Research paper writing is an individual investigation carried out on a topic of specific interest unless specifically assigned by a lecturer. It is not a one-hour task. The idea, topic, and the sources have to be researched and selected accurately and agreed upon with the tutor.
Before writing a research paper, decide whether you are going to persuade or to examine. According to the goal you choose, a research paper has to be either analytical and informative or argumentative.
A research paper contains the following:
- An abstract
- Materials and Methods
Research Paper: Abstract
The abstract is what any research paper writing starts with. But there is a trick – it is better to write the abstract last after you have completed the entire work. The reason for this is simple. The abstract is a brief, usually 200 words, summary of the research paper writing. It tells about the purpose of your research paper, experiment and the results of your research and, therefore, summarizes the work done. As with any conclusion, it is easier to summarize after the paper is written, isn’t it? As a result, your abstract has to be a single paragraph, written in a brief manner, and separate from other parts of the research paper writing.
Research Paper: Introduction
The introduction is what follows the abstract. It has a number of important requisites. First of all, introductory writing must give reasons for the importance of your research. It is some sort of a hook, which places your research paper writing into the center of the readers’ attention. Any type of introduction also has to provide a rationale. It is what you set as a specific objective of the research. Do not forget to tell the readers why you have chosen this particular hypothesis. Finally, introduce a thesis statement. A good research paper thesis is always arguable. There is little sense in investigating something that is commonly known and accepted. Your thesis statement will better look in a form of answer to any of the questions starting with “why?” or “how?” Remember that a thesis statement determines the overall flow of a research paper, so do not make it too general.
Research Paper: Materials and Methods
Materials and methods section usually follows the introduction of a research paper. This part is essential. It describes the practical steps you used to receive important information. Start with describing the materials that were helpful in your research. At this point, do not concentrate on the materials that are available and commonly used. Instead, focus on specific and exclusive materials that are not available on the ordinary basis. Draw attention to special equipment as well. Depending on the necessity of this part, you can either write it as a separate paragraph or blend with the methods used. As to the last, describe the procedures in their chronological sequence. Pay specific attention to important details. Imagine that someone else will want to repeat your experience. He/she should be able to do it with the help of your notes. Be sure to remain neutral and still critical when providing an overview of your research and explaining the methodology; be sure not to summarize, but to critique.
Research Paper: Results
The next part, the results, shows the outcomes of your research and experiments. Good research paper includes not only textual explanation, but visual descriptions as well. Be sure to include graphs, raw collected data, and statistics too. This is what the results section usually does. To make everything look more interesting, try to illustrate all or, at least, the most important of your findings. The results have to be described in detail, but not explained. Brevity is the key to success; therefore, concentrate on the significant issues and avoid plain talking. If you do not want to include tables and figures into this part of research paper writing, they can be placed at the end. By placing graphs and figures in the appendices, you also allow the readers to concentrate on the central ideas of the research conducted
Research Paper: Discussion
Discussion covers the results you came up with during your research. It differs from the previous section since it focuses more on the inner mechanisms of action. The discussion has to bring forward every single hypothesis that was used in the paper. Look at it from an analytical point of view to see whether your statements were supported effectively enough or they were rejected during the investigations. If you hesitate about any of the hypotheses, admit it in the research paper. Also, warn your readers from the error that you made during your researches and offer them some ways to avoid other possible mistakes. If there are alternative ways to come up with the same results, devote some space to them too. Wrap up the discussion section with the summary of the work that you conducted.
Research Papers: References
References or Works Cited page refers to the list of sources used as additional materials during the research. It is better to note data about all the sources from the very beginning. As there are many styles (e.g. APA, MLA, Turabian with footnotes or endnotes, Harvard, Chicago), ask your tutor to which one of them you should stick to. Your university may as well impose its own writing style requirements as well, so be sure to find it out in advance. One common mistake made by most of the students is copy-pasting and adding sources to their list. If you choose to do so, at least check the styles to match (isn’t it sad to lose points just because you missed or mismatched commas in two sources?). One more point: sources have to be listed alphabetically.
Research Paper: Formatting
Among the other requisites of a research paper is the Title Page. The basic information it has to carry should include your name, names, and addresses of other authors if any, and the date of submission. A title itself has to be informative. Another part, Appendices, is an option. You can either include it or skip. If you choose to attach graphs and tables at the end of the paper, Appendices is a section where they have to be placed. Make sure you number illustrations properly. Finally, you can write Acknowledgements. This page should be devoted to those people who helped you with writing a research paper, including tutors, librarians, parents, etc.