Everything you need to know about writing research papers in one article.
You are here because you were assigned a research paper. And we have prepared a long, but useful guide on writing a research paper that will answer all your inquires and questions like: “Can research papers have opinions in them?” Read this article and you will be able to describe all your research, starting from the study of “Hunger Games” characters to difficult chemical experiments.
- Finding a Topic
Everybody knows how important a good topic is. Without exaggeration, choosing a solid, controversial, and interesting topic guarantees you 50% of your success. So we are not going to focus on this–you can read articles on choosing a good topic and finding inspiration on our blog.
- Writing an Outline
A research paper is not as lengthy as a dissertation or thesis, of course. Usually, it contains between 2500 and 3000 words (6-8 pages). But writing an outline is a useful habit for students and scientists regardless of what type of work you are doing. Why do you need an outline? In order to write a good and profound research paper based on scientific evidence, you have to read and then include quotations or references to other research works, theses, dissertations, and monographs. And when you have an outline, you have a clear plan and simple reminder of what you have to read, what ideas you definitely need to write about, and what is optional.
Formatting academic papers is difficult–that’s why many students hate do it. You have to pay attention to so many details! Moreover, there are two main styles used in formatting academic writing: MLA and APA. Students are often confused by them, not to mention that each college and teacher can have additional demands. Actually, text formatting rules are pretty similar. Both of these styles demand using an easily readable 12 point font (mainly Times New Roman), double spaces between lines, 1 inch page margins on each side and standard 8.5×11 inch paper. Differences start to appear on the title page, section headings, placing of graphs and illustrations, and citations. Actually, if you give yourself enough time to concentrate on formatting, you will be able to do it correctly.
Well, this is a really hard thing to do–not only because references are regulated by two times as many rules as text formatting, but also because you may be accused of plagiarism due to a minor mistake. The easiest way to get your references (or annotated bibliography, if you need one) right is to have a good example in front of you. Take it from us: reading referencing rules even 20 times won’t work as well as seeing one clear example with explanations. You can ask your friend who’s good at scientific writing or your teacher for some help. Moreover, you can always look for cheap research papers for sale or order reference management at academic help websites.
And finally, we get to one of the most controversial and discussed things in academic writing: plagiarism! Did you know there are so many restrictions, you can be accused of plagiarism even if you told the other researcher’s ideas in your own words? Basically, plagiarism is using other person’s work without proper (more frequently, any) acknowledgment. The tricky thing is that student work has to be based on other people’s theories and ideas. Sounds difficult, right? To avoid any problems with your professors, dissertations committees, and so on, remember one simple rule: do not use the same words of the author whose research you are describing. If you copy their work, it’s plagiarism, obviously. Still, if you tell 90% of it in your own words and use 10% of the words that author has used, because you find them suitable and exacting, this still may be called plagiarism! So try to be as unique as you can when paraphrasing.
You’ve read this far, amazing! Looks like you really want to write an excellent research paper. Now let’s discuss some frequently asked questions related to research paper writing.
Q: Can a research paper be in first person?
This has been a controversial question since the 20th century. It is commonly accepted that researchers shouldn’t use first person pronouns in their works. However, nowadays the trend seems to be changing, and this usage has become more acceptable. First of all, use first person pronouns for comparison (“Unlike scientists A and B, I consider…”) or explaining your actions (“We decided to include the results…”). And remember to be moderate in their use–do not put I’s everywhere when you get a positive answer when you ask your teacher “can research paper have personal pronouns?”
Q: Can research paper have pictures?
If you want to write a good report, you should include pictures. Just remember they are not going to be funny pictures from the Internet, regardless of how closely they are related to the topic. Pictures you can include are graphs, diagrams, tables, or some technical drawings for better visualization. Also note that you should count the length of your paper without pictures—they are regarded as additional materials.
Q: Can a research paper have subtitles?
Yes. You are not only allowed to use subtitles, you are welcome to do so. Subtitles help you to clarify your research aim, and to make it more exact.
Q: Can a research paper be biased?
Here you have a strict “no.” Science is all about being objective and free from any prejudice. Even if you like some of the theories you are talking about, make sure you devoted an equal amount of time to counter theories and to critical evaluations. Try to eliminate bias from your works as much as possible.
Q: Can research papers have opinions in them?
And again the answer is no. A good research paper is neither an expository essay nor a simple collection of other people’s theories. The critical evaluation of such theories are used for presenting a new, unique aspect of the chosen problem. So you cannot include opinions–only facts.
Q: Can a research paper include personal stories?
This question is a little bit tricky, since the answer is “yes and no.” From one point, you cannot directly include your personal stories, saying: “Once I happened to be abroad, and what I learned there about cultural interactions is…” That’s not allowed in research papers. On the other hand, you can use your personal experience, but implicitly. Any academic author does! Because you have to draw a conclusion at the end of your research paper (get to know how to do it right here, and it will always be based on your personal experience. But remember: no direct stories like: “It was a rainy Tuesday and I was drinking my morning coffee…”
Q: Can a research paper have graphs?
Yes. Use any kind of visual material you like (see question #2) to help your reader better understand your work. Just remember that pictures aren’t considered to be the work itself, so they won’t add any text volume.
Q: Can a research paper have bullet points?
Yes, it can. Bullet points are a great tool which helps order things and list them in a logical way. Just remember that formatting styles (APA or MLA) have different demands for using bullet points lists. Check them so your paper will be formatted in a consistent and correct style.