In the course of studies at college or university, or later in your professional career, you may be required to write a dissertation or a properly researched paper on a particular subject. Such a task should not be confused with the writing of an essay or a report. However, the writing skills that you have acquired will need to be applied here as well, and you must also bear in mind the cardinal virtues of clarity, order, relevance and economy. When writing a dissertation, you should have an argument, an approach or an analysis to put forward. That is, your paper should not simply provide information, but also present the findings or conclusion that result from your study of these data. Some basic points, however, should be kept in the mind by the beginner. These relate to the research, writing, citation, and bibliography required for the dissertation or the research paper.
Research is probably the most important part of writing any dissertation or research paper. The nature of your research will depend on your subject. It may involve experiments, field work, observational data, collection of samples, surveys etc. or involve mathematical problem solving or reasoning from evidence. It may involve philosophical speculation or logic and may necessitate the study of books, manuscripts, pictures, recordings, archives, electronic media or other sources of knowledge. The materials on which your study is based on are called the primary sources, while all the consultation of reference works, earlier studies, critical works and commentaries in the area of your interest, that you also need to look upon, constitute the secondary sources of the research.
Whatever the nature of the material you are studying, you need to keep a thorough and careful note of your work. Accurate note taking is the first and the most important element in the writing of a research paper. Both your own thoughts and observations, and the data you are collecting from different sources must be carefully recorded. Some people take notes in a notebook or on sheets of paper, while others prefer to put down on cards which can then be classified under subject-heads an filed in alphabetical order in a card index for easy reference. Reference material can also be stored in electronic form for easy transfer, storing and rearrangement.
The research once done needs to be carefully written down under various heads. The introductory part of the paper should set out both the subject of study and the parameters or limits within which the study has been conducted. You may then proceed by briefly stating the argument and then going on to substantiate it from the evidence that you have collected. Finally you should very briefly summarize the major points and present your conclusion.
Since for all that to be accurately presented, the research needs to be properly conducted, research is given the utmost importance in any paper or dissertation. It serves as the basic framework acting as the supporting pillar to the paper. Often aspects like the presentation or language are given lesser importance in a well researched paper, which makes a lot of thinking and knowledge go into it. Hence before writing a paper, one must first and foremost think of something worth researching on and carry on a thorough study on it, for the research to be successful.