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A research paper is an essential aspect of academic writing that is built on the original research of an author pertaining to a specific subject, and  reflects the analysis and interpretation of the topic as well as the research findings and conclusions arrived at after the completion of the research. Research paper is a generic term that is applied to either a thesis, a term paper or a dissertation.

This article aims to provide an inclusive guide to students on how to write a good research paper.

Types of Research Paper

  1. Term Paper

A term paper refers to an academic assignment that is written by a student either at the graduate or at the undergraduate level during an academic term. Term papers usually accounts for 20% of the marks that a student eventually gets in an exam. Writing a term paper entails a lot of research on the part of a student on a specific topic. A term paper usually consists of several pages that are typed and systematized and conforms to prescribed guidelines. The format is equally important as the content.

  1. Thesis or Dissertation

A dissertation refers to a research project that a student is required to complete as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate degree. A dissertation lets students present their results pertaining to a proposition or question that they select themselves. The primary aim of a dissertation or thesis statement is to analyze the research skills that students have gained during their tenure at university, and the assessment determines their final grade. Even though students generally receive some guidance from teachers and professors, the dissertation project is for the most part independent. A dissertation reflects your skills and ability as a budding researcher and is also a method of examining your knowledge of a particular subject.

Points to be kept in mind while choosing a topic for a Research Paper

Ensure that the topic for your research paper is relevant. The topic of a research paper should be unique and not overlap with your peers. This tends to devalue the uniqueness of your research paper. Consult with your supervisor while choosing your topic. Your supervisor may assist you in discovering a suitable and different types of research topic. Once you have selected your topic for your research paper, get it approved by your supervisor. The following are some of the points that should be taken while writing a research paper:

  1. Relevance of the topic

If a student is provided with a topic for a research paper, then it is mandatory for a student to write on the prescribed topic as closely as possible on cover page of research paper. Otherwise, the student should choose a topic that has been taught in class. In case a student is confused regarding the choice of a topic, it is advisable to take help of professors, teachers, graduate assistants or seniors.

  1. The chosen topic should be interesting

If a student is writing a research paper that will eventually be published in a ‘peer reviewed’ journal, it is important that the student chooses a topic that is challenging, interesting and thought provoking as the research paper will be studied and reviewed by at least two other researchers and it is important that the paper impresses them.

  1. Choose an Under-Researched area of your subject

While choosing a research topic, it is advisable to undertake research on an area that has not been sufficiently studied. Regardless of which subject you choose, cutting-edge research in a relatively new area is always valued. However, if you choose a topic which has already been explored several times, the probabilities of you coming up with unique and inventive research is slim.

Formulating a Research Question

It is advisable to keep the following points in mind while formulating a research question.

  1. The Central Argument of your Research: Ideally, your research question should be based on the central argument of your research, explaining your thoughts in a clear and coherent manner backed by facts and evidence.
  2. Amend your Research Question if required: At times it may happen that while writing your research paper or undertaking research pertaining to your research question, you may feel inclined towards researching on a difficult area of your subject. In such a case, you can change your research question.

Structure of a Research Paper:

A Five Paragraph Essay Is The Classic Format: A research paper should comprise an Introduction where you introduce your topic, as well as state your research question and the research methodology that you have used. This is followed by Discussion or the body of the essay and lastly the Conclusion.

The Style of Writing a Research Paper

Writing an abstract of research paper is essential before giving a final structure to your research paper. It is advisable to write in a simple style bereft of convoluted sentences and jargons. Please remember important things while writing a research paper like choosing your audience, choosing your topic, A blueprint, collecting the resouces etc. Your writing should have a convincing argument with the conclusion reflecting your thoughts and opinions and not merely a summary of the thoughts of other writers and critics. Be original and creative. While writing your research paper, it is advisable to divide your research paper into paragraphs. Each paragraph should elucidate a separate idea. The paragraph should begin with an introductory sentence followed by the central idea, backed with examples and requisite information and examples. You should also ensure that you cite all the reference materials that you use. Be sure to proofread your research paper and check for punctuation errors, grammatical errors, errors in construction of sentences, spellings etc.In the end, proofread your research paper before submitting it finally. 

Various Sources of Research

  1. Libraries
  2. JSTOR, an esteemed digital database that provides access to thousands of articles and journals to scholars and students in over one hundred and fifty countries.
  3. Internet

Preparing a Bibliography

Bibliography: The bibliography is the last section out of other sections of your research paper and lists all the references that you have used while writing your research paper. A bibliography is written in an alphabetical order. It is advisable to divide the references into books, journals, internet resources to make the section neat and tidy.

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