What is Research Paper
A definition of Research Paper is as follows:
A research paper is a presentation of findings after you have investigated a topic. How do you conduct the investigation? You do this by accumulating primary and secondary sources. Relevant sources must be evaluated, and here is where you need to use your critical thinking skills.
Purpose of Research Paper
Purpose of Research Paper is to interpret material and offer a unique perspective, solution, or answer:
- Suggesting how an issue or process can be improved
- Highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of material
- Learning how to evaluate the work of others
- Expanding on and adding to existing thoughts
Types of Research Papers
Students present findings in various forms depending on the question requirements. The two most popular forms are:
Argumentative Research Paper
This paper persuades readers to accept a theory that is controversial or debatable. The writer offers a stance in the introduction — in their thesis statement — and then argues in favor of the position. Using credible primary and secondary sources, they convince readers of a unique viewpoint.
Analytical Research Paper
The purpose is to explore the answer to a question about a topic. Writers don’t stick to a particular side. They analyze a range of viewpoints and include enough support based on strong sources. This way, readers can make their own conclusions. Critical evaluation is essential!
General Research Paper
This format is appropriate for writing in the humanities. Logical arrangement and critical analysis help readers to understand your deductions. A general research paper contains three main sections — an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You also need to consider if the paper is argumentative, analytical, or one of the other types.
Scientific Research Paper
A scientific research paper uses a more rigid structure to present findings and methods. This creates a system of uniformity to deliver data to the scientific community. Because of its structure, people can obtain information from a scientific paper in different ways — they can browse the abstract or go straight to tables and results.
Steps to Writing a Good Research Paper
Choosing a Topic
- Try to find a topic that truly interests you
- Try writing your way to a topic
- Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
- Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved
- Search the websites of institutions, organizations, and people that are experts in the field or who are reputable sources of knowledge. For example, Encyclopedia Britannica and Encyclopedia Americana (available through a library) have long been trusted knowledge bases.
- Use online libraries such as the International Public Library and the Wall Street Executive Library
- OnlineNewspapers.com categorizes thousands of newspapers from around the world
- Use databases like Google Scholar and Science Direct to find research abstracts and reports, journal articles, manuscripts, scholarly articles, and much more.
- Pay attention to the domain name of websites. A domain is identified by the letters at the end of a website URL. If you want to find reports from a university, for instance, focus on sites with .edu at the end of the URL. Government websites end with .gov. Information on these sites is probably more accurate than .com pages.
Organize your research by using annotations and making lists of references. Use cards, colors, or any other method to group ideas. Note why you think the source is important and what point it supports. This is useful for creating a good outline and facilitates the writing process.
Writing an Outline
What is Research Paper Outline
An outline is a plan of how you will arrange ideas in the most effective way possible. Information needs to be organized and must flow logically for readers to understand the point of your research.
Purpose of Outline
The purpose and advantages of preparing an outline before writing include:
- You classify information beforehand; Consequently, you focus on expressing your ideas and using the right grammar and structures when you write the actual paper.
- Outlining saves time. You do the hard work of finalizing main points and supporting data and facts. All you need to do afterward is write it coherently.
- An outline reveals irrelevant or weak material. When you view the full plan and how ideas flow and complement each other, unnecessary points are clear to spot.
- Outlining allows you to select the most relevant sources and incorporate them in a way that strengthens your points.
How to Construct an Outline
Your outline is not set in stone. You can go back and change sections if you find new information or discover better research. However, the elements of an outline are standard, and they separate the blueprint into an introduction, body paragraphs or sections, and a conclusion. Sections can be divided using headings and subheadings.
Main headings use roman numerals (I, II, III, IV etc.) Subheadings use letters of the alphabet (A, B, C etc.) Each main heading should contain two or more subheadings.
Writing a Body
Here is where a strong outline makes writing easier. You know the number of body paragraphs to include. You have a main idea for each body paragraph as well as its supporting information, and you can integrate your sources to support claims. Remember you don’t summarize sources. You analyze, deconstruct, compare and explain them in order to lend weight to your paragraphs and, ultimately, your thesis statement. The number of body paragraphs depends on the depth of research. Longer projects need several headings and subheadings in the body.
Writing a Conclusion
End your paper with a conclusion that rephrases the thesis statement and summarizes main points. Explain your deductions and suggest areas of the topic that can be researched next.
Revising and Making a Final Draft
- Check overall organization: logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion.
- Paragraph level concerns: topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.
- Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling.
- Documentation: consistent use of one system, citation of all material not considered common knowledge, appropriate use of endnotes or footnotes, accuracy of list of works cited.