to something, or trying to persuade), analytical (if you analyze the information), expository (if you give an explanation to some phenomenon or a problem). When you write a thesis statement, it will have to coincide with the type of your paper.
#1. Identify the problem and develop a topic.
The first thing you need to do conducting research is to identify the problem. At first, you may formulate it as a question. Write down the main keywords for this question and you may use them in your search. The initially defined research problem should be later narrowed to a more precise one. This can be done by browsing academic sources and it is a necessary step. What you should do next is to choose a topic.
Your work will be more prolific and you will obtain background information more enthusiastically if the topic is of great interest to you. Find a topic that is in the sphere of your interest. When you choose a topic, make sure there is enough information on it. Look for background information and determine if there are a lot of materials on the topic. Search through books and electronic databases of your university or college library and find out if there are enough resources. If you cannot find a lot of cited academic sources, you should choose another topic.
#2.Review and evaluate the literature.
After you have chosen the topic, your purpose is to know about it as much as possible. This will allow you to evaluate the state of the scientific problem under the question, compare the data analyzed by different researchers, etc. Reviewing the literature will help you to know what research was done in the past, what scientific methods were used, what results and conclusions were made and how they may correlate with the topic of your paper.
When you read sources, you should remember that newer ones are more preferable than the old ones and expert opinion is more important than a general one. Scientific knowledge may change over time, that is a normal process depending on the development of research. Discoveries are made, new concepts are formulated, various data is collected. It determines the development of science and progress. That is why newer information is more valuable and credible, these sources indicate the modern development of knowledge in the given area.
#3. Make notes.
Look through the resources you have chosen, make necessary notes that you will need in your work. Document all the sources you consulted. Make sure you write down the publication information you will need later, for example, for your bibliography page. You will need the name of the author, the title, the date of publishing, publisher or the address of the webpage.
You should write down important examples, details, paraphrasing text or using quotes. Internet sources are not very reliable because their authority and quality differ, they may disappear before you are through with your paper. One more important thing. Don’t copy-paste into your paper directly like some of the students do, make sure you avoid plagiarism. Your work should be original and authentic, bring some input into the chosen field of science.
#4. Write your research paper.
Start writing your paper by structuring the data collected. You will need a good plan and writing is an important step in your work. A well-written outline helps you to organize your ideas before you get down to writing your draft. You will have to support your thesis by the plan, by its main points (headings and subheadings).
A typical research paper normally includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
In the introduction, you state the purpose of your research paper. You point out the method you will deal with the material, will it be a comparison, an analysis of the problem or will it be written as a book review. Write why your paper should be interesting for your readers, maybe it will be useful for their education. In this part, you present the context and the background information for your paper.
At the end of the introduction, you can write a thesis. It may not be a requirement, though. Your thesis statement is the central idea of your study. The essence of your paper and the problem of it identified should be clearly formulated in it. In the introduction, you should write why the main idea of your paper is important.
Make sure that you exclude from your research paper any information or citations that don’t support your thesis. Stay focused on the central purpose of your paper and the analysis of the information.
When you write a rough draft, you write down your main ideas. Revise the draft several times and only after that, you can write the final draft.
The largest and the most voluminous part of your paper is the body. The writing strategy of you as a researcher here is to persuade the reader of your line of reasoning. This is a central part of your research paper and should be logically organized, the data analyzed should be structured. As it is the longest part of your written work, it is a nice idea to divide it into several parts using headings.
In conclusion, you summarize your research paper and dwell upon its main aim. Your conclusion may also consist of several parts:
- Briefly rephrase your topic once more and remind why it is important. It should be written concisely and one sentence is usually enough for that;
- Remind the reader of your thesis but rewrite it, so it doesn’t sound like in the introduction;
- Summarize the key arguments, pointing out the most important arguments. Your ideas should be written in different words and you don’t have to prove your statements, just give a brief overview;
- State the importance of your key points. Sometimes, though, it is better to explain it in the body;
- It will be appropriate if you write about the importance of your research for the future of science and about the impact you made into the development of the subject.
#5. Cite the sources correctly.
When you cite sources, give credit where it is necessary. What is the citing of sources necessary for?
- It gives credits to the authors of the material.
- It allows other students who read your work to find these sources for their research.
If you don’t cite your sources, it may be called plagiarism and you should avoid it at all costs. You should use citations but adhere to the formatting.
If you write your research paper, you should use special academic formats when you cite your sources. One of the most popular citation formats is the APA (American Psychological Association) Style.
If you cite something in the body of your paper, include the last names of the authors and the year of the publication.”(Smith & Browd, 2014)”. For the APA style, you should use a special page titled Bibliography, where you list all the sources used in your paper. You will need to mention the last name of the author, the first initial, the year of the publication, the title. From time to time annotated bibliographies are used.
#6. Proofread and edit your paper.
Last but not least, some tips to proofread and edit your paper. Read the text attentively, check for errors (grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be correct). Make sure you use the correct language, associations, and synonyms and diversify the length of the sentences. The references should be properly formatted according to the APA style.
Pay attention to the content of the paper. It should be relevant to the topic; the language should be concise and accurate.
The paper overall should stick to the topic and your writing goal. The steps in the research process should be clearly defined. All the key points should be supported by adequate arguments.
The structure of the paper is of special importance. All the paragraphs should be arranged using a logical sequence. Each paragraph should have its idea. The meaning of every sentence should be clear.
Proofreading is the final part of editing. Content is the king, as they say, but your research paper should be error-free. Errors distract your reader from what you are saying. Editing and proofreading are separate processes. You do editing first and only then proofread the text. It is a very important task and may take a lot of time but it is worth it. You can also order proofreading services from a specialist over the Internet if you wish.