What a Research Paper is Not?

A research paper is not anything other than what a research paper is and should be. If you have read my article on What is a Research Paper you will definitely not make the mistake of thinking that a research paper is anything following:

A summary of previously written book or paper

A research paper is not a summary of anything as we learned in the what is a research paper that a research paper should show your involvement and your work from the beginning till end. A research paper is an addition to the existing knowledge it is not just a summary of what is already known. Summaries usually describe in brief what an author has written about a topic.

Every student write summaries in his academic career but the aim of writing summaries is different from writing a research paper. The teacher asks students to write a research paper to learn multiple skills like to seek truth with originality, to find answers to unanswered questions, or to develop research skills for later use in life. Even when the students use references in their research paper they do not summarize other authors writing but they critically evaluate it and that makes research paper their work rather than compilation of other authors writing.

Repetition of others ideas

Some students make the mistake of repeating other authors’ ideas in the research paper without having any of their own involvement in the research paper. The student can use the idea of other author more than once but then he should critically evaluate it for its reliability. The research paper should be a cohesive piece of writing, repetition of ideas without any analysis can only end in a research paper that is unplanned, unsystematic, and haphazard.

A series of quotations

A research paper is not a series of quotation from other authors. You cannot quote several authors regarding your topic and leave the readers understand what the topic is all about. You have to write your own observations or results of experiments and support it with previous authors viewpoints. Although you can quote an author in your research paper that is relevant to your research findings to support your results. That quotation should be properly cited in a manner that is approved by your research supervisor. Writing several quotations from other authors without any of your  involvement in the topic will not make any sense of your research paper.

Unsubstantiated personal opinions

A research paper or thesis is not about writing personal opinions. If you write something other than the previous authors’ work you have to provide sufficient evidence. This evidence is your practical observation, survey result, experiment findings etc. Personal opinions have no place in a research paper and writing from your own opinion will make your research paper biased and unscientific.

Copy of others work without acknowledgment

Even a single phrase that you have quoted in your research paper should be fully cited. All the reviews and other references should be cited in the research paper using a single citation style. It is plagiarism to use other authors’ work in the form of reviews or references and do not acknowledge it. Without proper acknowledgment your research paper will become unworthy to be called a research paper.


  • Roth, A. J., The Research Paper: Process, Form, and Content, Wordsworth Publish Co., 1999, 8th Ed., Pp-4-6
  • Baker, J. R., Purdue Online Writing: Genre and the Research Paper, Last edited: 03, 30, 2011, Sited on: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/658/02/




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