Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers

Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers

8 Reasons Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers

by Dorothy Mikuska

There are slew of reasons why the research paper is not assigned. They pretty much boil down to:

  1. perceived irrelevance of the assignment in light of modern publishing and technology
  2. widespread plagiarism
  3. teachers buried alive grading 10-page papers from 150 students (that’s 1500 pages to grade, not just read).

Before the research paper is proclaimed dead and deleted from the curriculum in pursuit of briefer and more tech-based learning, here are 8 significant reasons why students should still write research papers.

8 Reasons Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers

1. Elaborate Reading Abilities Are Applied to Numerous Sources

The research paper requires close reading of complicated text from numerous sources, which students must comprehend, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. These tasks, more sophisticated than merely summarizing an article for a report, reflect the elaborate work requests of college and career.

Two. It Creates A Research Mind Set

Research is finding answers to questions: how many teeth does a killer whale have—Google will give the number 52. Real research deals with deeper and broader issues than finding isolated facts. Students must learn to think of research as investigating profound and complicated issues.

Three. It Can Promote Curiosity

From early childhood, curiosity drives the search to understand increasingly complicated questions, to permanently question information, and to explore more sources and experts. The research paper provides a structured, yet independent chance for students to pursue in depth some extended aspect of the course content.

Four. The Librarian Can Be A Life-Long Resource

Students often see librarians merely at the check-out desk or collecting fines. Librarians are specialists at both accessing extensive sources from a multiplicity of media and reinforcing the training of responsible use of information and technology. Because they work with students every day and are the center of the school’s curriculum, they can direct students to adequate sources. As a researcher’s best friend, librarians are gatekeepers and trackers of information and can turn every question into a teachable moment.

Five. The Power of Attribution

Undocumented information that students encounter online—social media postings, tweets, blogs and popular media—artificially narrows their practice to opinions and anonymous writers. Students never see citations on a tweet or a bibliographical reference in People magazine. Research conducted in the career world requires not just pro information, but the attribution of sources through in-text citations and bibliographies. As students use sources that model research material with annotations and bibliography, they develop a questioning mindset: who said that, where did that come from, and where can I find more?

6. It Builds Related Abilities

Unskilled researchers collect downloaded files and perhaps highlight passages, sometimes indiscriminately entire paragraphs or pages, without understanding the text. This method may work for a cursory summary of an article or for identifying key points, but not for synthesizing information from ten sources for an in-depth report.

File formats can make annotating text awkward. Even if notes can be lightly added in the text, students will fight scrolling through numerous files to synthesize scattered information, resulting in a collection of summaries from each source rather than an integrated understanding of the topic.

Formal note taking, necessary for extended and rigorous research papers, keeps track of information as quotations and paraphrases, identifies the unique content of each note, connects it to other notes with keywords, and identifies the source that can be cited in the paper and added to the bibliography.

An added value of note taking lies in the learning process. By reviewing notes with the same keywords, students can synthesize the material into an organized plan for the paper.

7. Plagiarism and Intellectual Property Rights Matter

Because of plagiarism’s prevalence in student work, it may be lighter not to assign research papers. However, plagiarism and intellectual property rights issues, whether related to research papers or music and movie piracy, need to be a major conversation via the curriculum.

Students do not understand what plagiarism is, its consequences to their learning and character, why everyone makes a big deal over it, and how to avoid it. While direct instruction instructs what plagiarism is, students must put into practice ethical research writing. The research paper process provides students and teachers the chance to discuss intellectual property rights and ethics as part of the assignment.

8. Coaching The Writing Process Is Powerful

The research paper is not just an assignment, but a commitment to continual dialog inbetween teachers and students. Teachers as research paper coaches can explore their students’ understanding, interpretation, and synthesis of their reading, discuss their choice of sources and note taking strategies, evaluate their work incrementally, and model ethical paraphrasing and summary abilities.

The research paper can be panicking, even paralyzing for some students with little or disappointing previous practices. Teachers as coaches can make students feel convenient taking control of the conversation and believing their voice and work are significant.

By personalizing instruction to ensure student success via the process, and by students taking control of their work because they have significant information to report, students are anxious to share what they have learned. Poorly researched papers with little to say are poorly written or plagiarized. Coached students will write papers that their teachers will want to read.

The Research Paper in the Information Age

The research paper is about information found, understood, and explained to others, a way to authentically extend the course content and purpose.

The private and public sectors consume and create cautiously written research. Feasibility studies, like the possibility of marketing sausage casings in India, laboratory or field research, inquiries to determine educational, political, or banking policies—all are formats of the research paper that organizations use to make critical decisions. Before reporting fresh information, published reports with requisite citations and bibliography begin with what experts have already contributed to the issue.

Since this is the intellectual milieu our students will inject after graduation, they should be ready for the complicated reading, research, thinking, and writing abilities they will need.

Dorothy Mikuska instructed high school English including the research paper for 37 years. After retirement she formed ePen&Inc and createdPaperToolsPro, software for students to employ the literacy abilities of slow, reflective reading needed to write good research papers; 8 Reasons Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers; pic attribution flickr user samladner

Why Students Should Still Write Research Papers

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