Pitfalls to Avoid When Writing a Research Paper
Every student in university or college will have to go through the drill of writing a research paper. It is part of the academic training. It happens that some students might not so like this part of the work but it just has to be done to secure your certificate. Often the research study and write up takes a huge number of credit units which you as a student dare not play with. Apart from other things involved in the research work, it is very important to know how to properly write and arrange your research paper so as to secure an excellent grade. There are mistakes that you must avoid when putting your research paper together, you must be aware of these possible pitfalls and deliberately guard against falling into any of them. Being a victim of some of these pitfalls could mean that you turn in a work that is not too praiseworthy or that will just get an average grade. Discussed below are some of the pitfalls to avoid when writing a research paper:
Weak background research
Not doing enough research for your paper is going to really tell on the quality of your work. Before even settling for a particular topic to research on, you must have done a good background research so much that you are able to see an actual knowledge gap that you can fill and that you are interested in. This will give your work relevance in your field of research because it will be answering a question that people in your line of research work are likely to be interested in. Apart from that, after settling for a particular viable topic, you have to do thorough research on such a topic so that you can present a good literature review which will serve as a background for your work, and will go on to show to your reader that you have a very good idea of the topic you are working on. Good research is very important so that you can make up to date claims and statements that will be serve as supporting statements to your thesis statement.
An unclear research question
You should not have an unclear research question. If you are having more than one research question, think about writing two research papers. Also avoid your research question being vague, make it as specific and clear as possible. Everything about your research work will have to be geared in the direction of this research question, therefore ensure that it is as articulate as possible.
A thesis statement that is not strong
A thesis statement is like the backbone of your research paper, it must be strong enough. It is a statement that shows your stand on that particular topic and it should be able to lead to further discussion on the topic. Not having a good thesis statement will mean that there is no strong drive in your work.
Bad writing structure
It is not enough to have made good research and done all the pragmatic work you needed to do, when it comes to arranging your write-up in an orderly manner, you have to do it in the right format and not mistakenly or unknowingly put what should be in a particular section in another place. This is a reason why outlining is very important. Begin with an outline of all the important sections of your paper and then flesh everything up from there. While the exact format to use for you may be different based on your institution, there are basic or fundamental sections which include your introduction, methodology, results, discussion and conclusion. Ensure you get the right format for your school, outline that, and follow it appropriately. A bad structuring of your work won’t help your grades.
Not stating your limitations
Not stating the constraints you encountered in your work is not the best, stating your limitations intelligently and explaining why your results are still valid and relevant in spite of those limitations will likely let your reader know that you are well informed about what you are doing, and your limitations could become what another person builds on for further research. You must include this part in your work.
Not answering your research question
The very basis of your work is your research question, so every part of your work must be directed towards this. If you go on in your paper without answering your research question, then the paper will be baseless in that sense. You should constantly check your research question while writing your discussion in order to ensure that you are in line in your discussion. How well you are able to answer your research question using accepted methods and being able to present your answers properly will go on to determine the quality of your work.
When you do not cite properly as expected in your work, it becomes unscholarly. You should ensure that you cite all relevant sources to statements made in your paper. Not citing at all means that you are not acknowledging the source of that information you are referring to, your reader will not be able to verify the veracity of your statements. You should ensure that all necessary citations are done. Apart from just citing, you must ensure that you are not using the wrong style of citation. Be sure of what referencing style is accepted in your institution and use that. Also, ensure that all your in-text citations are well listed in the reference section at the end of the research paper.
No strong connection
If the parts of your work are not connecting together as they ought, then it will affect how the quality of your paper will be evaluated. Your thesis statement must be strong enough, and it must also flow into all other supporting statements you make in your paper. The flow must be there and there must be good connection. Your arguments in the paper must be well connected to your research question, they must be relevant arguments.
Too many quotes
A research paper is not supposed to be too cumbered with quotes here and there. It should not just be about what others have said, without any new thing, you should be able to bring something new from your research work. Try not to use too many quotations.
Not enough effort
Don’t be lazy about writing a research work. Don’t do an haphazard or average work. You should ensure that you put in your very best into researching, organising and writing your research paper. A good paper will attract excellent grades but when your paper is obviously mediocre, then you likely won’t be able to an excellent grade.
A scholarly research work should not be grammatically poor. You should ensure the right use of language and be as correct as possible. Make sure your work is well edited and polished. Your research paper should not be full of grammatical mistakes and blunders, that won’t represent the writer well and could even compromise your level of literacy. You should therefore take extra care to make your research paper well edited.