1. What is a research paper?

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1.What is a research paper? A research paper is a piece of academic writing based on its author’s original research on a particular topic, and the analysis and interpretation of the research findings. It can be either a term paper, a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation. This Chapter outlines the logical steps to writing a good research paper. A research essay is a large scientific work assigned to students all over the world. The main goal of this project, regardless of subject, is to define a particular issue, find it, and provide new ways to solve it that can be used for further investigation of the problem. 2.The ultimate aims of research are to generate measurable and testable data, gradually adding to the accumulation of human knowledge.Research aim The term research aim usually refers to the main goal or overarching purpose of a research project. Sentences stating the aim of a project are usually quite brief and to the point. An example is: Aim: To investigate factors associated with violence. Because of their generality, research aims are almost always positioned at the very beginning of a statement of research aims and objectives (or questions). They are broad and introductory rather than specific and focused. 3.The first step in writing a research paper is defining your research question. Has your instructor assigned a specific topic? If so, great—you've got this step covered. If not, review the guidelines of the assignment. Your instructor has likely provided several general subjects for your consideration. Your research paper should focus on a specific angle on one of these subjects. Spend some time mulling over your options before deciding which one you'd like to explore more deeply. Try to choose a research question that interests you. Choose a topic which interests and challenges you. The research process is time-consuming, and you'll be significantly more motivated if you have a genuine desire to learn more about the topic. Select a subject you can manage. Avoid subjects that are too technical, learned, or specialized. Avoid topics that have only a very narrow range of source materials.


  • Title Page (including the title, the author’s name, the name of a University or colledge, and the publication date);

  • Abstract (brief summary of the paper – 250 words or less);

  • Introduction (background information on the topic or a brief comment leading into the subject matter – up to 2 pages);

  • Manuscript Body, which can be broken down in further sections, depending on the nature of research:

    • Materials and Methods

    • Results (what are the results obtained)

    • Discussion and Conclusion etc.

  • Reference;

  • Tables, figures, and appendix (optional);

Main Types of Research Papers

  • Compare and contrast: Describes the same issue from two different perspectives.

  • Cause and effect: Should present a logical chain of causes and effects that relate to the chosen problem or subject.

  • Persuasive/Argumentative: Discusses particular issue’s several sides and provides arguments in favor of one chosen side.

  • Analytical essay writing demonstrates your best qualities, as such task asks you to create a piece with deep analysis of various opinions regarding the same issue.

  • Experiment: Students conduct an experiment and share their results.

  • Report: Outlines previously conducted studies.

  • Overview: Focuses on one, usually extensive scholarly study, so that the following tips on how to write a research summary would be extremely useful.

  • Survey: Student conducts a survey among chosen participants, analyzes findings, and develops conclusions.

  • Problem-solution: Presents a problem and ways to resolve it.

  • Communication research paper: Dedicated to developing one’s ability of producing reasonable argument.

I. The Title Page

  • Title: Tells the reader what to expect in the paper.

  • Author(s): Most papers are written by one or two primary authors. The remaining authors have reviewed the work and/or aided in study design or data analysis (International Committee of Medical Editors, 1997). Check the Instructions to Authors for the target journal for specifics about authorship.

  • Keywords [according to the journal]

  • Corresponding Author: Full name and affiliation for the primary contact author for persons who have questions about the research.

  • Financial & Equipment Support [if needed]: Specific information about organizations, agencies, or companies that supported the research.

  • Conflicts of Interest [if needed]: List and explain any conflicts of interest.

II. Abstract: “Structured abstract” has become the standard for research papers (introduction, objective, methods, results and conclusions), while reviews, case reports and other articles have non-structured abstracts. The abstract should be a summary/synopsis of the paper.

III. Introduction: The “why did you do the study”; setting the scene or laying the foundation or background for the paper. IV. Methods: The “how did you do the study.” Describe the --

  • Context and setting of the study

  • Specify the study design

  • Population (patients, etc. if applicable)

  • Sampling strategy

  • Intervention (if applicable)

  • Identify the main study variables

  • Data collection instruments and procedures

  • Outline analysis methods


  • V. Results: The “what did you find” --

  • Report on data collection and/or recruitment

  • Participants (demographic, clinical condition, etc.)

  • Present key findings with respect to the central research question

  • Secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)

  • VI. Discussion: Place for interpreting the results

  • Main findings of the study

  • Discuss the main results with reference to previous research

  • Policy and practice implications of the results

  • Strengths and limitations of the study

  • VII. Conclusions: [occasionally optional or not required]. Do not reiterate the data or discussion. Can state hunches, inferences or speculations. Offer perspectives for future work. 

  • VIII. Acknowledgements: Names people who contributed to the work, but did not contribute sufficiently to earn authorship. You must have permission from any individuals mentioned in the acknowledgements sections.  

  • IX. References: Complete citations for any articles or other materials referenced in the text of the article.

  • 5.Writing an Abstract. Abstract The abstract allows a researcher to quickly evaluate the content of your paper, and judge whether it’s relevant to their research. As a result, an abstract needs to convey a complete synopsis of the paper, but within a tight word limit. This restriction is where the difficulties lie.This is the section of the research paper that comes after the title. The purpose of this section is to provide the user with the brief summary of your paper. This section has equal importance as the title of the research paper. Often, after reading the research paper title, the reader may switch to its abstract to recognize if this paper is of his interest or not. Basically, abstract determine the findings of the author and this is the main plot where the reader decides if he needs to continue reading this paper or not.

  • Keeping all these things in mind, the best recommendation for you is to write the abstract in such a way it looks like a mini-research paper. The reason is that it could provide the reader with all the information about his interest to continue reading. First couple of sentences should focus on what the study is about. Include major findings in a style that a general readership can read and understand (i.e., avoid detailed experimental procedures and data.) Keep it short and effective. -Be creative in generating curiosity

  • Basic Introduction – Write a few introductory lines in the abstract to let the reader know a few background details and the investigated problem as well.

  • Methods used – Don’t forget to mention the methods used in the abstract.

  • Major results – Try to mention all the major results of your paper in this section. If possible, try your level best to proffer reader the results in form of quantitative information.

  • Discussion – Choose to write a few lines discussing your own (author) interpretation of the presented results.

  • Final summary – The last but not the least thing to mention is a brief and a final summary in this abstract portion. This is considered the most crucial abstract part and researchers are going to read this portion to realize if it is important enough for them to read it further or not.

  • One more thing to keep in mind while writing the abstract is that abbreviations aren’t allowed here to state. The reason is that, at this point, you haven’t yet stated your abbreviations so the reader may lose interest as he is unable to understand it. The length of the abstract is usually kept between 150 to 300 words.
  • 6.Literature Review It is the critical as well as the detailed section of the research paper that includes the in-depth evaluation of previous researches. It allows the reader to understand the reason why you took this particular research project and a good research paper must entail all the details behind why you took this question for research. literature review is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research. It is a summary and synopsis of a particular area of research, allowing anybody reading the paper to establish why you are pursuing this particular research. A good literature review expands on the reasons behind selecting a particular research question.

  • A literature review is not simply a chronological catalog of all your sources, but an evaluation. It pulls the previous research together, and explains how it connects to the research proposed by the current paper. All sides of an argument must be clearly explained, to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted. A literature review is likewise not a collection of quotes and paraphrasing from other sources. A good literature review should critically evaluate the quality and findings of the research. A good literature review should avoid the temptation of stressing the importance of a particular research program. The fact that a researcher is undertaking the research program speaks for its importance, and an educated reader may well be insulted that they are not allowed to judge the importance for themselves. They want to be re-assured that it is a serious paper, not a pseudo-scientific sales advertisement. Whilst some literature reviews can be presented in a chronological order, this is best avoided.
  • References

  • The purpose of this section is to provide the full citation of the referenced articles in your paper, in a specific format. A complete reference must state the name of the author, article title, the name of the journal, volume number, year of publications as well as the page numbers.

  • A list of the references is written at the end of the paper and its number is limited to the cited references in the paper. Alphabetical order is followed while writing references. When it comes to the exact number of references, these can’t be defined but there is a maximum limit for it. For instance, for a point, there must not be 6 references for it. On the other hand, for a research paper, 100 is the maximum limit for references.

  • 7.Writing and formatting your paper. First and foremost, you need to decide what exactly will be the main focus of your paper. Choose a topic you are interested in and want to learn more about. Next, come up with a proper thesis statement. Create an outline to keep your thoughts organized, and write your first draft. Once your first draft is complete, review it, review it, and review it. You can even ask a peer to review it just to make sure it all makes sense. Once you’ve properly reviewed your draft, it’s time to write your final paper. The research paper format may be difficult to master. But you will risk not being taken seriously, if you try to avoid the main rules.

  • Formatting rules:

  • 1.  1 inch margins throughout your entire paper

  • 2.  Font size should be 12-pt

  • 3.  Font style should be Times New Roman

  • 4.  Your entire paper should be double-spaced

  • 5.  Include a title page if required

  • 6.  Always include automatic page numbers

  • 7.  Indent the beginning of each paragraph

  • The format of long and short writing tasks

  • Short essays (including exam answers) generally have this pattern:

  • Introduction Main body Conclusion

  • Longer essays may include: Introduction Main body Literature review Case study Discussion Conclusion References Appendices

  • Most professors will require you to submit your work in PDF (Portable Document Format). This format is the safest and most common way to submit your work. You can either write out your academic paper on Word and convert it to PDF, or you can write it directly in a PDF software such as Soda PDF and edit it, annotate it, and secure it all in one place.

  • 8.Plagiarism is, literally speaking, the act of knowingly or unknowingly passing someone else’s work off as your own. Every educational institution in the World has an anti-plagiarism policy. Failing to follow this policy ultimately will result in a failing grade and maybe even expulsion. According to the definition given in the 1997 New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, plagiarism is “the unauthorized use of language and thoughts of another author and representation of them as one’s own” (508).

  • It can easily result in a student failing their assignment, being expelled from their school or college or an employee losing their job. To incorporate another writer’s ideas into your work, you should use quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.

  • How to recognize plagiarism?

  • Plagiarism has many faces as it exists in various forms. That is why every student should know how to recognize it in the written text and avoid it while writing their own research papers. It is a serious violation so in academia different types of it are distinguished. So, infringement of copyright is:

  • Knowingly passing someone else’s work off as your own

  • Unknowingly passing someone else’s work off as your own

  • Mixing information from different sources

  • Patch writing that is using words and phrases from sources and patching them together in new sentence

  • Not properly citing source material

  • Not properly giving credit to someone when you’ve used their words in your text

  • Not properly citing your own text if you’ve used it in a different contextal

  • There are many tips on how to not plagiarise and be sure that your content is original and will not be declined by the professor.

  • Cite your sources. To avoid plagiarism, all students must document sources properly using Footnotes, Endnotes, or Parenthetical References, and must compose a Bibliography, References or Works Cited page and place it at the end of research paper to list used sources. Of the three ways to document sources – Footnotes, Endnotes, and Parenthetical References, the simplest is using Parenthetical References, sometimes referred to as Parenthetical Documentation or Parenthetical Citations.

  • If you use Parenthetical References you only put a short reference enclosed in parentheses immediately after the citation, then list the sources cited in your Bibliography, Works Cited or References page at the end of your paper. See Chapter 9 for Parenthetical References Examples as well as Parenthetical References Sample Page.

  • Write your own ideas. Taking a paper from your friend or from a senior student’s archive is also not a very good idea. Do not use someone else’s original text from the Internet and directly incorporate such information into your essay without paraphrasing and acknowledging its source. Remember that plagiarism also includes paraphrasing, mix sentences from different sources and patchwriting — simply taking parts from various texts and combining them in your own text in different ways.

  • Don’t take this risk. Apart from you acting in an unethical, dishonest, and learning nothing in the process, problem is that your teacher probably knows you and your writing style too well for you to submit copied text successfully. Most secondary schools, colleges, and universities take a dim view at plagiarism which is becoming more rampant with the prevalent use of the Internet. Technology has made it too easy for students to search and click for an essay and simply pay with a valid credit card for an instant download online. Consequences may be severe when students are caught copying of another’s written work, so it is safer to avoid it.

  • Paraphrasing is rewriting a small section of text in your own words. A paraphrase may be longer than the original article because it sometimes takes more words to explain something complicated in simple terms. Paraphrasing should sound like your writing, and not like something written by an expert. It should clearly convey the information from the original, and not just summarize the main points.
  • 9.Summary, Paraphrase, and Quotation "A summary, written in your own words, briefly restates the writer's main points. Paraphrase, although written in your own words, is used to relate the details or the progression of an idea in your source. Quotation, used sparingly, can lend credibility to your work or capture a memorable passage." (L. Behrens, A Sequence for Academic Writing. Longman, 2009

  • 10.The Data Collection is a process by which the researcher collects the information from all the relevant sources to find answers to the research problem, test the hypothesis and evaluate the outcomes. While collecting the data, the researcher must identify the type of data to be collected, source of data, and the method to be used to collect the data. Also, the answers to the questions that who, when and where the data is to be collected should be well addressed by the researcher.

  • The choice of data collection methods depends on the research problem under study, the research design and the information gathered about the variable. Broadly, the data collection methods can be classified into two categories: Primary Data Collection Methods: The primary data are the first-hand data, collected by the researcher for the first time and is original in nature. The researcher collects the fresh data when the research problem is unique, and no related research work is done by any other person. Secondary Data Collection Methods: When the data is collected by someone else for his research work and has already passed through the statistical analysis is called the secondary data. Thus, the secondary data is the second-hand data which is readily available from the other sources. One of the advantages of using the secondary data is that it is less expensive and at the same time easily available, but however the authenticity of the findings can be questioned.
  • Types of data

  • Generally, there are two types of data: quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form -- e.g., statistics and percentages. Qualitative data is descriptive data -- e.g., color, smell, appearance and quality.
  • 11.Appendices

  • Most reports have at least one appendix section to allow you to include data, figures and calculations without breaking the flow of the main body of the report. Most scientists reading your report will not be too interested in the exact details, only the results. The appendix, however, allows somebody interested in your results to check your research more thoroughly. Whilst it can be regarded as a 'dumping ground' for peripheral information and raw data, it should still be structured properly and referred to in the report. The inclusion of an appendix is optional, but it can serve as a valuable addition to a research paper. Essentially, the appendices are where you can include material that will help the reader visualize your findings and increase their knowledge of the topic. This is particularly the case when it comes to people working specifically in your field.

  • Appendices include:

  • List of tables

  • List of figures

  • Raw data, such as surveys, transcripts, and interviews

  • 12.Summarizing, like paraphrasing, is a way of including other writers’ ideas in your own work by rewriting the original so that it's in your own words. You can use summarizing when you don’t need to provide the same amount of detail as in the original text. A summary is shorter than a paraphrase, as it only contains the main points from the original and leaves out most of the details. Keep the main points, but leave out the rest of the information from the original. A summary should be cited in the text where you use it and the full reference should be included in the reference section.

  • When writing your summary you should make sure that it conveys the same information as the original did and has the same meaning. The balance of ideas should be the same in both.

  • Your summary should also fit in with the rest of your writing; especially the style and grammar should be the same.

  • Paraphrasing means changing the wording of a text so that it is significantly different from the original source, without changing the meaning. Effective paraphrasing is a key academic skill needed to avoid the risk of plagiarism: it demonstrates your understanding of a source. This unit focuses on techniques for paraphrasing as part of the note-making and summarising process.

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