This guide covers research papers, and provides advice on forming a title for your research paper, how to plan your paper before you start, and filtering material for your research paper. What is a research paper?
The terms 'research paper' and 'term paper' are frequently used interchangeably. However, the terms do not mean the same thing. 'Term paper' was used in the past exclusively to refer to the project (indeed research based) that was due at the end of a term, semester or quarter whereas 'research paper' had a more specific meaning, i.e. a paper written as a summary of research. Hence 'research papers' may be written at any level (before, during and after attending university), they may be published works in a professional journal and they may represent the results of practical research, which would not ordinarily be conducted for a term paper. This is the context in which we will discuss the term 'research paper' herein. A research paper is an academic written assignment that is the product of a research project. This may span days, months, weeks or even years. Typically, research papers will involve the examination of a particular issue, and discuss: * The background or history of that issue
* Any outstanding questions relating to the issue (the research paper will commonly focus on one particular question and seek to establish evidence to answer this) * The current data and statistics relating to the issue
* The problems relating to the issue as revealed by the data * The problems relating to the issue as revealed by practical primary research (i.e. carrying out interviews, tests etc) or secondary research (i.e. looking at other people's research) * Proposed solutions to the problems, and the strengths and weaknesses of these * Conclusions drawn from the data, research and evidence, as examined * Recommendations in relation to these conclusions.
We will look at each of these elements in turn, in order to understand how a student or professional can write a good research paper. Forming a title for your research paper
Unlike most types of assignment, the research paper title is usually decided upon AFTER you have completed the paper. This is so that the title accurately reflects the contents of the paper. However, your research paper will need a working title. This helps you to focus and helps others to understand what you are doing - for example, your lecturer/instructor or, if working at a higher level, those funding your project. You should therefore return to this section when you have completed your paper. You then need to pick a concise, accurate title for your research paper that will make readers want to look at your content, help others find your paper in databases, and explain exactly what is covered by the paper with a high degree of accuracy. A research paper will commonly have a title of 15-20 words in length. Every word must be necessary for the title - and so for example, 'Project on...' 'Paper on...' 'Research on...' should be removed as these types of phrases are not necessary. Example concise research paper titles:
* Unemployment by Constituency
* Transport in New York
Research Paper Subtitle
Unlike a research paper or essay, it is very common to give your research paper a subtitle. This explains your title more fully, puts it in context and qualifies the extent, or scope, of the research. Example subtitles (relating to the above example titles):
* 2007-2008 trends using constituency maps
* Transport governance and provision since X was elected in 1999 Researching/gathering information for your research paper
As your research paper needs to show a good depth of reading, good research skills are paramount! But before you start, a key thing to bear in mind is that you MUST reference all material that you use in your paper. So the first thing to do is find out what referencing style is required (either by your university...