Writing an objective research paper requires you to set aside any opinions, assumptions or preconceived ideas in search of hard facts. Your goal should be to gather and interpret data with an open mind, even if your findings contradict your original hypothesis. Other researchers will place greater confidence in the reliability and validity of your study if it's evident that you exercised due diligence in controlling for bias in your methodology and final report.
Set Aside Personal Biases
Because researchers have their own opinions and beliefs, complete objectivity may be impossible, according to Russell and Jarvis, authors of “Angles on Applied Psychology.” Nonetheless, researchers must be willing to suspend judgment to advance civilization and set aside preconceived notions of how the world works. One of the best ways of controlling for bias is to consciously acknowledge your biases and take steps to maintain the integrity of the study. For example, if you’re a physical education major investigating whether hours spent watching television contribute to childhood obesity, your paper should include any studies that showed no correlation even if you personally believe there is one.
Present Complete Information
Write a precise and balanced paper. As a researcher you have an ethical duty to accurately represent previous studies. Omitting important details can mislead or obfuscate readers. When citing your sources, identify the researchers behind the study, when the study occurred, the date it was reported and the conclusions. For example, if you’re summarizing a study suggesting that cigarette smoking is harmless, it would be important to note that the research was conducted in 1950 and funded by a tobacco company. Your findings and conclusions also must be accurate and detailed.
Consider All Sides
Maintain objectivity when writing a paper by approaching the investigative process with an open mind. Look for studies that are similar and different from one another. Probe what might explain contrasting results, such as small sample sizes or differing techniques. When researching social issues that inform policy makers, an in-depth analysis of the research on all sides of a controversial issue is advisable. For instance, if you’re studying proposed legalization of marijuana in your state, you should report the strongest data you can find on both the pros and cons of decriminalizing this substance.
Avoid Biased Language
Use inclusive language in your paper that doesn’t reinforce stereotypes or unwarranted assumptions. Refrain from overly general statements with discriminatory implications, such as, “A great leader demonstrates his courage during a crisis.” In the aforementioned example, the pronoun “his” is unnecessary, and the statement would be bolstered by discussing how specifically named leaders have displayed courage in perilous times. Insensitive language suggests subtle biases that may be unintended and inappropriate, according to the Walden University Online Writing Center.
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