Everything You Need To Know Before Writing A Research Paper

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A well-written research paper makes for good grades, but are you doing what it takes to stand out and ace that test? Devika Soni elucidates ways to make your research paper worthwhile

Research might seem boring but everybody comes across it in their daily lives. When buying a new house, furniture or gadgets, opinions from family and friends and the people of the internet are taken into consideration – that’s research. 

College research papers are not very different in style, but more often than not differ in its approach – papers written for an academic purpose are more formal, aligned and give a student the marks. Here are the points to help you master the art of research paper writing.

Pick A Topic

Picking a topic is crucial. Pay attention to topics chosen. Topics that are not interesting tend to become boring for the reader and the writer. What must also be kept in mind is the availability of substantial matter for research. Also, consider the time allotted to complete the paper and the intended length. Ultimately, making a smart choice regarding the topic will keep lots of problems at bay.

Make A List Of Questions

After picking a topic the work can be made easier by preparing a list of questions that would be addressed in the paper. These questions should be interesting and narrow (inclusive of who, why, what, where, when) so that the answers can be compiled easily. Broad questions might seem like fun but there is a tendency of getting lost while answering them. For instance, what are the effects of global warming? That is a very broad question. What are the effects of global warming on aquatic life? That will make the research more direct.

Look For Sources

Once the questions have been listed, the research begins. Make a reference list of all available sources. The sources can be classified as primary and secondary. Primary sources are research papers, books and official websites. Secondary sources comprise of interviews of people who have some expertise in the subject being covered. Listing sources will help later because it will give an alignment and a pattern in which the matter should be presented.

Use A Variety Of Sources

When writing a research paper don’t just stick to what is available on the internet. The bibliography compiled will leave a good impression if books and journals have also been cited. Visit a library, read books related to the topic and quote them. Some sources that can be used are encyclopedias, yearbooks, journals, atlases, and biographical reference books. Websites like jstor.com, with their collection of academic journals, can serve as a major help. However, don’t forget to check the authenticity of the websites. A good way to tell is if the address ends in ‘.org’, ‘.gov’, or ‘.edu’.

Take Notes While Researching

It is helpful when notes are taken while researching. Use post-its, markers, notes, etc to keep track of interesting facts and quotes as the research is carried out. It makes the work quicker, easier, and forms a rough bibliography and reference list.

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Write Elaborately

Don’t write at a stretch; break the matter into bits and pieces giving subtitles. It becomes easier not only to write but also read. Include a brief before starting the paper that gives an idea of what the paper will focus on. The main body should be a detailed execution of the brief idea and the conclusion should be a summary of the paper. The conclusion should tie up all the loose ends and not leave any questions unanswered. The introduction and conclusion are very important as they leave the first and last impression. So take special care while dealing with the two.

Avoid Plagiarism

Whatever you do, do not copy and paste! If the reader finds out, and by all means, they will, it not only ruins the reputation and undermines capabilities, but can also be dubbed as being intellectual property theft. Staying original and having a unique voice is crucial to research paper writing.

Compile Your Sources For A Bibliography

The reference list needs refining and citations must be added. A citation is giving credit to the author of a reference journal, book or academic work used in the research. There are different types of citation styles. APA – used for psychology and other social sciences. MLA – literature, arts, and humanities. AMA – medicine, health, and biological sciences.

Give It A Second And Third Reading

Once the research paper is ready, give it a second reading. Ensure there are no typos, punctuation errors and grammatical mistakes. If required, do a third reading also. It is advisable to have gaps between second and third readings and it gives a fresh perspective with each reading.

Professor Sarita Jaishankar Of Jai Hind College, Mumbai Lists Common Mistakes Students Make

  • Not stating a clearly defined hypothesis
  • Not paying enough attention to plagiarism
  • Not paying enough attention to footnoting and bibliography
  • Not defining the methodology
  • Having variable conclusions

Her Suggestions

  • Be aware of the dos and don’ts of doing research
  • Take a focused approach to the topic
  • Use relevant methodology for the research
  • Organise the data systematically
  • Do enough secondary research before and while writing the paper

With the mentioned tips, your process of writing a research paper will be smooth. Make sure you use this as a reference when you begin with your research paper.


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