What Is In A Research Paper

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In the best published social science writing you will be able to identify a clear how or why question at the heart of the research.

How and why questions are essential because they require the author to make an argument.

And you should do all this as early in the course as possible.

A research question, at least in the social sciences, begins with the word why or how.

At the beginning of a course, you will probably not know enough about the major scholarly topics that are of most importance in the field, the topics that are most well-covered in the secondary literature or the topics that have already had the life beaten out of them by successive generations of writers.

You should begin by doing some general reading in the field.Research questions that do not require an argument are just bad questions.For example, a paper on What happened during the Mexican revolution?Think of it as a puzzle: Why did a particular political or social event turn out as it did and not some other way?Why does a particular pattern exist in social life?There are, however, gradations of primary evidence.The best sources are those in original languages that are linked to persons directly involved in the event or development that you are researching.If nothing else, begin with the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a wonderful but sadly neglected resource.Read a few books or articles on topics you find of interest.Next are the same sources translated into other languages.Then come sources that are studies of or otherwise refer to direct experience.


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