The Perfect Formula For a Research Paper

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A research paper is probably the most challenging coursework given to students. It requires a mature thought process and the writer must present something original and unique. A research paper can feature a subject matter on which previous research does not exist or it can build on existing research. The second approach is more suitable as the writer will have a reference point.
There are many ways to go about composing it and therefore a stage wise approach is suggested.

Vet the topic
Before starting the actual writing, the writer must be clear and specific regarding the research paper topic. General topics should be avoided as the writer will find difficulty in presenting information and adhering to the page count. An example of a general topic could be ‘Sports in South Africa,’ while a specific topic would be the ‘The declining state of sports facilities in Rural South Africa.’

The topic and reference search should be carried simultaneously. There is no use carrying forth a good topic on which adequate references do not exist. The internet is obviously the first place to start research but the researcher should place value on quality of website. As a general rule information from websites like Wikipedia are totally useless and should be avoided at all costs. Develop a draft reference list and just gather good sources. The vetting of references will come later on.

Probably the best thing to do after getting a topic and references is to build a Research Proposal and get it approved from the Teacher/Professor. This will enable feedback from the instructor and avoid mistakes/errors by proceeding alone. Remember that prevention is better than cure.

Rough draft
When starting work on the rough draft, it is better to identify expected page count and tentative table of contents. This outline will simplify writing and presentation of information in organized fashion. While preparing the rough draft, formatting and grammar related issues are not critical. This can be done in review stage. At this stage the pen must flow without hindrance.

Working on content
Apart from internet, some resources can be found in the institution’s library. This includes original books, journals like Harvard Business review etc. The student should develop the content from these rich resources and keep track through a notebook. This tracking will enable smooth referencing at the end.

Adhering to outline
The basis presentation is always Beginning, body and conclusion. However, at this stage the writer must be clear regarding which headings are populating the Body. Throughout the writing phase, the outline must be foremost in mind to avoid excessive writing or irrelevant content.

The research paper must be completed 24 hours before the deadline at a minimum. This allows the opportunity to revise the paper including spelling/grammar mistakes, adhering to instructor’s criteria and improving sentence construction. Effective revision can be the difference between a ‘B’ and ‘A.’ Therefore this step must be taken seriously. Plagiarism must be avoided and quotes, definitions etc. must be referenced properly.

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How to create a good research paper topic

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A house that lasts a lifetime is built on a strong foundation. The analogy can be extended to a research paper, where a good research topic is critical in being the backbone of the paper. Thus the writer should be careful in choosing a topic in order to elicit a desirable response from his intended targeted readers’ audience. But how can one decide whether a research topic is good or not.

Before starting to write, the author of the research paper should explore his interests. It is always useful to exploit one’s sea of knowledge. Such an approach facilitates not only ease with the topic but also depicts command over the topic the writer portrays in the research paper. Further, the personal interest on behalf of the writer will motivate him to produce a piece of writing that was thoroughly researched and was not a victim of either procrastination or disinterest.

Another approach to choosing a good research paper topic can be to assess the data availability. Research papers always include literature reviews. However, careful consideration needs to be made whether the secondary data is sufficient to cover the needs of the paper. The writer needs to examine the study material to evaluate whether his hypothesis or argument of the paper is being satisfied with the data. On the contrary, at time the secondary data becomes burdensome. Excess inflow of information tends to baffle the writer who becomes perplexed in choosing what material may be best suited to his needs. In the end, the inability to limit the affect of secondary research may lead the research paper topic to sound vague and incapable of directing towards a single minded research analysis.

Whilst the process of choosing a good research paper topic one should be careful to arouse the reader’s interest. As goes the old proverb ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’; a similar case applies to research topics as well. While it may be easy to decide upon a common topic, it may not be able to yield a favorable response. The individual who may be reading the research paper might have come across the topic several times and may seem to have lost interest. Thus, in the end the paper is subject to an adverse reaction. Like ‘too many cooks’ too many writers previously may have contributed towards making it a mundane topic. Thus the writer should be careful in repeating the mistakes of his predecessors.

It is always crucial to assess the information requirements and interests of the reader to whom the writer will be directing his paper. A research paper topic may seem extremely interesting to the writer may prove to be a subject of concern or bias to the reader. Therefore, before deciding upon a topic, the writer needs to assess what would satisfy the reader’s appetite for knowledge. Such an approach emerges from the principles of marketing, where the customer is declared the king. In content writing, the reader then becomes the king in controlling the actions of the writer; application of the principles of demand and supply. By catering to the needs of the targeted audience, the writer will be successful in narrating facts that appeal to the reader and thus aid in developing a topic of appropriate concern for the research paper.

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