A Guide To Academic Writing: What Is A Research Paper?

The very thought of writing a research paper may seem frightful. But this fear is more likely to be a fear of the unknown rather than of the amount of work you would have to do. Regardless, before you set about writing, you should understand what this type of academic writing is.

What a Research Paper Is and Is Not

  • It is not an exchange of views on a topic.
  • Find a thesis (a clear and understandable statement) and make your work revolve around it.
  • It is not a place for mutually exclusive points of view.
  • You can use many different sources of information, but choose only those which support your thesis rather than cast doubt upon it. Inconsistencies might invalidate your point.
  • It is not a collection of quotes.
  • Present your own point of view in your work. Use quotations only where they are really indispensable and are aligned with your statement. Supplement quotes with your commentary rather than just introducing them.
  • It is not a place for plagiarism.
  • Don’t use graphs, diagrams, statistics, etc. compiled by other people without referencing the original sources.
  • It’s not a place for a pre-conceived point of view.
  • The very name of the work implies you should do research and form an opinion based on it, rather than searching for facts which support your beliefs.

Goals Every Research Paper Must Achieve

  • Sticking to a clear focus.
  • Writing about something more general (for example, a book) often turns out to be more difficult than dealing with something specific (for example, one character of the book). Therefore, try to make your subject more defined.

  • A clear thesis.
  • The work must first of all be focused on your point of view rather than on the ideas of other people.

  • Commenting on the credibility of sources.
  • Make sure in your work that you distinguish between reliable and less reliable sources, facts and opinions, etc. Don’t just summarize the ideas of others as if they were of equal weight and importance.

  • Complying with the instructions of the assignment.
  • Many teachers insist that the paper must be written in accordance with specific requirements on the use of sources, documentation methods, etc. Don’t forget about those requirements so that you don’t go off track. Keep the guidelines close by so that you can specify some points along the way.

  • Having a stiff structure.
  • Make sure your paper has a good structure. Not only will it bring order to your thoughts, but it will also make it possible to find the information you need quickly.

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