Understanding the process of writing a research paper

By Priya Chetty on December 5, 2011

Before we delve into the mechanism of writing a research, it is important to understand what it actually means. It is a written treatise in support of a subject usually for a doctoral degree and is a leading argument pointing towards a certain conclusive evidence.

Dissertation is the defining body of work which draws from the research to build a case for reaching a particular conclusion. It is important, to write an effective and impressive dissertation by a scholar to score with the doctoral granting academia. Here we look into steps that can help us write a dissertation that stands out for its impact.

Selecting a topic

Perhaps the most important step towards writing and working towards a research paper is the subject or topic. One false step and the hard work may get even harder and the goal of acquiring that coveted degree a daunting task. Select a subject which is not very abstract and has sufficient research material available to back up your efforts and which is easier to relate to in terms of understanding. Always choose a subject which is close to your heart or liking. This will make the task seem like a pleasure rather than a burden.

Be careful with style

When pursuing a doctoral or any such graduation degree, it is always prudent to follow the institution defined style when writing the dissertation. Otherwise lots of hard work may come to nothing, when the dissertation is rejected on this count. In absence of any style guidelines, follow the subject specific, international or national style formats which best suit your chosen area of work.

Clarity of thought and purpose

If you are not quite clear about the objectives and purpose of the dissertation, it may invite some anxiety and panic when sitting down to write that dissertation. Once you realize that this dissertation is the vehicle that can take you towards the coveted degree, it will make your journey more skilled, determined and enjoyable. Never mind a few hiccups along the way or some false starts, but eventually you will find your way as long as you have your goals in sight.

Act on your plan

Don’t deliberate forever on what to do. Get into the action mode and quickly get to where you can begin your research. Find out where and how to conduct the research and keep tabs on sources of information available. Collect as much as information and make notes and scribbles on whatever that may prove valuable later.

Structuring the research

Most dissertations follow a structure which is usually along the following lines: Abstract, table of content, chapters, reviews, findings, discussions, and conclusion, bibliography and Appendices.

Abstract is the outline or frame of the dissertation, defining what is being studied at length and where this study is heading to eventually. The Table of content is an index of main subjects with sub headings and page numbers where they can be easily found.

Introduction chapter is the synopsis of what you have set out to research, and where it has led to and why. Keep it sweet and simple but at the same time it should cover all the bases.

Reviews are where you juxtapose your own research against the existing counterviews, preferably ten or more such views. This helps you firmly place your own angle or perspective on the subject pitted against or in relation to several others. About twenty to twenty five percent of the dissertations comprise this section.

Methodology explains the bolts and nuts of your research findings like the sources of your information, the methods of collecting information to provide the skeletal necessary to form the research structure.

The findings chapter is the defining character of the whole dissertation and almost thirty percent of the volume goes into it. It shows how you have utilized the data available from your research and gatherings to open up some new insights into what you have found. The avenues that have opened up from your research are to be discussed here.

The discussion chapter throws open the debate drawing from the reviews and your own findings to discuss all view points separately and in connection to your own research and findings.

The last chapter makes the conclusion in a clear and lucid fashion. Make a strong pitch for your standpoint or conclusion with a strong emphasis on why and how you have arrived at such decisive findings and what is required further to strengthen this conclusion.

Bibliography lists all the reference in alphabetical order and appendices mention the various questionnaires, interviews and other materials.