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Writing a Research Paper

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❶If you must use them, make sure they are spelled correctly and used in the right places. Before you begin writing, read up on the subject of your essay.

This will also allow you to rearrange components of the paper to make it flow logically. Some people like to include a few sentences under each heading in their outline to create a sort of "mini-essay" before they begin writing. Others find that a simple ordered list of topics is sufficient. Do whatever works best for you. If you have time, write your outline a day or two before you start writing and come back to it several times.

This will give you an opportunity to think about how the pieces of your essay will best fit together. Rearrange things in your outline as many times as you want until you have a structure you are happy with. Research papers, unlike creative writing pieces, usually adhere to a specific style guides governing the way sources must be cited and various other aspects of writing mechanics. If you are writing a research essay for a class, your teacher will probably specify which style the essay must conform to.

Consult your teacher if you aren't sure what style to use. If you are assigned a specific format, you must take care to adhere to guidelines for text formatting and citations. Some computer programs such as EndNote allow you to construct a library of resources which you can then set to a specific format type; then you can automatically insert in-text citations from your library and populate a references section at the end of the document.

This is an easy way to make sure your citations match your assigned style format. You should set realistic writing goals for yourself so you can stay on task without feeling overburdened. It is a good idea to create a schedule and set aside blocks of time each day to work on specific parts of your essay. This way you aren't stuck writing nonstop for two days to meet your deadline and you can check things off your list as you complete them.

You may wish to start by simply assigning yourself a certain number of pages per day. Divide the number of pages you are required to write by the number of days you have to finish the essay; this is the number of pages minimum that you must complete each day in order to pace yourself evenly.

If possible, leave a buffer of at least one day between finishing your paper and the due date. This will allow you to review your finished product and edit it for errors. This will also help in case something comes up that slows your writing progress. In this section, introduce your topic and establish the purpose for your essay. If you intend to investigate a debated topic, state this in your introduction.

You want the reader to have a good idea of what the essay is about and how it is constructed by reading your introduction. Save your opinions and any conclusions you've drawn for the rest of the essay. For most papers, one or two paragraphs will suffice.

For really long essays, you may need to expand this. Don't assume your reader already knows the basics of the topic unless it truly is a matter of common knowledge. For example, you probably don't need to explain in your introduction what biology is, but you should define less general terms such as "eukaryote" or "polypeptide chain.

Build the body of your essay. This is the meat of your paper, on which you should place the majority of your focus. The length and detail of your essay will determine the form of its body, but at a minimum this should include any key arguments, any research methods used and results obtained in cases where you performed original research , and your main research findings.

Alternatively, you can consider moving this to the introductory section, but only if your essay is short and only minimal background discussion is needed. This is the part of your paper where organization and structure are most important. Arrange sections within the body so that they flow logically and the reader is introduced to ideas and sub-topics before they are discussed further.

Depending upon the length and detail of your paper, the end of the body might contain a discussion of findings. This kind of section serves to wrap up your main findings but does not explicitly state your conclusions which should come in the final section of the essay. Avoid repetition in the essay body. Keep your writing concise, yet with sufficient detail to address your objective s or research question s. Cite your references properly. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing a research paper is to fail to properly cite your sources.

Passing off someone else's ideas as your own, whether intentional or not, is plagiarism, and it could land you a failing grade or even expulsion from your school.

Take the time to ensure you are citing information the right way by following these guidelines: Always use quotation marks when using exact quotes from another source. If someone already said or wrote the words you are using, you must quote them this way!

Place your in-text citation at the end of the quote. To include someone else's ideas in your essay without directly quoting them, you can restate the information in your own words; this is called paraphrasing. Although this does not require quotation marks, it should still be accompanied by an in-text citation. This section stands apart from the essay body in that it is devoted solely to stating the conclusions you have drawn from your research.

Avoid discussing details of your research or presenting results in this section. You may wish to rephrase your study objective and state how your findings address that goal.

You should aim for one or two paragraphs, if possible. Conclusions should directly correspond to research discussed in the essay body.

In other words, make sure your conclusions logically connect to the rest of your essay and provide explanations when necessary. If your topic is complex and involves lots of details, you should consider including a brief summary of the main points of your research in your conclusion.

Revisit your thesis or objective. Once you've completed your first draft, you should go back to your introductory paragraph s and evaluate whether your essay accomplishes the stated goals you presented in the beginning. A good essay will thoroughly address any questions or unknowns posed in its introduction.

If your conclusions do not logically follow the stated purpose or objective of your essay, then you will need to fix this. Making changes to the discussion and conclusion sections instead of the introduction often requires a less extensive rewrite.

Doing this also prevents you from removing anything from the beginning of your essay that could accidentally make subsequent portions of your writing seem out of place. It is okay to revise your thesis once you've finished the first draft of your essay!

People's views often change once they've done research on a topic. Just make sure you don't end up straying too far from your assigned topic if you do this. You don't necessarily need to wait until you've finished your entire draft to do this step. In fact, it is a good idea to revisit your thesis regularly as you write. This can save you a lot of time in the end by helping you keep your essay content on track.

Construct a "works cited" section. This is a critical element of any research paper, because this is where you give credit to all the sources from which you borrowed information to write your essay. This is not something that should be left for the end of your writing; rather, you should build your works cited section as you write, adding citations as you reference them in your writing. Computer software such as EndNote is available for making citation organization as easy and quick as possible.

You can create a reference library and link it to your document, adding in-text citations as you write; the program creates a formatted works cited section at the end of your document.

Be aware of the formatting requirements of your chosen style guide for works cited sections and in-text citations. Reference library programs like EndNote have hundreds of pre-loaded formats to choose from.

Put finishing touches on your essay. After you have written your essay, there are some final things to take care of to turn your paper into a polished piece of work that your teacher will appreciate. While not all of these have to wait until the essay is fully written, it is a good idea to take care of the important stuff first -- which is the writing, of course!

Create a catchy title. Waiting until you have finished your essay before choosing a title ensures that it will closely match the content of your essay. Research papers don't always take on the shape we expect them to, and it's easier to match your title to your essay than vice-versa.

Read through your paper to identify and rework sentences or paragraphs that are confusing or unclear. Each section of your paper should have a clear focus and purpose; if any of yours seem not to meet these expectations, either rewrite or discard them. Review your works cited section at the end of your essay to ensure that it conforms to the standards of your chosen or assigned style format.

You should at least make sure that the style is consistent throughout this section. Run a spell checker on your entire document to catch any spelling or grammar mistakes you may not have noticed during your read-through. All modern word processing programs include this function. The first draft of your paper should not be the version you turn in to your teacher unless you are really good at editing as you write.

It is usually necessary to rewrite or at least reorganize and tidy up a research essay before it can be considered finished. Give yourself a day or so away from your first draft to get some distance from your project before going back to revise it. Revisions are done to make sure the content and substantive ideas are solid; editing is done to check for spelling and grammar errors. Revisions are arguably a more important part of writing a good paper. You may want to have a friend, classmate, or family member read your first draft and give you feedback.

This can be immensely helpful when trying to decide how to improve upon your first version of the essay. Except in extreme cases, avoid a complete rewrite of your first draft.

This will most likely be counterproductive and will waste a lot of time. Your first draft is probably already pretty good -- it likely just needs some tweaking before it is ready to submit. How do I write an introduction with a research question and thesis statement?

Begin with either an attention-grabbing hook risky, but has larger payoff or a general statement that provides context for the paper less risky and more common. This should be sentences before you transition into your thesis statement. Transition into and end with your structure statement, which will set up the framework for the topics of your body paragraphs. Not Helpful 0 Helpful For each body paragraph, write down the main topic, and note the specific points you want to mention.

Writing down quotes you plan to use is optional. For the conclusion, write how you plan to revisit your thesis. General intent An abstract is a concise single paragraph summary of completed work or work in progress. Writing an abstract Write your summary after the rest of the paper is completed. Purpose of the study - hypothesis, overall question, objective Model organism or system and brief description of the experiment Results, including specific data - if the results are quantitative in nature, report quantitative data; results of any statistical analysis shoud be reported Important conclusions or questions that follow from the experiment s Style: Single paragraph, and concise As a summary of work done, it is always written in past tense An abstract should stand on its own, and not refer to any other part of the paper such as a figure or table Focus on summarizing results - limit background information to a sentence or two, if absolutely necessary What you report in an abstract must be consistent with what you reported in the paper Corrrect spelling, clarity of sentences and phrases, and proper reporting of quantities proper units, significant figures are just as important in an abstract as they are anywhere else Introduction Your introductions should not exceed two pages double spaced, typed.

General intent The purpose of an introduction is to aquaint the reader with the rationale behind the work, with the intention of defending it. Writing an introduction The abstract is the only text in a research paper to be written without using paragraphs in order to separate major points. Describe the importance significance of the study - why was this worth doing in the first place?

Provide a broad context. Defend the model - why did you use this particular organism or system? What are its advantages? You might comment on its suitability from a theoretical point of view as well as indicate practical reasons for using it.

State your specific hypothesis es or objective s , and describe the reasoning that led you to select them. Very briefy describe the experimental design and how it accomplished the stated objectives.

Use past tense except when referring to established facts. After all, the paper will be submitted after all of the work is completed. Organize your ideas, making one major point with each paragraph. If you make the four points listed above, you will need a minimum of four paragraphs. Present background information only as needed in order support a position. The reader does not want to read everything you know about a subject.

As always, pay attention to spelling, clarity and appropriateness of sentences and phrases. Materials and Methods There is no specific page limit, but a key concept is to keep this section as concise as you possibly can. People will want to read this material selectively. The reader may only be interested in one formula or part of a procedure.

Materials and methods may be reported under separate subheadings within this section or can be incorporated together. General intent This should be the easiest section to write, but many students misunderstand the purpose.

Writing a materials and methods section Materials: Describe materials separately only if the study is so complicated that it saves space this way. Include specialized chemicals, biological materials, and any equipment or supplies that are not commonly found in laboratories. Do not include commonly found supplies such as test tubes, pipet tips, beakers, etc. If use of a specific type of equipment, a specific enzyme, or a culture from a particular supplier is critical to the success of the experiment, then it and the source should be singled out, otherwise no.

Materials may be reported in a separate paragraph or else they may be identified along with your procedures. In biosciences we frequently work with solutions - refer to them by name and describe completely, including concentrations of all reagents, and pH of aqueous solutions, solvent if non-aqueous. See the examples in the writing portfolio package Report the methodology not details of each procedure that employed the same methodology Describe the mehodology completely, including such specifics as temperatures, incubation times, etc.

To be concise, present methods under headings devoted to specific procedures or groups of procedures Generalize - report how procedures were done, not how they were specifically performed on a particular day. If well documented procedures were used, report the procedure by name, perhaps with reference, and that's all. For example, the Bradford assay is well known. You need not report the procedure in full - just that you used a Bradford assay to estimate protein concentration, and identify what you used as a standard.

It is awkward or impossible to use active voice when documenting methods without using first person, which would focus the reader's attention on the investigator rather than the work. Therefore when writing up the methods most authors use third person passive voice.

Use normal prose in this and in every other section of the paper — avoid informal lists, and use complete sentences.

What to avoid Materials and methods are not a set of instructions. Omit all explanatory information and background - save it for the discussion. Omit information that is irrelevant to a third party, such as what color ice bucket you used, or which individual logged in the data. Results The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be reported. Continue to be concise, using figures and tables, if appropriate, to present results most effectively. See recommendations for content, below.

General intent The purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings. Content Summarize your findings in text and illustrate them, if appropriate, with figures and tables. In text, describe each of your results, pointing the reader to observations that are most relevant. Provide a context, such as by describing the question that was addressed by making a particular observation. Describe results of control experiments and include observations that are not presented in a formal figure or table, if appropriate.

Analyze your data, then prepare the analyzed converted data in the form of a figure graph , table, or in text form. What to avoid Do not discuss or interpret your results, report background information, or attempt to explain anything. Never include raw data or intermediate calculations in a research paper.

Do not present the same data more than once. Text should complement any figures or tables, not repeat the same information. Please do not confuse figures with tables - there is a difference. Style As always, use past tense when you refer to your results, and put everything in a logical order. In text, refer to each figure as "figure 1," "figure 2," etc.

If you prefer, you may place your figures and tables appropriately within the text of your results section. Figures and tables Either place figures and tables within the text of the result, or include them in the back of the report following Literature Cited - do one or the other If you place figures and tables at the end of the report, make sure they are clearly distinguished from any attached appendix materials, such as raw data Regardless of placement, each figure must be numbered consecutively and complete with caption caption goes under the figure Regardless of placement, each table must be titled, numbered consecutively and complete with heading title with description goes above the table Each figure and table must be sufficiently complete that it could stand on its own, separate from text Discussion Journal guidelines vary.

Space is so valuable in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, that authors are asked to restrict discussions to four pages or less, double spaced, typed. That works out to one printed page.

While you are learning to write effectively, the limit will be extended to five typed pages. If you practice economy of words, that should be plenty of space within which to say all that you need to say.

General intent The objective here is to provide an interpretation of your results and support for all of your conclusions, using evidence from your experiment and generally accepted knowledge, if appropriate. Writing a discussion Interpret your data in the discussion in appropriate depth.

Decide if each hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if you cannot make a decision with confidence. Do not simply dismiss a study or part of a study as "inconclusive. Draw what conclusions you can based upon the results that you have, and treat the study as a finished work You may suggest future directions, such as how the experiment might be modified to accomplish another objective.

Explain all of your observations as much as possible, focusing on mechanisms. Decide if the experimental design adequately addressed the hypothesis, and whether or not it was properly controlled.

Try to offer alternative explanations if reasonable alternatives exist. One experiment will not answer an overall question, so keeping the big picture in mind, where do you go next? The best studies open up new avenues of research. Recommendations for specific papers will provide additional suggestions. When you refer to information, distinguish data generated by your own studies from published information or from information obtained from other students verb tense is an important tool for accomplishing that purpose.

Refer to work done by specific individuals including yourself in past tense.

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A research paper is a piece of academic writing based on its author’s original research on a particular topic, and the analysis and interpretation of the research findings. It can be either a term paper, a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation.

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HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH PAPER • Getting ready with data • First draft • Structure of a scientific paper • Selecting a journal • Submission • Revision and galley proof Disclaimer: The suggestions and remarks in this presentation are based on personal research experience. Research practices and approaches vary.

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Writing a Research Paper This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper. Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide. Steps in Writing a Research Paper A series of steps, starting with developing a research question and working thesis, will lead you through writing a research paper. As you move through these steps and actually create the research paper, you may find that you can't move through all of them in chronological order, and that's o.k.

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Writing Research Papers. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. While you are learning to write effectively, the limit will be extended to five typed pages. If you practice economy of words, that should be plenty of space within which to say all that you need to say. General intent. How to Start a Research Paper Introduction Conduct your research thoroughly. One problem students run into when starting a research paper introduction is failing to properly research the a map or outline of your paper. Write multiple rough drafts of your opening paragraph. Choose the best version of your introduction and revise it. Ask someone to proofread and critique the introduction.