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What is the Main Purpose of a Research Paper
A research paper is a formal piece of writing that presents and supports a thesis or argument. The main purpose of a research paper is to persuade the reader that your argument is valid. In order to do this, you will need to present evidence from other sources that support your position. A research paper can be based on anything from your own personal experience to an event that occurred in history. No matter what topic you choose, make sure that you are able to support your argument with solid evidence.
Introduce the topic of the research paper and its main purpose
Studying the effects of air pollution on human health is an increasingly relevant topic of research for modern societies. This research paper offers an examination of how levels of atmospheric pollutants have grown exponentially over the past few decades, and elucidates common diseases caused by exposure to such pollutants. Relevant data has been taken from a variety of sources including current scientific literature, independent reports, government sources and surveys to provide a comprehensive picture of the dangers posed by air pollution. Ultimately, this research aims to give readers a better understanding of the effects that human activities are having on our environment and how they can take steps towards reducing harm while advocating for fresh enactment of environmental protection laws.
Discuss the different types of research papers and their purposes
Research papers are a great way to learn and organize information . They come in many different types and each serves its own distinct purpose. Analytical research papers allow the writer to dive deeper into a topic and provide detailed analysis of the subject, while argumentative papers present the writer’s opinion on a certain topic supported by evidence from other sources. Informative research papers focus on providing facts and data about a given topic, allowing the reader to understand it better. Experimental research involves designing experiments and collecting data to interpret results related to existing knowledge within a particular field of study. Many times, research paper assignments require students to compare and contrast two or more topics or ideas as well. Regardless of their specific purpose, all types of research papers require extensive library research and provide an opportunity for students to become experts on the selected topics.
Describe the process of writing a research paper, from choosing a topic to conducting research to writing the paper itself
Writing a research paper can often seem overwhelming, but with careful planning and dedication any assignment can be conquered. The first step of writing a research paper is choosing a topic – an interesting or quirky subject matter can make the process more enjoyable. After deciding on the topic, the researcher must begin to conduct their research. In-depth analysis of texts and other documents as well as interviews and surveys should form the bulk of what will be included in the paper. Once ready to start writing, begin with outlining the ideas and sources that you intend to use, forming a skeleton for your research paper to develop around. Careful attention should be paid to word choice, transitions between ideas, and proper citation of sourced information; from here, let your creativity take over! Writing a research paper doesn’t have to be intimidating; pondering meaningful topics and outlining support are key steps in making sure you end up with an effective and enjoyable finished product.
Offer tips for making the research paper process easier and more efficient
Crafting a research paper can be a daunting task and the key to making it easier and more efficient is the use of organization and forethought. To maximize efficiency, start by breaking down the project into manageable steps that can be completed one at a time. Keeping track of sources and research notes during each step will help keep your paper on task and may even save you from having to backtrack or conduct unnecessary research . Notetaking throughout the process as well as focusing on summarizing information rather than just copy-pasting quotations can also help save time. Additionally, giving yourself enough room for revision and editing will ensure that you take the time to create an excellent final product. The best way to make sure your research process goes smoothly is by avoiding procrastination, which includes taking frequent breaks when needed instead of pushing yourself too hard. These tips should help get the research paper made right!
Share resources for finding reliable sources and information for a research paper
With the abundance of online resources and websites available to students, it can be hard to know which sources are reliable when doing research for a paper. It’s important to make sure you are using quality information that supports any arguments or claims in your paper. To start the search for reputable research, visit your school’s library. Librarians have access to electronic databases with publications from scholarly journals and other vetted sources, which are great places to get started. Additionally, look for sources from organizations that specialize in the topic you’re studying; these sources are typically more reliable than random blogs and websites. Also consider using primary sources like interviews or historical documents where appropriate to further support your paper. Finally, make sure to cross-check all the information you gather by consulting multiple authoritative sources on the subject.
Encourage readers to ask questions if they need help with their own research papers
Doing research can be overwhelming and at times confusing, so when it comes to writing a research paper, it’s important to ask questions if you need help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an instructor or librarian who can provide specialized advice. Also look into online resources, like the many helpful review materials available on the internet. Not only will these sources inspire creative ideas but they may also answer some of your questions. Asking pointed questions is an important part of the research process and will ensure that your paper is as strong as it can be.
Writing a research paper doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. By understanding the different types of research papers and their purposes, you can choose a topic that interests you and write a paper that makes the research process easier and more efficient. With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to writing a great research paper. And if you need any help along the way, don’t hesitate to ask questions – that’s what we’re here for!
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11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing
- Identify reasons to research writing projects.
- Outline the steps of the research writing process.
Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?
You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head. If you are like most people, however, you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.
Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step. By developing your research writing skills, you will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.
Reasons for Research
When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.
But the research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular—and effective—presentation forms is the research paper . A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.
If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. And you may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.
Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.
Research Writing and the Academic Paper
No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic career. For example, a student in an art history course might write a research paper about an artist’s work. Similarly, a student in a psychology course might write a research paper about current findings in childhood development.
Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a long paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity to explore a topic that is particularly interesting to you. The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.
Research Writing at Work
Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. And because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.
Writing at Work
Take a few minutes to think about each of the following careers. How might each of these professionals use researching and research writing skills on the job?
- Medical laboratory technician
- Small business owner
- Information technology professional
- Freelance magazine writer
A medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.
Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?
Steps of the Research Writing Process
How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.
These are the steps in the research writing process:
- Choose a topic.
- Plan and schedule time to research and write.
- Conduct research.
- Organize research and ideas.
- Draft your paper.
- Revise and edit your paper.
Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.
Step 1: Choosing a Topic
As you may recall from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , to narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question —a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis . You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal . In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.
Step 2: Planning and Scheduling
Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.
During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule. See Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” for an example of a research schedule.
Step 3: Conducting Research
When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.
Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources . Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.
Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas
When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.
Remember, your working thesis is not set in stone. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”
Step 5: Drafting Your Paper
Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.
When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism , or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.
Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper
In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.
Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!
Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.
- In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
- In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
- What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process?
- People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.
- The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.
Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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The Process of Writing a Research Paper
Planning the Research Paper
The goal of a research paper is to bring together different views, evidence, and facts about a topic from books, articles, and interviews, then interpret the information into your writing. It’s about a relationship between you, other writers, and your teacher/audience.
A research paper will show two things: what you know or learned about a certain topic, and what other people know about the same topic. Often you make a judgment, or just explain complex ideas to the reader. The length of the research paper depends on your teacher’s guidelines. It’s always a good idea to keep your teacher in mind while writing your paper because the teacher is your audience.
The Process There are three stages for doing a research paper. These stages are:
While most people start with prewriting, the three stages of the writing process overlap. Writing is not the kind of process where you have to finish step one before moving on to step two, and so on. Your job is to make your ideas as clear as possible for the reader, and that means you might have to go back and forth between the prewriting, writing and revising stages several times before submitting the paper.
» Prewriting Thinking about a topic
The first thing you should do when starting your research paper is to think of a topic. Try to pick a topic that interests you and your teacher — interesting topics are easier to write about than boring topics! Make sure that your topic is not too hard to research, and that there is enough material on the topic. Talk to as many people as possible about your topic, especially your teacher. You’ll be surprised at the ideas you’ll get from talking about your topic. Be sure to always discuss potential topics with your teacher.
Places you can find a topic: newspapers, magazines, television news, the World Wide Web, and even in the index of a textbook!
Narrowing down your topic
As you think about your topic and start reading, you should begin thinking about a possible thesis statement (a sentence or two explaining your opinion about the topic). One technique is to ask yourself one important question about your topic, and as you find your answer, the thesis can develop from that. Some other techniques you may use to narrow your topic are: jot lists; preliminary outlines; listing possible thesis statements; listing questions; and/or making a concept map. It also may be helpful to have a friend ask you questions about your topic.
For help on developing your thesis statement, see the English Center Guide to Developing a Thesis Statement .
Discovery/Reading about your topic
You need to find information that helps you support your thesis. There are different places you can find this information: books, articles, people (interviews), and the internet.
As you gather the information or ideas you need, you need to make sure that you take notes and write down where and who you got the information from. This is called “citing your sources.” If you write your paper using information from other writers and do not cite the sources, you are committing plagiarism . If you plagiarize, you can get an “F” on your paper, fail the course, or even get kicked out of school.
There are three major different formats for citing sources. They are: the Modern Language Association (MLA) , the American Psychology Association (APA) , and the Chicago Turabian style . Always ask your teacher which format to use. For more information on these styles, see our other handouts!
After you’ve thought, read, and taken notes on your topic, you may want to revise your thesis because a good thesis will help you develop a plan for writing your paper. One way you can do this is to brainstorm — think about everything you know about your topic, and put it down on paper. Once you have it all written down, you can look it over and decide if you should change your thesis statement or not.
If you already developed a preliminary map or outline, now is the time to go back and revise it. If you haven’t developed a map or outline yet, now is the time to do it. The outline or concept map should help you organize how you want to present information to your readers. The clearer your outline or map, the easier it will be for you to write the paper. Be sure that each part of your outline supports your thesis. If it does not, you may want to change/revise your thesis statement again.
» Writing a research paper follows a standard compositional (essay) format. It has a title, introduction, body and conclusion. Some people like to start their research papers with a title and introduction, while others wait until they’ve already started the body of the paper before developing a title and introduction. See this link for more information about writing introductions and conclusions .
Some techniques that may help you with writing your paper are:
- start by writing your thesis statement
- use a free writing technique (What I mean is…)
- follow your outline or map
- pretend you are writing a letter to a friend, and tell them what you know about your topic
- follow your topic notecards
If you’re having difficulties thinking of what to write about next, you can look back at your notes that you have from when you were brainstorming for your topic.
» Revising The last (but not least) step is revising. When you are revising, look over your paper and make changes in weak areas. The different areas to look for mistakes include: content– too much detail, or too little detail; organization/structure (which is the order in which you write information about your topic); grammar; punctuation; capitalization; word choice; and citations.
It probably is best if you focus on the “big picture” first. The “big picture” means the organization (paragraph order), and content (ideas and points) of the paper. It also might help to go through your paper paragraph by paragraph and see if the main idea of each paragraph relates to the thesis. Be sure to keep an eye out for any repeated information (one of the most common mistakes made by students is having two or more paragraphs with the same information). Often good writers combine several paragraphs into one so they do not repeat information.
- The audience understands your paper.
- The sentences are clear and complete.
- All paragraphs relate to the thesis.
- Each paragraph explains its purpose clearly.
- You do not repeat large blocks of information in two or more different paragraphs.
- The information in your paper is accurate.
- A friend or classmate has read through your paper and offered suggestions.
After you are satisfied with the content and structure of the paper, you then can focus on common errors like grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, typos, and word choice.
- Subjects and verbs agree.
- Verb tenses are consistent.
- Pronouns agree with the subjects they substitute.
- Word choices are clear.
- Capitalization is correct.
- Spelling is correct.
- Punctuation is correct.
- References are cited properly.
For more information on proofreading, see the English Center Punctuation and Grammar Review .
After writing the paper, it might help if you put it aside and do not look at it for a day or two. When you look at your paper again, you will see it with new eyes and notice mistakes you didn’t before. It’s a really good idea to ask someone else to read your paper before you submit it to your teacher. Good writers often get feedback and revise their paper several times before submitting it to the teacher.
Source: “Process of Writing a Research Paper,” by Ellen Beck and Rachel Mingo with contributions from Jules Nelson Hill and Vivion Smith, is based on the previous version by Dawn Taylor, Sharon Quintero, Robert Rich, Robert McDonald, and Katherine Eckhart.
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Genre and the Research Paper
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This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
Research: What it is.
A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition. It is, perhaps, helpful to think of the research paper as a living thing, which grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources related to a specific topic. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph into a different genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic article). The research paper serves not only to further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to increase her knowledge in that field. It is also possible to identify a research paper by what it is not.
Research: What it is not.
A research paper is not simply an informed summary of a topic by means of primary and secondary sources. It is neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an expository essay consisting solely of one's interpretation of a text nor an overview of a particular topic. Instead, it is a genre that requires one to spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the intent to offer interpretations of the texts, and not unconscious regurgitations of those sources. The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic, but to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand. This is accomplished through two major types of research papers.
Two major types of research papers.
Argumentative research paper:
The argumentative research paper consists of an introduction in which the writer clearly introduces the topic and informs his audience exactly which stance he intends to take; this stance is often identified as the thesis statement . An important goal of the argumentative research paper is persuasion, which means the topic chosen should be debatable or controversial. For example, it would be difficult for a student to successfully argue in favor of the following stance.
Perhaps 25 years ago this topic would have been debatable; however, today, it is assumed that smoking cigarettes is, indeed, harmful to one's health. A better thesis would be the following.
In this sentence, the writer is not challenging the current accepted stance that both firsthand and secondhand cigarette smoke is dangerous; rather, she is positing that the social acceptance of the latter over the former is indicative of a cultural double-standard of sorts. The student would support this thesis throughout her paper by means of both primary and secondary sources, with the intent to persuade her audience that her particular interpretation of the situation is viable.
Analytical research paper:
The analytical research paper often begins with the student asking a question (a.k.a. a research question) on which he has taken no stance. Such a paper is often an exercise in exploration and evaluation. For example, perhaps one is interested in the Old English poem Beowulf . He has read the poem intently and desires to offer a fresh reading of the poem to the academic community. His question may be as follows.
His research may lead him to the following conclusion.
Though his topic may be debatable and controversial, it is not the student's intent to persuade the audience that his ideas are right while those of others are wrong. Instead, his goal is to offer a critical interpretation of primary and secondary sources throughout the paper--sources that should, ultimately, buttress his particular analysis of the topic. The following is an example of what his thesis statement may look like once he has completed his research.
This statement does not negate the traditional readings of Beowulf ; instead, it offers a fresh and detailed reading of the poem that will be supported by the student's research.
It is typically not until the student has begun the writing process that his thesis statement begins to take solid form. In fact, the thesis statement in an analytical paper is often more fluid than the thesis in an argumentative paper. Such is one of the benefits of approaching the topic without a predetermined stance.
Home » Purpose of Research – Objectives and Applications
Purpose of Research – Objectives and Applications
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Purpose of Research
The purpose of research is to systematically investigate and gather information on a particular topic or issue, with the aim of answering questions, solving problems, or advancing knowledge.
The purpose of research can vary depending on the field of study, the research question, and the intended audience. In general, research can be used to:
- Generate new knowledge and theories
- Test existing theories or hypotheses
- Identify trends or patterns
- Gather information for decision-making
- Evaluate the effectiveness of programs, policies, or interventions
- Develop new technologies or products
- Identify new opportunities or areas for further study.
Objectives of Research
The objectives of research may vary depending on the field of study and the specific research question being investigated. However, some common objectives of research include:
- To explore and describe a phenomenon: Research can be conducted to describe and understand a phenomenon or situation in greater detail.
- To test a hypothesis or theory : Research can be used to test a specific hypothesis or theory by collecting and analyzing data.
- To identify patterns or trends: Research can be conducted to identify patterns or trends in data, which can provide insights into the behavior of a system or population.
- To evaluate a program or intervention: Research can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a program or intervention, such as a new drug or educational intervention.
- To develop new knowledge or technology : Research can be conducted to develop new knowledge or technologies that can be applied to solve practical problems.
- To inform policy decisions: Research can provide evidence to inform policy decisions and improve public policy.
- To improve existing knowledge: Research can be conducted to improve existing knowledge and fill gaps in the current understanding of a topic.
Applications of Research
Research has a wide range of applications across various fields and industries. Here are some examples:
- Medicine : Research is critical in developing new treatments and drugs for diseases. Researchers conduct clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of new medications and therapies. They also study the underlying causes of diseases to find new ways to prevent or treat them.
- Technology : Research is crucial in developing new technologies and improving existing ones. Researchers work to develop new software, hardware, and other technological innovations that can be used in various industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
- Education : Research is essential in the field of education to develop new teaching methods and strategies. Researchers conduct studies to determine the effectiveness of various educational approaches and to identify factors that influence student learning.
- Business : Research is critical in helping businesses make informed decisions. Market research can help businesses understand their target audience and identify trends in the market. Research can also help businesses improve their products and services.
- Environmental Science : Research is crucial in the field of environmental science to understand the impact of human activities on the environment. Researchers conduct studies to identify ways to reduce pollution, protect natural resources, and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Goal of Research
The ultimate goal of research is to advance our understanding of the world and to contribute to the development of new theories, ideas, and technologies that can be used to improve our lives. Some more common Goals are follows:
- Explore and discover new knowledge : Research can help uncover new information and insights that were previously unknown.
- Test hypotheses and theories : Research can be used to test and validate theories and hypotheses, allowing researchers to refine and develop their ideas.
- Solve practical problems: Research can be used to identify solutions to real-world problems and to inform policy and decision-making.
- Improve understanding : Research can help improve our understanding of complex phenomena and systems, such as the human body, the natural world, and social systems.
- Develop new technologies and innovations : Research can lead to the development of new technologies, products, and innovations that can improve our lives and society.
- Contribute to the development of academic fields : Research can help advance academic fields by expanding our knowledge and understanding of important topics and areas of inquiry.
Importance of Research
The importance of research lies in its ability to generate new knowledge and insights, to test existing theories and ideas, and to solve practical problems.
Some of the key reasons why research is important are:
- Advancing knowledge: Research is essential for advancing knowledge and understanding in various fields. It enables us to explore and discover new concepts, ideas, and phenomena that can contribute to scientific and technological progress.
- Solving problems : Research can help identify and solve practical problems and challenges in various domains, such as health care, agriculture, engineering, and social policy.
- Innovation : Research is a critical driver of innovation, as it enables the development of new products, services, and technologies that can improve people’s lives and contribute to economic growth.
- Evidence-based decision-making : Research provides evidence and data that can inform decision-making in various fields, such as policy-making, business strategy, and healthcare.
- Personal and professional development : Engaging in research can also contribute to personal and professional development, as it requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.
When to use Research
Research should be used in situations where there is a need to gather new information, test existing theories, or solve problems. Some common scenarios where research is often used include:
- Scientific inquiry : Research is essential for advancing scientific knowledge and understanding, and for exploring new concepts, theories, and phenomena.
- Business and market analysis: Research is critical for businesses to gather data and insights about the market, customer preferences, and competition, to inform decision-making and strategy development.
- Social policy and public administration: Research is often used in social policy and public administration to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies, and to identify areas where improvements are needed.
- Healthcare: Research is essential in healthcare to develop new treatments, improve existing ones, and to understand the causes and mechanisms of diseases.
- Education : Research is critical in education to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching methods and programs, and to develop new approaches to learning.
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Purpose of Writing a Research Paper
A research paper should present a topic based on reading and/or investigation. While the length may vary, keep focused on the substance of your arguments. The style of a research paper depends on the topic, and citations vary with the discipline. However, every paper contains an introduction, key arguments and a conclusion. Above all, try to maintain a clear point of view throughout.
Focus on a problem or issue, make a logical argument and assert a position. You do not simply want to describe a topic, but critically give thoughts and opinions about it. Clearly state your paper's thesis—the main idea put forth. While drawing on ideas and theories from others in the field who have written about the topic, the purpose should revolve around giving new perspective.
The introduction must alert the reader to the topic. Your thesis should describe an idea, pose a question or outline key issues. In the body of the paper, provide an overview of your key arguments. The conclusion should bring it all together. The goal is not to repeat the introduction. The paper should creatively summarize the thesis and present the reader with a response, or point to gaps in the literature.
A theory, according to the New Oxford Dictionary of English, is a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something. In “A Good Book, In Theory,” Alan Sears writes that a theory provides an explanation of a phenomenon that uses some sort of broader framework of understanding. A theoretical paper will use frameworks. If based on research, a paper should rely less on external sources.
Before writing, know your discipline's approved citation style—MLA, APA or Chicago style, for example. Pick a citation style (your instructor may assign one), and use it consistently. In order to avoid accusations of plagiarism, you must cite external sources. Finally, always place the works cited or bibliography list for references at the end of the paper.
Do not write a research paper as a collection of your opinions. For example, a paper about how much you love television is a personal essay rather than a research paper. Instead, after researching the literature on television, you could write a paper on its social impact. A research paper starts with extensive reading, not a casual browsing of literature. If you do not read, you will not know your topic.
- “New Oxford Dictionary of English”; 2001
- “A Good Book, In Theory: A Guide to Theoretical Thinking”; Alan Sears; 2005
Cheryl Thompson is currently a Ph.D. student in Communication Studies at McGill University. Her dissertation research is on the black hair care industry. She is a music, popular culture and film enthusiast and has published articles and reviews in the Canadian Theatre Review, Toronto Star, "Exclaim!" Magazine, and "Chart" Magazine.
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What is a Research Paper?
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"Research paper." What image comes into mind as you hear those words: working with stacks of articles and books, hunting the "treasure" of others' thoughts? Whatever image you create, it's a sure bet that you're envisioning sources of information--articles, books, people, artworks. Yet a research paper is more than the sum of your sources, more than a collection of different pieces of information about a topic, and more than a review of the literature in a field. A research paper analyzes a perspective argues a point . Regardless of the type of research paper you are writing, your finished research paper should present your own thinking backed up by others' ideas and information.
To draw a parallel, a lawyer researches and reads about many cases and uses them to support his or her own case. A scientist reads many case studies to support an idea about a scientific principle. In the same way, a history student writing about the Vietnam War might read newspaper articles and books and interview veterans to develop and/or confirm a viewpoint and support it with evidence.
A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you build upon what you know about the subject and make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know. A research paper involves surveying a field of knowledge in order to find the best possible information in that field. And that survey can be orderly and focused, if you know how to approach it. Don't worry--you won't get lost in a sea of sources.
In fact, this guide is designed to help you navigate the research voyage, through developing a research question and thesis, doing the research, writing the paper, and correctly documenting your sources.
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