| The Informational Research Paper:
A Three-Level Model
What is a research paper? Any paper that involves the presentation of findings and ideas from scholarly journals and books can be considered a research paper. An informational essay or research paper can be viewed as a research paper that reviews the literature and addresses a specific question. For example, an informational research paper could address whether music can increase productivity in the workplace.
I propose that there are three levels for informational research papers. A higher level can be viewed as higher in scholarly quality. These levels are summarization, evaluation, and integration.
The information in this article may be helpful in learning how to write a research paper (e.g., learning how to write a psychology research paper).
In my view, the lowest level of an informational essay or research paper is summarization. The paper merely summarizes findings and ideas in the literature. The paper does not involve any significant interpretation , evaluation, or critical thinking. In my view, the scholarly quality of this type of paper is not high enough to receive an A at the undergraduate level.
The second level can be viewed as involving the evaluation of the ideas and findings included in the paper. This type of paper is highly contemplative. There is significant interpretation and critical evaluation of findings and ideas. Limitations of ideas, studies, and findings are presented. The strengths and weaknesses of ideas are discussed. Applications of ideas and findings are also presented.
The highest level may involve the integration of findings and ideas presented in the paper (as well as an evaluation of the ideas and findings included in the paper). It would be analogous to putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. In the conclusion section of the paper, general insights based on the integration of the findings and ideas would be presented. The paper could address what the ideas mean in the bigger picture, and general concepts. A research paper at the integration level would be ideal for graduate courses.