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[Vision] How to write an academic essay and research paper?


The other day, I talked to high school students about how to make assumptions, and then what I was supposed to talk about a little further is how to write an academic essay at the same time. If you go to an Anglo-Saxon university in the UK or the USA, you will have learnt this basic format in your first year at university. So many of our interns do not know this basic essay format suggests that they may not have learnt it at other universities. Some international students have indeed written their summer holiday reports for their essay homework ;-).


The format of an essay, or even a more advanced academic paper, is usually structured as follows




  1. Introduction and hypothesis

  2. Background

  3. Research method

  4. Results

  5. Discussion

  6. Conclusion and recommendations


To break this down a little further, the six sections can be represented as follows:




Introduction / Hypothesis

I introduce the hypothesis! As I wrote in an earlier blog, a hypothesis is a statement of where you stand on a subject that interests you, by creating a question about it. In other words, it introduces what this essay is going to be about.


Background

The background gives you the information other researchers need to read to the end. This will vary depending on the audience you are reading it for. An essay for a class on climate change, or a journal on climate change, may not need to explain what climate change is all about. However, if you are writing about the gender implications of climate change for a gender-focused journal, you will need to explain climate change because some people may not understand it. Similarly, suppose you are submitting a similar academic paper to an academic journal on climate change. In that case, you will need to provide as much gender information as is necessary to make it through to the end of the academic paper.


I say "as much as is necessary" because it is better to use previous references, where possible, in the discussion that follows.


Research methods

In this section you will find information that will help another researcher to carry out the same research. All research must be objective, so if another researcher uses the same methods, they must come to the same conclusions. We will include enough information that it is possible to do the same study.


Results

Write here only the objective information that this study has found. Do not write what the researcher thinks, as this study does not contain your ideas. You do not need to refer to other papers as this is only what the study found.


Discussion

In this section, I can finally write my opinion, which is objective and supported by other research. However, I will not just write my opinion of what I thought, like in a summer holiday diary. Here you need to critically analyse the results of the research you have done. You need to be objective, so you need to be able to refer to previous research and support your ideas.


As Newton said, humanity got what we have today because we are standing on the shoulders of the giants of the past. When you stand on the shoulders of giants, you can see far. So, my opinion was also given to us by giants, and we need to be humble about it by referring to their works.


Ironically, in Newton's time, this system of referring to previous papers was not in place, so he had difficulty getting his findings published. Eventually, he stopped publishing his results for a time, until his rival disappeared (^^;).


Conclusions and recommendations

Some say that "a study that does not support a hypothesis is still a study", but we never write about such a study in our papers. So the conclusion is always "The hypothesis was correct! This is the next!" There is no such thing as a study that can explain everything. So we acknowledge what we didn't do in this study and suggest that the next study should solve that problem. We admit that we didn't do it, and we use that as a basis for the next study. That is the way of life of a researcher.




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