A research paper is the most challenging document which a student has to write before finishing his or her career. It is a nearly 100% independent project in which you will have an advisor to help you out but you will need to do the entire job by yourself. In addition, there are quite a few requirements which you will need to comply with and, of course, a deadline. In this article, we show the basic guidelines for the research and creating process; we also include a word on the formatting issues.
First, unless you have been given a topic for your dissertation, you will need to narrow down the subject according to some consideration. On one hand, you should always try to focus on a topic you already know. However, depending on your department, this could be easy or impossible. What matters is that you develop a topic according to the expectations of your department. In order to make this decision, you should check previous research papers published by the department; ask professors (especially your advisor) about this issue and look for other graduate students’ advice if possible.
A research paper has a very straightforward outline: abstract, introduction, body, data analysis, conclusion, references and appendixes. Basically, you will need to make a short summary about your entire research; that is the abstract. Then, you present the starting point and how you will approach the project in the next section, the introduction. You proceed to develop the content in the following sections. The body should include the methods section, the outcome of your research and the objectives for this project.
One you have completed those parts, you carry out the data analysis. Finally, you make a conclusion which summarizes the results and possible future projects. Bibliography and references are included in one specific section at the end. If there something which you should explain in further detail but disrupts the structure of the body, you should make an appendix on that topic. If your paper has too many figures and tables, consider adding a list for these elements. The index or table of contents could be at the beginning between the title page and the abstract or at the end.
Before starting the creation process, you will need to decide what text processing piece of software you will use. There are quite a few options depending on your Operative System. However, the most popular software tools are multiplatform nowadays. For instance, you could use Word and convert the document into PDF at the end. Unfortunately, if you manage too many images, this format is too hefty for some PCs. Another option is LaTeX, which is a programming language that allows text compilation. It is preferred when equations are a must. As it works in code, you will require some previous programming experience; it is quite light and can be used in almost any computer, though.
Communication with your advisor is the key to succeed in this project. You should keep him or her informed of any important progress by e-mail or in person tutorials. In addition, you should always consider the advice by your advisor. You could ask for more orientation to the committee, as they may provide a second advisor in case that you need it.
In conclusion, writing a research paper is never an easy task but it is worth the time and effort. You will be making a unique document which condenses all your skills. Everything that you have learnt in the past few years will be required to create this academic article and you should profit from this experience to learn more about your field of study.