A research paper is perhaps the archetypal piece of academic writing. It is intended to demonstrate all those things that academia embodies. That, of course, is a huge challenge, and this means that a research paper is potentially the most difficult assignment that you can get. But, if you know what a research paper is designed to display in your writing, you can provide a paper that meets those needs. So, what are they?
The first essential skill when writing a research paper is the process of selecting your topic for discussion. Your ability to highlight an interesting area, and to say why it is interesting, gets your paper off to a flying start! So, take time to focus on this.
Once you have selected a subject to focus on, you now have to demonstrate to your reader that you understand the significance of that subject, let us say, for argument, the impact of clean drinking water on world health. Demonstrate a sophisticated and undogmatic understanding of the case.
Fundamentally, whatever your subject, your ability to research is the thing that is really being graded. Find the most recent, most reputable, most current thinkers and theories that are in circulation.
The next step is to demonstrate that you can identify what pieces of information are most relevant to your approach. Any field of research has a huge number of scholarly interpretations and approaches, and you need to be able to analyse which perspectives are appropriate to make your argument.
Simply pointing out similarities between perspectives and evidencing that is not enough. Your research should enable you to draw original conclusions about your given field. Any unique observation, grounded in research, will get you a really high mark!
Also, a research paper should not have its remit restricted to the very narrow aspects of the field. Attempt to demonstrate why your research, and your topic, and more widely important to society and the area of study, and between disciplines.
The most important point is the word ‘research’. Demonstrate your ability to focus on a topic, to discover what is essential to it, and to evidence that by means of existing scholarship. Any original thought will enhance this!
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