Interior of Stuttgart Library in Germany
Stuttgart Library in Germany
“A research paper is the currency, the mainstay of scientific information. This is the place where new results and ideas are communicated to other scientists. Most of the facts you learn in a science lecture or textbook are actually interpretations of data that were first described in the form of a research paper.” A Guide to Writing in the Life Sciences

The Basics

Research should combine skills and knowledge relevant to your studies in order to explore a solution to a problem, contribute to research, or propose/invent a new product or service. Research papers, such as your Capstone paper, should aim to add something new or significant to a subject area’s discourse (i.e., the discussion/debates going on based on previous research and findings). As a student, you’ll read the major studies/publications in your research area in order to get a hold of that field’s discourse. Below are important qualities for your research.

  • Original: Ideally, research is based an original inquiry that helps advance knowledge in your field. This means focusing research on something new, overlooked, or incomplete.
  • Knowledgeable: In regard to the subject, the author should be aware of previous publications and findings as well as what experts are currently saying.
  • Relevant/Interesting: Research involves a lot of reading, so make sure you pick subject areas that that are personally/professionally significant or interesting.

In order to establish these qualities in your own research, you’ll need to spend a good portion of your time pre-writing. This means reading other research, taking notes, connecting ideas across papers, outlining concepts, etc. Work with your instructor(s) on how to approach your topic once you have one, but the best way to start is by reading relevant research in that area and becoming a pseudo-expert.

Last Updated April 5, 2017