At the end of the day, no matter how much time and resource were devoted to a topic, the measure of whether a research paper is good is if it met its objectives. If the objective is to persuade readers to take a position, and if after reading the paper people did, then the research paper is good.
To meet its objectives a research paper should have a structure: an introduction or background of the topic, an analysis or discussion, and a conclusion or recommendation. The introduction or background should be able to give the uninitiated reader general information on the research topic. After reading the introduction, the average reader should have enough information to understand the analysis and conclusion sections of the research paper. Generally the background section should answer the following questions: What is the research paper all about? How did the research topic evolve? What is the research topic? Simply, the introduction “may discuss the history, status, and significance of the research” (Harper 325).
The analysis or discussion section of the paper must be able to give the readers a complete picture of the research topic. For example, if the purpose of the paper is to persuade readers to take a side in a debate, then the research paper should present both sides of the debate and not show bias towards any side. All sides should be presented to give the readers an unbiased opportunity to decide by themselves. Furthermore, if the background section was a general discussion on the research topic, then the analysis portion is more detailed and extensive. In this section the researcher tries to accomplish the objectives of the paper. He persuades by presenting the different viewpoints of the research topic.
The last portion of the research paper – the conclusion or recommendation section – although last is not the least important. As a matter of fact without this section the readers will have a difficulty synthesizing the information given in the previous sections of the paper. This section provides a closure in the sense that the researcher presents his opinions on the topic. Here the researcher integrates the information he gathered into his own opinion. Of course, he should also present a summary of the previous sections of the paper.
Lastly, for a research paper to be good the researcher should write clearly – concise, straight to the point and free from grammatical and typographical errors. The lack of grammatical and typographical errors shows the level of commitment of the researcher, that he had devoted considerable time and resources in the writing of the paper. Simply, the researcher should write with style (Lane 64).