Dr. Page's Tech Blog


Tips for Students on Writing Concise Research Based Papers

Author: Mark Page-Botelho Posted: 2015-06-04

The other night my daughter Zea was helping a friend with their research paper by peer reviewing it. She quickly became frustrated reading it as her friend didn't seem to have any focus to his writing. Sometimes writing a long research based paper can be difficult. Rambling on about a topic can be time consuming and will produce a less than stellar paper. For students to better understand and produce research based papers, I would add a process to help organize thoughts before the writing even begins. You should cite materials before reading starts with CiteThisForMe.com. Take notes and include with each note an inline citation as you read. Use a mind map tool such as Mind42.com to organize thoughts and when finished export to Word Document in outline form to save time. These tools when used as a process make writing much easier.

More specific writing pointers from Zea to prevent rambling include being very condense, precise, and everything needs to be backed up by evidence. Go through and cut out tons of sentences. If you can summarize your point in one sentence than do that, don't ramble on and on for three or four sentences. See below for her format of how you should write precise research based paragraphs (specifically for the field of Psychology).

Basic notes about writing from Zea: 
  • Always speak in past tense (it gets confusing to the reader when the writer switches tenses and oftentimes writers forget or don't think about what tense they are using. Just be safe and always go past tense).
  • Never say "I," "we," or "our". It is "the current study," or "the research supports;" never talk about yourself. If you are stating your opinion, such as "I think cats are better than dogs," just rephrase it to be a statement; "Cats are better than dogs". Your research should back up this statement, proving it to be true or supported.
  • Never abbreviate, it's "do not" not "don't."
  • Commas go after "because" and "however." Also if you have quotation marks then punctuation signs like commas or periods have to go inside of them, not outside.
Here is the format that Zea followed when she wrote her research papers for her Psychology classes (this can be adapted to any type of research paper). Each part should only be one sentence!
  1. Opening thesis sentence
  2. Who conducted the research and what it studied
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Participants (total #, # men, # women, and what they are)
  5. Type of experiment & measured variables
  6. How were variables measured (can have a sentence for each variable)
  7. Results of study
  8. How the current study (your study) followed up/verified/added to this study's findings EVERYTHING ELSE CAN JUST BE CUT OUT! Credit to Zea Page-Botelho for writing tips