A science research paper is a lengthy and in-depth text that explores a specific aspect of science through the use of secondary sources. Science research papers are a common assignment for both undergraduate and graduate courses in all of the sciences.
Science research papers are not the same as reports on scientific research—another common assignment in science courses. A report on scientific research is a text that documents a scientific study or experiment that the report writer constructed and executed. A science research paper is a survey and analysis of scholarly insights from other researchers.
In order to be successful, science research papers must focus on a narrow aspect of a compelling and complex subject. The topic must be narrow so that the writer can provide a thorough explanation and analysis of that subject in the space. This means that writers of science report should avoid large topics on which tomes have already been written and instead prefer small divisions of such subjects. For instance, a physics report should not focus on string theory, as that topic is too broad and complex for the space of a ten-or-so page paper. Rather, the writer interested in string theory could write her science research paper on one small and specific aspect of string theory, such as how theories about gravitons figure into the understanding of string theory. Though this is still a very large subject, the pupil can explore this subject in considerable depth and detail throughout the course of a college report.
One of the most important elements of a science research paper is the quality of research used. Advances are made in the sciences on a daily basis. This means that students must take care to ensure that the sources they use for their research are up-to-date and peer-reviewed. A peer-reviewed source is any source that is published by a reputable scholarly entity. Peer-reviewed sources are studied and assessed by experts in the field of the topic’s research to determine their quality and validity. Typically, peer-reviewed sources are discovered through library databases.
When writing a science research paper, students must determine the best way to incorporate their sources into the text. This means that students must make a decision about whether they prefer quotations or paraphrases. Many scientific fields prefer the use of paraphrase, but this is a decision that the student must make in consultation with the course professor. Regardless of paraphrase or quotation, however, every source must be clearly and accurately documented both within the text and in a comprehensive bibliography at the end.