It is rather hard to tell how to write a good research paper – despite scientific style being rather limited and restricted in its accepted arsenal of tools, most really good writers manage to find their takes on official guidelines and develop their own styles that make their works unique. It is difficult to pinpoint the things that you should do in order to write a successful research paper; a much better approach is to select some things you should avoid in all possible ways – this will give you some impression as to in which direction to move.
1. Incorrect Usage of Citations
The worst thing you can do is to use thoughts or ideas from another work without giving proper credit to its author. Even if you don’t use exact words you still have to place the work in question in the “Works Cited” list, name it and the author and indicate the pages. If you fail to do it, you can be accused of plagiarism, one of the most serious offences in academia, which can lead to expulsion from college. Thus, when it comes to citations it is better to overdo than not.
2. Spelling, Grammar and Factual Mistakes
By the time you write any serious research work mistakes are supposed to be long in the past – and it is exactly why their presence can come as a shock to your instructors and then to you, when you look at your grade. Seriously, if you claim to do real research work you can’t afford to make any glaring mistakes. As for grammar and spelling – carefully proofread what you write or find somebody who would do it for you. As for facts – check and recheck what you write.
3. Poor Organization
A paper is more than just a certain amounts of words loosely connected with a topic. It should have structure, each point flowing into the next one smoothly and logically. Nevertheless, chaotic internal structure is the most widespread reason professors and tutors have to reduce their students’ grades. One of the best ways to avoid it is simply to plan ahead and try to write gradually across a period of time, not in one go at the very last moment.
4. Weak Grasp of Stylistics
Unlike spelling, stylistics is much harder to learn; the skills usually come with practice. However, even if you don’t have an instinctive sense of style, you may help yourself by following some simple principles: avoid passive voice, wordiness, contractions, first person, colloquial and slang expressions, use proper transitional sentences and so on.
5. Absence of Research
Remember, you are writing a research paper. It is not enough to gather a truckload of literature on the topic and quote it. You should do so while supporting a certain idea, a thesis. Each quotation should be used in reference to your ideas. If you simply restate someone else’s words, the worth of your work is exactly zero.
It is hard to learn how to do something right – it is much easier to learn how not to do what is wrong. Follow these guidelines and good research writing will come in time.