Characteristics Of Good Research Paper

When you are searching for a research study on a particular topic, you probably notice that articles with interesting, descriptive research titles draw you in. By contrast, research paper titles that are not descriptive are usually passed over, even though they may be good research papers with interesting contents. This shows the importance of coming up with a good research paper title when you are drafting your own manuscript.

Why do Research Titles Matter?

Before we look at the characteristics of a good research title, let’s look at an example that illustrates why a good research paper should have a strong title.

Imagine that you are researching meditation and nursing, and you want to find out if any studies have shown that meditation makes nurses better communicators.  You conduct a keyword search using the keywords “nursing”, “communication”, and “meditation.” You come up with results that have the following titles:

  1. Benefits of Meditation for the Nursing Profession: A Quantitative Investigation
  2. Why Mindful Nurses Make the Best Communicators
  3. Meditation Gurus
  4. Nurses on the Move: A Quantitative Report on How Meditation Can Improve Nurse Performance

Related: Ready with your title and looking forward to manuscript submission? Check these journal selection guidelines now! (Infographic)

All four of these titles may describe very similar studies—they could even be titles for the same study! As you can see, they give very different impressions.

  • Title 1 describes the topic and the method of the study but is not particularly catchy.
  • Title 2 partly describes the topic, but does not give any information about the method of the study—it could simply be a theoretical or opinion piece.
  • Title 3 is somewhat catchier but gives almost no information at all about the article.
  • Title 4 begins with a catchy main title and is followed by a subtitle that gives information about the content and method of the study.

 

As we will see, Title 4 has all the characteristics of a good research title.

Characteristics of a Good Research Title

According to rhetoric scholars Hairston and Keene, making a good title involves ensuring that the research title accomplishes four goals. First, a good title predicts the content of the research paper. Second, a good title should be interesting to the reader. Third, it should reflect the tone of the writing. Fourth and finally, it should contain important keywords that will make it easier to be located during a keyword search.

Let’s return to the examples in the previous section to see if they meet these four criteria.

 

TitlePredicts content?Interesting?Reflects tone?Important keywords?
Benefits of Meditation for the Nursing Profession: A Quantitative InvestigationYesNoNoYes
Why Mindful Nurses Make the Best CommunicatorsNoYesYesNo
Meditation GurusNoYesNoNo
Nurses on the Move: A Quantitative Report on How Meditation Can Improve Nurse PerformanceYesYesYesYes

 

As you can see in the table above, only one of the four example titles fulfills all of the criteria of a suitable research paper title.

Tips for Writing an Effective Research Paper Title

When writing a title in research, you can use the four criteria listed above as a guide. Here are a few other tips you can use to make sure your title will be part of the recipe for an effective research paper:

  1. Make sure your research title describes (a) the topic, (b) the method, (c) the sample, and (d) the results of your study. You can use the following formula:

[Result]: A [method] study of [topic] among [sample]

Example: Meditation makes nurses perform better: a qualitative study of mindfulness meditation among German nursing students

  1. Avoid unnecessary words and jargons. You want a title that will be comprehensible even to people who are not experts in your field. For a detailed list of things to avoid when writing an effective research title, check the article here.
  2. Make sure your title is between 5 and 15 words in length.
  3. If you are writing a title for a university assignment or for a particular academic journal, verify that your title conforms to the standards and requirements for that outlet. For example, many journals require that titles fall under a character limit, including spaces. Many universities require that titles take a very specific form, limiting your creativity.

Resources for Further Reading

In addition to the tips above, there are many resources online that you can use to help write your research title. Here is a list of links that you may find useful as you work on creating an excellent research title:

  1. The University of Southern California has a guide specific to social science research papers: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title
  2. The Journal of European Psychology Students has a blog article focusing on APA-compliant research paper titles: http://blog.efpsa.org/2012/09/01/how-to-write-a-good-title-for-journal-articles/
  3. This article by Kristen Hamlin contains a step-by-step approach to writing titles: http://classroom.synonym.com/choose-title-research-paper-4332.html

Are there any tips or tricks you find useful in crafting research titles? Which tip did you find most useful in this article? Leave a comment to let us know!

 

References

  1. Hairston, M., & Keene, M. 2003. Successfulwriting. 5th ed. New York: Norton.
  2. University of Southern California. 2017. Organizing your social sciences research paper: choosing a title. [Online] Available at: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title


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What qualities or characteristics make a research a successful research, every step of the research study is important. Negligence in any step can affect the complete study and not just that part. There are certain characteristics that are necessary in every research, these characteristics make the research a valid and generalizable study. Having just information and data is not enough for good research paper, You must know qualities of good research paper to present it in proper way.

Research is all about deep investigation to unearth the truth

Rigorous

Research is a laborious and hard work in reality and it requires great patience and control. Research paper requires rigorousness to maintain its quality. There can be several factors that can effect the quality and the outcome of the research, the researcher should have a control over these factors. Some factors will effect the research positively while other factors can negatively effect the research. Negative factors can decrease the validity of the research, so these factors should be kept in control by the researcher.

Example

For example in a study conducted on the effect of humidity on the tensile strength of viscose fabrics the researcher has to test the performance of the fabric under great humidity, less humidity and under standard humidity. The humidity will be kept in control by the researcher to get valid and generalizable results. In another study the researcher has to study the effect of socioeconomic class on the performance of children in school, the researcher will see that no other factors are influencing the performance of the children. There can be many other factors like parenting style, peer group influence or siblings rivalry that is effecting the performance of the child but the researcher should have a strict control over these extraneous factors.

Controlled

Another very important and basic characteristic of a research paper is that it should have to be controlled or measured. Everything that you add in a research paper is preplanned and cannot happen just by chance. The first step in conducting a research is choosing a research topic, from that step till the end, writing the research paper the researcher should keep control over the research study. He should measure the consequences of each step that he has planned to take prior to taking it.

Example

A researcher is conducting a research on the effect of permanent press finishes on hte durability characteristics of fabrics. In this research the researcher should accurately measure the effectof permanent press finishes and there should not be any other finishes on the fabric.

Accurate

Accuracy is important because without accuracy the research paper cannot be valid and generalizable. In every step of the research the researcher has to check the accuracy. When the researcher is reviewing literature he should write down the references along with the literature review so that when writing those reviews he can accurately write the reference of each review. While testing the hypothesis the researcher should write down the results of the tests accurately so that there is no error. In research the researcher should leave no chances of error by himself. He should ensure the accuracy of his research to 100 percent.

Example

Suppose a researcher is conducting a research on the impact of physical disabilities in children on the peer group acceptance. The researcher is using interview as a tool of data collection the researcher should record the responses of the interviewees accurately and he should not invest bias in any way.

Clear

A research paper should have to be free of ambiguities and it should have great clarity. Clarity is one of the main essences of research and without clarity the research paper is useless.

Example

A researcher should be cautious about the clarity of the research. The researcher should first develop a clear research question or research problem and once the research problem is clear and understandable the researcher can conduct the research without hurdles. Suppose the researcher makes the research problem that how media influences child development, in this research question the researcher needs to clarify which development, social, mental, physical or motor. The researcher cannot undertake the study unless he brings clarity to the research problem.

Concise

As a researcher you do not need to add a lot to the research paper to make it unique or interesting rather you should add only relevant and original content. The readers will be able to understand a concise research more easily, there should not be unnecessary details in the research.

Example

The researcher can write details and lots of explanations but these details and explanations should be of value to the research the researcher should not add unnecessary details in the research. The research paper is more concise in nature than dissertations and thesis.

Valid

Validity is the most important concern in writing and conducting a research. The actual strength of the research paper is its validity. A valid research is applicable to various situations in general or it can be applied to any specific situation, people or society.

Example

The constructs you are using, to measure attitudes, behavior or other phenomenon, whether they really measure what you want to measure or they measure something else.

Verifiable

The data the researcher adds in the research paper should have to be verifiable and provable. The researcher should be able to demonstrate the research paper and there should not be any loopholes in the information.

Example

The researcher should know from where the data has been taken and how it has been analyzed. Suppose another researcher is trying to repeat similar study to make it more valid he should be able to get information from the previous research, if previous research will be invalid or unverifiable the new research will also get effected. Research is an ongoing process and not only research helps in the general development of the humanity but it more specifically is used by the new researchers to generate more information.

Sequential

The research should have to be conducted and written in a logical manner. The researcher should follow a sequence so that he cannot get troubled in the end as to how to compile this research. It is better if you start writing the research paper as you are conducting it.

Example

You cannot write the analysis before writing about the data collection and data processing. You have to follow a procedure and sequence.

Precise

Preciseness means that the research paper should have completeness and it should contain detailed investigation of the research topic.

Example

The research should contain exact answers to the research questions. It is not possible that the researcher formulates a specific research question about women injustice in underdeveloped countries but answers the question about more general topic like gender biases.

Original

The research paper should contain only original content and copy work should be completely avoided. You can add literature from other sources in various forms like in the form of literature review but you should never compromise on the originality of the research paper.

Example

Suppose a researcher is conducting a research on the impact of financial resources in family on the personality development of children. The researcher has decided to take black negroes population and he cannot get the required number of sample, in this case, he cannot use other people’s findings to justify his research. He has to use truly original data that has been collected from truly representative sample.

Coherent

Coherence is necessary because it makes the research paper a complete and one unit. Every part of the research paper should be so linked that it makes a whole.

Example

The researcher should stick to one theme and should not wander from one topic to another.

Academic style of writing

Writing a research paper is the last step of the research and writing requires rigorousness. The researcher should follow an academic style of writing and any ostentatiousness in writing should be avoided. The language of the research paper should have to be simple and easy to understand.

Example

A research paper, thesis or dissertation should have decency and there should have to be least ornamentation. The purpose of the research is to bring into light facts and figures. The researcher should avoid the use of double baralled sentences, complex language or unnecessary details. The research should have to be concise and precise in nature.

Generalizable

The research paper findings should be generalizable and the findings should be applicable to the society in one way or other. Sometimes the purpose of the research is to develop new research tools, techniques or data collection instruments. Such research may not be useful for the society in general but in the long run researchers will be bale to use these tools or techniques to conduct more researches.

Example

The researcher is conducting a study on the life of transgender class in the society. He has to collect data from different people who belong to this class, the researcher should understand that he cannot generalize his findings untill he has selected an unbiased and truly representative sample. He cannot select a sample from one area of the population rather he should select sample from every area of the population to make it representative of the whole population.

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