Online Guide to Writing and Research

Chapter 4: The Research Process

The Research Assignment

Why Perform Research?

Teachers assign academic research papers primarily to give you experience in:

  • finding and understanding raw data and information
  • formulating informed opinions through study of research findings
  • entering the discourse, or conversation, of other writers and scholars in your field
  • learning how others in your field use primary and secondary resources

Research expands and augments your experience and knowledge, providing a broader base for thinking and writing. It enables you to become an expert in areas not directly related to your everyday life. When you engage in research, you build valuable critical skills that serve you in other areas of life. You learn to ask probing and thoughtful questions, gather and interpret data, read critically, form intelligent opinions, and manage and understand conflicting information. As you do research in your chosen specialization, you become an expert in that area. In addition, when you write about your discoveries, others come to respect your knowledge and value your opinion.