What Do You Consider as the Most Important Aspect of a Research Paper or Thesis?
I Asked Several Students and These Are the Interesting Responses
As a blogger and essay writer, I encounter many readers, students and customers online, and sometimes I get the opportunity to talk to them about their research. I asked some students several questions on what they considered as the most important aspect of research. Most of them responded that it is data collection that is most important, as without data there cannot be any research. Although this is true, choosing the research question could be the most important aspect of research as the research question sets the premise for the entire research. The research question gives you something to begin with, while you conduct your research and write a research paper. The research question or title also gives you the context on which to begin your research, so it is the foundation of a research paper or thesis and very important for setting the context.
You may not agree with me on this and argue that data collection and methodology may be more empirically important than the research question. One researcher suggested that the introduction and conclusion are more important than the other parts, as the introduction and conclusion mark the beginning and the end of the research paper.
Again, I partially agree with this argument but not wholeheartedly. The introduction of any literary work is not the climax. The data collection and analysis are the climax of a research paper or thesis perhaps, so why don't we consider the data analysis as the most important part of a thesis? That would be a good question and in fact 3-4 students emphasized on data analysis as most important in research.
This maybe a subjective understanding on what is most important, but the order of importance has gone first to data collection, analysis, to introduction and. then to conclusion .
If I asked you the same question - which is the most important aspect of research - what would your answer? Well, you may say methods or analysis or research title are most important parts of research.
Whatever your opinion is, finally you must understand that the research question sets the stage and guides the direction of research. That is why I consider it as so important, as a research question sets the direction of research and helps the researcher to decide where she wants to go in terms of her thesis and research paper.
I elaborated on several terms here that are relevant to research and suggested that a research question is of primary importance as it provides the. context for the research. As fundamentally the research is based on one idea that is completely explained by the researcher, and this one idea forms the basis of further research and helps expand the research paper. This one idea is usually elaborated in the research question and I would compare the research question to the brain of the human body that controls everything else.
Of course you can choose to differ and suggest that data analysis provides new insights, and results on the data and information available,and although that is completely true, it is also true that it is the research question that actually sets the ball rolling and starts the research.
So, I asked some other questions to students - what would you omit from a research paper and think is unnecessary? Many responded that the literature review is not necessary and some others suggested that it is the introduction and conclusion should be done away with.
The literature review actually allows the researcher to go back and read up on the research that already exists on the topic or subject area. The literature review of the thesis is meant to provide vast information on a particular topic of research.
To do the literature review well, you have to do a thorough search of background information and provide information and review of a wide range of data sources. Literature review cannot be done away with as literature review provides the basic knowledge for a specific research topic. So you must do your background study before calling yourself a researcher, otherwise what do you compare the research data with if you don't consult previous data and review?
Let's now turn to the introduction and conclusion. Why are these so important? The introduction section provides the basis for further research and helps provide a predictive summary of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect and provides a direction to the research study. The conclusion is just that - a conclusive summary of what you just found out within the research topic. The conclusion is not predictive but based on research findings and the data. Some researchers tend to add recommendations to the conclusion and the recommendations set the tone for future research. The recommendations are usually based on the conclusions but take these conclusive statements further to provide the basis and directions for future research. So, is it possible to do away with introduction and conclusion? Maybe in an essay it is okay if you don't include an introduction or conclusion, but for a thesis it is recommended that you do have these sections. Some researchers prefer to use just the recommendations and omit the conclusion altogether and some go directly to the background or literature review without writing an introduction.
However, the introduction can be omitted if you have a strong abstract. The purpose of an introduction is to introduce the research topic to the reader and if you prefer to add introductory statements to your background literature or review, that could work as well.
In this post, I tried to highlight the different sections in a research and explained the purpose of these sections and which sections are absolutely necessary and which sections you can skip while writing a paper or a thesis. Technically, it's possible to skip sections like the introduction and conclusion if you include your introductory or conclusive statements in the other sections. Omitting the literature review completely is not recommended but can still be done for papers that are based on practical laboratory reports or practical or empirical research findings. Some researchers may use background study or introductory sections to provide the context of the research, instead of using the literature review. Some lab reports and scientific studies do omit the literature review altogether, so yes, the way you structure your paper is largely at your discretion. Although, always remember you have more freedom for your essay than your thesis.