10 Practical Tips for Writing a Successful Research Paper
You are finally done with your survey or experiment. It is time to put your findings together as a research paper, and it is not an easy part. These tips will help you navigate the way.
- Craft a Catchy Heading
Think of the heading that will make the tutor curious to read your paper.
- Follow the Proper Structure
Unless explicitly prescribed otherwise, you need to have Introduction, Method/Methodology, Findings/Results, and Conclusion/Recommendations as the main sections.
Briefly explain your topic and rationale in the Introduction. Describe how exactly you conducted the research in Methodology. Report what you have found in Results. Summarise the key insights and provide recommendations in Conclusion.
- Leave the Introduction until the end
It will be much easier to write after you complete the rest of your paper.
- Outline Before You Start Writing
Think of the main points you want to include in each section. Write them down as notes, e. g.:
34% variance explained
Significant factors: leadership style
After you outline all the points, develop them into full sentences and paragraphs. This technique is easier than writing in complete sentences from the start. Outlining will also prevent you from getting bogged down in detail and losing focus.
- Be Analytical
Explain what others can make of your findings and how they fit with other literature on the subject:
This relationship suggests that companies need to invest into effective leadership to improve staff morale…
Contradictory to Briggs (2018), this work established…
- Be Critical
Acknowledge the limitations of your study, and those of the other works you discuss.
Limitations may include small sample size, non-random sampling, and incompleteness of data, e.g. some potentially influential factors were left out. Explain how these affect the interpretation of findings:
The explained variance was only 34%, which means that over half of the difference between high and low performers should be attributed to other factors than examined.
- Use Visuals
Present your findings as figures, diagrams, and tables whenever possible. Visuals are easier to interpret than plain text; relying on them will enhance your presentation and probably win you a few extra points.
- Construct Effective Paragraphs
State your main idea in the first sentence. Then, support it with bits of evidence from the literature or your own primary research. At the end, include a wrap-up sentence stating the practical implications or limitations.
- Avoid Plagiarism
Attribute any words or ideas of other people to the source, regardless of whether you cite them directly or paraphrase.
Double-check not only the referencing style required by your university (i.e. Harvard, Chicago, APA, etc.), but also the needed edition of the referencing rules.
- Make It Shine
Around 10% of the mark is awarded for presentation; so, leave enough time for polishing the structure, style, and appearance of your research paper. Make sure that the numbering is correct, and you have no hanging lines or unintended blank spaces.
Tables should not be split between pages. If a table is too large to fit into one, better put it in the Appendices.
The attention to detail is key to producing a winning research paper. Organising and presenting your findings are no less important than the research itself; so, make sure you get them right.