Health Research Paper Writing Guide

Research papers in the health genre and health dissertations appear quite similar, but there are a number of important differences you should be aware of when assigned to prepare a research paper. To receive the highest possible grade on your assignment it is vital you understand what expectations your instructor holds for your completed assignment in order to succeed.

This guide that recap the differences between the health research paper and health dissertation and the outline the best approach in order to assure the success of your end result.

How does a research paper differ from a dissertation?

A health research paper is based on a topic traditionally supplied by your instructor, is a research effort that is usually of limited effort, and the research itself only needs to answer the research question, such as the role of radiotherapy in cancer treatment. A health dissertation on the other hand is an extensive research effort usually in excess of several hundred pages, is often based on research pertaining to a new topic and must completely delve into all arguments surrounding and including the main topic leaving no room for additional questions by academic committee members.

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If you’ve prepared a successful proposal for your research paper, then the planning phase is easy. You should already have your time table prepared. You may wish to break down some of the lengthier tasks into phases or sections that take 24 – 48 hours to complete in order to help you feel like you are making progress when you may feel stifled or feel you have writer’s block. Additionally, being able to check of more tasks leads you to a greater sense of control over your project by visually demonstrating your progress. If you fall behind, it is important you try to catch up and prevent finishing the paper the night before it is due. You need to allow extra time between your final edit and proofreading one last time in order to assess your work with fresh eyes. If you’ve not prepared a time table, please refer to our Health Research Proposal Writing Guide for instructions.


When writing the research paper in the health field, it is critical your research be considered current, reflecting works which have been published within the last five years. Some professors will require research be no older than three years. Let your instructor be your guide. If questions remain, use a five year rule. Research should also be selected from only credible and academically sound health or medical peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) or Cardiology. Be wary of articles selected from non-professional article database sources as most instructors will frowned upon them as lacking in credibility. Make sure as you are researching that your references and research project answer the research question(s) you asked.


Once again, if you’ve prepared a proposal for your research effort, you’re ahead of the writing game. All you need to do is significantly and formally expand all of your current section and subsection headings making them more inclusive of information you’ve gathered while making sure to incorporate comments within your original health research paper proposal from your instructor. Using the proposal as a transition device will assure your instructor sees continuity between the two pieces of work. Sections will need to be added of course for your results and a discussion and conclusion section. Your discussion section should include a heading for strengths and limitations of your research effort as well as recommendations for future research. I also like to make sure I add a section on implications for practice in which to note how this research effort and/or the topic covered is practical.

Proofreading and editing

Once you’ve finished your writing, it’s essential you proofread and edit your work. Remember, these were steps you purposefully included in your planning time table for a reason! You want to proofread to make sure you’ve proven your research and answered the research question you asked in your introduction. Once satisfied you have, it’s time to proofread and edit to make sure you’re the one checking for spelling inaccuracies, syntax and grammar and finally referencing and citation formatting before you submit your work. Once again, if you’ve not completed a research proposal, we suggest you reference our Health Research Proposal Writing Guide as a preliminary health research paper guide for initial completion of a project that will make writing the formal health research paper much easier.

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