What Is a Research Paper?
A research paper is an advanced essay that contains investigations, analysis, arguments, and conclusions on a given topic.
It should necessarily contain noteworthy data, facts, figures, statistics, and other significant information.
A good research paper almost always contains reasoning, justifications, arguments, and counter-arguments.
It sounds nerve-wracking and stressful. However, with the right kind of approach, churning out a superior research paper isn’t that tough.
So How Do We “Approach” this “Right Kind of Approach”?
Firstly, ensure that you have a positive attitude when you start writing a research paper. A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances.
It prompts you to expect favourable results. The right kind of attitude makes certain that your approach works well.
Now that we have the right frame of mind and the right attitude, we can now start writing a research paper.
It is easier when you follow certain tips for writing a research paper. A step-by-step approach to writing a research paper makes it a more organised task.
Top 11 Tips for Writing a Good Research Paper:
1. Choosing The Right Topic
If you have not already been assigned a pre-determined topic, choosing the right topic is the first and foremost task of writing a research paper. It can also be one of the most baffling of all tasks.
Often, students select topics that do not interest them. They realise it only after a considerable portion of the research paper has been completed.
This gives them just two options remaining. Either to complete the paper half-heartedly or to start an entirely new one.
Starting a new research paper all over again results in loss of time and thereby ends up in a mediocre and botched up submission.
Do not find yourself in such a situation. Choose a topic that interests you. Write down a few topics that catch your attention.
After a preliminary investigation on each of these topics, you can make your decision. Choose a topic that you have easy access to information on. Preferably a company or resource person you can easily approach.
Once you are decided on the topic, you are ready to start your research paper.
2. It’s Stationery Not Stationary
Notice the difference in the spellings. Yes, it’s stationEry not stationAry. Remember to keep all your stationery items handy.
You wouldn’t want to waste time running to the store every time you need to pick an item for your work. Some of the things you may need are:
- Lots of paper
- Post its
- Index cards
3. Get Set and Go
Setting a timetable, deadlines, and goals during a research paper is one of the best tips for writing a good research paper. Set a timetable and remember to stick with it. Draw a timetable in your diary.
Allot different time periods for different stages of the paper. Grant yourself a buffer period for each stage. Writing a research paper is not an overnight task. It’s not that simple.
Writing a good research paper involves various steps and stages. Each stage requires a set time to be completed in.
For example, a one-month time period for putting together all your sources. Another month for meeting with resource individuals and so on.
Make a separate list of the stages. Setting a timetable allows you to organise yourself. This makes it easier to complete a superior research paper on time.
4. A Quick Browse Through the World Wide Web
Before you start the core research it is advisable to make a quick search on your topic on the internet. This gives you a rough idea of how much information is available and where.
Do not rely totally on the internet. Academic books, reference journals, and scholarly articles remain the most reliable source of information. Use the internet to get information and links to resource personnel, their contacts, and other details.
Doing your core research through the internet is not a bad idea but the authenticity of the information may be questionable. That is why it is advisable to do only a part of your research through the internet.
Researching through printed material and meeting resource individuals give a more genuine look for your paper. Remember, a few years ago, before the advent of the internet, everyone relied on books and people for information.
5. Meeting the Right People
Now that you have made your list of all resourceful people, fixing up appointments and meeting them is the next thing on your list. Remember, before meeting them, you have to know your subject.
This impresses them and encourages them to divulge more information on the matter. Make a list of questions you would like to ask them.
Be attentive when they speak. Jot down the points as they speak, being careful to not miss a point.
Carry your diary everywhere you go. You never know what you come across that may help you in your research.
It is a good idea to brainstorm with people on the subject matter. This helps to get more valuable information. Get others’ viewpoints.
This allows you to note down arguments and counter-arguments that will ultimately help with your own conclusions. Interact with your professors, teachers, and peers. They are the best mentors and guides.
6. Rely on Printed Material
Another important research tip for students is to rely on books, journals, thesis, articles, scholarly reviews, and academic publications. They are a more reliable source of information.
So, visit the town library or your university library to gather as much data as possible. Borrow the books from the library and peruse through them.
Add post its and index markings to the information. Searching for authors’ names can also lead you to other useful literary sources worked by them or others.
7. Research Papers Have Many Drafts
While working on a research paper, remember that your first copy is only a draft. Your first draft of the research paper usually looks like a mess.
Do not worry if you think it looks disorderly and jumbled. In fact, if it looks chaotic, it’s a sign that your research is up to the mark.
A chef does not make the best pie out of thin air. He tries and tries till gets that perfect flavour.
Similarly, your first draft can be followed by a second or third draft. Edit and revise each draft along the way.
Your final draft should look less chaotic and more organised. Your final copy will be a neater and more sorted version of your last draft.
8. It’s Ok to Feel Lost
At times, students feel lost in the middle of the research. You may have so much information and data collected over the months.
However, you have no idea where to place or use the information. You are not alone. A lot of students share the same feeling along the way. It’s more of a superficial feeling rather than a fact.
This is where your post its, highlighter, and index cards come in handy. Remember, you bought them before you started? Use these to place the information under different categories.
You could probably have different headings like
- Pros and cons
- Arguments and counter-arguments
Place each collected data under these headings to organise the information. Once this is done, your research paper will look like it has some direction.
9. Ask for Help When You Need It
Another important research paper tip is to ask for help when you need it. Many times, students are hesitant to ask for help, fearing a backlash.
Most of the time all their anxieties are in vain. Almost everyone nowadays is always willing to give a helping hand at any time.
10. The Latest Information Gives You the Extra Points
Keeping your research paper up to date is one of the best tips for students writing a research paper. Always remember to add the latest information, current affairs, and live examples in your paper.
It has more weightage than information which is old and outdated. So, keeping yourself abreast with current affairs is very important.
Also filling your research paper with tables, points, statistics, facts, and figures attracts the reader. It is more attractive than just paragraphs of words put together.
11. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Remember to always acknowledge those who have helped you with your research paper. It may be a small piece of information, but always remember to add the informer’s name to your credits page. Giving credit where credit is due, unknowingly creates goodwill and rewards.
Following these research tips will result in a good research paper. Submit your paper on time.
Remember to treat yourself after you have submitted your research paper. After all, you have put in a lot of hard work and months of dedication.