A research paper in marketing is a fairly large academic work aimed to be published in a scholarly journal, magazine or other type of publication. The quality of research and findings presented in it are evaluated by peer review, which means that you have to make arrangements for potential counterarguments and objections. Research papers are one of the most widespread ways of sharing your progress with academic community – if you don’t intend to get a job in marketing but are going to continue a career of academic research you will have to learn how to write this kind of papers sooner rather than later. This marketing research paper writing guide will help you with it.
The primary purpose of a research paper as a university assignment is to evaluate the student’s ability to use relevant sources of information, think independently, analyze data, make original conclusions and prove his point of view with viable evidence. Therefore, you will mostly be given a free rein in terms of topic choice, and you should use this freedom to its fullest.
So what kinds of topics should you be looking for? Here are a few examples:
Most marketing assignments, research papers included, deal with specific situations and case studies. To evaluate them properly you have to precede your work with market research carried out in a uniform fashion:
A thesis statement is the gist of your research paper, its main point expressed in one or two sentences. Beginner writers often make a mistake of mixing it up with the topic or research question. There is, however, a clear distinction between them:
Thesis statement is a defining part of your research paper and should be a part of the introduction. Ideally, you should place it in the first or second paragraph, right after you attract the reader’s attention with the first several sentences. The rest of the paper should be dedicated solely to proving the point it expresses, so make sure to align the thesis statement and body paragraphs to correspond to each other.
Every research paper should maintain a precarious balance between original findings and connections with existing body of research on the subject. On the one hand, you have to produce results that haven’t been presented to peer review by anybody else. On the other hand, you have to build upon works of other researchers.
Information sources can be subdivided into groups based on several principles, but the most important are these:
Low- and High Quality Sources
Low-quality sources are those that contain unverified and unverifiable information and demonstrate signs of subjectivity and author’s agenda: mass media, Internet resources, most books, etc. You can use them, but treat them as more of a supplement than a real source of information you depend on.
High-quality sources are primarily peer-reviewed articles in scholarly publications. A good indication of the source’s authority is how many times it has been cited in peer-reviewed literature so far (you can find this information in most indexing databases). However, don’t decide to use or not to use a source based on this factor alone – a recent article, even if it is very high-quality, will naturally have fewer mentions than an older one.
Primary and Secondary Sources
Primary sources deal directly with their subject – they are, e.g., documents, statistical data, experiment results and so on.
Secondary sources research, cite on and analyze the primary ones. They are not worse than primary sources, they are simply used for a different purpose. A good research paper should contain a balanced selection of both types.
Finding the necessary sources gets easier as you become acquainted with your topic, but in the beginning it can be quite problematic. Here are some good ways to organize your search:
Outline is a detailed plan of your research paper. If you boil down your text to its most essential parts, this is what is going to remain. If you put enough work into an outline, you will be able to structure your thoughts and putting them on paper won’t take nearly as much time as usual. So, what you should mention in your outline?
Experienced writers know after a paper is finished, there is still a lot of work to be done, and its success depends on this work just as much as on writing per se. There are two stages you should take care of: checking your paper’s formatting and revising it.
Marketing courses use both MLA and APA styles, although APA is a little bit more common. This doesn’t mean that you can use whichever you like – the choice falls to your professor, so make sure to ask them about it. All the information about formatting can be found in official style guides or one of many online resources dedicated to helping students with them. There are too many rules and specific situations they deal with, so it is impossible to give any specific recommendations here. When in doubt, consult a respective style guide, if still in doubt, ask your professor.
There are many tricks that make up for an effective revision, but the most useful one is probably to prepare a checklist to go through when you reach this stage. Reread your paper asking yourself the following questions:
Using these marketing research paper writing tips won’t turn you into a professional marketing writer overnight, but they certainly will help you get into the spirit of the thing.