- The research paper topic should be unique and there should be a logical reason to study it.
- Do your homework. Make sure you know what investigators in your field and other fields have published about your topic (or similar topics). There is no substitute for a good literature review before jumping into a new project.
- Take the time to plan your experimental design. As a general rule, more time should be devoted to planning your study than to actually performing the experiments (though there are some exceptions, such as time-course studies with lengthy time points). Rushing into the hands-on work without properly designing the study is a common mistake made by young researchers.
- When designing your experiment, choose your materials wisely. Look to the literature to see what others have used. Similar products from different companies do not all work the same way. In fact, some do not work at all.
- Get help. If you are performing research techniques for the first time, be sure to consult an experienced friend or colleague. Rookie mistakes are commonplace in academic research and lead to wasted time and resources.
- Know what you want to study, WHY you want to study it, and how your results will contribute to the current pool of knowledge for the subject.
Be able to clearly state a hypothesis before starting your work. Focus your efforts on researching this hypothesis. All too often people start a project and are taken adrift by new ideas that come along the way. While ideas are good to note, be sure to keep your focus.
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