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,
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.