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Writing the Research Paper

Chat times for Summer 2022
9:30a-10:50 ET/6:30a-7:50a PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

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Student Guide

Writing the Research Paper Student Survival Guide

Why learn how to write a research paper?

Research is a fundamental activity that underlies all academic discourse. Your goal is to ask a valid question, try to find the truest answer, and report it as fairly as possible. Research may be undertaken to discover something new and as yet unknown, or to determine the "state of the art", that is, what is currently known.

It is nearly impossible to do research without some assumptions and suppositions. The mere fact that we are finite beings with a limited amount of time means that we can't every really investigate something completely, and our own state of knowledge may limit us to investigating those sources where we understand something of the topic already. One thing we must learn to avoid, if we are honestly seeking the truth, is trying to find a particular answer to our question. Discarding information that doesn't support the conclusion we want to reach may lead us to ignore significant information crucial to really understanding possible answers to our question.

This course will help you develop skills in the process of writing a research paper. One essential skill is patience. Unlike a weekly essay or some end of term papers, you can't write a research paper in one sitting. You need time to think about your question, about the information you gather, about how different bits of data or different approaches all fit together, and then you get to worry about actually writing the paper to describe what you have discovered.

Learning to do research will help you develop writing skills, but it will also help you learn how to ask questions, how to look for information that bears on the question, how to analyze that information for applications and trustworthiness, and how to organize what you've found out. These are all important skills for college academic work and for the work-place, where you may need to put together information to convince co-workers, managers, clients, or investors to make the best decisions for choosing products to buy or projects to support.

So pick a topic that fascinates you, where you really want to learn something new, and come along on our journey together!