Writing academic papers might be a hard task to do when the vocabulary one possesses is considered to be not enough. Academic papers usually require a high level of the language command and are checked with scrutiny and carefulness by supervisors. It also applies to a Research Paper (RP) and can give some troubled time writing it if the preparation and expertise on it are not enough.
For starters, it’s important to determine what a research paper is. It’s a type of academic writing that is usually characterized as an expanded essay and it includes a variety of sources that support a thesis. Such assignments form a part of coursework. The difference between an essay and RP seems vague at first since the goal of creating both works is to state certain arguments on a topic and support or oppose it throughout the work. However, when it comes to an essay, it normally comprises the knowledge and perception of a person and their own supporting/opposing arguments. While a research paper also includes personal interpretation of arguments, it normally is based on works of different authors (articles, books, theses and other papers) and the work’s author’s role is reduced to evaluation and synthesis of such sources.
This article is aimed at providing a guide to students and others who may be interested in finding ways of how to improve their writing skills of academic papers, a research paper in particular, and how to develop an academic vocabulary that is to be used in such works.
Related: Academic Style Writing
Writing the Paper
- Topic Selection: Before writing a work it’s important to find a topic. Sometimes they assigned by a teacher, but if it’s a voluntary choice then some efforts are required. In order to do it properly, it’s better to think I advance is the material available online and in books is enough to conduct a full-blown research. More importantly, topics should be selected by considering their uniqueness since writing a paper on ‘Albert Einstein: Career Achievements’ may be a bit vague whereas narrowing it down to ‘Albert Einstein: The influence on Modern Science’ is a relatively original idea.
- Author’s Interest: It’s beneficial to write a work on a subject matter in which the author is interested. Instead of following trivial ‘Pros and Cons’ template, creativity can pay back with the inspiration of writing and ideas that can simply evolve from one another. Moreover, investigating something that one enjoys is a good way to enrich personal knowledge.
- Taking Advice: Getting a piece of advice from people who have a certain expertise on writing such works and vast knowledge on a topic can expand the perspective and expose a new perspective. In addition, such interviews are advantageous for finding out what should be underscored and avoided in the paper.
- Vocabulary: The stage of determining a topic is a cornerstone of the whole writing process since it indicates what kind of vocabulary a person is about to deal with. If a subject is chosen and all is set, then it’s time to look up what words and terminology are related to it. Usually, the Internet is the best way to do a research and see if there are any specific lexical units to deal with. Alongside the web, dictionaries can be helpful and well. In case, in a paper is on thermodynamics then a good glossary comprising physics terminology can come in handy. Therefore, at this stage one should designate the range of unknown vocabulary and if they are ready to dig into it deep.
Once the topic is chosen, it’s time to find a strong foundation for the upcoming writing. For this, a research should be conducted and it can be done in multiple ways. Such consist of books, websites, soft and hard copy sources, speeches, Internet content etc. Normally, a research paper is based on at least five references and never on fewer than four; otherwise, it’s deprived of credibility and cannot hold any academic value.
Empirical materials: These are usually the most time-proven ones and contain a great share of information that can be used. Scientific articles and compilations, books and journals should be focused on the investigated topic.
Internet sources: Like encyclopedias and online libraries are favorably recognized by educational institutions and can be added to a list of references. Moreover, using online search tools is a good way to spare time and have a great overview of material without leaving the dormitory and spending hours surfing through dusty bookshelves.
Academic-Friendly Research: No matter what type of research is preferred, they all should be academic-friendly. It implies that the data has to be scientifically credible. Such books, articles etc. have certain recognition unlike pop-magazines and boulevard readings.
Vocabulary: While assessing piles of sources, one has a great opportunity to actually study a vocabulary and have an insight into specific terminology. Apart from having a related title and matter of discussion, materials, which are chosen for a research, always contain a vast range of words, phrases, and expressions suitable or, even, unique to discourse. In order to get a hand on them, it’s preferable to write them down creating a terminological diary, finding their definitions and equivalents and keeping them always in case of a need.
In addition to this, having identified a specific vocabulary one can start planning ahead in which paragraph the words are going to be used. Such a prediction can help structure the whole work and facilitate the process of writing.
This is the last step before actually creating a research paper and it bears its importance since it preplans the whole text and, therefore, put it in a distant perspective in order to have a better overview of a possible result.
Reference: Planning a work like this should start with arranging a list of references in accordance with their future position in the text. It’s necessary to compile such a list properly using a writing style format required by an institution (MLA, APA, CMS etc.). You can choose from different referencing style such as citing the sourcing using Harvard Referencing Style.
Establishing a Goal: It’s necessary to establish a goal that will be a leading theme throughout the whole paper. Usually, there two views on how to do that: argumentation or analysis. The first one is focused on finding arguments that support the main idea and are constantly criticized by different credible sources while the author defends the idea by disproving those. On the other hand, analytical writing is aimed at finding a new solution to an old problem that doesn’t necessarily have to be controversial. Usually, such a subject is well-studied but lacks a fresh approach to its understanding, which the author tries to establish.
A thesis statement: That normally is a two-three sentence abstract, has to be developed in the introduction part and has the purpose of opening a discussion that later on is supported with arguments. The best way to write a good one is to ask a question that doesn’t have any answer in it. For instance, if a paper is on environmental issues of plastic wastes then a thesis statement may sound like ‘Are plastic deposits a real threat to the environment or should they be treated as a new element in old ecosystems?’. In fact, every statement is an eye-catcher that creates an intriguing atmosphere for a reader.
Word Stock: Now it’s a good time to make a short scheme of a future paper by dividing and drawing approximate key points and paragraphs, and intertwining them with vocabulary that has already been created. Writing word chains or grouping terminology will assure the appropriate use of such units. Moreover, it will probably help the writer generate new ideas and build a logical connection between the parts.
When the preparation process is done it’s time to do some writing. Normally, a research paper consists of three main parts.
The introduction: It is an initiating section and is casually composed of around three to five sentences and includes the setting up of a problem, short argumentation on why the topic is actual and important to be investigated, and a thesis statement. Keeping it concise and informative is the main ‘must’.
The body: It is the most informative part of a whole paper. Depending on the required size, it can contain from 5 to 50 pages. The main purpose of this part is to support or disprove certain statements. This is done by providing evidence that this or that passage does or does not correspond with the author’s opinion. Using sources usually requires paraphrasing and interpretation with a direct reference to the list. If such passages cannot be paraphrased they have to be quoted and framed with braces.
However, it’s important to mind that alongside with credible sources and arguments, it must contain the author’s own perception and ideas. A research paper is a synthesis of thoughts which confirm the author’s opinion on a matter, but not a compilation of works.
The Conclusion: when the two parts are ready, it’s time for the conclusion. Normally, it’s the easiest but most valuable part since it contains an overview of everything that has been said, argued, supported and disproved before. The aim of it is to finally answer the thesis statement established in the introduction, hence, it has to contain a simplified version of the main ideas from the body. It’s important to understand that since a conclusion is a summary of the material, it cannot include any new information.
Writing itself is a good way to learn a lot of new words. It’s a stage of implementing them to their original place. For this, an author should keep in mind the specifications that such specialized words can contain and always, in case if needed, check in the dictionary.
When a text is ready, it’s time to read it through and see if the context applied to new expressions is suitable and their manner of use is grammatically correct.
This is a short guide on how to write a great research paper and embroider it with an academic vocabulary. Since it’s usually no problem to find proper advanced words and use them from time to time, there is still an acute question of how to remember academic language peculiarities and, equally important, how to use them in everyday speech. For this, here are some methods to use:
- Reading is the first and most loyal friend of every student. New words always pop up in newspapers, articles, literary books and other hard-copy sources. In addition to finding new words in different kinds of literature, one has higher chances of remembering them by simply meeting them in a context that brings along associations and, hence, good memory.
- Using dictionaries is also quite handy. Even though one cannot really study a glossary or thesaurus completely since it’s not useful at all, but using it for checking a word’s meaning, proper use, grammatical peculiarities is a must for seekers of academic excellence.
- Obviously, time-from-time reading is not that useful if a person avoids a simple routine. It includes learning a new word every day or, at least, repeating the ones already learnt. For this, it’s possible to use smartphone applications and PC programs that offer a new word a day or provide a daily survey or a quiz to strengthen the knowledge.
- A great share of English words derives from Latin or Greek and they contain similar roots and word-building. Studying those particles can help a lot, especially, when it comes to academic English.
- Learning new vocabulary has no use unless it’s used in an actual conversation. For this, engaging in dialogues and communication with people who possess proficiency in English is a marvelous way of fixing the learnt.
All in all, writing a research paper is an easy task to do, if the author knows its requirements and standards. In order to do it well, it’s recommended to
- Prepare all necessary materials and determine a topic
- Work on a paper’s outline and plan it in details
- Put maximal efforts in the process of writing and always be ready to change a perspective
On the other hand, using an academic or narrow vocabulary can be an issue. Notwithstanding, if one is determined to bring a work to perfection by using dictionaries, studying new words daily, carrying out conversations and planning everything in advance, then such an issue turns into another challenge on their way to academic and personal excellence.