Finish Your Degree With A Bang: How To Write A Killer Research Project Without Stress.
Most final year students dread this.
Others are excited about it.
Yet all of them cannot run away from it.
They all need to submit a research project as part of their degree.
If you are a final year student, you know very well what a research project is. But if you don’t, then know that a research project is a comprehensive research paper you would need to produce on a particular topic that relates to your course of study. You would do extensive research and studies to come up with your final paper and you cannot graduate without submitting it.
So now you know.
Even though this paper stresses a lot of students, it does not need to stress you. So many before you have done excellently well in their research papers and below, we reveal their secrets to you in a step by step format you can follow easily.
So here we go:
Step 1: Do not stress.
Before you get started on your project, you need to relax and visaulise success. You have gone through four years already and you will also go through this project easily!
You can do this!
Step 2: Choose a topic that interests and challenges you.
You would usually be given the opportunity to choose your own topic, so take advantage of this. Choose something you’re particularly interested in because this will make it easier to research and write. In addition, try to select a relevant topic to your course of study.
Avoid topics that are too technical and specialized or only have a very narrow range of source materials. If you do this, you will be setting up yourself for a stressful research later on.
Narrow down your topic so you are not stretched in different directions. These are some of the issues your supervisor will consider in approving your project title so take them into consideration.
Step 3: Do some initial research.
You need to do some initial research to help you develop your research statement and introduction. This research will help you understand the background of your topic, details of any past research done as well as developing your peculiar angle for your own research.
Step 4: Develop and refine your research statement.
Once you are done with the initial research, it’s time to focus your attention on writing a captivating research statement. Your research statement is a very important part of your paper. It helps you reflect on your topic, defines your focus and helps you concentrate on what you want to achieve with your paper.
You must pinpoint the single most important idea you’ll be discussing in your paper that clarifies what your paper is about as well as the conclusions you hope to reach.
Your research statement is like a declaration of your belief. The main body of your project will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief.
If your statement is bland and directionless, the rest of your paper will follow suit. Once you’re satisfied that your topic is sound and clarified, proceed to writing your outline and your first draft.
Step 5: Develop an outline for your paper.
Remember the saying, ‘if you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there?’ This is true for your research project as well.
Please don’t skip this step – it is better to have an outline so that you know where you’re headed and how to structure your paper. The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing.
Don’t be scared that you may be making a commitment that you won’t be able to keep because your outline is not set in stone and is subject to change.
But it is important because it gives you a sense of structure and a framework to fall back on when you suddenly get writers block and are not sure what next to do.
Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other.
As a general rule, some of the basic elements of your outline should include:
I. INTRODUCTION – Brief comment leading into the subject matter
II. BODY – The main body of the report
A. Analytical summary
1. First point
2. Second Point
3. Third point
IV. Thesis reworded
V. Concluding statement
Step 6: Write an attention grabbing introduction.
The best way to start your paper (as with any other kind of writing) is with an attention grabbing introduction. You need an introduction that not only grabs the attention of your supervisor, but focuses the paper on the topic at hand.
State your hypothesis and the purpose of your research paper clearly. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem?
Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.
This part of the paper is most likely to be rewritten as you continue working through your paper and refine your flow and outcome. So don’t get stuck there – just get started and refine as needed.
Some attention grabbing introductions you could use include:
Asking a question or using a quote. You could also relate a curious anecdote that relates to your topic
Make a clear straightforward introduction of your topic stating the facts in a creative way.
Use your research statement. This should have been clarified already in the previous step.
Step 7: Start writing the body of your paper.
This is where you present your arguments to support your research statement. Find supporting arguments for each position you take. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point
Use varying sources of information ranging from the internet to old research projects to reports to encyclopedias. Use company reports, research papers, journals, newspapers, etc. Make sure your spread your research wide.
Browse through your university library and make enquiries at organizations or government agencies, as well as knowledgeable people in your circle.
Read and evaluate. Bookmark internet sites where you found useful information. Print and take notes of relevant information.
As you gather your resources, jot down full bibliographical information (author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, URLs, creation or modification dates on Web pages, and your date of access) for later retrieval. If printing from the Internet, it is wise to set up the browser to print the URL and date of access for every page. Remember that an article without bibliographical information is useless since you cannot cite its source.
Use your best arguments (with supportive references) in your supporting paragraphs. You need to convince your supervisor that your hypothesis is true with strong arguments in each paragraph. As you write, make sure to think of possible weak spots in your argument.
As you write, don’t worry too much about your sentence structure and argument process. Focus more on getting all your ideas down on paper as you will clean it up later.
If you have time, make sure to cite what critics might say about your arguments. By responding to what critics say, you’re strengthening your paper by revealing that you understand other points of view. This shows you’ve spent some time thinking about the topic, and are prepared to answer objections.
Step 8: Give a strong conclusion:
Try using the RSCL method
Restate your research statement.
State the most important detail about your research.
Conclude – draw your conclusion and wrap up the research
Last word – give the reader something to ponder on.
Step 9: Edit and proofread
Now you can check spellings, grammar and sentence structures. Make all the corrections required. Make use of the spelling-checker on your computer to proofread your paper. Mistakes in spelling and grammar may indicate that you did not put much effort into your work, which you don’t want.
This is also when you eliminate everything that doesn’t support your hypothesis and remove any facts that weaken your main argument. Make sure your arguments are clear and easily understood.
Step 10: Format your work. Make sure you cite all your sources using the preferred citation style your supervisor prefers (or you will be accused of plagiarism!). Don’t use too much quotes and citations in your work but let your own arguments shine through as well.
If your paper is full of “A says… B states…” C argues…”, then your reader will wonder what you have to say for yourself.
Congratulations! If you followed the steps above, you now have a killer research paper that will give you excellent marks.
Remember that your research project is an important part of your academic career, so be sure to take it very seriously. You have not come all this way only to mess things up by turning in a weak paper.
Be creative, be focused and make sure to include a title page, table of contents, body of the paper and a reference page.
All the best