Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Research Paper

A good research paper needs to present clear examples, use concise words, and contain valid facts. Research papers need to be written in an academic and professional format that depict useful findings and answer important questions. 

A lot of hard work and dedication goes into conducting a research and then writing a research paper. As exciting and interesting as it is, any mistake or error in the process could drastically reduce the credibility or accuracy of your entire research. To avoid that, here is a compilation of some common mistakes you should avoid when writing a research paper:

  1. Insufficient background research. Background reading is essential even before you begin your research in order to narrow down on a topic. Not doing sufficient background work in choosing a research topic often results in the whole paper coming out rather sloppy and unfocused. Make sure you find out as much as you can about the subject or field that you’re researching and then choose a specific topic and frame a question accordingly.
  2. Choosing a vague or unspecific title and research topic. Your research topic needs to be very specific and focused, so that your title can also be concise and clearly convey the purpose of your research. Don’t try to include too much information or try to add too many findings into your paper. It is very important for research papers to be focused and to the point as much as possible. 
  3. Not following a proper structure. Make sure your entire project is structured properly with the introduction, background, methodology, findings, and conclusion all placed systematically. Make sure the information you provide is not scattered in a haphazard bunch of diagrams and tables. Ensure that the writing is smooth and in an easy to understand format that doesn’t unnecessarily complicate things.
  4. Making it unnecessarily lengthy. Always stick to the point in your research paper, and only provide information or comments that are necessary to prove and corroborate your hypothesis or defend your findings. Try your best not to exceed the given word or page limit, because a very long article can feel unnecessarily stretchy, instantly putting off the reader.
  5. Not providing proper citations for facts. Remember to provide references and citations for every statistic or fact that you mention in your research paper. Citations are essential in order to ensure the credibility of your research, and without proper citations, your article can easily be dismissed as unreliable and plagiarized. Plagiarism has severe academic consequences, including suspension. So be very careful with all your citations.
  6. Not sufficiently backing your arguments with evidence. Whenever you state your own opinions or observations on a subject, make sure it is backed up with your own findings or with existing previous research. In a scientific study, it is difficult for your opinion to appear credible if there is no evidence to support it.
  7. Plagiarizing. Remember to proofread your research paper several times to make sure that there is no plagiarized content. If you’re using any other relevant article for reference, try to use your own words while paraphrasing. Alternately, if you choose to quote directly for a source, make sure you place the words in appropriate quotation marks. It is a good practice to create a working bibliography as you progress in your research. You can note all the relevant citations in your bibliography and edit out the citations you don’t use as you finalize your draft. Plagiarism can instantly nullify your entire research, so be careful to stay away from it. 
  8. Using an informal tone. Your research paper needs to be serious, academic, and use third person pronouns. A scholarly article must explain things structurally in a scientific manner, without using slang words or informal abbreviations. Be sure to use a serious and academic tone to present your ideas.  

As arduous and tiring as it can be to complete a full research, it is also extremely fulfilling in the end, knowing that you have contributed in some way to the growth of knowledge and discovery. So put in your best effort into this process, and avoid making simple mistakes that could make your writing drastically lose its credibility. What other common mistakes have you come across or make sure to avoid? Do tell us in the comments below.

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