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What Is A Research Paper: Explanations And Guidelines

6 November 2020
research-paper-definition

Every high school, college, or university student inevitably has to deal with research papers. This is one of the basic types of writing assignments in various educational institutions. Compared to simple essays, research papers are more complex and require thorough work and considerable time to complete. The overall success of your research paper depends mostly on your expertise in the subject you study, your general writing skills, and your approach. So, what is a research paper, and where to begin writing one? Read on and find out all the answers.

Research Paper: Definition and Core

A research paper is a written assignment that implies comprehensive scientific work. It is assigned to students of all disciplines across the globe. No matter the subject, the main point of this type of paper is identifying a particular issue and providing possible solutions that can be useful in future research projects. For such a project to be successful, you need to think outside the box. In comparison to other types of academic assignments, research papers:

  • are more voluminous and complicated than other kinds of papers;
  • need a more thorough exploration of a certain issue;
  • sometimes imply conducting experiments and analyzing the results;
  • require original or innovative approach, as well as fresh solutions;
  • have to be based on reliable, verifiable data;
  • should provide findings that are strong and accurate enough to be used in subsequent studies.

A research paper is a major project for every student, especially a beginner. This academic work is performed independently – students present their findings and perspective of their research matters.

Research Paper and Research Proposal: What’s the Difference?

These types of academic assignments are not to be mistaken, as they are quite different. A research proposal means a rationale for research that needs to be approved by your teacher or professor. Here, students are supposed to explain the purpose of the planned research and what new aspects they can bring into the field. Research proposals should contain an explanation of the methodology that students intend to apply for achieving desired results. Proposals have wider literature review sections that ensure the topic’s originality. 

Research Paper Structure

Your paper’s layout will greatly depend on the formatting style you are required to employ, as well as your professor’s instructions. However, some essential parts should be present in your research paper:

  • Introduction

In the intro part, provide general background and state a specific issue that is your research object. Explain why you chose to study this specific problem. Convey the purpose through your research question and an original argument. The potential reader should find a road map in your introduction that allows them to have a clear vision of the topic.

  • Main Body

This section will be the longest in your research paper. Here, you are supposed to examine the issue you introduced in the previous part thoroughly. Each paragraph in the body is a self-contained chunk of information. First, you develop a claim that relates to a specific aspect of your thesis statement. Then provide supporting evidence that you’ve accumulated while studying the relevant literature. The next step is coming up with your interpretation and analysis of facts. Finally, think of a concluding sentence to bring up the next point for a further paragraph.     

  • Conclusion

In the concluding segment, describe all outcomes and summarize the major points you discussed. A good conclusion should enable the reader to comprehend the meaning of the whole paper fully. Make sure that you didn’t miss anything important but do not include any new pieces of information in the conclusion.

These fundamental elements serve as a good start for any writing assignment you might have in college or university, no matter its specific type or subject.

Research Paper Types

To write a decent research paper and receive a high grade, you should make sure that you fully understand the task and the topic and that your knowledge is sufficient to cover it. This kind of academic work includes several types of research papers that are used in different disciplines. To write quality papers, we recommend you become familiar with the specifics of each of these types.

  • Compare and contrast

In this type, you are supposed to describe the same problem from two different viewpoints.

  • Cause and effect

Implies a logical sequence of causes and effects concerning the issue you research.

  • Persuasive/Argumentative

In this kind of paper, you discuss several sides of the problem and present arguments that support one of the sides.

  • Analytical

Gives you a chance to demonstrate your analytical abilities, as you provide an in-depth analysis of several opinions on the same matter.

  • Experiment

For this paper type, you conduct your experiment and present its results.

  • Report

In reports, students outline the studies that were conducted before.

  • Overview

This paper type implies that you focus on a particular scholarly study (usually a broad one).

  • Survey

To write this kind of paper, you need to conduct a survey involving chosen participants, provide an analysis of the findings and share your conclusions.

  • Problem-solution

Students present a particular issue and introduce the possible ways of resolving it.

  • Communication research paper

It develops students’ ability to produce reasonable arguments.

Typically, all these research papers are pretty extensive. There is a good reason your professor expects to see a certain number of pages. It will take you a minimum of 5 pages to conduct thorough research with analysis and proper conclusions. Complex studies cannot be described in two pages, so be prepared to put a lot of work into your research paper, whatever kind it is.

Working on a Research Paper: Major Stages

Students who have to deal with a research paper for the first time often feel confused and don’t know where to begin. It is recommended to dissect your project into several separate parts or stages and go step by step:

  1. Step 1. Prepare an outline. Make sure that you’ve read the guidelines thoroughly and understand what is required from you. Here is what should be included in an outline: title page, abstract, introduction or literature review, methods (instruments), results, conclusion, references, and appendixes (additional information).
  2. Step 2. Choose a good topic that interests and encourages you. It is always easier to write about something that you understand and like exploring. Besides, make sure that your topic is researchable and original. Remember that your task is to offer fresh ideas and solutions to the problem you chose to address.
  3. Step 3. On the stage of preliminary research, explore the available sources of information. Use only those that are credible and trustworthy. Next, gather all the reliable sources you think may be useful during your research process. Be careful with online sources: rely more on university libraries and scholarly journals. Choose websites that are located on such domains as .gov, .org, or .edu. Consider using Google Scholar – it is also a great tool that will help you find reliable publications.
  4. Step 4. Your thesis statement should be the core of the whole structure. Start with choosing your research’s focal point and keep it in mind while exploring the literature and searching for answers. Remember that your entire project will be aimed at proving the central claim.
  5. Step 5. Research and experiment. This stage will take a great deal of your time. You will have to delve deep into the literature you’ve gathered, conduct your experiments, and come up with the results’ comprehensive analysis. Follow the outline you’ve prepared, and place each piece of information in a proper section.
  6. Step 6. Write it all down. Make a coherent and logically structured manuscript out of your notes. Keep the formal tone and make sure that all your statements are supported by concrete evidence and facts from credible sources.
  7. Step 7. Format, edit and proofread the first draft, the initial version of your paper. This is not a finalized project yet – you need to take your time and read the text a couple of times, eliminate all mistakes and flaws. Even if your research is outstanding, errors and inconsistencies can easily ruin it. Pay attention to formatting and make sure that your paper complies with the guidelines provided by your professor. Try reading your essay aloud to see if the text is coherent and easy to understand. Ask a friend or a family member to read your paper and provide feedback. Spell-check software is also a great idea.

How to Produce a Truly Convincing Research Paper

First of all, you need to possess analytical skills and the ability to convey your thoughts logically and understandably. Sufficient knowledge of the subject is also required. The good news is that there are many tricks you can use to enhance your writing and make the process more productive. We want to share some of them with you.

  1. Create a plan, determine a deadline for each section of your research paper and start working on your assignment as early as possible. The whole process will be much easier if you concentrate on smaller segments and complete each of them on time, without delays or excuses. Don’t wait until the last day.
  2. Discuss your thesis with a teacher or professor. It will help you ensure that the thesis is concise and properly explored in a research paper.
  3. Consider your potential audience. Who is going to read this paper? Do your potential readers have some knowledge on the matter you research? Is it something completely new to them? Many aspects of your project will depend on the audience. 
  4. Take notes to ensure that every important detail is included in your research paper, and nothing is neglected.
  5. Make sure that all the sources you chose to reference are reliable and relevant. Solid evidence is the basis for your paper.
  6. Properly cite all the sources of information you use. To save time, do it along the way so that later you wouldn’t have to go over all sources and identify where your citations are coming from.
  7. Create an outline for your project. Research papers imply a lot of text, and it is easy to get lost in such an immense amount of information. A decent outline will help you stay on track and keep the general picture in mind.
  8. Pay attention to the word count of each part. Leave enough space for your analysis and conclusions.
  9. Don’t hesitate to use some help. If you have a friend or family member who might assist in some way – give advice or proofread the paper, work together. Show the first draft to your professor or instructor, who might give you a little guidance and provide valuable feedback.
  10. Ensure that you have enough time to properly format and proofread the paper, as well as make the needed modifications. Keep in mind that it may take more time than you anticipate. If you reread the paper in a rush, you may miss small mistakes and drawbacks. 

Need Some Help?

Students often feel overwhelmed by numerous tasks they have to complete to produce a decent research paper:

  • finding an engaging topic
  • gathering information and researching it
  • conduction experiments
  • analyzing and structuring everything logically
  • proofreading the whole thing

Indeed, research papers are time-consuming and complex assignments that require considerable effort.    

If you need professional assistance, we will gladly offer you a helping hand. Our experienced writers know how to deal with any research paper.

Let’s start working on that research project together!

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