- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

Meeting Effective Research Goals

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the ways in which a student can learn proper ways of research and writing. This paper will detail ways to research, how that research can lead to effective writing, and, specifically, how to structure a paper in an effective way. The most effective way for a student to learn proper research and writing is by reading and researching, taking for example the ways actual scholars write and mimicking that writing.

Effective Research

There are many ways to research. First, however, a student must know what they are researching and that includes coming up with a topic. Oftentimes a topic will be provided by a professor or teacher, yet, if no topic is provided, a student must create a topic based on the guidelines set forth by an instructor. Once a topic is created, the best tool for beginning research is Google Scholar. By simply typing in the topic or doing a Boolean search for particular keywords, a student can find a plethora of published scholarly articles on that topic. Another tool is Wikipedia. While most professors frown upon citing Wikipedia, in most cases Wikipedia includes its own citations for scholarly articles from which it draws its information. A student can then use these articles to begin researching.

By doing research and reading through different articles, a student will be exposed to various modes of writing and researching. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but to further that point, imitation—not plagiarism—is the best way to become a better writer. By reading through as many articles and professional research on a topic as possible, a student can learn how to structure a professional-sounding paper, how to use language professionally and effectively, and learn different research and statistical techniques. Also, at the end of every scholarly article is a list of citations! Students can use works that the original author cited, research them using a tool like Google Scholar, and use that research to back up their own.

Finally, it is important to know how to properly structure a paper to make the content most effective and reach the reader in a meaningful way. After doing research on a carefully chosen topic, a student can then create a thesis statement or statement of purpose for the paper which will further help them narrow down their own research. The topic of the paper is often included in the first few sentences of the first paragraph of a research paper as a broad introduction to the rest of the paper. This should also be used as a hook to grab the reader’s attention. Using the inverse triangle method, the student narrows down the focus of the writing so that the thesis of the paper is in the last few sentences of the first paragraph. This helps the reader know exactly what the paper will be about. The next several paragraphs—the number of paragraphs will vary based on the scope of the research—are called body paragraphs and should include the main content of the research, describing what the student learned and citing several sources to back up the claim presented in the thesis statement. Finally, the paper should end with several conclusions drawn from the research. In simpler essays, the conclusion can be one paragraph but students should not feel limited to the five paragraph model of essay writing. Depending on the essay format, students will then have a references page or a citation page which includes any and all research that aided the student in the construction of the paper.

It is always helpful when becoming an effective writer to first become an effective reader. A good reader can learn to mimic the writing styles of greater and more experienced writers in order to send a clear message in their own writing. By reading and researching first, a student can learn structure, research methods, and even discover in the citations of other writing some good resources for their own work.