If you’ve ever sat down to write a research paper, you know firsthand how complex the process can be. From narrowing down your research topic to conducting your own research and, finally, collecting your original data and analyzing the results, research can be a laborious process. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a confusing one, and with a bit of time and effort, you’ll be writing perfect reports in no time. This article explores the keys to a successful research project as well as the skills that students, particularly psychiatric nursing students, need to master.
How do you write a research paper?
If you’ve ever wondered how you are supposed to go about writing your research paper, you’re not alone. Many people take to the internet every day to learn more about the research and composing process. There are a few key steps you must take in order to conduct a successful research project and write the perfect report. We’ve collected the most important of them below.
Before we dive into those, however, here are some of the skills psychiatric nursing students find crucial to their success:
- Report writing
- Analysis of information
- Data collection
- Critical thinking
- Researching information and verifying its accuracy
- Critical analysis
- Time management
With that in mind, let’s look at how these skills are used in practice.
Come up with a research topic
This might seem like the easiest step in the process, but creating a well-defined research question that isn’t too broad or too narrow requires time. Research topics aren’t the same thing as the general topic you intend to research. It must be a topic narrow enough to fully research and answer within your study without being so narrow that there is no room for surprises. If you want to examine childhood psychology, for example, your research topic should be about the specific area that interests you. A project looking at the impact of internet use on test success is a good example.
It is important that you carefully consider not only what interests you and how you can turn it into a successful project, but also what kind of research you intend to conduct and where you will find your participants. The answers to these questions will dictate what kind of research topic you conduct.
It can be helpful to wait to create your question until you’ve narrowed down the topic and some potential sources. Once you have an idea about where you’ll be finding research and who will be part of your study, it will be easier to define your research topic. You can always reach out to the professor of your psych NP online program if you aren’t sure what area you should investigate, too. Institutes such as Rockhurst University ensure that support is easily available for students. Their esteemed online courses also offer the flexibility that strives to foster a spirit of inquiry and reflection that will be useful for a successful research project.
Conducting a literature review
Once you have your topic defined, it’s time to dive into the research itself. There are a few steps in this process. First, you should conduct relevant searches using your favorite academic aggregator and take a look at anything and everything that catches your eye. This doesn’t mean that you take the time to read all of the studies yet. In fact, doing so will take up far more time than necessary. Skim through study objectives and results to see if they apply to your research topic. If so, put them in the “maybe” pile. If not, toss them out. Continue through this process until you have a decent number of studies before you—anywhere from 15 and higher if you’re writing a high-level paper.
Now, it’s time to sift through the “maybe” articles a bit more closely. You still don’t necessarily need to read the entire studies yet, however. Skim the abstracts, methodologies, and results summaries, and take a few notes about possible relevance to your topic. Some of these papers will seem more useful than others. Par down your pile again and then sit down to read in detail. Don’t be afraid to look in multiple different scientific areas to find the right studies for you.
Build your study
Now, it’s time to build your study. The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of research you’ll be collecting. Is this purely a literature review-based research project, or are you conducting original research into your topic? If the latter, you must pick a method of data collection and start working on your questions and approach. Many students find that surveys are a good method of collection, but there are others that might suit you better. For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to survey collection, but these tips are applicable across the board.
The first step for a survey is to write your questions. These questions must be “valid” in that they don’t introduce any bias into your participant’s answers and potentially influence their responses. Questions must also be yes or no, or an equivalent. Unless you’re conducting interviews and somehow coding responses, you want your questions to be as straightforward as possible.
Finally, decide who can take the survey and how they will take the survey. Many students have found success using survey websites, in particular, as a collection tool of anonymous responses, but make sure you speak with your advisor before you make a definitive decision.
Analyze your results
The last step we’ll cover is analyzing your results. Once you have collected all of the information above, you must be able to analyze what it means for your study. Do the results support your hypothesis? Whether the answer is “yes” or “no”, be prepared to not only draw conclusions from your data but discuss the findings in more detail.
What do you think about our tips? Writing a research paper doesn’t have to be difficult. Give yourself plenty of time, move through the steps above methodically, and you’ll be conducting picture-perfect studies in no time.