Writing a General Research Paper

research methodsResearch papers are pieces of writing longer than regular essays that require additional research in order to write them. Creating a research paper, in addition to the act of writing one, involves documenting the sources you used, as well as your footnotes, so your reader can check where you have retrieved your information from.

Steps for Writing a Research Paper

  1. Choose a topic for your research paper. Sometimes the topic is already preassigned by teachers, but if not, try to choose one that is of significant interest to you.
  2. After you have decided what topic you would like to investigate, do some background research and speak to your instructor. This step is important, as you can count on their valuable advice on your topic; sometimes, it may turn out that you have chosen a topic beyond your competence, or which is difficult to research.
  3. Create a clear research question. A “research question” is another way to say the “goal of your paper.” Decide what exactly you want to achieve by your research, what is its point. Generally, these goals can be described best by such words as “why” or “how.” Develop your thesis statement.
  4. Do the research. Find valuable sources, including websites, magazines, books, and newspaper articles; give preference to credible websites—better are those that have .org or .edu in their name.
  5. Take notes of what you read about and decide on the structure of your research paper. Develop your arguments based on the material you’ve obtained during your research. Make sure to consider points of views opposing to the one you share in order to show you are aware of the plurality of opinions of the topic.
  6. Create an outline and several drafts to see what shapes out; then type the final copy.

General Research Topics

Perhaps the most crucial point about the topic you pick is that you must have enough sources from which you can gather research. You can pick an original topic, but you must keep in mind that one can’t create anything new from nothing: new research is based on previous research. Make sure you have enough sources to work with, and that the information that you need can be retrieved easily.

Key Points to Consider

  1. Many libraries have electronic catalogs as well as regular ones, so you can check whether it has the materials you need from home, make a list of sources and pre-order them, and then go to the library to get what you need.
  2. Be aware of your expectations of the subject when conducting an experiment on your own, or observing your object of scientific interest. You can easily be caught into a trap of prejudice by being a person interested in the results of the observations.
  3. Though most likely you will have only several sources cited in your reference list, the list of sources you use for research should contain more citations. Try to find and process as much information as you can.
  4. One of the most important aspects of writing a research paper is a clear idea of a subject and of a thesis statement. The clearer your ideas are, the more specific your research becomes.

Do and Don’t

Do

  • Do write in a serious scientific manner; the style of your writing must be academic and concise.
  • Do list the methods and ideas involved to justify your research.
  • Do use only credible sources, and avoid any doubtful data that can be found on the Internet. Verify the accuracy and correctness of the information you present.
  • Do use scientific terminology if you need to, but make sure not to overuse such words.
  • Cite properly; proofread your copy several times before submitting it to your instructor.
Don’t

  • Don’t try to make your paper look longer by including ideas and facts that do not directly refer to the chosen topic.
  • Don’t make generalizations; if you make conclusions based on a single fact, or on a number of particularities, it won’t speak in favor of your work.
  • Don’t use Wikipedia as a source cited in the reference list. It can give you several valuable guidelines, but original sources of information are much more preferable and credible.
  • Don’t plainly rewrite information you have found in sources; interpret it—show your own understanding of it.
  • Don’t try to adjust the results of experiments and observations to those which you expected, as well as the information that contradicts your thesis statement.

Common Mistakes When Writing a Research Paper

- Using incorrect citations.

- Presenting irrelevant information. Sometimes students aren’t able to distinguish between the important data from the secondary information.

- Forgetting to proofread properly.

- Generalizing and making conclusions on a doubtful basis. In order to make a conclusion, you must rely on credible, accurate sources.

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Samples for Writing a General Research Paper

Harry Clarke’s Looking Glass

This article [Harry Clarke’s Looking Glass] was originally published in The Public Domain Review [http://publicdomainreview.org/2016/10/12/harry-clarkes-looking-glass/] under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please s...

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