Glossary - Research paper

Every research paper definition will tell you the same – that this is an academic piece for which you must perform your own, original research. So, if your question is: ‘what is a research paper’, the answer is – everything. Every piece of academic writing you have to write on your own and submit will require some research, which makes it a research paper.

Research Paper vs. Research Proposal

Students tend to mistake these two – a proposal and an actual paper. A research prospectus or a proposal has a very similar outline and format, but is very different in terms of size and purpose. The rules for writing any of the two will vary from one institution to another, but they are often quite similar. Both a proposal and a paper need to follow a set structure and cite every source properly.

The research proposal is a persuasive paper that serves to convince the reader of the project’s value. In other words, this is the pitch that gets the actual research accepted. Without the proposal, there can’t be a research paper.

Research Strategy and Process

The name says it all – a research paper’s most important part is the research. That being said, this process is the essential and most time consuming job you’ll have as the assignee of the task. The research time will vary based on the requirements, research paper length, as well as its topic. But still, it remains the most important part to focus on.

Research will serve several purposes for you. It will provide you with an understanding of the subject, point out to the main things to write a research paper on, help you develop the thesis statement, and provide you the authority you need to convince the readers with your writing.

To collect resources for your academic paper, you need to check some or all of the following sources:

  • Online databases, encyclopedias, and almanacs
  • Books, articles, and magazines
  • Reports, guides, and publications
  • Tools like Google Scholar

Once you go through all the academic sources you can get your hands on, it is time to organize the findings. Not all findings will belong in the paper. You can’t possibly put everything you find in a single piece of content. Therefore, the second part of the research process is the organization and mostly, elimination.

Research Paper Writing and Organization

Research will create many opportunities and ideas for you as a writer. This is great, but the hard part will not be finished yet. Good topics always have plenty to offer in terms of research, but even the best and most talented writers need to dedicate a good amount of time on organization before they start writing.

As soon as you organize the sources and the data you found during the research, you must organize the structure. An outline is essential in research paper where you have to present a variety of sources and avoid plagiarism in the process. You’ll probably be given citation and formatting guidelines in addition to research paper instructions. To follow these and the structure of a research paper, you need to be very organized.

Research Paper Thesis Statement

The outline and all the information you’ve accumulated during the research make you somewhat of an expert on the selected topic. That’s one of the purposes of research we’ve discussed – to give you the knowledge and authority needed to impress the readers.

Now it is time to use that knowledge and authority to write the paper. Since a research paper serves to answer a research question by providing data gathered through evaluation of various sources, it has to present that question clearly at the very beginning.

That part is the thesis statement. A research paper’s thesis statement belongs in the introduction. Ideally, it will tell the reader clearly what your research intends to accomplish. Without it, all your efforts can be misunderstood and therefore, be in vain.

A Research Paper Checklist

Research papers share the structure of all academic papers: introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. But, once you are done writing, there’s a very specific checklist you should go through:

  • Is the thesis statement concise and clear from the start of the paper?
  • Does the paper flow and use logical transitions?
  • Are your ideas presented in a logical sequence?
  • Have you used a separate paragraph for different ideas?
  • Do all your arguments prove and support the thesis and are relevant to it?
  • Have you cited all sources properly?
  • Is your paper repetitive?
  • Have you avoided accidental plagiarism?
  • Is the language clear and accurate?

The process of writing, editing and researching for this paper is often frustrating and overwhelming. If you skip a step, it can be detrimental for the success of the research paper and the research itself.

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