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How to Write a Research Paper in Anthropology

Writing a research paper in Anthropology can be a brand-new experience for college students, who are new to this subject. The truth is that thinking in an anthropological way, first of all, means suspending your point view on how the world works, as well as on what is ‘weird’ and what is ‘normal.’ Generally, Anthropology is known as the study of people in all areas and times and comprises four major sub-sections, such as:

  • Physical/Biological Anthropology (focuses on the behavioral and biological aspects of human beings, and their related non-human primates, especially from an evolutionary perspective);
  • Cultural Anthropology (focuses on the connections of people and culture);
  • Philosophical Anthropology (the study focuses on the study of the problems of our existence in the world as a whole, as well as seeks answers for the question about the essence of man);
  • Archaeology (the field of study focuses on human activity through the recovery and analysis of artifacts);
  • Linguistic Anthropology (the discipline focuses on how language influences social life).

In other words, this field of study asks you to try to understand cultural differences as they are, forgetting your ego and ethnocentrism, in order to see differences without putting these differences in any sort of order.

If you’re taking any of the courses mentioned above, you will be required to write a research paper in Anthropology at some point. This instructional guide will enlighten you on how to get the paper done successfully based on credible anthropological information/sources.

When writing for Cultural, Linguistic, or any other Anthropology class, you will be required to deal with a couple of things in every paper:

  • Question cultural norms in a critical manner (in both – your culture and the cultures of other people);
  • Analyze ethnographic information (data related to everyday events, activities, histories, interviews) to trace important and interesting patterns;
  • Arrange ethnographic and the rest sorts of evidence (newspapers, historical accounts, an so on.) in order to describe, study, and analyze an event, a phenomenon, or cultural issue, or to support an argument about one;
  • Check the theoretical perspective critically to ensure it makes sense in cultural phenomena.

Choose Your Topic as a Focused Research Question

To put in shortly, Anthropology studies humanity. Since there are many different types of anthropological branches and studies, you’ll have no problems with deciding on a topic to research.
We’ve listed some of the hottest issues to research and discuss in the research paper in Anthropology:

  • The Impact of the West on North American Indigenous Peoples;
  • Ethnic Cleansing: Genocide in the World’s History;
  • The Influence of Health, Culture, and Illness on Human Society;
  • Mythologies and Its Relevance to Modern Culture;
  • The Impact of the Culture of the Ancient Indians on the Development of American Culture;
  • Aristotle’s View on a Human Soul and Body Bound in Essence;
  • Anthropological Meaning and Essence of Historicity;
  • Lord of the Things: An Anthropological Exploration of the Society of Consumers;
  • Marriage Rituals in Different Countries All over the Globe;
  • The Role of Women in Chinese Culture;
  • Similarities and Differences in American and Asian Rock;
  • Anthropology of Heidegger: Reflection on the Essence of a Human in the Light of Being;
  • Studying Twins in Different Parts of the Globe and Throughout Time;
  • The Role of Literature in the Development of Human Society;
  • Migration and Its Impact All over the World;
  • The Underwater Archaeology: Future Perspectives;
  • The Relevance of Feminism in Modern Western Culture;
  • The Impact of Social Media on Different Cultures;
  • Relationship between Scientific and Philosophical Cognition of a Human;
  • The Modern Man: What Have We Lost?

Outline the Research Paper

Outlining is not an Anthropology-based feature. That’s one of the most important things to do in case of any academic project. Make sure to begin and end your research paper outline in one sitting. You will be able to come back to it later and edit it at any point as you move along. However, having a well-done outline before you dive into the writing routine will help you work more efficiently, faster, and more effectively.

If your topic is about Medical Anthropology, you will need to build a solid outline. This is how an outline of Medical Anthropology research paper may look:

I. Introduction
A. What is Medical Anthropology?
B. Main principles of Medical Anthropology
II. The current global situation in Medical Anthropology.
A. Main problems in the field of Medical Anthropology
B. Social conditions of Medical Anthropology vulnerable subgroups
III. Finding solutions for Medical Anthropology gaps
A. Ways of scanning Medical Anthropology niches
C. International cooperation
IV. Conclusion

Anthropology Thesis Statement Checklist

The introduction is like a road map in your research paper. You have to indicate clearly what you’re about to do. Make sure your intro reveals what the research essay is about, what you’re about to discuss, how you’re going to discuss it, what examples you’d like to use to demonstrate your argument, and what is the key aim of the project. If you fail to inform your target readers on what you’re talking about, they might come up with their own points of view that, in turn, will cause a range of misunderstandings.

Start your intro broad and narrow down its focus. For instance, begin with a statement about what is Anthropology in general. Go on with Physical Anthropology, then – Nutritional Anthropology. After that, proceed to your own subject of study.
Your introduction section must contain a solid thesis statement. The following list enlightens you on how you can tell if your thesis statement is a good one.

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
  • A solid thesis statement contains one main idea. If the subject has more than one point, your research project will confuse your readers. A clearly expressed key point will provide your paper with a strong focus.
  • A solid thesis statement shows that its author takes stand and justifies the topic discussion. Make sure your thesis statement always answers the ‘so what?’ question and proves you have analyzed and researched the issue from A to Z to come up with the right conclusions. It’s recommended to produce the thesis statement that your readers could disagree with. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • A solid thesis statement is narrow and focused on a specific subject. If the thesis statement is too broad, your research paper won’t be well developed. If the thesis statement turns out to be too specific, you’ll fail to provide enough information on the topic. The right specificity depends on the length of the research paper. Make sure you can thoroughly research and discuss the issue within the given length.
  • A solid thesis statement is flexible. In other words, you have to be able to change your thesis statement at any stage of work. When you’re at the starting point of your work, you have no idea where your research and analysis are going to take you. Thus, make sure you can modify the thesis whenever you feel like and the way you want it to.

Writing the Main Body of Your Research Paper

At this point, your outline will come in handy. When you’re in the middle of writing, don’t think your outline is like a trap. It’s not! Feel free to use it and change it to make sure your paper flows logically and smoothly. However, don’t step away from the thesis statement and the main theme of the project.
If at some point, you decide to quote any piece of text word-for-word, ensure to cite the source. Mention the source of your quote and use quotation marks. Provide more details about the quote on References or Works Cited page. If you decide to do paraphrasing, i.e., not using the exact words, but using someone else’s idea, give credit as well. You don’t have to use quotation makes here; however, ensure to mention where exactly this or that idea originates from.

  • To integrate your sources into the research paper discussion, make sure to analyze, summarize, explain, and evaluate each published work instead of merely mentioning it.
  • Don’t overwrite in this section. Although your tutor may encourage you to develop your own elegant style, make sure to first aim for precision and clarity in your writing. Once you’re a precision and clarity guru, feel free to experiment more with complex and wordy sentences, different speech figures, and so on.
  • Use the active voice. Use passive voice only when you need it to make your writing look more beautiful.

Prepare the Tables and Figures

Without a doubt, your research paper in Anthropology will contain some tables, figures, and graphics of some kind. These elements are an integral part of the project because they are numbers that represent the author’s findings and the methods that s/he used throughout the research.

Describe the Methods

In the Methods section, your task is to:

  • Describe how you performed the experiment;
  • Provide a rationale for why you have chosen specific experimental procedures;
  • Give a description of what you have done in order to answer the research paper question and how exactly you did that;
  • Explain how you have analyzed your results.

Give the Results

So, what did you find? Provide the direct results of your anthropological research here:

  • Present your findings in the same order as in the section called Methods;
  • Present data in charts, tables, graphs, or any other figures that you like to work with;
  • Report on how you collected information, chose the participants of your experiment, etc.;
  • Provide data that is corresponding to the central research question;
  • Give secondary findings.

Writing the Conclusion

When thinking about the conclusion of the research paper in Anthropology, think of it as an extra part attached to the end of the project after you’ve done your argument or analysis. This part will serve as a reflection of your introduction. Make sure to remind your audience how you took them from the start through to the end of the essay and why. Mention the logical thoughts that connected one topic/issue to another. Have you succeeded to prove your argument? Why is your research significant in the chosen field of study?

Sum up each of the approaches you used together with the obtained results. Mention some discrepancies discovered between your research work and the other Anthropology studies that served as the basis for your investigation as a whole. Give ideas on how your project can be improved and advanced.

Mind the Audience

When you’re done with the research paper writing stage, and the time to review and edit your piece comes, make sure to ask yourself if your paper will be easy-to-understand to another student interested in the topic, but not pursuing a degree in the course. College tutors are usually more excited to see how you write your research paper that might be interesting to those who don’t take the same course. It’s a big mistake to believe that you’re writing the research paper in Anthropology for your tutor or any other expert in the field! Besides, don’t think that your target readers have read the same articles, books, websites, or watched the same videos as you.

College research papers in Anthropology address topics that are usually picked by the students or given by the professor. These projects require you to put course content into a detailed conversation with other academic literature on a particular topic or issue. The project will entail conducting effective research of information in the library – both the electronic and printed ones. Typically, students are not limited to articles and books that are narrowly Anthropology-oriented. In addition to that, you will be asked to search for material from various disciplines that is related to your topic. You’ll need to synthesize and organize the articles and books to be able to speak to the argument you’re about to make. The paper must be well-organized and properly arranged, with every part of it building upon the others and supporting the project’s main argument.