Skip Nav

Writing Research Papers

Research-Based Writing

❶People's views often change once they've done research on a topic. Once you've found at least 5 reputable sources, outline the information you've learned through your research.

Resources for learning technical writing




By the way, your notebook should contain all of the information that you need for this section. The purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings.

Make this section a completely objective report of the results, and save all interpretation for the discussion. You must clearly distinguish material that would normally be included in a research article from any raw data or other appendix material that would not be published.

In fact, such material should not be submitted at all unless requested by the instructor. 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. The significance of findings should be clearly described.

Interpret your data in the discussion in appropriate depth. This means that when you explain a phenomenon you must describe mechanisms that may account for the observation. If your results differ from your expectations, explain why that may have happened. If your results agree, then describe the theory that the evidence supported. It is never appropriate to simply state that the data agreed with expectations, and let it drop at that.

The biggest mistake that students make in discussions is to present a superficial interpretation that more or less re-states the results. It is necessary to suggest why results came out as they did, focusing on the mechanisms behind the observations. Please note that in the introductory laboratory course, you will not be required to properly document sources of all of your information.

One reason is that your major source of information is this website, and websites are inappropriate as primary sources. Second, it is problematic to provide a hundred students with equal access to potential reference materials. You may nevertheless find outside sources, and you should cite any articles that the instructor provides or that you find for yourself.

Copyright and Intended Use Visitors: Resources for learning technical writing Before you begin your first writing assignment, please consult all of the following resources, in order to gain the most benefit from the experience. General form of a typical research article Specific guidelines if any for the assignment — see the writeups on individual lab studies McMillan, VE. ISBN REQUIRED for Bioc , , recommended for other science courses that include writing Writing portfolio examples pdf As you polish up your writing skills please make use of the following resources Instructor feedback on previous assignments Common errors in student research papers Selected writing rules somewhat less serious than the other resources For Biosciences majors the general guidelines apply to future course work, as can be seen by examining the guidelines for the advanced experimental sciences research paper Bioc General form of a research paper An objective of organizing a research paper is to allow people to read your work selectively.

General style Specific editorial requirements for submission of a manuscript will always supercede instructions in these general guidelines. To make a paper readable Print or type using a 12 point standard font, such as Times, Geneva, Bookman, Helvetica, 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 Title Page Select an informative title as illustrated in the examples in your writing portfolio example package.

Abstract The summary should be two hundred words or less. See the examples in the writing portfolio package. 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. 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. Not Helpful 2 Helpful 5. First, make sure that you have a side that you plan to take with your thesis. Start with searching things that are very specific to your argument, then gradually broaden your search.

Don't leave any stone unturned. Not Helpful 3 Helpful 2. Answer this question Flag as Can I use headings while research essay? Letter to a member of parliament telling him three things your school need most?

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Quick Summary The best way to write a research essay is to find sources, like specialty books, academic journals, and online encyclopedias, about your topic.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

How to Write a Research Paper. What is a research paper? 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.

Privacy FAQs

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.

About Our Ads

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. The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting the research are governed by standards within the predominant discipline.

Cookie Info

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. Research papers are generally longer pieces of written work than essays. Writing a research paper involves all of the steps for writing an essay plus some additional ones. To write a research paper you must first do some research, that is, investigate your topic by reading about it in many different.