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An Undergraduate’s Guide to Writing Research Papers

Preparing research papers is an essential   task for most university students. It requires practice, knowledge, and continuous learning to accomplish optimally.

It is a task that follows a similar pattern across many subjects. In this overview, Al-Fanar Media synthesises tips and insights from various specialists  and institutions, and gathers insights from two Egyptian academics.

A research paper, although shorter than a formal dissertation, must still include precise and accurate information. This is a standard requirement across educational levels from high school to university and beyond, underscoring the importance of developing a good technique.

Educational institutions frequently assign research papers to see if students can demonstrate that they have mastered methods grounded in solid scientific principles.

Getting Started

To ensure you are producing a strong research paper, follow these essential steps:

1. Select the research idea. The initial step in all research papers is selecting the idea. This involves exploring different avenues and analysing why a particular subject would be better than another.

2. Brainstorm. Jot down your ideas without worrying about logic or perfection. Let your thoughts flow freely; this can reveal hidden treasures. Look at other research papers to gain inspiration, focusing  on sections that discuss unexplored or new areas. This can ignite great ideas for your paper, adding your unique touch and perspective.

3. Gauge your interest. After gathering ideas, refine them by considering what truly excites you and will provide something specific and innovative. Before making your final choice, ask yourself: Does this topic genuinely interest me? Am I eager to delve deeper into it? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right path. Ensure you have the resources to explore your subject thoroughly, as this will make your research more engaging and enjoyable.

4. Gather primary information. Explore ideas relevant to your topic from diverse, reputable outlets such as journals, books, and websites. Take note of discussions and issues that can form the core of your paper. This will deepen your understanding and enhance your research.

5. Question assumptions. Challenge your own ideas unhesitatingly. Seek sources that counter or challenge your perspectives. Embracing opposing viewpoints fosters a deeper understanding of the topic and bolsters your argument. Pay attention to any overlooked or unexplored information in your research. These hidden gems can offer fresh angles to explore and contribute novel insights to your paper.  Offering a new perspective can elevate your paper and initiate fresh discussions.

6. Keep abreast of developments. Make sure you are up-to-date with the latest advances related to your research subject. Are there recent discoveries or breakthroughs that align with your research? Integrate these developments into your paper to ensure it is relevant and cutting-edge.

Writing the Paper

After outlining your research paper and completing the steps above , it is time to start writing. While various websites offer model samples for different types of research papers, the preferred and most professional approach should embody essential academic elements.

Hossam Alnahas, a professor of research methods at Benha University’s Department of Mass Communication, in Egypt, told Al-Fanar Media that a research paper should have four sections: introduction, body, conclusion, and works cited.

Research papers typically range from 900 to 3,000 words, he said,  and he recommends a font size of 12 with equal line spacing and proper page numbering.

When composing a research paper, ensure it is written in accurate, error-free language. The cover page should contain the title of the paper, the student’s name, the preparation date, and a table of contents. The introduction should highlight the topic’s importance, introduce the research problem, address any challenges encountered during writing, and outline the research plan.

Mohamed Kamal, a professor at the Faculty of Arts at Egypt’s Kafrelsheikh University, stresses the importance of following certain rules when preparing a research paper:

1. Ensure that you present the research idea clearly and refrain from including personal opinions.

2. Address all questions within the research paper to provide clarity for the reader.

3. Document information from sources and references following your academic field’s rules to enhance the research paper’s value and credibility.

4. Organise your paper by arranging main ideas in a structured and comprehensible way. .

5. Craft a concise and clear introduction that gives readers a general understanding of the topic. The introduction should address three key questions related to the topic: What? Why? How?

6. The conclusion should contain all the research paper’s recommendations and results. It should serve as a comprehensive summary of the entire paper, as many supervisors and professors often rely on reading the conclusion, especially when time is limited.

Review the Final Draft

Conducting a thorough review of your final draft is crucial to verify information, data, and research paper procedures. You should also run checks to ensure  the paper is free of spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Ask yourself: Is the paper organised effectively? Is the sequence of information and ideas logical? Is there any duplicate information? Have the information and sources been documented accurately and scientifically?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, your clean and error-free paper is ready to hand in.

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