Research Paper vs. Report TOPIC: RESEARCH PAPER TASK: LIST TRAITS OF A RESEARCH PAPER To understand what makes something a “research paper,” in any course, it is helpful to first understand what a research paper is not. A Research Paper is NOT The goal of a research paper is not simply to inform. It is not a general discussion of an issue. A research paper should have a thesis -- a clear point of view. A research paper is not a summary of everything you can find A Research Paper is NOT Your goal is not to collect everything you can find out about a subject and summarize it. You should review as much material as possible, but you should only select sources to use in your paper that directly support your thesis. A Research Paper is NOT A research paper is not a list of quotes - your commentary should do more than simply introduce or link quotations. The focus of your paper is your point of view and commentary. Direct quotations, facts, and statistics may be woven throughout your paper, but they should support your position. A Research Paper is NOT A research paper does not support a pre-conceived point of view. Looking up facts that support what you already believe is not genuine research. You should first examine evidence, and then form an opinion. A Research Paper is NOT A research paper does not present the ideas of others without documentation. Research papers must use documentation methods (citations) to prevent you from plagiarizing sources. Do not borrow ideas, statistics, or facts without noting their original source. On the other hand… A Research Paper is written after you go through a research process that includes critical thinking about the topic, finding and evaluating sources, and organization of your information and arguments. A Research Paper analyzes a perspective or argues a point. Your finished research paper should present your own thinking backed up by others' ideas and information. A Research Paper IS A research paper meets the needs of the assignment. Read your directions carefully. Many instructors give specific requirements for research papers, detailing topics, use of sources, and documentation methods. Make sure you fully understand the scope of the assignment – the extent of the subject matter to cover. How broad/narrow should you be? A Research Paper IS A research paper has a clear focus. This is why you should narrow down from a broad topic A research paper has a clear thesis. To develop your thesis: Start with a question. Clearly state what you want to find out through your research. The answer to that question becomes your thesis statement. Read more about thesis statements: http://library.mwcc.edu/toolkit/thesis-statements A Research Paper IS The more narrow you make your subject, the easier your paper will be to write. Example: It is easier to focus on one treatment for a single psychiatric disorder than trying to address mental health. A research paper must express a point of view, not simply report on the ideas of others. You include the views of others to compare with your own. but the focus of the paper is your opinions and interpretations. A Research Paper IS A research paper comments on the quantity and quality of sources. A good research paper distinguishes between reliable and biased sources, between authoritative and questionable statistics, and between fact and opinion. A research paper does not simply summarize and present the ideas of others. Evaluate the sources you cite.