Whether an author or student, research papers make a regular appearance in Academia. The best papers are clear, driven, and informative, and when done correctly, they can take your research to new heights. However, even the best ideas can become lost if a paper isn’t written correctly. Not reading similar work, using irreputable sources, citing sources incorrectly, not utilizing figures and tables, and using too much or not enough information can damage a paper beyond repair. But by understanding and identifying these common research mistakes, you can easily learn how to avoid them.
Not Reading Similar Work
Without reading other papers on a similar subject to yours, you can’t be sure that your research will set you apart. It’s important to stand out from the crowd, while also ensuring that you are headed in the right direction. By reading similar research papers, you may discover new information surrounding your topic that can be cited within your research paper that will increase validity to your research. Make sure that your research is different than previous research, but also make sure the differences aren’t great enough to create cause for concern. If you’re stuck on something, reading other work can also help spark an idea in your own work.
Using Irreputable Sources
There are millions of websites available on the Internet, and many people make the mistake of using information from untrustworthy websites. When doing academic research, it is vital to make sure that the information you’re using is reputable. Avoid Wikipedia and simple Google searches, and instead use scholarly databases such as PubMed and EBSCO to ensure that the data is credible. If you would like to take a step away from the computer, libraries are also an incredibly valuable source of information, and are home to hundreds of journals, books, and resources.
Citing Sources Incorrectly
Some of the biggest mistakes made in research papers are the failures to cite previously unknown information and to not properly cite a source in the correct format. Citing appropriately is a challenge, especially when each format requires different citing rules. But there are helpful guides available for free online. Such sites as BibMe and Citation Machine can generate citations with the information that you provide. Reading other work with the same format can also help.
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Not Utilizing Figures and Tables
If research is very data-heavy, putting that data into paragraph form can make it easy to lose and hard to grasp. Some research needs an extra boost to get statistics and data across in a quick, readable format, and using figures and tables is likely the best delivery method for the reader. Figures and tables are an incredibly useful tool that not only makes it easy for the reader to understand, but easy for the writer to show incredibly valuable data.
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Too Much or Not Enough
Some authors overflow a paper with too much fluff, while others leave their papers bare. The balance of using too much information and not enough information is delicate. You want to ensure thoroughness without over-filling your paper and masking all the valuable research. In this step, it is very important to peer review. Getting a fresh take on your writing before you send it to publication could make all the difference. It could also be helpful to read your work out loud. How your words sound when spoken is a big indicator of how they read on the page.
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