The first research paper for your degree in healthcare and health science can be intimidating. Whether you’ve never written a research paper or it’s been a few years, here are a few tips that can help make your paper more successful.
- Get to know your teacher.
Some people might be nervous about this idea, but professors are nothing to be afraid of, CollegeOnline states.1 Research has proven how positive a good working relationship between a student and professor can be.2 Students who get to know their professors tend to be more engaged in class topics, perform better on tests and papers, and appreciate the class more than those who don't. Getting your foot in the door is easy. Just ask questions! They can be about the subject that’s being taught, or make them personal. Where did they go to school? What kinds of jobs have they had? Do they have any pets? This could go a long way to help you connect with your instructors on a personal level.
- Pick an enticing topic.
Make sure you find a research paper topic that really piques your interest. There is nothing worse than realizing halfway through your paper that you wish you had chosen something else,3 said Bruce Fleury, PhD., a professor in Tulane's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Research papers are an investment in time – you have to really care about your topic to do a thorough job of research and writing it. Find a topic that you can write about clearly and has a direct focus.
- Cite your sources properly.
Professors can lend advice on where and what to search for, providing academic journal, textbook and other resource suggestions. Don’t forget to check the sources of your sources.4 Sometimes, a report or news article's own list of sources and citations can lead to useful sources. These primary sources – like studies, interviews, or government documents – can provide more credibility and accuracy for your paper.
- Find patterns.
An outline will allow you to clearly see what information fits and what doesn't. It should be the road map for your writing process. It is crucial to pinpoint key themes and patterns in your research so that you can highlight them throughout your paper, West Chester University of Pennsylvania advises. These core themes allow you to create subtopics that will dictate your paper's flow. Make sure your subtopics all contain supporting information to your main topic.
- Follow formatting guidelines.
You may have a great topic and a stack of completed research, but if your paper is not written within class guidelines, you could lower your overall grade, CollegeOnline stated. Be sure to pull the reader in with a well-thought-out introduction that shows your professor why you were interested in this topic. Also, leave yourself enough time for editing and a re-writing. Quickly scanning your paper for errors before submitting it can cause you to miss things that you wouldn't have with an extensive review. Reading your research paper out loud can also help you find errors. You can also ask a friend or family member to look it over. A fresh set of eyes often catches errors you may have missed. Be sure to cite correctly based on your professor's guidelines. Improper citation is a easy way to lower your score, Fleury warned. If you are unsure how to cite, or are unfamiliar with the type of citation your professor is looking for, seek out resources like Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers.5