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Research for International Students

The ways research is conceived, approved, conducted, and reported in the U.S. may differ from how it is done in other countries. This guide describes those processes and some of the context for them.

Values Affect Writing

Evidence and Innovation

The research community values both evidence and innovation. It means that you will need to cite previous research or other kinds of authority. You will need to show how your research connects to that background information. Your role as the writer is to synthesize what you have found. (Take what you have found in your sources. Identify the important bits. Mix the information together to form a convincing argument. Your words explain how the different pieces of information you found are connected.)

You will need to summarize, paraphrase, and quote your sources and cite any source you use. The people who read your paper want to know where you found the information. They want to be able to investigate that source on their own.

You will present information from other sources in your literature review. It provides the context for your research and shows why there was a need for your project.

You may also refer to other sources in your discussion section. You will show how your results and conclusions compare with what others have found.

Explanation

As you write, include details and explain your thought processes. Your reader should not need to guess what you mean or use their imagination. Each paragraph in your paper should lead into the next paragraph. Use transitions to make it easy for the reader to understand those connections. This may be uncomfortable to you but your readers will appreciate it!

It is especially important to be detailed and clear in the methods section of your paper. The methods section is where you tell your reader what you did in your study. Who or what did you study? How did you select them? How well does your sample represent the population your research is about? What did you do? Detailed and organized methods sections help your reader understand your results. Detailed and organized methods sections help show the impact of your results. A good methods section helps others repeat your study and check if they get similar results. It helps others create a similar type of study.

 

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Matching definitions

Section  Definition
Title The title of a scholarly article is a very brief summary (a sentence or shorter) of the article’s contents. Usually at the very top of the article.
Authors The authors and their credentials appear near the top of the article. Credentials are provided to establish authority and to provide contact information. 
Abstract A summary of the article, usually under 250 words. It contains a description of the problem, an outline of the study, and a summary of the conclusions. Readers can use it to quickly decide whether to read the article.
Introduction Describes the topic or problem the authors researched. The authors will present their thesis or the research goal, and the importance of the research question. 
Literature Review An overview of related research that has already been published. It may be included in the introduction or be its own section.
Charts & graphs Scholarly articles frequently contain charts or graphs to display statistical data used and analysis done.
Methods A clear description of how study was done, why those procedures were chosen, and which statistical tests were done to analyze data.
Results This section is where the findings of the study are reported based on the information gathered and analyzed. It simply and logically states the findings, without bias or interpretation.
Discussion Interprets and describes the significance of this study in the context of what was already known about the research problem.
Conclusion  At the end of the article. Authors summarize the results of their research, discuss how their finding relate to other scholarship, or encourage other researchers to continue their work.
References Listed at the end of the paper, most scholarly articles contain references to publications by other authors. Each one listed connects to a citation used in the paper. You can use them to find additional sources on the topic.

 

The Literature Review

Using Your Sources: Quoting, Summarizing, and Paraphrasing

Summarize, paraphrase, and quote to include others' ideas in your own writing.

  • Summarize: Summarization condenses the information to a few general statements. Summarize when you find the same information in many sources. Summarize when one source provides a lot of context for your project.
  • Paraphrase: Put the information in your own words. Paraphrase when one idea is important but the exact wording does not matter. You will often find paraphrasing useful if multiple sources have similar information.
  • Quote: Use a small portion of another person's words, exactly as that person wrote or said them. Put quotation marks around the words or phrases you borrowed. Quote when information is unique to one source and is not easy to reword. Quote when one source uses especially compelling language.

Citing Sources

If you are writing this paper for a class, your professor will tell you which citation style to use. If you are submitting this paper to a journal, the journal will tell you what citation style to use. Check for that information in the instructions to authors.

No matter what style you are using, you will cite sources in two places. You will cite them in the text of the paper itself and in a list of references at the end of the paper. Each source should appear in both places. Some citation styles make exceptions for specific types of information. For example, in APA style, you only need to cite personal communication (such as emails) in the text of your paper.

Writing Help

The Writing Center at MCPHS can help you as you write your paper. They will not write your paper for you but they can tell you how to improve your paper. They can give you tips on how to write clearly, develop your arguments, and cite your sources. There is no fee to use their services.

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