What Is a Research Paper: Definition
Before we start talking about the mechanics of writing a good research paper, let’s define the meaning. What is a research paper? A research paper is a type of academic writing that involves an in-depth study of a particular topic or issue. Along with the research of existing materials on the topic, the author needs to make an interpretation of that information. A research paper is not a simple rewrite of existing information; this should be only a part of the paper. A great research paper combines the elements of the factual report and a personal point of view.
The difficulty of writing a research paper may depend on the course, discipline, and the teacher’s expectations. It is very important to make sure that you fully understand what the teacher expects in your work before you focus on writing the research paper.
Having a narrowed topic is another point that distinguishes research papers from essays and reports. For example, in an essay you can write about child abuse in general, while in a research paper you can discover how child abuse influences a child’s well-being and how a particular kind of abuse trauma can be treated. With creating a research paper you can discard myths and common thinking. As a researcher, you have the power to go deeper into the topic and consequently come up with a comprehensive understanding of the issue.
Nowadays you have access to a vast amount of information, and it’s quite hard to even imagine what amount of information is available. In the past, a well-educated person was someone who obtains and remembers a certain amount of information (from current news to several languages). But today, it’s more valuable to know where to find needed information and quickly process it. Such skills like analyzing, critical thinking, and finding connections between information is valuable more than ever.
Initially, research paper writing will involve you in the process of critical thinking. With this kind of paper you will learn how to find reliable sources of information, find connections between diverse sources, evaluate the quality of information, operate with a large amount of information, and more. And as a bonus, you may learn how to think independently and clearly communicate your thoughts – all of which will help you throughout life.
If it seems that research writing is something impossible or unmanageable, take heart. With our help, you will be able to create a great research paper! Just read the information below, considering the tips and advice, and we are sure that you will succeed. “How to do research paper?” you may ask. The answer is simple: with good instructions, you will be able to move the mountains! In the following guide, we will give you the optimal recipe for a good research paper.
How to Write Research Paper: Getting Started
Unfortunately, you cannot just sit and start writing the research paper. Before you will be ready to write something, you will need to tackle several important tasks. In the text below, we will tell you how to start research paper. The right start will speed up the writing process and give you the right perspective of the future work.
Firstly, read the assignment attentively. You surely don’t want to write a paper, and at the end find out that you have written everything incorrectly and need to rewrite the paper. Make sure that the assignment sounds clear to you. The assignment will help you find the right tone. For example, the research paper may have an analytical or persuasive nature. For one you will need to maintain neutrality, while for the other you will need to take a position and present your arguments to prove your point of view.
Secondly, come up with the topic and narrow it down. You may be assigned a certain topic or given the freedom to choose an idea. How to choose a topic for a research paper? Start surfing the internet and library with a certain goal – find an interesting topic for your research. Think about the topics you have enjoyed during lectures or while reading textbooks. Learn the titles in books and magazines, and browse internet pages and links to reach the goal. Carefully record the ideas and sources where you have found them. Think about what you want to write and how you plan to organize your writing. Ask your yourself, your peers, and your professors whether the topic is good or not. Ask yourself questions and narrow down the scope to find a better topic, and as a result, write a better paper. Write down all ideas in the list and then decide what topic is the best.
If you don’t know what topic to choose, we advise you to look through the list of research paper ideas available on our blog. For example, we have a list of the best research topics for college students, high-school research paper topics, and more.
Thirdly, conduct the research. You may be an excellent student and have high ratings, but it is unlikely that you know enough to conduct the research right now. Make sure to get snacks and something to drink, as this part may take a long time. In this part you need to gather information connected with your topic. To be able to consider all aspects of your topic, you need to conduct profound research of existing information and related researches. Find out what other scientists think about your topic and come up with your own point of view. Along with looking through materials, you will need to apply your critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret the received results. Briefly write five or six points that will become the basis for your paper.
NOTE. Always take notes of your findings that consequently can be used in your paper. Don’t forget to write down the sources and names so that you don’t need to spend additional time organizing references and quotations. Note taking is a very important part of your research – don’t disregard it.
Finally, at a certain stage of writing you will find that the mass of information you have read will begin to make sense. Come up with a core idea that can be traced throughout your future paper. This means that you are ready to start creating a thesis statement or a topic sentence. To find the proof of your point of view you will need to conduct additional research. Maybe you will need to turn back to certain sources or find more information on the subject.
Research Paper Structure
As soon as you complete the points from the previous paragraph, you will be ready to structure your thoughts and ideas into a consistent plan.
A research paper is made up of a list of pieces that create an overall picture of your research. It’s like a list of ingredients in a recipe you need to put together to receive the result. Designing a good structure is an important part of the paper writing process, as it assures that all components of the research paper are put together properly in the right order. The basic structural components of a research paper are the abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Your research paper plan should be comprehensive enough that you will know exactly what you are going to talk about in your paper before starting to write it.
There are several types of research papers, and the structure will depend on the teacher’s requirements. The most simple structure is similar to the basic essay structure: introduction, research paper body paragraph, and conclusion.
Science research papers and research papers that are written for gaining a degree have more complex structural elements. The typical structure for a scientific research paper is as follows:
Title (or heading). States the main idea of the paper.
Abstract. Tells the essence of the paper in 250 words (or less).
Introduction. Describes the basic information, background, and sets the core idea that will be highlighted throughout the paper.
Literature review. Provide the basic information on the topic.
Methods. Tells how the author has conducted the research.
Results. Describes the received data after conducting the research.
Discussion. States the author’s interpretation of the conducted research and results.
Conclusions. Sums up your findings and ideas, states the limitation of studies, and gives recommendations.
Reference or works cited page. Shows the list of sources you have used for the research.
8 Steps to Write Research Paper
Initially, we need to tell you that there is no standard order of steps which you need strictly to follow. All steps are a necessary part of the research paper, but you can choose the order that suits you the best. You can take several steps simultaneously or change the order as you wish.
NOTE. Focus only on one chosen step, and don’t lose concentration trying to write several paragraphs at a time. Also, don’t worry about grammar, style, and other things that don’t make sense at the moment and just distract you from more important thoughts and ideas.
- Write an abstract. One of the best ways to start your writing is by creating the abstract. When you write the abstract, you focus on the main ideas of your research. It may occur that at the end of your research paper you will find that you have reached another aim, so write only a rough draft of the abstract.
- Write a literature review. Here you will need to highlight the findings and information you consider valuable for the research. Provide the background information on the topic, and then briefly describe the sources and evaluate them. Demonstrate how your topic fits the overall field of study. The approach to this section may vary from one field of science to another. For example, in a research paper in humanities, the literature review should have a particular structure, categories, and synthesis. This section gives the readers information about the gaps in previous researches and adds value to your research.
- Write the methods section. In this part you need to tell about the research and experiments that you have conducted. Give the reader information on how you have obtained the data, so the reader will understand how the chosen method affects the results. Clearly state why you have chosen these particular methods for investigation. If you are using an innovative method, make sure that you provide background information and rationale, so other researchers may adopt your methodology. Don’t forget to describe possible limitations of the study.
- Describe the results. Explain how you are going to interpret the obtained results. Don’t describe the findings that don’t directly refer to the research topic. List the key findings and explain the results. If you have a wide range of findings, organize them properly so the reader can easily understand each point.
- Create the discussion paragraph. For many students this part is the hardest one. Here you need to interpret the received results of the research and compare with the findings of other authors on a similar topic. Analyze the primary sources connected with your topic and find connections between your research questions and the sources you have reviewed. This section shows how your research has moved the understanding of a certain issue forward. Also, this section will show the reader the possible implications of this research and highlight possible further studies on this topic.
- Write the introduction. In fact, with a high probability you will understand the significance of your work only after writing results and discussion paragraphs. As the major aim of the introduction is to highlight the significance of your research, these sections will give you a background foundation for it. Don’t forget to include the most important element to any introduction: the thesis statement. Usually it is one or two sentences that outline the main points you are going to discuss or argue in the text.
- Sum up in the conclusion. Simply, the conclusion is a restatement of the points you have described in previous paragraphs. The last words should reinforce the value of your research and demonstrate the importance of your findings. Lastly, propose an extended or new direction of thinking towards the topic.
- Finishing touches. As soon as you finish the first draft, read it attentively. Rewrite awkward sentences and paragraphs to make sure that your text is logical and easy to read. Proofread the text and correct mistakes. Add footnotes, endnotes, and citations – these are very important for your research paper. Make sure that the text corresponds with the required formatting style. Organize the title page and works cited list or bibliography.
Note. If you want to write the paper more efficiently, we recommend using time management techniques. Create a paper writing plan and define the dates when certain points should be finished. You may have the illusion that you have much time ahead, but in fact you may find yourself writing in a rush to keep the deadline. Along with the plan you can create a detailed to-do list in order to consider all necessary points while writing. Consider allotting additional time if you need to conduct experiments or tests.
Research Paper Format Tips to Make Your Paper Look Serious
Here we will talk about how to format your research paper. When you are assigned a research paper, your department or teacher should give you style and format requirements. Also, the format will depend on the submission procedure, such as whether you need to make a hard copy or send the paper electronically. Don’t underestimate these processes, as research papers are firstly judged on appearance. When the evaluator will open your paper, the first thing he or she will judge is the compliance with formatting rules. Here is a list of points that should be considered in your research paper format outline.
- The length of your paper should correspond with the required word count from your assignment.
- The paper should have a title page or a heading.
- Sources are identified: footnotes, endnotes, parenthesis.
- The text is saved in the appropriate format (.docx, .pdf, etc.) if it is required to submit the paper electronically.
- The text is written in a formal tone without using “I” statements.
- Use passive voice and past tense when describing experiments in your research paper.
- Include graphs, diagrams, charts, and illustrations to make your research more visual.
- Include the works cited list or bibliography at the end of the text.
- This type of paper may have a long list of rules like margins, font size, spacing, pagination, etc.
- Consider the journal requirements if the research paper is planned to be published.
Along with the list above, your assignment can tell that the paper should be formatted in a particular formatting style: AMA, APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc. Implementation of the right format will be a signal for the reader that your paper should be taken seriously and that it shows respect for academic society. Along with this, the reader will easily find the necessary information and navigate within the paper.
Following a certain style can be daunting, as it will require from you great attention to detail. You can browse the university library or the internet to find some research paper format examples to have a better understanding of how a finished paper should be formatted.
5 Research Paper Examples to Follow From EssayShark
The best way to learn how to write a research paper is reading several well-written research paper examples. We think that learning from an example can be even more effective than reading various theoretical materials. Pick several works that you enjoyed reading, no matter the topic. Use this paper as a model or template for your future paper. This is especially helpful when you are writing a research paper for the first time or wish to improve your writing skills. For example, if you don’t know how to begin research paper or write a conclusion, a sample can help you! Notice how the example is structured:
– How does the author start the paper?
– What points does he or she describe in each section?
– How do paragraphs link together?
– How do the results and discussion connect with each other?
– How does the author end the paper?
As you read the example, note down some useful phrases or transitional words the author uses. Such phrases will increase the readability of your text.
Keep a sharp eye out for the list of research paper samples published on our blog which serve as good examples to follow. We have provided short descriptions for your convenience.
This sample will be helpful for those who are into medicine. Here the author discusses the key factor which causes depression. Take a closer look at the introduction and how the author organizes references in the text. The author has described two sides of the issue: genetic and environmental causes of depression. Look at the paper structure and highlight the beginning, body paragraphs, and conclusion to have a better understanding of the essay structure.
Here you can see how the author approaches the cryptocurrency topic. In this paper you can see how the author explains the essence of Etherum to the reader and describes the basic functions. Look how the author moves steadily from one paragraph to another and presents one single idea per paragraph. This will be a helpful exemplar for those who need to write a research paper on economics.
This example will be a great help for those who need to write a research paper for history class. From the very beginning the paper shows a great, clear structure. The author has titled each paragraph, which makes the text readable and eye-friendly. As you can see, the titles help the reader easily navigate between paragraphs. In the introduction the author presents the basic information about the topic and brings the reader to the body paragraph. Unfortunately, this sample is incomplete, but still serves as a good example to follow.
For those who need to write a research paper for sociology class, we are happy to share an example about how parenthood affects gender inequality in the workplace. The author briefly introduces the topic in the introduction and touches sociological and educational issues. In the body paragraphs, the author discusses the classicist theories of gender and how these ideologies developed through the years. Also, take a closer look at conclusions and how the author gathers the main ideas into a whole.
If you are on the path of gaining a degree in art, you may love this example. Here the author gives regard to various aspects of impressionism and how it has contributed to the hierarchy of subject matter in art. In the body paragraph the author digs into the history of impressionism and approaches to the role of impressionism in different aspects. In the conclusion you can see how the author highlights how impressionism has influenced the views of artists and viewers on the subject of art.
Along with the information above, we advise you to check out an article on how to write a research paper introduction. We feel that we have done everything to help you gain confidence and get closer to writing your research paper. We hope you will successfully apply our recommendations and create an outstanding research paper that will please your teacher.
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