What is a research paper
A research paper is not an essay, an editorial, or a story.
All assertions of fact must be documented.
Be careful of any generalizations that you make.
Strive to be value-free in your inquiry.
…it’s worth stressing that the evaluation of your paper will never be determined by whether or not your hypotheses are verified. It is important to remember that a hypothesis supported by the data does not mean that it is true as there conceivably is an infinite number of other theories that lead to the same prediction. Similarly, failure of support does not necessarily mean that your hypothesis is wrong: it may be hold true in some populations, you may have incorrectly measured your theory’s concepts, your sampling may be flawed, etc. Philosopher Karl Popper, in fact, argues that science is not a method for verifying hypotheses. Instead, all that science can logically lead to is the falsification of hypotheses. In sum, negative results can be every bit as important as positive ones. Marvin Harris (Cultural Materialism 1979:7)
“facts are always unreliable without theories that guide their collection and that distinguish between superficial and significant appearances.”
- The purpose of research paper is researching and expressing other’s points of view on a topic, as well as incorporating your insights and ideas
- Research paper is at least 8 pages
- It requires comprehensive understanding of a topic by researching it thoroughly
- Familiarity required with research writings associated with a chosen topic
- Helps build writers knowledge of a topic
- The writer compares various pieces of information on a topic and then presents a cumulative overview of the findings
- Different flavors of research papers include but are not limited to: compare and contrast, argumentative, analytical, cause and effect, and subject-bases. The last is the most common. A subject or topic is chosen and then that topic is researched and written about.
- After researching a topic thoroughly, the writer compiles and evaluates the information. The writer then restructures and presents the topic from their point of view, incorporating citations from complied research to back up their analysis.
- A research paper may have chapters or may be a continuous document (without chapters). If you are unclear as to whether you are completing a thesis or a research paper, please consult with your advisor.
Research paper general style
To make a paper readable:
- Print or type using a 12 point standard font, such as Times, Geneva, Bookman, Helvetica, etc.
- Text should be double spaced on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper with 1 inch margins, single sided
- Number pages consecutively
- Start each new section on a new page
- Adhere to recommended page limits
Mistakes to avoid:
- Placing a heading at the bottom of a page with the following text on the next page (insert a page break!)
- Dividing a table or figure – confine each figure/table to a single page
- Submitting a paper with pages out of order
In all sections of your paper:
- Use normal prose including articles (“a”, “the,” etc.)
- Stay focused on the research topic of the paper
- Use paragraphs to separate each important point (except for the abstract)
- Indent the first line of each paragraph
- Present your points in logical order
- Use present tense to report well accepted facts – for example, ‘the grass is green’
- Use past tense to describe specific results – for example, ‘When weed killer was applied, the grass was brown’
- Avoid informal wording, don’t address the reader directly, and don’t use jargon, slang terms, or superlatives
- Avoid use of superfluous pictures – include only those figures necessary to presenting results