Education Research Paper Writing Guide

Introduction - What is the purpose of an education research paper?

The purpose of the education research paper is to investigate and demonstrate new insight about a particular area of academic study. Since much has been published that relates to education, a careful survey of existing literature is first needed to inform choices about topics of investigation.

Consulting Sources and Taking Notes

Matters such as recency of publication, cultural relevance and academic reliability must be considered when selected sources to use in an education research paper. Peer-reviewed journals and books frequently cited by other academic works are preferable.

Research must be authentic and original, to contribute to the existing body of knowledge. In this regard, note-taking plays a vital function. Notes must be accurate, well- organized, making use of sub-headers, numberings, bullet-points, parentheses and other organizational devices. Direct quotation is important and should be accurately transcribed, but must not be used as a substitute for the writer’s own response to the topic.

There must be an appropriate number of sources to match with the required length of the education research paper. For longer papers, say 10,000 words, it may be necessary to use at least 50 direct references to sources to help substantiate assertions and observations.

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Shaping Your Argument

Themes and patterns of thought can emerge when the writer carefully evaluates their sources. These patterns help to give shape to the argument contained within the paper. Paragraphing should be used to maintain the flow of argument, with a single key idea being exemplified and discussed within each paragraph. Paragraphs over cluttered with ideas or lengthy direct quotations should be avoided. When direct extracts are used, they can be used to illustrate or challenge a key idea within the body of the paper. These quotations themselves become the object of evaluation and scrutiny.


If the rules of citation are followed, it is difficult for plagiarism to become an issue. It refers to crediting the work of another as your own work, rather than acknowledging your work through the citation process.

Plagiarism can occur at different degrees, from whole scale direct copying of text to the unacknowledged use of a single phrase or original term.
It is necessary not only to acknowledge the source of direct quotes, but also paraphrased ideas, if they are derived from someone other than yourself.
Correct citation and referencing allows the examiner of your education research paper to make a judgment about the quality of your research process.

Writing Style

Since a research paper for education requires a rational and balanced consideration of available evidence and perspectives on a given issue, the register of language used should match this academic process.

Vocabulary should be formal in style and analytical in tone.

Paragraphing should be composed thoughtfully, arranging each paragraph around a single key idea. Sentence structure should utilize the language of cause and effect, as well as using qualifier terms so that the paper is marked by a level of intellectual refinement and can withstand close critical examination.

The writing style should also be concise, avoiding unnecessary ‘padding’ to maintain momentum of argument and intellectual credibility.
Active rather than passive sentences are to be preferred, since this allows the reader to follow the line of argument more easily.

Editing your Education Research Paper

This is an important process so time should be allowed on a timeline devised as part of the plan of attacking the overall project.

The goal of editing is to make the communication of the thesis as effective as possible for the potential readership.

An editing checklist is a good idea and should contain such items as checking for a clear flow of ideas, accurate use of source material and citation, effective use of paragraphing to structure the work coherently, grammatical and spelling accuracy and punctuation accuracy to facilitate easy flow.

Receiving Feedback

Learning to write effective research papers for education is a process of development. Detailed feedback from an examiner should be sought and the specific areas of improvement identified should form part of the strategic plan when undertaking the next piece of work.

If there is a specific weakness noted, such as paragraph formation or the weak construction of a literature review section, exemplars should be sought and examined, so that you can model your writing upon proficient examples.

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