What is a research paper? Generally speaking, the answer can be that it is a creative and original interpretation of your own search of knowledge related to a specific topic. A research paper is an essay but it is an expanded essay with different aims that includes: to write an original piece of writing, to document all the sources that have been used in the collection and interpretation of knowledge, and to add to the current knowledge about the specific topic. All of this makes research paper a task of responsibility since the aim is not just to collect facts from here and there and compile them but to create something new and original.
Student and other researchers writing a research paper or thesis today have an infinite availability of data in the form of digital and non digital sources. The way research is done today has been changed a lot from the way it was done several decades back. The only thing that has not and will not be changed is the basic aim of the research: to write original, valid, reliable and authentic piece of paper, and to acknowledge all the sources in the research in an academically approved manner.
A collection of facts
Every research paper is a collection of facts using different sources. You can use any print or non print source to find facts and to use them in your search for knowledge. You can collect facts using books, magazines, journals, diaries, autobiographies or letters. You can also collect fact using first hand evidences by asking people their opinions, experiences and ideas. The most authentic way can be to do experiments in the laboratory and collect data or to observe a real life situation as it is taking place in a real setting. All of the above mentioned and any other source you can use to collect data depending on your research topic and on the availability of it.
Your evaluation backed up by expert ideas
A research paper is a combination of your evaluation and interpretations about a topic and other peoples interpretations. Throughout the research paper you review sources from other authors and use them to weigh your interpretations. This helps the readers understand what you have concluded and what other authors have concluded on your topic area. Throughout your research paper your involvement is evident and that makes it different from an essay.
An original work
A research paper is an original writing that has been created by you with the help of your research supervisor. It is not merely a collection of facts from different sources. As you search for the knowledge you create something new something original. It is also true that you use many sources in the development of the research paper and these sources are helpful in many ways but your thoughts, interpretations and originality should be evident in the final result that is your research paper.
It acknowledges all sources
The sources that you have used in the process of research as well as during writing and documenting your research paper should be properly acknowledgment. You should use one style of referencing throughout your research paper that style of referencing should be approved by your research supervisor. Its plagiarism to use any source in your research paper and do not acknowledge it. The sources that you have used are the intellectual property of the writer and by no means you can use them without acknowledging their work.
It makes you part of a research community
Writing a research paper means that you become part of a research community and other people will also be able to use your research paper as a source when they need it. Originality is therefore very important because your piece of writing will be used by other researchers. You should have an original, valid and reliable research paper that any other researcher can trust on. This will also give you a feeling that you have done something that is significant for so many people.
- Roth, J. A., The Research Paper: Process, Form, and Content, Wadsworth Publishing Company, 8th Ed, 1999, Pp-3-5
- Turabian, K. L., A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, The Univ of Chicago Press, 8th Ed, 2007, Pp- 5-10
- Lester, J. D., Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide, Scott Foresman and Co, Illinois, Pp- 1-4