CIS4398: Independent Study
Summer 2002
Emerging Issues in Information Technology

The Research Paper Components


What it does --

The INTRODUCTION establishes the broad area of concern that the paper will cover.  It contains the controlling question and sets up a logical framework for the reader to follow.  It acknowledges assumptions made by the researcher and states whether these were found to be true or false according to the research conducted.

The INTRODUCTION sets the tone and the voice for the paper.  Since this is a formal research paper there are a set of expectations for the writer to meet.

  • Write in 3rd person.  That means that the writer will will refer to himself/herself as "the author" or "the researcher" not as "I."  

  • Avoid slang terms.  Jargon, the specialized language of the area you are researching, will need to be defined. 

Make the writing interesting to the reader even though the tone is driven by formal language expectation.


What it does -

  • The BODY is the meat of the paper.  It follows the framework laid out in the Introduction and develops each component.

  • Each of the Secondary Questions will have its own section.  The assumptions made for each Secondary Question will need to be addressed and how each was proven or refuted. 

  • The BODY is the section of the paper where you will be referring to your references extensively.  They will need to be cited in the text and at the end of the paper on a special page called "Works Cited."   (This process will require the Parenthetical Citation guide.) 

    •   Not all of the research that you conduct will be found in print or on-line sources.  The interviews that you conduct of people who helped you will play a big part.  Be sure that you document those conversations so that you can cite them in your paper.

    • You should also have noticed that there are no references to the number of paragraphs or pages that each section will require.  That is because it is impossible to set a standard that says each section is worth six, and only six, paragraphs.  Secondary Questions have the Characteristics and Examples that you will want to incorporate so there is a lot of information to work with.


What it does -

  • The CONCLUSION, by definition, ends the paper.   In the Senior Project Research Paper it


What it does -

  • The CONCLUSION, by definition, ends the paper.   In the Senior Project Research Paper it ends the formal reporting on the research that you did.  It gives the results of that research and the conclusions that the researcher was able to draw.  It deals with the conflict between the beginning assumption(s) of the researcher and what the researcher found based upon the results of the research.

  • The CONCLUSION in this paper will also serve a second purpose.  It will need to provide a transition between the formal tone and voice of the research paper and the less formal tone and voice of the PERSONAL EXPERIENCE section.

Personal Experience

What it does -

  • The PERSONAL EXPERIENCE section of the Senior Project Research Paper is a chance for you to tell a little bit about what you did for your project, how you organized it, who worked with you, what you learned, the recommendations you have for the continuation/termination of the project, things that you think someone else ought to know if they do a project like yours, etc.

How it is set up -

  • The Personal Experience section should have the following components:

    • A short, no more than 100 words, statement of what you did.  This should have a reference as to why you made the choice you did and how it benefited the community

    • A section concerning your learning process

      • Physical or technical skills that you had to acquire or refine.

      • People skills that you had to draw upon or learn in order to complete you project successfully.

      • What you learned about yourself.

    • An evaluation section where you discuss

      • the usefulness of the project.

      • whether or not you accomplished what you set out to do

      • the project's value to you.

      • the project's value to the community.

      • recommendations  for the continuance of the project, what's the next step to keep the project fresh if this is a project that been running for a while, or advice that you have for someone doing this or a similar project.

Special Concerns


  • Although the narrator in Tom Lehrer's song "Lobachevsky," advises,
    Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
    So don't shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize --
    Only be sure to please call it 'research.'"

If you take his advice concerning research, you will be in a world of hurt.   Plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property from text, electronic, aural, or graphic sources.  Your research project requires that you use all of those.  It is imperative that you document where you found the information.  (Remember the note about taking down information when interviewing people.) 

  • Keep a section of your notebook that has a running list of sources that you have used.  If you have gone through the research process in English 9, 10, Writing Lab, or ALC, you might want to use the source cards and note cards approach for ease of organization.

  • If you are on-line, get the URL (Universal Resource Locator, the http:?? address) for the sites that are helpful.   Also write down the date and the time of the search.  Cyberspace is imaginary terrain and changes from day-to--day.

The Bottom Line for Citation


THEN,     BE    SURE    TO    REFER      TO     IT    

IN      THE     PAPER.