This is an ultimate beginner’s guide on how to write a research to paper in grad school. It is very much geared towards those that are interested in research, particularly in business or the social sciences, but you are likely to find this guide useful if you are an undergraduate student as well. I suspect that even some high school students might find it ok if they are exploring what it might be like to do research as a social scientist. All of these lessons are really just the lessons that I learnt over the years in writing my own papers. I am sure that some of these lessons are imperfect, but they are better than starting at square one, which is where most of us start with writing a research paper. Please know that not knowing what to do is a central to research and everyone will probably say that you will have to get comfortable with uncertainty. Where do you begin with writing a research paper? There is so much to know. Much of this cannot be learnt unless you are in a graduate program, and you are actually learning from experience. As the saying goes, if there was a simple way to do research, lots of people would be doing research. The ‘act’ of doing research is a grind, however, coming up with new ideas is super fun. (By the way, it is truly a rewarding career, and there is always room for more people interested in doing research). This guide will walk you through in a step-by-step basis in how to write a research paper. If you are reading this as part of a class, remember to always listen to your instructor. If you are reading this as part of crafting a paper to send to a journal, always remember to listen to your reviewers. This is always the most important rule. Remember that all of the advice in this blog is worth exactly what you paid for it. By the way, if you are wondering why I am writing this guide, it is to truly help out others go through and become excellent scholars. The r3ciprocity project is really about helping others and trying to become a better researcher myself. Most of the day I write academically, and this project, especially this blog, is sometimes very rewarding to write in less of an ‘intense way.’ My r3ciprocity.com project is where I am trying to create a proofreading site to help others and organizational science. I really wanted to create a way to advance science and help out future graduate students that are interested in the organizational sciences. Since I am an Assistant Professor of Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, I thought that I could create a proofreading software platform that can make my efforts more scaleable and also provide a neat tool that others might find useful. By the way, the reason why I created the proofreading platform was to address my own limitations and inabilities, so if you see proofreading / grammar issues with this blog post, know that you are probably much more equipped with writing analytical skills than I. I am well aware of my limitations in writing. Put more bluntly, I kinda stink at writing.
1. Idea Generation Of The Research Paper.How do you come up with ideas for your research paper? You cannot imagine how many graduate students have no idea in what they want to write about in their research papers. This is very normal – it happened to me for years. I think the key difference between graduate school and undergraduate programs is that in graduate school you are asked to think of the new idea, not just read about the idea. This dreaming up new ideas is a struggle for every academic and it does not change when you get more experience. Theorizing is much more difficult than you think. Where you get better is by knowing the literature a bit more and being more responsive to the advice of others.
Deductive, Recombinative Search For IdeasI think there are two ways to generate ideas for your research paper. The first is a rather deductive science-push way of doing research. What do I mean by this? In this approach you read what other people have researched in the past and you try to find your research gap relative to this research. What you are going to have to do is first search the literature for articles in your area of interest. How do you choose your area of interest? It is usually something that you find massively interesting. When I first started out, I really did know how to search that effectively, so I thought I would help you out this this video that explains one way in which you can search the literature. Searching And Using Google Scholar To Find Academic Articles And For Research Once you read the literature and you find several articles of interest, you would start to carve out your research gap. Finding a research gap is probably easier than you think it is, once you sit down and systematically think about your papers. I was taught, and I very much like this method, to create tables to carve out a research niche. If you want to watch a video on how to find your research gap, you can check out: A Simple Trick To Find Your Gap Or Niche In Writing Papers And Beyond
Inductive, Generative Search For IdeasAnother way is to create ideas to come up with ideas for a research paper, however it is more difficult, is to focus on generating original ideas. This is very much a generative approach that is focused on immersing yourself in the idea. There are several ways of doing this inductive, generative approach. One way is to do qualitative research where you actually go into the field and watch what people are doing. You can also ask people ‘in the wild’ questions and find out what matters to them. Another way is for you to be creative with new ideas. Some of you might be thinking, how do you be creative? There is actually a lot of ways for you to do create new ideas. Here are two videos that might be useful for you to find new ideas.
How To Identify A Thesis Topic – Thesis HelpUsing Metaphors And Analogies For Inspiration For New Ideas And Creativity Truthfully, coming up with research paper ideas is a combination of both the deductive and inductive search for research ideas. How you write a research paper is very iterative and marked with both delight and uncertainty every week. One week you will read a bunch of papers and think “Wow, I know what to do” and the next week you will think that you miles away from knowing anything. You will also think your ideas are really not that good throughout the entire time. This feeling never goes away.
2. Getting The Idea Down In The Research Paper.Now that you have the basic idea of what you are going to research, what is the next step in how to write a research paper? Before I get to this step, I want to once again point out that writing a research paper is very iterate and that all of these steps sort of mix together as you are building the argument and the paper. Now, what I would do is start thinking of two basic sub-steps.
You need a clear research question.Your research question will constantly be updating as you work through your research paper, but it is a very good idea to start with the most accurate and robust research question you can think of before you start writing too much down. You might want to ask others what they think of your research question. Does the research question make sense? Is it an important research question? Does anybody care if you answer the research question?
How To Write A Research Question – Nerd-Out Wednesdays