Research is the essential part of writing an academic paper regardless of its type or complexity. Thus, all students need to develop their skills and know-how to use various techniques if they want to be academically successful and get good grades.
However, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to defining the techniques (most commonly known as research methods or methodology). Yes, there’s a lot of information on this subject on the Internet. But all guides and books and articles offer different explanations of the topic.
This can make students feel intimidated at the prospect of inevitably having to choose something. So, many of them even prefer to look for study help right away. It’s a great option, too. But luckily, there still are some similarities between research sources. They allow us to define some of the most popular research methods used for academic paper writing.
To save your time and effort, we’ve put together a list of the 5 most popular and reliable techniques that will help you write your perfect academic paper.
But before we share them with you, let’s make a quick overview of what academic research is, in general, and by which criteria it can be defined.
What Is Academic Research?
Research in general, as defined by Cambridge English Dictionary, is “a detailed study of a subject, especially to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding”. So, academic research is the same but also aimed for the benefit of the academic community.
However, graduate and postgraduate students usually deal with research as a means to reach a better understanding of a particular subject, gain new knowledge, and gather data for analysis and conclusions.
What Is a Research Technique?
To study a topic, one needs to use certain techniques (or methods). In short, a research technique (method) is the strategy, technique, or process used to collect data or evidence for further analysis to present new information or provide a better understanding of a chosen topic. To put it simply, this is an algorithm you use to find the information necessary to base your academic paper on.
Three main methods are used by students and academics alike. These are:
- mixed methods.
Whichever approach you choose, these techniques themselves remain the same. As these are the techniques (or the practical tools) that most students need to write excellent papers, these are exactly what we’re going to discuss further on.
So, here are the 5 research techniques you’ll need to write great academic papers.
Being a qualitative technique, an interview helps gather data from people’s life experiences.
Interviews are one-on-one question-and-answer sessions that are usually carried out in person. However, you can also conduct one via phone or online – whatever is most convenient for the interviewee and the interviewer.
The interviewer is usually the author of a paper, but not necessarily. Another person can also interview if he or she has the questions and instructions provided by the researcher.
Later on, recorded interviews should be carefully transcribed and edited to be used later as evidence and/or data source for further analysis.
Some disciplines, particularly related to science, require experiments as the main study method. In this case, the student usually faces the difficult task of finding participants willing to take part in an experiment.
This group of participants is then asked to perform a series of tests or tasks. The results are then recorded and compared to draw some conclusions.
However, there are some disciplines (like chemistry) where a student can carry an experiment totally by themself. In any case, recording and interpreting the results properly is key if you decide to use this method.
Observation is another popular qualitative research tool that is widely used both in an academic and professional environment. It is also considered to be one of the most important methods for social and human sciences and can provide highly valuable data for these academic fields.
To use this technique properly, the student should be free of any personal prejudices and biases and regard the data gathered as objectively as possible. It is also vital to make notes and be able to conclude the data gathered via this method to interpret it in the right manner.
Surveys refer to quantitative research as they deal more with numbers and patterns than anything else. This method is also widely used outside of academia – for example, in marketing, – so chances are that you already know how to use it to gather the necessary data.
In essence, a survey is a question or a series of questions being asked to a large number of participants. Their answers are then analyzed and interpreted to find patterns and draw conclusions.
Last but not least, there’s document (or documentary) analysis as a popular method of qualitative research. This technique implies reviewing various types of documents (like letters, diaries, audio, and video recordings, public records, etc.) to find meaningful patterns and themes in the raw data of the primary sources.
This method is often used as supplementary, but can also be conducted as a standalone study, depending on the idea and purposes of your paper.
Research skills are crucial for students to be able to write impressive academic papers. However, many students are not familiar with the methods and tools available to them. Also, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to this complex topic, so sometimes the best decision is to seek professional help.
Yet, if you plan to advance your career in academia, there’s no way you can ignore this subject. So, you must learn how to use the most popular research tools like the ones listed above early on!