A research paper is usually written by a professional scientist who conducts new experiments to answer a specific question. It is written with the intention of contributing novel information to the field of science. The audience is usually comprised of peers in the field and other scholars interested in the specific topic being studied. Students who conduct original research alongside professors may also write and publish research papers, thus contributing to scholarly conversation in the sciences.
3 Phases of Scientific Research and Writing (Swales qtd in Mack 6):
- Establish a territory: Determine the question you are asking, its importance, and previous research already in existence related to it.
- Establish a niche: Pose a new question that highlights a gap in current research or challenges work already done in the field.
- Occupy the niche: Establish the purpose of your research, conduct research, and summarize your results.
Writing the Research Paper (Heard 57):
- Start by determining the story you want to tell.
- Ask yourself, “About what does my reader need to hear?”
- Identify your main question and its possible answers.
- Determine the information, data, and analysis that best capture the essence of the research.
- Choose the order that would best display the data.
- Organize the paper into appropriate sections.
- Title: What do I seek for my audience to take away from my research?
- Abstract:What are the goals, key findings and impact I seek to have with this project?
- Introduction:What do I already know about this topic that has informed my understanding?
- Methods:What did I do to carry out my research?
- Results:What did I observe and discover that is novel and significant?
- Discussion:How do I explain my findings?
- Citations:What resources helped me with my research?
- Figures & Tables: What is the most important data I need to illustrate?
What to Avoid:
- Introduction: Do not provide unrelated or unnecessary background information, an unclear research question, or an inflated claim of the study’s importance.
- Methods: Do not provide an inadequate description of the procedure that would make it challenging for another scholar to reproduce the experiment. This reduces the validity of the study and its results.
- Discussion: Avoid presenting results in an illogical order or presenting results that were never mentioned elsewhere.
- Conclusion: Do not repeat information from the introduction, present new information, or repeat the abstract.
Heard, S. B. The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively throughout Your Scientific Career,
Princeton UP, 2016.
Mack, C. A. How to Write a Good Scientific paper, SPIE Press, 2018.
Roldan, L., & Pardu, M. Writing in Biology: A brief Guide, Oxford UP, 2016.
Swales, J.M. Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings, Cambridge UP, pp. 140-166.
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