What to Consider When Writing a Research Paper in College
A very important project many college students must consider is the research paper. This is a big requirement in certain major subjects as the paper allows students to learn much about subject-related topics.
Because of the paper’s requirements, a student needs to choose their research topic well. Doing so will ensure it is finished on time, allowing for a higher grade.
If you are concerned about this, take a look at the following factors to consider.
- Select something you like
The first concern is to ensure you like the topic. Much reading is needed for this project to be successful. But if you do not like your topic, it will be hard to move forward.
- Be specific about what you will study
A common error is for students to have a very general topic. The problem with this is that it will be very hard to study it because of so many variables involved. So if your initial research topic is too broad or too vague, narrow it down.
Too vague: The needs of high school students
Too broad: Investigating the relationship needs of high school students in the 21st century.
Narrowed down: Investigating the relationship needs of freshman high school students today in Carmen High School.
- Ensure your research is measurable
This requirement is two-fold. The first is that there must be ways to measure the data - through an experiment, surveys, or a discussion group. If you are not sure, look at related literature to see how others did their research, or consult your teacher about how to measure what you want to study.
The next is that there must be enough related research and literature to compare your results against. So if you are choosing something for the very first time for school, chances are it will not be accepted.
- Make sure it is attainable
Another concern is whether you can do what you set out to do. Even though the research problem is very interesting indeed, if it cannot be done because you lack the resources or need access to data that you probably will not get permission for (government records or information from private corporations), you will need to change your topic.
- Take into consideration the time element
Although doable, some research papers will take too much time. This may be because of all the angles you might need to investigate if the topic is complex or because the data-gathering and experimentation will take months to accomplish. This may be okay if you are given 6 months or more to complete it; but if not, you will need to narrow it down even more, tweak the variables you will look at, or go with another research problem.
As the whole research process stems from the research topic you select, it is important that you carefully choose it well. Consider the pointers above soon so that you do not waste your time thinking of an alternative topic for your research paper.