10 Tips to Writing a Research Paper

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To write a research paper, you have to be precise, including the right information, and keep the entire document organized.

For those going on to higher education, or publishing their own research, the need to write a good paper is paramount. If an editor or publisher approves it, the research paper can then be published. 

The first thing your paper needs is a short description of your research. This is why it is very important to write it properly so it will grab attention.

If it is your first time writing a research paper, you should follow the rules listed below.

1. Come up with a Clever Title

Titles are the first thing that people will look at when you hand them your manuscript. It is often the deciding factor that will get your paper accepted or rejected. To come up with a creative and clever title that will immediately grab your publisher, editor, or professor’s attention, you need to know the characteristics of a good title.

  • People should be able to predict the content of the paper by just reading the title.
  • It should pique the reader’s curiosity.
  • It should capture the writing style and the tone of your manuscript.
  • A good title should only have 10-15 words.

If the title you’ve chosen for your paper does not tick all these boxes, you need to change a few things.

2. Check the Number of Paragraphs

A research manuscript has a fixed format: abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and reference.

Each of these segments needs to have a set number of paragraphs so it does not look cluttered. For example, if there is too much information in the introduction, people will not have the patience to go through the methodology or the results.

Similarly, if you do not use an appropriate number of paragraphs in the results or discussion part, your whole research will feel incomplete, and some might even question whether the paper lacks information.

To make sure this does not happen, synchronize the information into proper paragraphs and write them accordingly. Do not put too much info in one part while providing less in another. 

The introduction should be about three to five paragraphs without disclosing too much information, only giving brief details. The rest of the segments should also be precise with two or three paragraphs. 

Sometimes it is hard to summarize your information, but with the help and resources of Online Knowledge and online tools, you can create perfect summaries of large chunks of texts in a matter of minutes.

3. Use Tables and Figures

If you have a few supporting figures and tables in your manuscript, the paper will look more informative. But while using tables and figures to describe various data, you need to keep a few things in mind.

First, you need to make sure that you are not cluttering up your table or chart with too much information. Use multiple tables if necessary. This makes it easier for the reader.

Second, you need to make sure that you name the tables and the figures so people can easily understand what information the table provides just by looking at the name.

Last, make sure you use the right-sized fonts. Sometimes the font sizes in tables and graphs are too small. If your reader needs to squint to read the table, they may not bother. If you need to, break up the table into two, but make sure the font is readable.

4. Keep the Sentences in an Orderly Sequence

No one will want to read your manuscript if the information is written haphazardly and out of sequence.

For example, if there are two pieces of information and one is the result of the other, then you need to discuss the methodology and findings and provide the information in the correct order.

This way, the readers will have an easier time understanding where all the information came from. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to understand the correct sequence of information, and the readers will be at a loss.

5. Have the Right Keywords for Indexing

Keywords make it easier for others to find your research paper. This is why you need to include valid keywords that best describe your research paper. Generally, you need to write the keywords right after the abstract.

When selecting keywords, make sure you do not use words that have a broad meaning. Choose words that relate to the title and the content of your research. It is also best to avoid using abbreviations. 

For example, if your title is “How to use rainwater in the right way,” you cannot use “rain” as a keyword because it has a wide definition. Make the keywords more specific in accordance with the content such as “rainwater harvesting.”

6. Use the Right Method of Referencing

There are many methods for referencing such as Harvard, Oxford, APA, etc. You need to use one that is accepted by the publishing journal. If the journal wants you to write the references in the Harvard method, you cannot write them in APA.

Using the wrong referencing method can get your manuscript rejected. If you find it difficult to reference manually, you can use the referencing tools available on the Internet. They provide accurate referencing and remove any room for error. This can also save a lot of time.

7. Avoid Contractions and Informal Writing

The research paper is a formal academic document. All formal documents require you to avoid using contractions. For example, you cannot write, “It isn’t possible for the company to achieve this goal.” Instead, you should write, “It is not possible for the company to achieve this goal.”

Using informal or slang expressions is not acceptable in formal writing. For example, “gonna” is an informal term used in spoken conversation. But when you are writing an academic paper, you need to use the more standard “going to.”

8. Stick to One Type of Abstract

There are three types of abstracts that you can write for your research manuscript: descriptive, informative, and structured abstracts.

Descriptive abstracts are mostly used in research papers related to social sciences. This is because social sciences do not require you to use numbers or calculations. So they are mostly just descriptive sentences.

Informative abstracts are used in more scientific research. They contain calculations and numerical values, along with analysis.

Structured abstracts are similar to informative abstracts. But instead of using simple calculations to describe the result, structured abstracts use paragraphs and narrative to describe the scientific calculations.

When writing an abstract, do not mix these up. Choose the one that best represents your research type.

9. Have Clarity and Define Each Term

In your research manuscript, there will no doubt be terms that are difficult for others to understand. Make sure that these terms are properly clarified with the right definitions and examples.

This will make your paper more readable, and people will be able to get the message you are trying to get across. It can also help solve issues arising from language barriers because if you define it in simple terms, people who do not have a full grasp of your language will have an easier time understanding your message.

10. Read It from the Reader’s Perspective

After finishing the whole manuscript, you need to read it from the perspective of a reader. Remember that the reader did not do any research before reading this paper. So what seems easy to understand to you might seem difficult to a reader. They also might not have the same amount of knowledge on the topic as you.

To make your research manuscript more viable, you need to write the whole thing in a way that even someone who has no understanding of the research topic will be able to comprehend. The only way to achieve this is by reading it from the reader’s perspective or have someone else read it for you and let them point out the difficult areas you need to change.

Final Thoughts

Writing a research paper is no easy task. You need to maintain the proper sequence, a formal writing tone and provide clarity all throughout your manuscript. Since this is a very important undertaking, spend as much time as necessary on it, keeping in mind that a simple mistake can get your entire work rejected. So be thorough and make sure your paper is free of mistakes and mistakes.

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