A research paper is a typical form in which scientists from all disciplines demonstrate the results of their independent work. There is no standardized word count – a research paper is as long as is necessary to get the author’s point across. However, usually, they are fairly large – 4000 words and upwards, so be ready to put a lot of time and effort in this task.
A research paper is usually supposed to be published in an academic journal and subjected to peer review – i.e., it will be read by other specialists in the field who will evaluate whether it contributes anything to the existing body of research, whether your methodology is sound, whether you use proper evidence and so on.
You should be interested in learning how to write this kind of paper not just to receive a good grade right now – if you consider pursuing an academic career after graduation, the research paper is going to be your primary tool, so mastering it early on is certainly a good idea.
Students are given research papers to write in order to test their ability to work on their own, to conduct research independently, without the oversight and assistance of instructors. That is why you will usually have more or less complete freedom of choice when it comes to selecting a topic. Defining the direction is a part of the research, and you have to learn to do it yourself. Nevertheless, you will have to discuss your topic with your instructor after you’ve decided upon it – both to see if it complies with the requirements of the assignment and college’s guidelines and to get some advice. Instructors know more about such things from their experience, and sometimes students take topics that will be extremely difficult to write about, making their job unnecessarily difficult without knowing it.
A well-chosen topic is a cornerstone of every high-quality communications research paper, so don’t try to get over this step quickly and give the selection a lot of thought. Here are some suggestions to help you get through it:
Here are some suggestions so that you can see what you should look for:
Simplifying it a bit, a thesis statement is the general idea behind your research paper condensed to a single sentence (sometimes two sentences, but no more). You should, however, differentiate between the topic of the paper, the research question and the thesis statement:
The thesis statement should be located at the beginning of your communications research paper, immediately after the first few introductory sentences. In addition to that, it should be:
The main goal of a communications research paper is to do independent research and present your findings to the academic community. However, You cannot do without the existing research on the subject, as no academic work exists in complete isolation from other works on the same topic. They are all connected with the strings of references and quotations, and the more of these strings lead from your paper to trustworthy sources, the more valuable your paper is considered to be.
Most of the sources you use should come from peer-reviewed academic journals on the subject of communications, because they are believed to be by far the sources of highest quality. Other types (books, newspapers, websites, etc.) are also accepted, but should be taken with a grain of salt – not all of them are valuable and trustworthy.
If you don’t know much about the subject matter of your research paper, finding the first few sources is going to be difficult. Here are a few suggestions for where you can start out:
When selecting a source, pay attention to how many times it has been cited in other peer-reviewed papers. This number can serve as a good indication of the paper’s quality and authority. However, take it into account that recent publications probably don’t have enough time to gather enough references.
The outline is a plan that guarantees that your paper is logically organized and that you don’t forget to mention anything you’ve intended to. Naturally, it repeats the intended structure of your paper, which can vary depending on the specifics of your assignment, but generally follows more or less the same lines:
Having an outline prevents you from forgetting things and vice versa, from being repetitive. If you know for sure what and where you intend to mention, mistakes are not possible.
There are two types of outlines:
We hope that this communications research paper guide will serve you well in the difficult and long job of writing a research paper on communication. Good luck!