Research Writing Tips You Should Know

Summary: Rigorous research and investigation that use the scientific process reveal a multitude of new information in multiple fields. At different stages of academic and career work, the need to write a report or analysis backed by the scientific process arises. This article shares some tips that can help a researcher cut to the chase of developing a research report. 

Research writing is important to academics, content development and professional life, especially if you are a practising scientist. While the aim of research writing differs from level to level, the rigours of research can be unforgiving. Research can range from experiments, field exploration, reports, case studies, consumer and market research, etc. This article explains the purpose of research for different levels and includes some tips researchers can apply to make the process easier and simpler.

Purpose of Academic and Professional Research

Information on the internet is replete and opinions can pass for facts if not properly checked. The Internet has democratized information sharing. While it is nice to have a lot of information at your fingertips, some pitfalls exist that has reinforced the importance of research. The following are some roles and purpose research plays

Finding accurate information might has become difficult as there is a lot of noise of distracting opinions on the web search. A blog post can be shallow and miss out on covering relevant areas because of content length.

Research creates a group of people who are dedicated to discovering and documenting the relevant information. This information informs how we do business, and understands the world.

Research allows others to find information that is free of uninformed personal opinions and bias. A particular research design can indeed be full of bias, but at the least, there will be data to prove that there is an inherent bias in the study. This increases the reliability and objectivity of research that has been done through the scientific process.

Academic research follows this rigorous method. It’s incredibly important to distinguish academic research from speculation or personal opinion.

Most academic researches that are published are peer-reviewed. A peer-review is a process that allows other field professionals to examine and review the process used in the research work.

Undergraduate research, most of the time, the research is designed to teach students how to grow a mentor relationship. Undergraduate research is a learning activity that enriches your experience as an undergraduate and helps you develop a range of skills. It is important to also realize that your undergraduate research can be a deal-breaker for you if you are looking to further your education.

For postgraduate research, you are required to contribute knowledge, and the restrictions increase. Not to worry, they are there to help you.

Your topic can determine how well or bad your academic research can go.

Here are a few things to note when choosing your topic if you are working on academic research.

Choosing Your Topic

Pick a topic you are interested in. This might not be easy but don’t forget to narrow your topic to something that you find interesting or are willing to spend a considerable amount of time going through. You will spend upwards of three months if you are doing academic research.

If you are a professional, most times, the topic would naturally choose itself. This might not necessarily be interesting as it is work. In the case that it is something you are interested in, then it is a bonus.

Other Tips for Writing Research 

  • Avoid lifting information from Google pages directly.
  • Verify the author of the information you want to adopt to your research. The best way to do so is to use the information available on peer-reviewed journal articles and field regulated cites.
  • Don’t copy word for word. I wish I can dwell on this. The idea behind the research is that you can read, understand, use the information you have gotten to create a background for your study. When writing literature reviews and introductions, stick to summaries. Summaries will help you avoid plagiarism. Except when you are quoting, don’t copy verbatim. If you intend for your research to have a wider significance beyond your program, then you should do so.
  • Have a Foundation Paper for writing your research project. A foundation paper or papers give you a home base where you can return to find help if you feel lost. Keep between 2 and 5 foundation papers.
  • The justification in your project is you objectively stating the gap in knowledge and how your research work aims to plug that gap. It’s about the relevance of your work
  • You can find gaps in knowledge in the recommendation section of any research article that has it. If your work is a continuation of pioneering research your supervisor has started, you can always key into their recommendation to continue.
  • Do not, under any circumstance, wait to finish writing your work before you put together your references and citation. It will backfire. It might look difficult but it’s worse if you don’t.
  • Always have a backup of your information and reference materials. There is an ungodly relationship between computer crashes and project periods and I’m not here to explore it. This is the 21st century. Use Google Drive or any other online storage to keep your information. Ignore this at your peril.
  • Keep your work organized from scratch. Create folders and files and name them appropriately. Rename journal articles you download. Don’t depend on the number that looks like barcodes to identify the journals. Don’t set up yourself for unnecessary heartbreak.
  • Keep a research notebook or lab notes: Research notebooks are very important. Sometimes, you might need to prove to a panel that you did research work, your research notes will be a gold mine. Your research notes will help you have a better grasp of your project work. When you write things down and organize your research, it will be easier to regenerate your data if anything happens to your work. In other terms, it creates satisfaction for you.
  • Keep your undergraduate research as simple flowing as possible. Except when you need to, choose methodologies that are easy to replicate, especially if you are studying in Nigeria. The reason is that your research period is short. You don’t have all the time for trial and error. Don’t try to undertake a project you are aware does not belong at your level. There will be time to explore. While you still need to contribute, remember that your undergraduate research project is not for you to discover the cure to cancer.
  • Don’t switch out industry terms when writing your research. The terms are there for a reason. It shows your mastery of the subject matter, which is what your research at the undergraduate level is all about.
  • On the other hand, make sure to interpret your research findings in your discussion and recommendation section. Don’t end your research by saying things like: “The finding is significant or insignificant”; “ the data shows that something should be done”; “At the end of this research, the population has shown variable characteristics about an alternate population” or “Based on the theoretical framework, the latest theory that has been developed in this project can be effective in the general direction of the research” … These endings while they look like they are ambiguous, it doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead, break down the finding and tie it to a cause, an effect or a possible solution and throw a reminder to the original problem, as the case may be.

I have covered the reasons for this in an article I wrote about storytelling in research. You can check it here. The reason is that you are providing a solution or clarifying a problem. The reason why you are doing that should be obvious. There should be a flow from your research objective to the methodology, down to your discussion and conclusion/recommendation.

If you do have another problem figuring out your research work, do reach out to me. I can provide the necessary guidance and support as you navigate the troubled waters of research writing.

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