wtorek, 2 marca 2010

Structuring a Scientific Research Paper Correctly

By: Jason Creation

Most scientific research papers or reports follow a particular structure which makes them very different from an ordinary essay. Whether you are studying the physical sciences, psychology, or positivist sociology, you will be required to use the correct format each time that you write.

Most reports are accounts of an experiment that has been carried out either in the physical sciences or psychology, and positivist or quantitative sociology reports also take the same format. In most of these reports the writer started out with a hypothesis that the experiment or research either proved or disproved.

Although reports in some forms of sociology (a soft science) and in hard or physical science are written in the same format, most scientists do not regard sociology as scientific in any way whereas certain sociologists do.

In sociology what is meant by being scientific is that you are scientific in your approach to the work and that you state what took place without any bias on the part of the researcher. Nowadays however, it’s more difficult for scientists to use this as a weapon because of the view that all knowledge is affected by the person or persons that produce it.

Most research papers are written with an introduction and then a hypothesis where the person states what they believed to be the case at the outset of the experiment or research. The hypothesis is turned into a question, for example, why do some students do better in school and college than others. There’s usually a review of any literature in the area in a sociological paper and to a lesser extent in a scientific paper.

Research has both a theoretical and a practical component and you will be expected to write about both in your report. The report then details how the experiment took place i.e., what was done and what were the conditions under which something was done.

In sociology this part of the report is about sampling for the survey and about how the questionnaire was devised, what questions were asked and what precautions were taken to ensure that the results would be trustworthy. In survey research the questionnaire is often referred to as the research instrument because it’s the means by which the researcher has obtained their data; just as a scientist may use test tubes in a laboratory to undertake an experiment in chemistry.

Once a report has detailed the experiment or the research that was undertaken, the findings from the experiment or research is written down. There will be a discussion of what was found and in sociology an interpretation as to what the data might mean in terms of the hypothesis and question that was posed in the beginning.

The principal idea behind a research report is that the methods and data should be reported in such a way that if another person was to undertake the experiment or research in exactly the same way, they would come up with the same results. This is the main reason that sociologists will call their research reports scientific.

A report should finish with a suggestion for further research in that area.

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