The process of compiling research and writing a paper can cause anxiety, however, with adequate preparation and the right tools apprehension will diminish. This Research Guide is full of resources. From understanding what your professor is asking for, to polish up your final draft, this section includes instructions and tips on all stages of the writing process. Click on the side navigation to find written explanations and a few short videos.
*This guide is intended to help students organize and write quality research papers for classes taught in the natural sciences. Note, if you have specific questions about a writing assignment, you should seek advice from your professor before you begin. Requirements set forth by your professor will always supersede instructions provided in these general guidelines.
LRC offers one-on-one research assistance (by appointment)
Read your assignment carefully.
Ask for help from your instructor, classmates, or librarian.
Helpful link from UNC-Chapel Hill with the exercise below!
Further your thinking by ‘questioning the question’. This helps you focus by drawing out sub-questions about the question and topic.
Generate ideas through brainstorming. Come up with as many ideas as you can as quickly as you can. Don’t evaluate or discard anything – you can do that later – just jot them down. Use mindmaps, drawings, and lists; whatever comes to mind and stimulates your thinking. Look at what you’ve noted down. Pull out the points that are relevant to the question and discard the rest.
A good research plan (roughly ten pages) should include the following information: topic, background, objectives, methods, data, and execution. It should also demonstrate that the author is familiar with his/her topic and related research.
A common challenge when beginning to write a research paper is determining how to narrow down your topic. Even if your professor gives you a specific topic to study, it will almost never be so specific that you won’t have to narrow it down at least to some degree [besides, grading fifty papers that are all about the exact same thing is very boring!].
A topic is too broad to be manageable when you find that you have too many different, and oftentimes conflicting or only remotely related, ideas about how to investigate the research problem. Although you will want to start the writing process by considering a variety of different approaches to studying the research problem, you will need to narrow the focus of your investigation at some point early in the writing process. This way, you don't attempt to do too much in one paper.
NOTE: Apply one of the above strategies first to determine if that gives you a manageable research problem to investigate. You will know if the problem is manageable by reviewing the literature on this more specific problem and assessing whether prior research on the narrower topic is sufficient to move forward in your study [i.e., not too much, not too little]. Be careful, however, because combining multiple strategies risks creating the opposite problem--your problem becomes too narrowly defined and you can't locate enough research or data to support your study.
Research Design is a detailed outline of how an investigation will take place. A research design typically includes how data will be collected, what instruments will be employed, how the instruments will be used and the intended means for analyzed data collected.
With this in mind, the length and complexity of describing research designs in your paper can vary considerably, however, a well-developed design will achieve the following:
research design. BusinessDictionary.com. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from BusinessDictionary.com website: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/research-design.html.
Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal Of Information Science, 39, 470-478. doi:10.1177/0165551513478889
Meriam Library at California State University, Chico. (2010, September 17). Evaluating information-Applying the CRAAP test. Retrieved from http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf
After viewing the guide, attempt the Writing Activity below for further practice and then do the RADAR CHALLENGE, an exercise for analyzing an academic source in depth.
A brief summary of the research contents
Provides quick information about the topic including problem, methodology, participants (if any), findings, and conclusion.
Qualities of a good abstract:
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.). An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/ or evaluation of each other sources. Depending on the assignment, your annotation may do one or more of the following:
Annotated bibliographies are useful when organizing sources for research projects.
A thesis statement is the main idea, central message, or point of your paper/ research. A thesis statement focuses your idea in one or two sentences. It should present the topic of discussion, a brief comment about your position on the topic, and what the paper/ research is about. The thesis statement also provides a guide for your writing to keep your argument focused.
Typeface: Times New Roman
Font size: 12 point
Line Spacing: Double-space
Margins: 1 inch at the top, bottom, left, and right of the page
Line length and alignment: Do not adjust lines
Paragraphs and indentations: Every first line of a paragraph and first line in footnotes, if footnotes are included should be a five to seven space or 1/2 inch (tab). Remaining the lines should be uninformed to the left-hand margin.
Exceptions to indentation rule:
Revising a paper means to take another look at it. This is more than a simple proofread, this is an opportunity for you to look at your paper critically: reconsidering your arguments, reviewing your evidence, refining your purpose, reorganizing your presentation, fix any grammatical errors, and address any APA formatting issues.
Group projects are assigned to deepen your understanding of the course material, in addition to expanding personal and teamwork skills.
Project planning is the establishment of the research scope and defining the objective. For best results, the team should create a shared project plan, also known as a project management plan, that contains the scope, objective, and the task needed to accomplish the objective.
Since project plans are essential for the group to reference the look and content will vary.