Research papers are important to a student because it will test a student's research skills as well as applying what he has research into academic context. Compared to an essay, a research paper is a more in-depth study of a topic. In this kind of paper, every bit of information must be presented with credible evidence and must be properly cited. A research paper needs to answer a thesis statement using different techniques to gather information. Information gathering may come from experimentation, observations, interviews or surveys.
A research paper must always present every valid side of the argument as well as the opposing sides of the arguments for it to be considered reliable. The writer must also pay special attention that the paper does not present any form of bias or it will labeled as a research paper that is not reliable.
Before attempting to do a research paper, a broad understanding of the topic is needed since a research paper requires an analysis of the subject. It is also important to plan ahead and draft an outline so as not to get sidetracked from the real goal of the research paper and also to be able to present information in a clear manner.
In doing a research paper, it is always important to evaluate the sources that would be used. Some sources may not be reliable, may be misleading and may even present false information. One aspect that a writer may look into is that a credible source must have a list of references used. Special precaution must be taken in choosing which references to use especially when using web sources since many web sources may prove to be unreliable. Websites can be categorized. Those that end with .edu are educational institutions and are good sources of reliable information. Those that end with .gov are government agencies or sectors. They usually provide government reports and may be considered reliable. Those that end with .org are organizations. The organization websites may provide reliable or unreliable information since some may side with an issue. Those that end with .com are personal websites and are rarely reliable sources of information. It is up for the writer to identify which sources he finds are reliable and which are not. Journal articles are always good sources as well as news from reliable media institutions.
In writing a research paper, the introduction should give a description of the topic as well as some major issues that are associated with it. A presentation of the thesis must follow the introduction. In the body of the research paper, information must be mentioned clearly and accurately. The organization must be coherent and must have a smooth flow. It must be relevant to prove or disprove the thesis. Finally, the research paper is ended with a conclusion which will first summarize all the relevant points in the research paper and all these would be analyzed to form an appropriate and reliable conclusion.
Like other forms of academic writing, writing a research paper requires knowledge of citation styles. The most common citation styles used are MLA and APA format but depending on the requirements, professors may require other formats so it is also necessary to have knowledge of other citation styles. For help with citation styles, there are various websites on the web that provide information on it.