When tasked with a research paper, knowing where to start can be a little challenging. Conceptualizing and planning the methods and approaches are crucial to completing a project. Without it, it would be plagued with mistakes and ineffective analysis. Of course, to create a well-planned research paper, you require topics for research, and you need to know all of the necessary steps to consider when conducting it. This comprehensive guide contains those necessary steps to be utilized in the research process.
Research isn’t just a matter of finding something. The first step is knowing about your topic, where to get information and documents, and how to structure the findings.
Step 1: Identify and Develop your Topic:
Selecting a topic can be the most challenging part of a assignment. Since this is the first step in writing a paper, it must be done correctly. Topics for research are easy to find if you know what exactly are you looking for.
There are several steps in developing an appropriate topic for any project.
- The following steps outline a simple and effective strategy for writing a research paper. Depending on your familiarity with the topic and the challenges you encounter along the way, you may need to rearrange these steps.
- List some general keywords or concepts related to your topic. (For example, if your topic is “the British monarchy,” you may want to list the words “Britain” and “royal family.”)
- Look up these terms in the index of an encyclopedia or almanac, or use an Internet search engine such as Google.
- These sources will give you an overview of the subject, contain lists of keywords that act as a springboard for further research, suggest related topics, and direct you to essential sources in that field of research.
- Read about your subject in general reference works such as encyclopedias or almanacs. Then look up any unfamiliar names or terms that interest you in a general dictionary or encyclopedia.
- Research helps you back up your ideas and points. It also helps you develop better ideas. Researching is also essential when it comes to writing a literature review.
Step 2: Determine the scope of your coverage:
- You’ve identified your audience and their informational needs; now it’s time to determine what types of information you will be covering.
- Your scope will depend on the size of your audience and the size of your content team.
- For example, if you have a large team of writers, you may want to cover competitive intelligence in your research report.
- If you have a small team, you may want to think about outsourcing competitive intelligence to an expert who can cover this report for you.
You’ll also want to consider:
- What type of research is your audience looking for? Are they looking for specific solutions to their problems? Are they interested in industry trends? Do they need pricing data? What are the competitors doing?
- How often do your customers need this information? Do they need daily, weekly or monthly updates? Is this a one-time report or something more frequent?
- Will you have a primary author or multiple authors writing content? How many people on your team will be responsible for writing these research paper reports?
Step 3: Choose the appropriate medium for your message:
The medium is the channel you use to communicate your message to the target audience for your topics for research. The most commonly used mediums are:
- Print (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, brochures)
- Broadcast (radio and television)
- Online (websites, email messages, social media sites)
- Outdoor (billboards and posters)
Other types of media that might be useful include public service announcements, personal interviews, phone calls, and speaking engagements.
Step 4: Collect & Analyze Data:
Once you know your research paper question and decide on the type of research you will use to answer it, you can begin collecting and analyzing data. The choice of which data to collect and analyze is also affected by the type of research you choose.
Depending on the type of research, the methods for data collection will vary.
For example, if your study is a survey, the data collection stage involves administering your questionnaire to the population. If your study is an experiment, this might mean running participants through a lab exercise. If your study involves document analysis, the data collection stage means gathering all relevant documents.
Here are some standard methods for collecting and analyzing data:
- Surveys: Administering questionnaires or interviews with a sample from a larger population to gather information about opinions or behaviors
- Field Research: Observing people in their natural environment
- Secondary Data: Gathering information that already exists (e.g., statistics, government reports, books)
- Primary Data: Original Gathering information (e.g., conducting interviews, experiments)
- Document Analysis: Interpreting documents such as letters, photos, and newspaper articles
Step 5: Draw Conclusions and Support with Evidence of your Research :
This is the last step in the research process. Here, you summarize what you’ve found and draw some conclusions. You must support your conclusions with evidence from your sources (that’s why you took all those notes!).
- You can use direct quotes or paraphrase ideas from your sources in your research paper.
- If you find yourself not having enough evidence to support your conclusion, you should do more research.
- Maybe you need to rewrite your thesis statement to reflect what you’ve learned during your research.
Now that you know all the steps to become a better researcher, you need to keep putting them into practice. What’s more, you need to “practice makes perfect” like anything else. But don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t come as quickly as you had hoped. Research requires patience and diligence, but it’s worth it. So, take it slow, but keep steadily going forward until you reach your goal. And one day, you’ll realize just how far you’ve come- and what valuable asset research can be for your business.