The research paper is claimed to be the most serious and solid one. It requires much more time and research work than any other academic task. Considering its importance and workload, here we going to discuss how to prepare and plan the writing of a research paper effectively.
Set the theme
Any scientific research paper aims to elaborate on particular phenomena, cases, or focus on their specific aspects. First of all, you should restrict all your ideas to a couple of them at least, so that you can define, what exactly you are going to work on in your paper. At this round, you should as well understand, why the chosen theme is important for research. The next step, which is very important at this stage, is to distinguish all the specific terms and issues that the chosen theme involves and explain them. You should provide definitions to all ambiguous and uncommon terms so that your paper becomes clear and accurate. Moreover, this step is very crucial at the beginning, because the topic, in general, may look very simple and precise up to the moment the dimensions and nuances start arising. If at this point the topic seems to be too complicated, you may choose a particular dimension, which you find the most important, and elaborate on it on your thesis as a central idea.
Pay enough attention to the theory
The theory is a crucial part of every research. Even though your topic is supposed to be a completely practical one, you cannot develop the whole study without a theoretical basis. Generally speaking, every research project more or less has one aim – to propose own perspective or/and hypothesis to the phenomenon the paper elaborates on. So, where should you start to develop your own theory? There is no other beginning, but to have a look at the previous studies. Look, what said and how the other researchers explained the phenomenon you are going to discuss in your research paper. If you find the theories, which comply with your ideas and support them, feel free to use these works as a theoretical basis in your paper. However, the theories, which dissatisfy you, may be very useful as well. Look carefully at these researches and try to define, why exactly you find these resources ineligible. Do they miss some important considerations? Or do the researchers explain only one side of the phenomenon? Do these works contradict the others you have already considered? Nevertheless, these questions may help you to understand your hypothesis clearer and broader and suggest the direction in your research. Keep in mind that if you find in the studied literature contradictions, they may also be applied to your research. Thus, you may develop the so-called “rival theory”. It is another crucial step in your research. It will help to make your research project look more serious and profound. What does the rival theory mean? It refers to the theories, which describe the phenomenon you are studying, but which do not comply with your ideas. As we previously said the right use of these theories will be quite beneficial for your project. Your paper will definitely look much stronger when you represent that your theory fits well with the facts and at the same time that there are some theories, which are not suitable for the facts. For this purpose, you may use one or two rival theories in your research. Why is this approach favorable? The research project is not supposed to be a work that simply states your explanation, but it aims to study and evaluate several theories and present, why one of them is objectively superior to the others.
The theory is a pivotal part of your research project. It is ample as well. To remain the theory clear and understandable, it is very important to decompose it. This refers to break all the studied material on the sub-points. Even though the whole paper refers to one main question, it would be impossible to answer it without many secondary sub-questions. Using sub-points will help you to structure the paper and elaborate on every secondary question, which will lead to discussing the main one.
Evidence – the most important part
In the previous paragraph, we have discussed, how the theory is important for your research paper writing. Although, no research project can waive the evidence. While you keep studying the topic literature, you should start compiling the pieces of evidence, which will support or contradict the theories you are going to discuss in the paper. In the research, you should support every argument with factual evidence. While finding the evidence, you should define – what to do you predict to find if the studying theory is true? And what may you find, if it is false? So that the evidence illustrates the theory in-depth, provide some empirical or/and historical details on it. Have a look at various research methods as well. Use them during your research properly, since the choice of method depends on the research question. The right research method helps to understand the evidence and put it in the proper context. It also might lead to some insights about the research. For instance, the comparative method. You may discover a lot, while comparing one phenomenon across different countries, issue areas, over different periods, etc.
How to organize the research information
However, copying and pasting loads of information to the word file remains the most popular method to assemble the materials, it is not very effective and favorable. The information should be clear and structured, so there are some tips, how to achieve this goal.
The first step you should do with already assembled information is to put it into particular categories. You may define them as principal points, other important issues, secondary issues, etc. At this stage, you may also think about, how to present them in the text. You also should think over the so-called “organizing principle”. This means to define the order of the points, you are going to discuss, which of them to put first and which ones to discuss later. Of course, there are common ways how to organize the information, like chronological or comparative ones, but still, not in every case, they are quite effective to deliver a clear and well-defined paper. You’d better decide from the start how you want to develop the explanatory argument. Have an attentive look at all the sub-questions and think over, which sub-points you should elaborate on first and which later. As you may see, the answers to some questions may be connected with answers discussed previously. This approach will help to structure the paper logically. You may put the core point in the end, but from the start, you should develop the topic step by step, so that the reader gets prepared for the main and, perhaps, more complicated point.
You may also break the paper into several sections. It is proved to be a useful approach. By doing this, you organize your points more clearly, which helps to follow the argument easier. Undoubtedly, this helps to keep the argument clear and concise for you as well. Take also some time to outline your paper. In the process, you can discover interesting aspects that you did not notice previously, see initial inaccuracies or find out the point you need more research on it. That is why it is important to complete this work as soon as the collection of the information is finished. Do not postpone this stage to the very last moment.
Writing a text: structure and tips
So, we have already discussed how to organize the information, you have collected, and structure it into arguments. However, it might not be the same thing as turning it into the text. The research paper is a large-scale project. But may it not scare you. Keep in mind, that you should think about the paper in terms of paragraphs. Every paragraph should be one unit of information. Following this simple rule will help you to keep the text organized and concise. Just remember, that you should discuss only one main question or supporting evidence in each paragraph. In addition, help to avoid repetitions as well.
This approach is also helpful to the reader in following your ideas and arguments. To make it even more concise you may create a road map inside the text. This means, that you can occasionally put a sentence to explain, how this argument relates to the main question. Obviously, the quite big paper as a research one, needs this road map, so that a reader has a clear idea, how you develop the general argument.
One more hint: if during writing a point, you cannot decide, how this one fits the general argument, you ought to remove it from the text. It might be not quite significant to the research or remain vague even for you. Nevertheless, you should not write the points, which are a bit off-topic or which you are not confident in. Of course, to avoid such a situation you have to do enough research to find out the eligible information and good supporting arguments. Equally important, you should not include irrelevant or repetitive information to show, how much have you done. The only thing your research project must show is how you can work with information and use it to come up with a concise objective argument.
The importance of conclusion part
The research paper has no unimportant parts. We have already talked, how important are theory and evidence part for the paper, and now we are going to have a look at the ending part. The conclusion section is a must. Even though you exceed the page limit for the research paper, you cannot end your paper by finishing a sentence as soon as presented all the arguments. Every academic paper should end with the Conclusion part. You do need to tell over the whole paper. You may restate shortly here about the main argument the paper elaborated on and how you proved it. You might remind as well why the research theme is important and worth researching, summarize the evidence, restate the main question. Keep in mind, that the conclusion is literally the last part the professor reads before to put a grade.
Several notes on language
Language in academic papers matters a lot. It can be even a decisive factor for a good or bad grade. So here we provide some notes you should remember while writing a paper.
Use clear and simple sentences. Try to avoid too long and complicated phrases, unless you are a really good writer. Feel free to break very lengthy sentences into smaller ones. Do not try to put too much information in one phrase, remember that you can express complex ideas in short sentences. Try to keep them as clear and simple as possible.
Do not use slang and unclear terms. Even though this is an academic paper, do not overload it with highly specific words. Look over the paper and make sure that both you and the future reader can understand, what one or another term means. In case you feel some doubts, you can define a word in the text or the footnote. And if you are unsure of the meaning of a particular term, figure it out before finalizing the manuscript or change it for another term.
The final note – revise syntax and spelling. Spelling mistakes usually spoil the reader’s impression, no matter how good the thoughts are. Plus, your paper will be reviewed by the professor, and professors pay a lot of attention to grammar mistakes and wrong spelling or contraction grammar issues. Do not underappreciate the final revision and spare a while to polish the text.
Indeed, help with research paper is claimed to be the biggest and demanding task among the rest of the academic assignments. However, do not get scared of it in advance. We are sure, that several tips will definitely help you to organize work effectively and go through this project smoothly. Since the preparation of the research paper requires time, we heartily recommend you not postpone it to the very last minute. However, it does not mean that you should write a text as soon as you get an assignment. There are steps before turning to direct writing. Start with thinking over the phenomenon or specific idea you want to study. At this stage researching scientific literature and working on theory might be quite helpful to you. Having defined the direction for your research, start to gather the supporting evidence. Only after you complete these steps and have a clear vision for the paper, you are ready to put all the investigation into the text. And the last thing is to revise your paper to avoid unnecessary mistakes in meaning and grammar. Keep this plan in your mind, follow these simple steps, and you reach a positive result!