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A Research Paper in High School vs. A Research Paper in College

October 22, 2020| Category: Writing Tips

  1. What is the main difference between a research paper written in high school and a research paper written in a college?

In fact, the way you wrote the research papers in high school will be similar to how you will write them for your college courses. For instance, you will use the same research techniques, you will follow the latest standards and criteria of academic writing, etc. Besides, in case of finding any inconsistencies when studying the instructions, you will need to discuss them with your tutors. However, at the same time, the paper written in high school and the paper written in college have specific differences, which should be studied by any student, who wants to succeed in academic writing.

First, you will need to work on a more focused research area than it was in high school. Whereas a high school research paper allowed relying on websites, magazines, and other not authoritative sources, a research paper written on a college level will require focusing on more specialized sources such as books or scholarly journals. Ideally, you need to go to the library and collect as many credible academic sources as possible to develop your topic in the best way. Second, a college-level paper requires a better synthesis of the sources. As such, instead of reporting on what these sources say, you need to evaluate them, analyze the perspectives chosen by their authors, as well as find out their main similarities and differences. Finally, a college-level research paper will make you apply your best analytical skills. A college-level research paper does not allow using the first person. When writing a research paper for your college studies, you will need to take a stand and support it with credible evidence taken from primary and secondary sources. Given the challenging nature of the college-level research paper, some tutors call it a research project.

  1. What kinds of sources are used in college-level research papers?

A good research paper cannot be written from the writer`s own perspective. When working on such a paper, you will need to back up all your ideas and arguments with strong evidence taken from reliable sources. All the sources used for writing a research paper can be divided into three types:

  1. Library-based sources. They include common sources like books, academic journals, and newspapers. However, as is was previously mentioned, your college class will require also using government documents, scholarly journals, audio sources, archival documents, and many other sources. Besides, you should not forget that many libraries present print materials in online formats. Thus, you can easily find these documents in the PDF versions on the library website;
  2. Online sources. Nowadays, students prefer to look for online sources since it considerably saves time. Again, there are a lot of common sources like online journals, websites, and newspapers. However, you should not forget that all the sources you use for your college-level research paper should be credible, authoritative, and peer-reviewed. You should understand that any person can post to the web. Thus, you need to take extra time to check on the credibility of the sources used;
  3. Primary research. This includes research materials collected directly by the researcher. Whereas there are many methods that are helpful in collecting materials, one should pay special attention to face-to-face interviews, e-mail, group interviews, observations, surveys, and questionnaires.

In addition to the abovementioned types of documents, there are two significant areas, which are always discussed when it comes to college essay writing:

  • Most probably, your tutor does not allow you to use Wikipedia as a source. However, this website can be particularly useful when it is needed to familiarize yourself with the topic. If you are unaware of your topic, you may start searching for it on Wikipedia. Although you cannot mention this source in your reference list, it will definitely provide you with a direction for your further work;
  • When working on a college-level research paper, you need to pay special attention to the credibility of your sources since it is one of the main aspects of your grading rubric.
  1. Which genres should be used in writing a research paper?

Whereas any genre can be used in research (yes, even a memoir can be a source of information), there are specific genres that are used more often than others:

  1. This genre often indicates a problem and suggests a solution that can efficiently solve this problem. A research proposal can provide either one or a couple of solutions that can solve a particular problem. Thus, this genre is always used in academic research;
  2. This genre is also often used in research because it is similar to a proposal. Whereas a proposal provides the reader with a problem and a solution to this problem, a report provides the reader with information on the main causes and effects of the particular problem. A report does not include a solution section allowing the reader to decide what will happen in the future;
  3. Such a genre is often used in magazines and newspapers. It assumes providing an objective opinion on a specific topic and then identifying its perspectives. In most cases, it includes a call to action;
  4. Literature reviews. This genre is a synthesis of what has been already achieved within the topic along with its future perspectives. A literature review can be either a separate document or a part of the larger academic project.

If you are going to use any of these genres for writing your research paper, you need to spend some time to check which ones are more appropriate than others.

  1. How should I get started?

Before you start working on your research paper, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. What topic do I want to work with? You can find a topic for your research paper by searching for the relevant issues in your discipline, recollecting your personal experiences, or studying the sources related to your field. No matter what topic you will choose, it should match your research interests. Otherwise, the writing process will be very boring for you;
  2. What is the purpose of your essay? Once you know your topic, you need to figure out how you want to develop it;
  3. Who is my target audience? Knowing who will be your reader is particularly important since it will help you choose the right arguments and evidence. Do not forget that the success of your research paper depends on how well you can interact with your audience. You can write your paper for one individual or for a group of people;
  4. What genre should I use? As soon as you know who is your target audience, as well as what are their backgrounds and interests, you can choose the genre for your research paper. Pay attention that no matter what genre you will select, you will need to follow the rules of academic writing.
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