Research Writing: From Browsing to Polishing

Research > Research Writing: From Browsing to Polishing

By Sara Zaki > LAST MODIFIED DATE: 23 January 2024 > In Research

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Oftentimes, we tend to struggle whilst composing a research paper because we mistakenly believe that we should be aware of the content that should be written. But as the renowned scientist Albert Einstein used to say “If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”.

There always comes a certain point in our lives when we finally choose to appeal to research studies to provide answers to problems, communicate our results to others and deepen our comprehension of complex subjects. Basically, through research, we are able to gather useful resources for knowledge and understanding that can be easily compiled into one impactful paper.

It can be overwhelming to have to write a research paper, especially when you have absolutely no clue where to begin. After all, extensive studying and writing call for a lot of planning, time, and work. When aware of the process, however, writing a research paper could be a fantastic chance to investigate a subject that interests you abundantly. You may obtain knowledge on any subject via study, and writing about what you have learned can help you remember it and comprehend it better.

Essentially, the beauty of working on a research paper is that it stimulates you into discovering the unknown, challenging you to enhance your understanding in a certain field. However, there is a certain process that facilitates the discovery process. Here are seven steps you can follow to release the inner Sherlock in you:

  1. Determine your topic of interest

Choosing a topic might be a bit overwhelming at first since it is the base of writing your paper. Try employing techniques like brainstorming to concentrate on your topic. Explore readings that cover your topics of interest to help you narrow them down to one. This leads to formulating a clear research question—a wide, open-ended inquiry that will direct your study.

  1. Locate materials & evaluate them

Without the right resources, the arguments you make on your paper will be futile. Both primary and secondary sources ought to be used as evidence throughout your work. Primary sources offer direct knowledge and can be in the form of interviews, surveys, focus groups…etc. On the other hand, biographies, literary criticism and other research papers are examples of secondary sources that offer some analysis or interpretation of the information that is presented.

Next comes the evaluation. There are various contributing factors that measure the reliability of a source. One factor is how relevant its information is; how directly it relates to your research question. Another is how credible the material is. Websites ending with .edu (educational institution), (.gov = government websites) and .org (usually a non-profit organization) are examples of trustworthy sources. Also, peer-reviewed scholarly articles are notable good examples which are “detailed articles about research in a particular academic discipline written by faculty/researchers/ scholars, fully-cited, peer-reviewed, include information about the authors and are published by academic organizations (Simon Fraser University). A third factor is the date of publication; some studies may be reliable, but outdated!

On another note, even when published in scholarly publications, book reviews and editorials are not regarded as scholarly papers–keep that in mind.

  1. Plan and schedule time to research and write

Setting aside hours to write each day will not only serve as the key to any time-management issues but also provide you with intervals of time in which you can regain your energy and refresh your mind. This is a critical step to take into consideration because otherwise, you would be prone to mental exhaustion and demotivation. Ultimately, a timetable can help you stay organized and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed as the deadline draws near.

  1. Create an outline

This step, by far, is the most important because it directly sets the stage for how your paper will turn out. It’s akin to drawing the dots that shape a picture–all that is left to be done is connect them to each other. As a starting point to this stage, you can label the sections required in your paper such as the abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references. You will then plot down a few bullet-points as a guidance to how your paragraphs will be organized underneath each section. This entails the points you have discovered from your collection of eligible sources.

  1. Draft your paper

Don’t worry, you’re not expected to perfectly connect the dots on the first attempt. That is why having a preliminary draft of your work will enable you to take a step back and assess what is strong, what is lacking, and what needs to be changed. This is what we call a rough draft. Let a trusted confidant read your work to give you an outside opinion and allow you to understand how it reads from a layman’s perspective; they may spot things you never would.

  1. Make amendments

It is during this core stage that you must ensure that your paper is both coherent and cohesive; each body paragraph flowing smoothly one after the other in order to satisfactorily address your research question.

Additionally, one important factor that students tend to overlook is citing every source that was referred to throughout the paper. If this element is disregarded, consider all the effort you have exerted to be pointless. Always ensure that the information included that is not your work is cited to avoid plagiarism.

  1. Proofread

Finally, proofread your writing carefully for any grammatical mistakes, typos, repeated words, etc. Would you continue reading a paper, no matter how important, if it was littered with grammatical errors? Probably not.

Another aspect to explore is the tone; make sure that your paper has a suitable and consistent tone throughout. 

By the time you complete this guide, you will have turned a basic inquiry into a well-researched, polished essay you can confidently submit– a total game-changer! More significantly, you will be immensely proud of such a magnificent endeavor that has allowed you to master the knowledge in your area of interest.


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