Writing Parts of a Research Paper
Firstly, it is vital to know the different parts of a research paper if you are to produce a successful one.
NB: An undergraduate research paper usually differs from a graduate one in terms of size (papers at graduate level are usually longer) and in the sense that graduate-level students are generally expected to present original or new things and arrive at original or new conclusions.
Research Paper Basic Easy Guidelines
The following are the main sections of a research paper:
- The Introductory Section
While this question, "how long should a research paper be," is often the first concern that students have, there are other important considerations when it comes to this type of paper. For example, the introductory section in a research paper is very important and it should:
- Provide any background information or contextual materials that are relevant.
- Explain the purpose of the research paper and what it will focus on.
- Explain any concepts or terms where such explanations are necessary.
- Unveil the writer's organizational plan.
- Review of Existing/Available Literature
If you want to learn how to write a research paper fast, it is imperative to become expert at reviewing available literature on your topic and documenting this in your paper. The purpose of the literature review section is to:
- Describe any important research work or studies that have already been carried out on the topic or subject area this paper deals with. If, for example, you search the Internet for material, it will be necessary for you to establish what author's are quoted or cited in any reference materials you find. It may be that you find a newspaper article that refers to the work of a certain expert, professor, etc. Or you may find some footnote that mentions an important author or work related to your topic.
- Find and/or cite any sources you think are especially useful and interesting for your paper. (It is vital you verify the quality and reliability of any sources you use. There is a lot of dubious material on the Internet.)
- Writing the Main Body of Your Research Paper or Case Study
Once the notion of essay vs literature review writing is familiar to you, you will probably understand that most research projects vary considerably with much dependent on the chosen topic and the writer's preferred methodologies.
You will need to consider the best way to conduct your research since you may choose from one of several approaches.
While knowing the difference between research paper and report writing is important, you should begin by consulting any prospectus and/or outlines you were given as guides. Develop your paper around the points or ideas you would like to get across (i.e. your paper should not be organized according to the sources you find). Weave sources into your arguments and/or discussion. Analyze, evaluate, explain, and summarize source materials rather than just reporting on these. Move back and forth through the path of abstraction, from general observations to various amounts of detail, and back again to general observations.
- Set out Your Conclusion(s)
Almost the last part in the structure of an academic research paper, the concluding section is where you sum-up the main findings from your research. It is important you connect this final section directly back to the introductory section and to the goals you set at the beginning. Review your introduction and check that you set out your intentions clearly in that first section. If you have not already explained the importance of your results or findings before you reach the concluding section, or if your progress has been inductive, make sure you describe their importance and sum up all your main points in this last part of your paper.
- Recording Sources- Conducting Research vs Report Writing
Using the citation style prescribed by your professor or study program, list every important source you used to complete your research project. You may place footnotes at the end of any page where a source was referred to or you may cite the source after each individual reference (e.g. Chambers, 2010, p. 210). Additionally, all sources should be listed in alphabetic order in an end-of-paper references list.
- Check the organizational aspects of your work: This means checking that your introduction flows logically, that the body is coherent with the right depth of analysis and discussion, and that your conclusion is effective.
- Check your paragraphs: This means ensuring each paragraph has a topic sentence, that the order of points and/or ideas within each paragraph is logical, that sufficient detail has been provided to support general observations, that summary phrases or sentences have been provided where required, and that all points and paragraphs are linked by appropriate transitions.
- Check your sentences: Make sure that your sentences are well structured, that your choice of words is appropriate, and that all spelling and punctuation is correct.
- Check that sources have been correctly documented: This means checking that you have used one citation system consistently, that all source material has been cited, that footnotes and endnotes have been used properly, and that your Works Cited or Reference List is accurate.
Additional Writing Tips
By now, concepts such as book review vs literature review and the role of the latter in a research paper should be clear to you. So here are a few final tips on research paper writing:
- Title or cover page:Make sure your paper has an informative and clean title or cover page with your name, the title of your project, the submission date, and the name of the class the project is for. It is permissible to add a graphic to the cover page but make sure this is appropriate and tasteful!
- Page Numbers:Every page should be numbered since other scholars will use these when citing your research work.
- Font size/style:It is best to use a standard style and size of font. Allow adequate margins on all four sides of the page - right, left, top, and bottom. Use 1.5 line spacing unless you have been instructed otherwise. This makes a written piece easier for the reader and it allows space for an instructor's comments/corrections.
- Use of quotations: Many professional writers believe that there is little that makes a research paper more effective than an appropriate amount of meaningful quotations from people who are considered authorities in your subject area. (Do not forget that it is likely you are not yet considered an authority even though you may find this fact difficult to accept!) A suitable number of carefully chosen quotations are a great way of reinforcing a main thesis or a writer's conclusions.
- Charts and/or tables:Most research papers benefit from the inclusion of suitable graphics, e.g., charts, maps, graphs, tables and other types of graphics. However, you should be sparing in your use of these, but their presence can add to the professionalism and richness of a paper.