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11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons to research writing projects.
  • Outline the steps of the research writing process.

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?

You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head. If you are like most people, however, you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step. By developing your research writing skills, you will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.

Reasons for Research

When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.

But the research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular—and effective—presentation forms is the research paper . A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.

If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. And you may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.

Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.

Research Writing and the Academic Paper

No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic career. For example, a student in an art history course might write a research paper about an artist’s work. Similarly, a student in a psychology course might write a research paper about current findings in childhood development.

Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a long paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity to explore a topic that is particularly interesting to you. The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.

Research Writing at Work

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. And because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.

Writing at Work

Take a few minutes to think about each of the following careers. How might each of these professionals use researching and research writing skills on the job?

  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Small business owner
  • Information technology professional
  • Freelance magazine writer

A medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.

Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?

Steps of the Research Writing Process

How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.

These are the steps in the research writing process:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Plan and schedule time to research and write.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research and ideas.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

As you may recall from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , to narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question —a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis . You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal . In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.

Step 2: Planning and Scheduling

Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.

During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule. See Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” for an example of a research schedule.

Step 3: Conducting Research

When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.

Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources . Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.

Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas

When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.

Remember, your working thesis is not set in stone. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”

Step 5: Drafting Your Paper

Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.

When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism , or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.

Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper

In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.

Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!

Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.

  • In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
  • In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
  • What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process?

Key Takeaways

  • People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.
  • The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Why do we write? The importance of academic writing in research

The #MadeAtUni campaign, launched in December, is popping up all over Twitter, highlighting just how many incredible breakthroughs come out of teaching and research carried out at universities. Dr Stuart Archer, Researcher Developer at the University of Derby, looks at why academics need to communicate their research - and why academic writing is so important.

By Stuart Archer - 24 January 2019

Let's start by taking a step back and asking another question - are you reading this blog via the internet? In most cases, the answer is probably yes. The internet, or, more accurately, the technology that underpins it, is a prime example of why it's important to communicate research.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the most well-known name associated with the history of the internet, and was certainly instrumental in its inception. He didn't invent everything to do with the internet, however. Much of the technology already existed in government and university research labs around the world, waiting for someone with the right vision to come along and link them all together. This wouldn't have been possible unless this work had been written down and published for all to find.

"If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants" - Sir Isaac Newton

It may seem obvious, but this is one of the key principles behind any kind of research. Whether you are trying to find a cure for cancer, unpick the secrets of the universe or simply find out how to cook a different type of quiche, that vast repository of existing human knowledge can show you where to start.

In order to do something new and original, you need to know what people have done before you, so that you can build on it. Even Einstein's ground-breaking work on relativity, as famous as it made him, was re-imagined from other renowned physicists' work, such as Hendrik Lorentz and Hermann Minowski.

It's not just of benefit for other researchers. One of the main reasons for writing up academic research is to persuade someone that the conclusions from your research are correct . A sticking point for many researchers (myself included) is that the writing process is often seen as separate to research itself.

This may be more of an issue in the physical sciences or disciplines with a large amount of field work. You might be collecting results in a lab or in the field to write up later, whereas in many of the humanities, research and writing tend to go hand in hand. Writing about your research can help you criticise existing results, pick out any gaps in your evidence or argument that need to be filled, or simply just help organise your thoughts.

"Research isn't research until it's written down" - Anon

There is also the matter of accountability. A large proportion of research carried out in the UK is funded by public money, which is accounted for by the Research Excellence Framework (REF). One of the principles behind the REF is " open access " - research should be made freely available to the public and not kept behind inaccessible paywalls.

Open access and open research could form the topics of several blog posts, but fundamentally it comes down to ensuring research is communicated freely and transparently. Which, of course, leads us neatly back to writing!

Why people find writing so challenging

If you mention thesis writing to most research students, odds are this will bring them out in a cold sweat. The prospect of any kind of academic writing can bring out stress and anxiety in the best of academics. Everyone will have different reasons why, but there certainly are a few common themes.

One of the biggest concerns is that you are putting your professional opinions out for scrutiny by other academics and the wider world. You need to have the evidence and research to back it up, all presented coherently and formatted neatly, taking into account all of your discipline's idiosyncrasies in style, with the right tools to hand, and enough time to do it.

Time is a big factor for many academics, particularly those who are heavily responsible for teaching, as finding a slot in your timetable to sit and write up your research can be extremely challenging. Being able to write both with speed and quality takes a lot of practice - which is going to be even more difficult if you are short on time.

There is also a huge variation across universities in both the quality and content of how undergraduate and postgraduate students are taught how to write academically. It's not unheard of to find people who have written their doctoral thesis, who are now publishing in journals as a researcher, that have never had any formal academic writing education at university.

What we are doing to help

In November, we took part for the first time in WRITEfest2018 - a collaborative celebration of academic writing between a number of universities around the world. It is designed to promote skills and good practice in academic writing, and to get academics away from their desks and just "shut up and write".

As part of this, we ran masterclasses to help researchers with writing strategies to better structure their writing, making use of short blocks of available time. We have run workshops on specific styles of academic writing, such as bid writing, publications in journals and books. This is in addition to workshops for our research students and a 12-week academic English module mainly aimed at international students.

We have also blocked out protected writing time slots so researchers can put the skills from these masterclasses into practice. The overall goal is to help remove the barriers to writing, so researchers can more easily communicate the great research they are doing with the wider world.

For further information contact the press office at [email protected] .

About the author

Stuart archer former researcher (researcher development).

Stuart Archer is the former Lead for the Researcher Development Programme at the University of Derby. He is also a research chemist by training.

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People also looked at

Systematic review article, research competencies to develop academic reading and writing: a systematic literature review.

importance of research skills in academic writing

  • Tecnologico de Monterrey, Escuela de Humanidades y Educación, Monterrey, Mexico

Rationale: The development of research skills in the higher education environment is a necessity because universities must be concerned about training professionals who use the methods of science to transform reality. Furthermore, within research competencies, consideration must be given to those that allow for the development of academic reading and writing in university students since this is a field that requires considerable attention from the educational field at the higher level.

Objective: This study aims to conduct a systematic review of the literature that allows the analysis of studies related to the topics of research competencies and the development of academic reading and writing.

Method: The search was performed by considering the following quality criteria: (1) Is the context in which the research is conducted at higher education institutions? (2) Is the development of academic reading and writing considered? (3) Are innovation processes related to the development of academic reading and writing considered? The articles analyzed were published between 2015 and 2019.

Results: Forty-two papers were considered for analysis after following the quality criterion questions. Finally, the topics addressed in the analysis were as follows: theoretical–conceptual trends in educational innovation studies, dominant trends and methodological tools, findings in research competencies for innovation in academic literacy development, types of innovations related to the development of academic reading and writing, recommendations for future studies on research competencies and for the processes of academic reading and writing and research challenges for the research competencies and academic reading and writing processes.

Conclusion: It was possible to identify the absence of studies about research skills to develop academic literacy through innovative models that effectively integrate the analysis of these three elements.

Introduction

Research skills today must be developed in such a way that students in higher education will be enabled to make them their own for good. This type of competencies is given fundamentally in the aspects of methodological domain, information gathering and the management of document-writing norms and technological tools. Furthermore, the usefulness of the existence of mediating didactics is recognized ( Aguirre, 2016 ). The competencies considered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in its skills strategy are the following: the development of relevant competencies, the activation of those competencies in the labor market and the use of those competencies effectively for the economy and society ( OECD, 2017 ). The research competences established by Mogonea and Remus Mogonea (2019) from the implementation of a pedagogical research project are as follows: the acquisition of new knowledge, the identification of educational problems, synthesis and argumentation, metacognition, knowledge of new research methods, the possibility of developing research tools and the interpretation and dissemination of results. Research skills work for various disciplines and can even link them. Some studies have affirmed the value of facilitating interactions between researchers from different research fields within a discipline ( Hills and Richards, 2013 ). Therefore, research competencies are approached from distinct perspectives. In this study, the focus is on those that allow for the development of academic reading and writing, because it is an area that requires a boost because it is basic for undergraduate students to be able to understand texts of different kinds and to be able to write with academic rigor.

Academic writing is one aspect that has been focussed on in the educational context. It is a multiple construction that unites such essential elements as the understanding of the scientific field and the understanding of scientific research methodology, statistical knowledge and the understanding of the culture of native and foreign languages ( Lamanauskas, 2019 ). Currently, a change in expectations has emerged around academic writing, and it has become increasingly evident that a much longer and gradual orientation in the process of research and information gathering is desirable to better meet the needs of contemporary students ( Hamilton, 2018 ). On the basis of historical emphasis on writing instruction, five approaches are illustrated, namely, skills, creative writing, process, social practice, and socio-cultural perspective ( Kwak, 2017 ). Academic writing is thus conceived as a way in which young people can construct their own according to elements that provide academic rigor through an efficient interaction with texts.

Academic reading and writing are a fundamental part of the context of higher education. Academic reading and writing also includes the learning of foreign languages as the gender-based approach to the teaching of writing has been found to be useful in promoting the development of literacy through the explicit teaching of characteristics, functions, and options of grammar and vocabulary that are available to interpret and produce various specific genres ( Trojan, 2016 ). Young university students come from a system of basic and upper secondary education in which the fundamental thing was to learn through the repetition of texts, but now their ideas, knowledge, capacity for analysis and critical thinking are a central aspect ( Bazerman, 2014 ). Understanding reading practices and needs in the context of information seeking can refine our understanding of the choices and preferences of users for information sources (such as textbooks, articles, and multimedia content) and media (such as printed and digital tools used for reading) ( Carlino, 2013 ; Lopatovska and Sessions, 2016 ). In this sense, it is useful to consider academic literacy, a name that Carlino (2013) has given to teaching process that may (or may not) be put in place to facilitate students' access to the different written cultures of the disciplines (p. 370). Currently, the many ways in which students perform the process of academic reading and writing must be addressed so that an improvement in the process can be attained.

Within the study of research competencies for the development of academic reading and writing, theoretical–conceptual trends and methodological designs play an important role. Ramírez-Montoya and Valenzuela (2019) considered psychopedagogical, socio-cultural, use and development of technology, disciplinary and educational management studies as theoretical–conceptual trends. According to Harwell (2014) , for methodological analysis, the categories of experimental design, quasi-experimental design, pre-experimental design, and within quantitative methods are used, and for qualitative methods, phenomenological, narrative and case studies, grounded theory and ethnography are contemplated. Documentary research is also added because there are studies on this type related to the subject, which are considered to be excluded.

In the research field, the findings and innovation that are increasingly present are a fundamental part. For the area of findings, the classification contemplated by Ramírez-Montoya and Lugo-Ocando (2020) must be considered. The author commented that innovation can create a new process (organization, method, strategy, development, procedure, training, and technique), a new product (technology, article, instrument, material, device, application, manufacture, result, object, and prototype), a new service (attention, provision, assistance, action, function, dependence, and benefit) or new knowledge (transformation, impact, evolution, cognition, discernment, knowledge, talent, patent, model, and system). Various types of innovation are available, such as those addressed by Valenzuela and Valencia (2017) which consider the following: (a) continuous innovation: when small deviations in educational practices accumulate, they translate into profound changes; (b) systematic: it is methodical and ordered like the innovation of continuous improvement, but the scope and novelty of its changes may vary and even lead to substantial changes; and (c) disruptive: they are new contributions to the world and generate fundamental changes in the activities, structure and functioning of organizations. Another type of innovation is open innovation, which is defined by Chesbrough (2006) as the deliberate use of knowledge inputs and outputs to accelerate internal innovation and expand it for the external use of innovation in markets. Educational purposes and divergent contexts can determine the type of innovation applied.

Many factors converge in the development of academic reading and writing. Digital skills are essential elements in enriching academic reading and writing. In the framework for the development and understanding of digital competences in Europe, five areas of digital competences exist, namely, (a) information: judging its relevance and purpose through identifying, locating, retrieving, storing, organizing, and analyzing digital information; (b) communication: taking place in digital environments or using digital tools to link to others and interacting in networked communities; (c) content creation: some elements include creating and editing new content and enforcing intellectual property rights and licenses; (d) security: personal protection, protection of digital identity, and safe and sustainable use and (e) problem solving: some aspects include making informed decisions about which digital tools are best suited for which purpose or need, creatively using technologies and updating the skills of individuals ( Ferrari, 2013 ). The changing environment of higher education offers an uncertain information ecosystem that requires greater responsibility on the part of students to create new knowledge and to select and use information appropriately ( Association of College Research Libraries, 2000 ). The Association of College and Research Libraries 2016 includes some key information literacy (IL) concepts: information creation as a process, information as value, research as inquiry and search as strategic exploration. Academic literacy can be better developed if IL and digital competencies are considered.

Research studies have presented challenges that must be considered for future research. Within the research gaps addressed in the classification of Kroll et al. (2018) for the study of research competencies, some of the categories are appropriate: Research Topic (RT) 1: Collaboration, RT2: Feasibility, RT3: Knowledge Sharing, RT4: Research Opportunities and RT6: Skill Differences. Critical thinking and academic literacy are considered amongst the challenges for developing academic writing from research skills. The first is considered as the process that involves conceptualization, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of the information collected from observation and experience as a guide for belief and action ( Sellars et al., 2018 ). Academic literacy according to Solimine and Garcia-Quismondo (2020) grows within a competency-based educational model, in which competencies are recognized as the developments in the learners of informational behaviors and attitudes that make them expert evaluators of digital and virtual web contents to obtain knowledge and know-how. Reflection and critical thinking are basic elements for an adequate interaction in digital media.

Several items were identified from mapping and systematic literature reviews related to the topics of research skills and academic literacy development. Abu and Alheet (2019) conducted a study to identify those competencies that an individual must possess to be a good researcher. A competency-based assessment throughout the research training process to more objectively evaluate the development of doctoral students and early career scientists is proposed by Verderame et al. (2018) . Moreover, Zetina et al. (2017) concluded that designing strategies for the adequate development of research competencies with the purpose of training sufficiently qualified young researchers is crucial. Walton and Cleland (2017) also presented qualitative research with the purpose of establishing whether students as part of a degree module can demonstrate through their online textual publications their IL skills as a discursive competence and social practice. Lopatovska and Sessions (2016) conducted a study examining reading strategies in relation to information-seeking stages, tasks and reading media in an academic setting.

This study aims to determine how the three elements present in the quality criteria (research skills, academic reading and writing and innovation processes) of this systematic review of the literature can be linked so that they can serve as a basis for identifying which research skills can be used to develop academic reading and writing in higher education contexts through innovative models. IL is presented as a fundamental competence because for the adequate development of academic reading and writing, university students must be able to perform efficiently in the search, selection and treatment of information.

The method followed for the present research was the systematic review of literature [based on Kitchenham and Charters (2007) ], which considers within the phases to follow the review of a protocol to specify the research question. The search started with the articles that emerged from a systematic mapping of literature that was previously carried out; subsequently, quality criteria were defined that allowed refining the selection of articles for the systematic literature review, inclusion and exclusion criteria were also determined, and six research questions were also established for the analysis of the articles.

Research Questions

The starting point was to locate themes that were of interest for investigating writing processes within the framework of research skills and educational innovation to establish research questions. Six questions were located, and possible systems for classifying answers were studied on the basis of the literature. Table 1 lists the questions that guided the study.

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Table 1 . Research questions and kind of answers in the systematic literature review.

Search Strategy

In a systematic mapping of literature (SML) that was previously conducted, the search strings shown in Table 2 were used. The search criteria are explained below.

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Table 2 . Search strings in Scopus and WOS.

On the basis of the 345 articles that emerged from the search process that was conducted for the previous SML, the following quality criteria were considered for the selection of the articles to be included in this SLR: (a) Is the context in which the study is conducted in higher education institutions, (b) Is the development of academic reading and writing considered?, and (c) Are innovation processes related to the development of academic reading and writing considered? It was contemplated that they would cover at least two of three points to define the articles that would remain for the analysis. In the first instance, 52 articles were left, but those whose language was different from English and Spanish were later excluded, given the poor representativeness of articles written in other languages. Therefore, only 42 papers were finally analyzed.

Inclusion, Exclusion, and Quality Criteria

The inclusion and exclusion criteria must capture and incorporate the questions that the SLR seeks to answer, and the criteria must also be practical to apply. If they are too detailed, then the selection may be excessively complicated and lengthy. For the systematic mapping, the disciplinary areas that had the highest number of articles were Education (40%) and Medicine (36%). For the systematic review of the literature, it was considered that the context for the selection of articles should be limited to higher education institutions. Table 3 shows the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the SML and the quality criteria for article selection.

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Table 3 . Inclusion, exclusion, and quality criteria.

Finally, after applying the quality criteria, there were 42 articles left to be analyzed in the SLR, which are shown in Table 4 below.

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Table 4 . Articles that were analyzed.

RQ1 What are the theoretical–conceptual trends in educational innovation studies observed in the research skill articles?

The 42 articles analyzed the disciplinary approaches according to the Library of Congress Classification, which made it possible to place them in the six disciplines referred to in this study and allowed their correspondence with the theoretical–conceptual trends of educational innovation (psychopedagogical, socio-cultural, disciplinary, use and development of technology and educational management), where a greater preponderance was found in articles under the heading of Psychopedagogical Studies (1, 2, 7, 8, 16–18, 20, 22, 24, 29, 30, 32, 34–36, 38), as shown in Figure 2 .

The disciplinary approach allows for the consideration of which areas the research topic has the greatest influence on and is generating the most interest for study. In carrying out systematic literature mappings, identifying the disciplinary areas that have a greater presence is highly useful because it serves as a basis for determining which area or areas can be focussed on for future systematic literature reviews.

RQ2 What are the dominant trends and methodological tools observed in the research skill articles?

The study addressed the different research methods: quantitative, qualitative and mixed method. The classification used is shown in Figure 3 and allows identifying that in the experimental design the quantitative method predominated (4, 5, 10, 14, 21, 27, 30, 31), on the other hand in the documentary research there was a predominance of the qualitative method (6–8, 18, 26, 36–38, 41, 42).

To have a more detailed idea of the trend of the methods used in the articles that deal with the analysis of research skills for academic literacy development, starting only from the three main methods is insufficient. Having a sub-classification that allows us to know the types of research designs that are performed in each method is a must. Presenting the specific research design allows for more detailed information, especially if the entire process followed in the research method is clearly explained.

RQ3 What are the findings in research skills for innovation in academic literacy development?

The findings focussed on four categories: (1) new knowledge (1, 3, 7, 9, 15, 20, 21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 32, 34–36) which were stated in this category when referring to transformation, impact, evolution, cognition, dissent, knowledge, talent, patent, model or system. For instance, Article 1 was considered because it talks about how students acquired knowledge about the choice of an appropriate research instrument and learned to articulate their identity as researchers, and Article 20 was considered in this category because the study investigated whether the teaching of communicative languages helps develop the critical thinking of students; (2) new process (2, 4–6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 25, 28, 37–42), the findings in this category considered an organization, a method, a strategy, a development, a procedure, a training or a technique, e.g., Article 2, were considered as the students who participated in the process of becoming good scholars by using appropriate online publications to create valid arguments by evaluating the work of others and Article 22, as this study analyses the strategies activated by a group of 36 Portuguese university students when faced with an academic writing practice in Spanish as a foreign language; (3) new product (10), findings were considered in this category when considering a technology, an article, a tool, a material, a device, an application, a manufacture, a result, an object or a prototype, e.g., Article 10 was integrated because the document illustrates the development of an online portal and a mobile application aimed at promoting student motivation and engagement; (4) new service (11, 13, 17, 26, 31, 33), the findings were stated in this category when considering elements, such as attention, provision, assistance, action, function, dependence or benefit, e.g., Article 17 that presents the Summer Science Program in México, which aims to provide university students with research competence and Article 33, as it states that online academic networks have been established as spaces for academics from all countries and as outlets for their insight and literacy. Below are the key words that appeared most often in each category in Figure 4 .

Innovation is present in the findings found in the articles through the idea that it starts from something existing to generate something new, gives a new meaning and a new idea through elements, such as those considered in the classification used in this systematic review of literature. Innovative elements do not necessarily have to contemplate technology, innovating can consist of providing new solutions that respond to specific needs, which can be useful not only in economic and social scenarios but also in the educational context.

RQ4 What types of innovations related to the development of academic reading and writing emerge from the studies consulted?

The categories on which the classification of the types of innovation focussed were the following: continuous, systematic, disruptive and open. In continuous innovation, the keywords change, competency, improve, solution and training were placed. In systematic innovation, the keywords were competency, development, explore, needs, self-perception, skills, and solution. In disruptive innovation, the keywords were online courses and organizational support. In open innovation, the keywords global, links and ICTS were located. In the systematic category, more articles were about development (2, 5–7, 11, 13, 14, 16, 21–23, 27, 28, 32, 35, 42), as shown in Figure 5 .

The distinct types of innovation allow us to know at what level an innovation is being conducted to know how much emphasis is given to the part of generating innovation within research if it is considered something that occurs gradually or if, on the contrary, it is considered that it requires drastic changes that can be generated even immediately. Moreover, nowadays, open innovation has become increasingly important, especially in the field of higher education where knowledge repositories are now considered open spaces.

RQ5 What are the recommendations that the authors give for future studies on research skills and for the processes of academic reading and writing?

The study first identified the recommendations that the authors made for future studies in the framework of research skills and academic literacy processes. Subsequently, the categories presented in Figure 6 were established. The item that had the most presence around the category of Information was the digital element because it was considered in some studies that learning had a positive effect through the use of digital resources (6, 11, 13, 15, 29, 31, 41, 42).

Today, in the digital economy, the role of knowledge production in information systems is increasing dramatically. The same is true in the field of education; therefore, making appropriate use of these digital resources in accordance with the stated research purposes is necessary. The digital era is complex and requires flexible education that enhances new skills, and higher education students must be trained to efficiently use the wide diversity of digital resources now available to them and to perform well in virtual environments.

RQ6 What are the research challenges for the research skills and academic reading and writing processes?

The challenges were analyzed, and the following were located: collaboration (support), feasibility (contexts, technological, training, and support), knowledge sharing (literacy, thinking, creativity and adapted), research opportunities (reflection, scientific, method, sample, formative process, and skills) and differences (literacy and linguistic). Amongst the challenges shown in the studies that were addressed in this study, those related to research opportunities (1, 4–6, 9, 11–14, 16, 17, 19, 30, 33, 34, 36, 39) stand out, followed by learning sharing (2, 8, 18, 20, 26, 27, 31, 42) and viability (7, 10, 15, 25, 29, 32, 38, 40, 41), as can be seen in Figure 7 .

The challenges in research allow us to identify on which topics the researcher should concentrate to be able to give solutions to problems posed around a research topic because knowing which obstacles have been presented in a specific research process is interesting so that they can serve as a basis for further studies. The challenges presented in research can be of various kinds, from questions such as the financial support required according to the type and time of research to the viability related to aspects such as the necessary skills or the mastery of the use of technology to make research feasible.

Amongst the theoretical–conceptual trends, the one corresponding to Psychopedagogical Studies has turned out to be the one that has focussed more on the analysis of research skills for the development of academic writing. Figure 1 depicts that there was a greater trend of articles in psychopedagogical matters and that they were distributed in various disciplinary areas. Psychopedagogical studies focus on cognitive elements and on social–emotional elements and improvements in academic achievement ( Ramírez-Montoya and Valenzuela, 2019 ). In this review, the psychopedagogical approach is framed mainly in the application of didactic techniques, educational programmes, forms of evaluation and training and capacity building.

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Figure 1 . Quality criteria for papers selection for SLR.

Experimental studies are a frequently used method in the topic of research skills. Figure 2 shows that the most commonly used research design in the articles consulted is the experimental design. However, methodological designs are available in the studies analyzed. The older categorisations of experimental designs tend to use the language of the analysis of variance to describe these arrangements ( Harwell, 2014 ). In this study, the approach of that type of design was considered because randomization was sought for the selection of the sample to be investigated. Nonetheless, various methodological designs were used in the review, and it was even decided to consider research of a documentary nature to guide the present study.

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Figure 2 . Theoretical–conceptual trends in educational innovation studies.

New processes are identified with greater emphasis on the analysis of research toward the development of academic reading and writing within the framework of research competencies. Figure 3 illustrates that according to the classification addressed, the category of new processes is the one that received the most mention in the analysis. Ramírez-Montoya and Lugo-Ocando (2020) validated that a new process is characterized amongst its elements by an organization, a method, a technique, and a procedure. In this analysis, it was possible to observe that to a great extent, the findings are based on processes that imply a follow-up to determine how the evolution to reach the proposed objectives occurs.

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Figure 3 . Trends and methodological tools.

Systematic and continuous innovations have a strong presence in the area of innovation in research skill studies. Figure 4 shows the trend in these types of innovation. In terms of systematic innovation, there was a greater presence of the development aspect, whilst continuous innovation had a greater presence of the competence aspect. Continuous innovation is something that has to do with small changes that can make a difference, and systematic innovation is methodical and orderly like continuous improvement innovation. However, the scope and novelty of its changes can vary and even lead to substantial changes ( Valenzuela and Valencia, 2017 ). The innovations must be based on the objectives to be achieved and always with a view to achieving substantial improvement.

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Figure 4 . Findings in research skills for academic literacy development.

Digital resources and skills present a valuable opportunity to enhance academic literacy development through research skills. Figure 5 shows that the digital aspect had a greater presence in the area of Information that was presented for the categorization of Recommendations for Future Studies. The digital competencies according to Ferrari (2013) are focussed on Information, Communication, Content Creation, Problem Solving and Security, but the latter was not present in the studies analyzed. Interacting through digital tools or in digital environments is a reality we are currently facing; therefore, students must be prepared to have digital competences, which allow them to have a better performance in general and enrich the framework in which they develop their academic reading and writing.

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Figure 5 . Types of innovations related to the development of academic reading and writing.

Challenges in research skill studies show various themes, such as collaboration, sharing of learning, difference in skills or feasibility, and no single line is to be addressed. The categories corresponding to the challenges that have the greatest presence according to Figure 6 are the following: research opportunities and knowledge sharing. However, there is variety in the keywords that are derived from these. However, critical thinking and literacy (academic and information) are considered relevant by the subject matter. IL has important advantages for the proper selection and use of information ( Association of College Research Libraries, 2016 ), and academic literacy is now closely linked to the competencies for evaluating digital content and producing knowledge ( Solimine and Garcia-Quismondo, 2020 ). What is important is the acquisition of skills so that students in higher education can be effective in research and can adequately develop the process of academic reading and writing.

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Figure 6 . Recommendations for future studies on research skills and processes of academic reading and writing.

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Figure 7 . Research challenges for the research skills and academic reading and writing processes.

Limitations

Only the Web of Science and Scopus databases were used for the selection of articles for analysis in this systematic literature review. Although they are amongst the most important, other articles that could be relevant to the topic addressed in this study were left out. By including only studies that had higher education institutions as their context, we excluded studies conducted in extra-school contexts that could be significant. The three quality criteria that were used reduced the selection to 42 articles, which may be a small number, but they are the articles that are related to the specific objective of the research, which is to identify research skills that allow for the development of academic reading and writing.

Conclusions

Research competencies can work for several disciplines. In this systematic review of literature, the articles analyzed correspond to the disciplinary areas of Education; Language and Literature; Medicine; Library Science; Philosophy, Psychology and religion and Science, which implies that there is a multidisciplinary character to address the issues of research competencies and the development of academic literacy. Nevertheless, the discipline with the greatest presence is education, which allows us to identify that there is an increasing concern to promote the culture of research in this area, as well as to seek that students acquire the skills necessary for the better development of academic literacy.

Academic literacy is indeed a fundamental part of the higher education environment. The types of innovation to develop academic literacy that have the greatest presence are systematic and continuous innovation, the aspect that stands out from the first is development, and from the second are competition and change. Competencies are thus identified as a key element to be considered to achieve the development of academic literacy.

Research competencies for the development of academic reading and writing imply not only taking care of methodological aspects. It is not enough to take care of elements such as the formulation of the research question, the selection of the research method and design, the selection of instruments and the evaluation system. Crucial competencies, such as academic and information literacy (IL), must be considered because in this information society, which is not necessarily a knowledge society, one must be literate to be able to use information for the proposed purposes and to develop quality academic texts that can subsequently disseminate and support the expansion of knowledge in the various areas of higher education.

The aim of this research is to identify studies that address research competencies and those that address academic literacy through innovative elements, so that it can be determined how these three elements can be linked to each other to benefit university students in the sense of serving as a basis for generating initiatives to promote research competencies that can be used to develop academic literacy in higher education contexts through innovative models. It is intended that with the development of these competencies, university students can develop research skills, search for information efficiently in different environments and platforms, understand specialized texts in their area of study, and finally generate quality writing that can be published.

Data Availability Statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Author Contributions

IC-M carried out the systematic review of literature, carried out the analysis of the articles considered to be integrated in the present study, investigated and integrated the theoretical part, made the graphs and tables, wrote the article, and took care of form and content. MR-M reviewed in detail the form and content of the article, suggested authors for theoretical support, checked that the paragraphs had an adequate structure, and that the references were current, consistent, and correctly cited. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Acknowledgments

The study was conducted within the framework of the doctoral studies corresponding to the Ph.D. programme in Educational Innovation. Special thanks are due to the scholarships granted by CONACYT and Tecnologico de Monterrey. The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of Writing Lab, TecLabs, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico, in the production of this work.

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2020.576961/full#supplementary-material

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Willson, G., and Angell, K. (2017). Mapping the association of college and research libraries information literacy framework and nursing professional standards onto an assessment rubric. J. Med. Library Assoc. 105, 150–154. doi: 10.5195/JMLA.2017.39

Winch, J. (2019). Does communicative language teaching help develop students' competence in thinking critically? J. Language Edu. 5, 112–122. doi: 10.17323/jle.2019.8486

Zetina, C., Magaña, D., and Avendaño, K. (2017). Enseñanza de las competencias de investigación: un reto en la gestión educativa. Atenas Revista Científico Pedagógica 1, 1–14.

Keywords: educational innovation, higher education, research competencies, academic reading and writing, systematic literature review, research skills

Citation: Castillo-Martínez IM and Ramírez-Montoya MS (2021) Research Competencies to Develop Academic Reading and Writing: A Systematic Literature Review. Front. Educ. 5:576961. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2020.576961

Received: 27 June 2020; Accepted: 14 December 2020; Published: 18 January 2021.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2021 Castillo-Martínez and Ramírez-Montoya. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Isolda Margarita Castillo-Martínez, isoldamcm@hotmail.com

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Fundamental writing skills for researchers, part 1 introduction and snapshot of writing (6:31).

Everyone is capable of being a good writer, even without any innate skill. A snapshot of research writing is given, from presenting a research question in context of current knowledge to interpreting your findings. In other words, moving from general to specific, then specific to general. It's important to be a careful and intentional writer. It's not about writing, it's about readability. Focusing on your readers and their needs helps make your message clear.

Part 2 Making Meaning Clear (6:31)

"Going-to-the-Caribbean writing" is boring, dense, and generally not reader-friendly because it lacks transitions, logic, and concern for reader understanding. An example of "Caribbean writing," along with a more reader-friendly revision, is provided. Good writing clearly communicates meaning to readers by always keeping their needs in mind.

Part 3 Writing Myths (4:20)

The impulse to impress readers with complex sentences and pretentious words is regrettably common in research writing. Writing to impress seeks validation for the writer rather than comprehension for the reader. Revision is always needed because ideas don’t flow logically from the writer's mind to the page.

Part 4 How Readers Read and Respond (7:19)

There are several levels of a reader's response to a piece of writing. The writer is responsible for the reader’s experience in everything from visual appeal and organization to readability and tone. The purpose of research writing is to convey your data and interpretations of that data while convincing your reader that your perspective is valid. Critique your writing by continually keeping your reader in mind.

Part 5 Helping Your Audience Interpret Your Meaning (11:58)

Your role as writer is to make sense—to make your meaning clear to the reader. Use punctuation, grammar, and other language conventions as road signs to help your reader interpret your writing. Basic vocabulary and simple sentence construction is sufficient, even for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. But your audience may vary, and that takes very careful planning on your part.

Part 6 Giving Structure to Your Writing (6:24)

Paragraphs, topic sentences, and transitions provide the structure of your writing. Mastering these building blocks is the key to being able to clearly communicate your thinking to your reader. The topic sentence is the king or queen of the sentence and each line of the paragraph should support or elaborate upon that main thought. Transitions are used to help the reader move from one thought to the next, whether within a sentence, from sentence to sentence, or from paragraph to paragraph.

Part 7 Writing as a Logical Process (10:07)

Writing is a logical process, and a sentence is like a mathematical formula. Using levels of generality allows you to move from general to specific levels of detail. Sometimes you'll need to use more words to make your meaning clear to the reader. A piece of writing is not clear simply because it is brief.

Download the Logical Puzzles Handout

Part 8 Making Meaning Clear (9:13)

Logic doesn't flow naturally from mind to paper. You are responsible for writing a clear topic sentence and supporting it in a logical way. Transitions point out to the reader the logical connections between ideas, and order is important. Outlining will help you write effectively and more efficiently.

Part 9 Outlining (8:12)

Planning your writing will save you a great deal of time. Again, levels of generality come into play here, as does the structure of a paragraph. But don't focus on the skeleton of an outline, emphasize the content as you coordinate and subordinate your ideas. When you create an outline, step back and analyze it critically. You need to impose logic on your writing, then crystallize your logic by making specific connections.

Part 10 Headings, Figures, Rhythm, and Length (4:15)

Headings and subheadings used consistently help your reader see the structure of your writing. Tables, figures, and charts are powerful aids to making your meaning clear. But don't just present them to your reader; interpret their significance. Finally, you’ll also improve readability by varying the length and construction of your sentences.

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importance of research skills in academic writing

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Research Skills: What they are and Benefits

research skills

Research skills play a vital role in the success of any research project, enabling individuals to navigate the vast sea of information, analyze data critically, and draw meaningful conclusions. Whether conducting academic research, professional investigations, or personal inquiries, strong research skills are essential for obtaining accurate and reliable results.

LEARN ABOUT:   Research Process Steps

By understanding and developing these skills, individuals can embark on their research endeavors with confidence, integrity, and the capability to make meaningful contributions in their chosen fields. This article will explore the importance of research skills and discuss critical competencies necessary for conducting a research project effectively.

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What are Research Skills?

Important research skills for research project, benefits of research skills.

  • Improving your Research Skills

Talk to Experts to Improve Skills

Research skills are the capability a person carries to create new concepts and understand the use of data collection. These skills include techniques, documentation, and interpretation of the collected data. Research is conducted to evaluate hypotheses and share the findings most appropriately. Research skills improve as we gain experience.

To conduct efficient research, specific research skills are essential. These skills are necessary for companies to develop new products and services or enhance existing products. To develop good research skills is important for both the individual as well as the company.

When undertaking a research project, one must possess specific important skills to ensure the project’s success and accuracy. Here are some essential research skills that are crucial for conducting a project effectively:

Time Management Skills:

Time management is an essential research skill; it helps you break down your project into parts and enables you to manage it easier. One can create a dead-line oriented plan for the research project and assign time for each task. Time management skills include setting goals for the project, planning and organizing functions as per their priority, and efficiently delegating these tasks.

Communication Skills:

These skills help you understand and receive important information and also allow you to share your findings with others in an effective manner. Active listening and speaking are critical skills for solid communication. A researcher must have good communication skills.

Problem-Solving:  

The ability to handle complex situations and business challenges and come up with solutions for them is termed problem-solving. To problem-solve, you should be able to fully understand the extent of the problem and then break it down into smaller parts. Once segregated into smaller chunks, you can start thinking about each element and analyze it to find a solution.

Information gathering and attention to detail:

Relevant information is the key to good research design . Searching for credible resources and collecting information from there will help you strengthen your research proposal and drive you to solutions faster. Once you have access to information, paying close attention to all the details and drawing conclusions based on the findings is essential.

Research Design and Methodology :

Understanding research design and methodology is essential for planning and conducting a project. Depending on the research question and objectives, researchers must select appropriate research methods, such as surveys, experiments, interviews, or case studies. Proficiency in designing research protocols, data collection instruments, and sampling strategies is crucial for obtaining reliable and valid results.

Data Collection and Analysis :

Researchers should be skilled in collecting and analyzing data accurately. It involves designing data collection instruments, collecting data through various methods, such as surveys or observations, and organizing and analyzing the collected data using appropriate statistical or qualitative analysis techniques. Proficiency in using software tools like SPSS, Excel, or qualitative analysis software can be beneficial.

By developing and strengthening these research skills, researchers can enhance the quality and impact of their research process, contributing to good research skills in their respective fields.

Research skills are invaluable assets that can benefit individuals in various aspects of their lives. Here are some key benefits of developing and honing research skills:

Boosts Curiosity :

Curiosity is a strong desire to know things and a powerful learning driver. Curious researchers will naturally ask questions that demand answers and will stop in the search for answers. Interested people are better listeners and are open to listening to other people’s ideas and perspectives, not just their own.

Cultivates Self-awareness :

As well as being aware of other people’s subjective opinions, one must develop the importance of research skills and be mindful of the benefits of awareness research; we are exposed to many things while researching. Once we start doing research, the benefit from it reflects on the beliefs and attitudes and encourages them to open their minds to other perspectives and ways of looking at things.

Effective Communication:

Research skills contribute to practical communication skills by enhancing one’s ability to articulate ideas, opinions, and findings clearly and coherently. Through research, individuals learn to organize their thoughts, present evidence-based arguments, and effectively convey complex information to different audiences. These skills are crucial in academic research settings, professional environments, and personal interactions.

Personal and Professional Growth :

Developing research skills fosters personal and professional growth by instilling a sense of curiosity, intellectual independence, and a lifelong learning mindset. Research encourages individuals to seek knowledge, challenge assumptions, and embrace intellectual growth. These skills also enhance adaptability as individuals become adept at navigating and assimilating new information, staying updated with the latest developments, and adjusting their perspectives and strategies accordingly.

Academic Success:

Research skills are essential for academic research success. They enable students to conduct thorough literature reviews, gather evidence to support their arguments, and critically evaluate existing research. By honing their research skills, students can produce well-structured, evidence-based essays, projects, and dissertations demonstrating high academic research rigor and analytical thinking.

Professional Advancement:

Research skills are highly valued in the professional world. They are crucial for conducting market research, analyzing trends, identifying opportunities, and making data-driven decisions. Employers appreciate individuals who can effectively gather and analyze information, solve complex problems, and provide evidence-based recommendations. Research skills also enable professionals to stay updated with advancements in their field, positioning themselves as knowledgeable and competent experts.

Developing and nurturing research skills can significantly benefit individuals in numerous aspects of their lives, enabling them to thrive in an increasingly information-driven world.

Improving Your Research Skills

There are many things you can do to improve your research skills and utilize them in your research or day job. Here are some examples:

  • Develop Information Literacy: Strengthening your information literacy skills is crucial for conducting thorough research. It involves identifying reliable sources, evaluating the credibility of information, and navigating different research databases.
  • Enhance Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is an essential skill for effective research. It involves analyzing information, questioning assumptions, and evaluating arguments. Practice critical analysis by analyzing thoughtfully, identifying biases, and considering alternative perspectives.
  • Master Research Methodologies: Familiarize yourself with different research methodologies relevant to your field. Whether it’s qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods research, realizing the strengths and limitations of each approach is crucial.
  • Practice Effective Time Management: Research requires dedicated time and effort. Develop good time management skills to ensure that you allocate sufficient time for each stage of the research process, including planning, data collection, analysis, and writing.
  • Embrace Collaboration: Collaborating with peers and colleagues can provide a fresh perspective and enrich your research experience. Engage in discussions, share ideas, and seek feedback from others. Collaborative projects allow for exchanging knowledge and skills.
  • Continuously Update Your Knowledge: Stay informed about your field’s latest developments and advancements. Regularly read scholarly articles, attend conferences, and follow reputable sources of information to stay up to date with current research trends.

There is plenty of information available on the internet about every topic; hence, learning skills to know which information is relevant and credible is very important. Today most search engines have the feature of advanced search, and you can customize the search as per your preference. Once you learn this skill, it will help you find information. 

Experts possess a wealth of knowledge, experience, and insights that can significantly enhance your understanding and abilities in conducting research. Experts have often encountered numerous challenges and hurdles throughout their research journey and have developed effective problem-solving techniques. Engaging with experts is a highly effective approach to improving research skills.

Moreover, experts can provide valuable feedback and constructive criticism on your research work. They can offer fresh perspectives, identify areas for improvement, and help you refine your research questions, methodology, and analysis.

At QuestionPro, we can help you with the necessary tools to carry out your projects, and we have created the following free resources to help you in your professional growth:

  • Survey Templates

Research skills are invaluable assets that empower individuals to navigate the ever-expanding realm of information, make informed decisions, and contribute to advancing knowledge. With advanced research tools and technologies like QuestionPro Survey Software, researchers have potent resources to conduct comprehensive surveys, gather data, and analyze results efficiently.

Where data-driven decision-making is crucial, research skills supported by advanced tools like QuestionPro are essential for researchers to stay ahead and make impactful contributions to their fields. By embracing these research skills and leveraging the capabilities of powerful survey software, researchers can unlock new possibilities, gain deeper insights, and pave the way for meaningful discoveries.

Authors : Gargi Ghamandi & Sandeep Kokane

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principal tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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Writing Skills Development for Graduate Studies and Career Readiness in Science and Aging Fields: A Case Study Approach

Associated data.

The datasets presented in this article are not readily available because the qualitative data generated for this article are unable to be sufficiently de-identified. Requests to access the datasets should be directed to ude.cs.liame@15sa .

Increasing the number of racially and ethnically underrepresented students who pursue scientific graduate studies in programs focusing on science and aging offers an opportunity to increase the number of aging specialists while simultaneously promoting diversity in the research labor market and supporting new ideas. This case study aims to better understand how students participating in an academic preparatory program experience a writing class contextualized within (1) students' writing background and (2) students' future ambitions related to science and aging. The individually-tailored writing class was taught as a critical component of a comprehensive educational program that targets underrepresented racial and ethnic minority undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing scientific graduate studies in fields related to aging. The researchers conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with students ( n = 4) enrolled in the 24-month fellowship training program, which included participation in the writing course during the summer prior to their senior year of undergraduate education. All participants were young adult college students who identified as Black or African American and female. Using thematic coding, statements about professional writing skills were divided into four primary themes: (1) prior experiences, (2) class experiences, (3) future goals and ambitions, and (4) structural considerations. These themes suggest potential implications for effective interventions aimed to advance the writing skills and academic and career readiness of racially and ethnically diverse students entering fields of science and aging.

Introduction

According to United States (US) census projections, the US population is both “graying and browning;” that is, rapidly becoming older and more racially and ethnically diverse ( 1 , 2 ). From 2000 to 2030, the number of older adults in the US is expected to increase from 35 million to over 72 million ( 3 ). By 2050, the population of Black older adults is projected to triple, while the population of Latinx older adults is expected to increase 11-fold ( 4 ). With older adults projected to comprise ~20% of the US population in the future, and new advancements in health and technology, there is a growing need for researchers, advanced practitioners and advanced degree-holders specializing in aging. In addition to the need for aging specialists in general, there is a need for more racial and ethnic diversity in aging specialization.

Increasing the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students who pursue scientific graduate studies in programs focusing on science and aging offers an opportunity to increase the number of aging specialists while simultaneously promoting new ideas and new perspectives. However, these opportunities are challenged by a poor fit between undergraduate student writing skills and expectations for graduate school entry. This mismatch is exacerbated by longstanding disparities in the public education system that contribute to racially and ethnically diverse students' underexposure to advanced-level writing curricula and to the undervaluation of different writing styles. Thus, exposure to a curriculum that provides such students with individually-tailored writing skills development can impact their readiness for graduate programs in science and aging and better prepare them for entry into a rapidly developing job market.

This case study aimed to better understand how students within an academic preparatory program experience a writing class building on (1) students' prior writing experiences and (2) students' future ambitions related to science and aging. The personalized writing class was taught as a critical component of a comprehensive educational program that targets racially and ethnically diverse undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing scientific graduate studies in fields related to aging. Study findings suggest potential implications for effective interventions aimed to advance the writing skills and academic and career readiness of racially and ethnically diverse students entering fields of science and aging.

Background and Rationale

Importance of undergraduate writing skills development.

The need for quality writing skills in science-related fields, including aging, is becoming more crucial than ever before. Recently, there has been newfound attention on the importance of early writing skills development for students at the undergraduate level, particularly across science disciplines, as students who can demonstrate strong written communication skills are considered qualified candidates for graduate programs ( 5 ). While STEM candidates on the job market are required to have professional writing skills, science and technology high school and college students have been found to more likely experience difficulties with written communication ( 6 ). A study by Jang ( 6 ) found that 50% of college students in science and technology fields lacked basic levels of reading and writing. Jang ( 6 ) suggests that education programs in STEM fields can better prepare students for the changing job market by creating “a continuous cycle where students practice communicating in learning contexts and get frequent professional feedback from peers and educators using a peer and self-assessment for writing, speaking and collaboration” (p. 297).

For graduate programs in science, the significance of quality writing skills is clear: successful researchers, advanced practitioners and advanced degree-holders must be able to effectively communicate information with other researchers and practitioners as well as the general public ( 7 ). Scientific writing is also essential for scholarly activities such as publishing peer-reviewed journal articles, submitting abstracts for conference presentations, and completing grant proposals. These activities, in turn, prepare students to be competitive on the job market, empowering productive professionals and leaders in their fields. While there is strong expectation and need for students pursuing graduate programs in science and aging to be excellent writers, many students have not acquired sufficient skills to be able to write effectively in their respective fields by the end of their undergraduate studies. Consequently, the lack of writing skills might diminish the likelihood of the candidate's acceptance into their graduate school of choice. Even if accepted, students may feel less prepared for the “writing demands and other requirements of graduate education and professional careers” [( 5 ), p. 1].

Many reasons exist for the lack of writing preparedness among undergraduate students. With pressing demands to cover course content and large grading loads, instructors rarely have time to teach writing skills or provide students with substantial feedback on papers to help improve their writing ( 5 , 7 ). Because it is presumed that students learn basic writing skills during high school including knowledge of punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, and citations, some instructors may neglect to focus class time on writing development ( 8 ). However, for many racially and ethnically diverse students, the lack of writing preparedness is far more salient and complex.

Disparities in Writing Skills Development

An overwhelming number of racially and ethnically diverse students graduate from high school unprepared for the writing demands and rigors of college education ( 9 ). Research suggests that African American students in particular are less likely to be academically prepared for college, with those from economically distressed communities being the least ready for college-level curricula ( 9 , 10 ). The tremendous disparity in preparation for racially and ethnically diverse students, especially African American students, is often “centered on the deficiencies of students, families, and communities,” with little attention to institutional and social factors, including structural racism, exclusion, and poverty that influence college readiness ( 9 ). School factors such as poor access to college preparatory courses, funding, quality teachers, and supportive school counselors also impact students' preparedness for college ( 9 ).

There are discrepancies in the ways in which writing instruction is taught and measured across diverse student populations. According to Green ( 11 ), African American students are taught “to edit out, not edit, their Black English usage rhetorically to inform or enhance their academic writing” (p. 154). Unfortunately, racially and ethnically diverse students who struggle with “editing” out their unique linguistic differences in written assignments may face poor evaluations from teachers who operate from a Westernized perspective of writing that prioritizes dominant ideas about what constitutes “good” academic and professional writing ( 11 ). Despite perceptions of academic and professional writing skills as being racially and culturally biased ( 12 ), these perceptions remain the benchmarks by which many students are evaluated for admission into graduate school ( 13 ) and thereby deemed successful within graduate programs ( 8 ). Thus, there is need to equip racially and ethnically diverse students with the knowledge and skills to meet and exceed these standards, as well as to empower them to recognize unique cultural and linguistic differences in their writing.

Bridging the Gap—The Significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

HBCUs are unique sites for academic and professional achievement and cultural pride that have been significantly shaped by racism, discrimination, and social exclusion ( 11 ). HBCUs are shown to have welcoming and nurturing campus settings that provide opportunities for racially and ethnically diverse students, especially African American students, to excel academically ( 14 – 16 ). HBCUs already exist to enhance the academic and professional trajectory of racially and ethnically diverse students ( 15 ), while taking into account their cultural and linguistic differences ( 11 ). As such, HBCUs are uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap in writing skills development and preparation for this student population. Importantly, HBCUs can serve as a unique pathway to increase the number of qualified racially and ethnically diverse students who pursue scientific graduate studies in programs focusing on science and aging. Thus, there is need to implement effective programs in collaboration with HBCUs to enhance the writing skills of students and help develop their readiness both for matriculating into graduate programs in science and aging, as well as to achieve success in the growing job market of STEM and aging.

Description

This section provides a brief description of the overall research education training program as well as the writing course component, and how they both aim to prepare students for graduate studies and career readiness in science and aging fields. Beginning in 2015, a flagship research university in a southeastern US state established an NIA-funded undergraduate research training program “to increase the number of qualified racially and ethnically diverse students who pursue scientific graduate studies in programs focusing on science and aging.” Based in a predominately white institution (PWI), this program to advance diversity in aging research collaborates with five HBCUs in the same state. HBCUs are ideal partners because they have a large number of undergraduate students who identify as Black or African American and who are majoring in medical, science, technology, engineering or mathematics (MSTEM) fields, and “who, through exposure to a research education program focusing on aging research, might choose to enter scientific careers committed to addressing complex biological, biomedical, behavior and clinical challenges that accompany aging.” Students who participate in the project gain mentored research experience by working in a research laboratory of a faculty member from the PWI research institution, along with co-mentoring from a faculty member from their HBCU, and attend didactic classes on the biology and social aspects of aging and experiential workshops led by faculty members at HBCUs and at the PWI research institution. Participating students (fellows) live on campus in student housing at the PWI research university for close proximity to their labs and classes during the summer research program. As part of their summer experience, fellows prepare a poster which they present at the end of the summer at the PWI's Annual Summer Research Conference. Fellows are encouraged to further disseminate their research through poster presentations at conferences after the summer workshops, with financial support from the program to attend professional meetings.

In the first few years of the program (2016–2018) the program offered formal coursework related to the biology and social aspects of aging, research in aging, and professional development. A number of our students needed specific writing skills development. Additionally, in 2018 fellows completing their second summer of research training, which takes place prior to their senior year of college, requested additional time and support to prepare personal statements for graduate and medical school applications. In response, program staff introduced the writing skills course in summer 2019 as a core component of the comprehensive institutional research education program. This writing skills course aims to prepare emerging aging researchers to write more effectively for individuals, groups, organizations, communities and colleagues and to improve writing skills needed for graduate program admissions, scholarship applications and other opportunities.

We hoped that students who actively participated in the course would improve their writing skills and be better prepared for advanced studies in STEM fields related to aging. Specific aims of the course are for students to: (1) increase their confidence related to professional writing; (2) organize written documents clearly and effectively; (3) substantiate arguments using appropriate evidence; (4) develop a clear, concise writing style; (5) produce effective academic, research and e-communication documents; and (6) adhere to strong ethical values related to writing and written communication.

The writing skills course is delivered through lectures and discussion. The primary method of instruction is interactive, with hands-on writing activities both in and out of class, coupled with critical feedback and review from classmates and the course instructor. The course instructor is a White female doctoral student who has experience teaching graduate-level writing students at the PWI research institution. At the conclusion of this course students will have completed two five-paragraph essays related to an aging topic of interest and one personal statement. These high-quality products can be adapted for graduate or medical school applications, fellowship or scholarship applications, and many other opportunities for professional advancement.

This qualitative research study analyzed the individual experiences and perceptions of a small number of students participating in a professional writing course contextualized within (1) their participation in a comprehensive advancing diversity in aging research intervention program, (2) their prior educational and professional writing experiences, and (3) their future educational/professional ambitions. This focus is consistent with that promoted by Smith et al. ( 17 ) and Yin ( 18 ). Data were collected through semi-structured phone interviews from senior fellows ( n = 4) who participated in the writing course during the second summer of the 2-year program. Similar to Ory et al. ( 19 ), the authors believe that the case study approach we have taken can contribute importantly to the development of other evidence-based programs and practices ( 17 , 19 , 20 ). Although n = 4 is a small sample size, the number of participants is appropriate for community case studies ( 18 , 21 – 23 ). All study procedures were approved by the University of South Carolina Institutional Review Board.

Researchers developed a codebook using inductive thematic analysis and iteratively analyzed each transcript, revising the codebook until no new themes emerged. Transcript data were coded by the first and second authors using a process of first-cycle, second-cycle axial coding ( 24 ). Analyses were conducted in NVivo-12 and theme prevalence was determined using a conceptual cluster matrix table ( 25 , 26 ). As the experts of their experiences, students can provide valuable information about their educational and professional experiences in an effort to improve their writing skills and academic and career readiness.

All participants were young adult college students who identified as Black or African American and female. Statements about professional writing skills were divided into four primary themes: (1) prior writing preparedness, (2) current writing preparedness, (3) writing goals and ambitions, and (4) structural considerations.

Prior Experiences

Statements under the theme of “prior writing preparedness” describe situations that took place prior to participating in the summer writing class, such as high school and college coursework. Some students felt equipped to engage in graduate-level academic writing because they were well-prepared by high school and college classes. One student described doing well in high school with minimal effort but experienced a more rigorous writing environment with more critical feedback at her undergraduate institution:

“ For me, I feel like high school was super easy. I was in all the hardest classes, you didn't have to study for anything. So I got into college and I'm getting my paper slashed up. I had to study hard. Because now I always study like real hard, so I think I definitely got humbled freshman year, learning that this is like the big leagues now. It's not the same. Going from school to school, I think it's natural.”

Another student also stated that her undergraduate institution prepared her well for college-level writing, but not for doctoral-level writing skills toward which she is working. Although the summer writing class was similar to writing classes she had taken at her undergraduate institution and she experienced some overlap in instruction, she still found the course useful:

“ I'm not one to say that I'm a strong writer. So all writing for me is crucial. So anytime that I can practice my writing skills and actually have someone read it, and actually give me feedback on what I need to work on, is great. So I do not mind the repetitiveness because my writing is not PhD-level, for example. It's like a college-level, which is where I was but I want it to be PhD level, so I didn't mind the repetition.”

Other students felt that their high school and college learning experiences did not prepare them to engage in graduate-level academic writing skills. For example, one student described how her college English composition course was a positive experience but that the class was not completely focused on writing:

“ We wrote papers but it was only like, two and… we also did a lot more presentations, for example we had to create a poster or something like that for my English Comp as a grade instead of actually writing a paper.”

Another student had a similar experience:

“ I learned a lot in [the professional development classes] because honestly even though I took English my first year of college, I think I learned more in my writing class over the summer than in my first year at college… my English class here wasn't a terrible class, I just felt like it wasn't as useful as the writing class I had last summer.”

One student described how her experiences in an underfunded, racially-separated public education system influenced her writing skills training and the opportunities she was exposed to as a high school student:

“ I know particularly in my community… a lot of the Black schools didn't have the same things as the white schools. The white schools were private schools, people would pay to send their white kids to these private schools just so they wouldn't have to intermingle with the Black people in the community. Within the white schools they have a lot of money from the county that they receive, it goes to the white schools first and then it was like the leftovers, even though there was more of us than them…. So our books are old and half the time the computers don't work. It's just really frustrating and I feel like if I would have went to a private school I probably would have had a better chance. Even in high school I didn't have teachers that look like me. They were from different programs because our county couldn't really afford to pay teachers so we would get these mediocre teachers who are usually white or another race…. I feel like if I went to a different school I probably would have had a better chance. More exposure to different opportunities and stuff like that.”

Current Writing Preparedness

Statements under the theme of “current writing preparedness” reflected what happened during the summer writing class, such as the writing projects they completed, their feelings about writing, and their skills related to writing. Students revealed specific skills they learned through the summer writing course including writing clearer, writing stronger, engaging in scholarly debate, seeking and incorporating critical feedback, and improved confidence.

One student described how completing assignments allowed her to craft a scholarly argument, engage meaningfully with feedback and write clearly and concisely using simple language:

“ We had, I believe it was two essays and a personal statement. I believe. Both of them were persuasive variety, trying to prove a point and the personal statement was totally up to us. We had deadlines that we had to meet. Our writing teacher gave us really great feedback. She'd tells what we could have done better, what we done wrong, what we done right, what we need to include as far as content, grammar, punctuation, all of that stuff. We learned different types of writing and how to approach them and how to recognize those different types of writing. We also learned how to breakdown articles… and not to sound where we were trying to sound overly smart, but just enough so that the reader could understand what we're trying to say.”

Every student mentioned the benefit of engaging with feedback from the instructor and/or their peers during the summer writing course. The following is a story about how the course impacted a student's perspective about critical feedback and writing skill confidence:

One student described feeling nervous to send an advisor her paper. This student felt “ a little- not uncomfortable-but just nervous, I just knew that paper was going to get sliced up, which it did. But that's just how it goes. But I wasn't uncomfortable, just nervous that someone was going to read my paper and analyze what I did and if I did it right and stuff like that.” But after the summer writing course she felt more comfortable opening herself up to feedback: “ It made my nerves go away, because now I understand, okay, the paper is not going to come out perfect the first time you write it. So it made me stronger, because now I write what I can, or write what I think is best or whatever, and then I just send it off with no regrets. And if it comes back and it has questions or feedback or if she sliced it up, then I just read the feedback, or even with [the writing course instructor] reading my personal statement, when people give me feedback, it makes me think, ‘Okay, maybe that did sound weird, or that did sound awkward. I should have changed this around.' So now I'm more open to it, and not so afraid. I think before I was like, ‘Oh, I don't want them to think I can't write.' Everybody has a hard time writing, especially when it comes to, like, scientific writing….So I feel like that's the hardest thing for me now, to [receive] criticism, when I'm just like, okay, I'm here, it's for me.”

When asked if she felt comfortable sharing her writing with other people, one student responded:

“ At first, I wasn't. But now I'm more open to share it with other people because I feel like I'm better at receiving feedback and how to incorporate in writing teams now, rather than how I was before.”

Because the class was very small, fellows received individualized writing skills coaching with specific deadlines for submissions and resubmissions. One student described the class size as follows:

“ I think it was because of the class size and how productive it was. I guess when we have deadlines we're adamant about meeting those deadlines over the summer… we were actually writing things that we needed. It had [tips] to make our writing better.”

Writing Goals and Ambitions

Statements under the theme of “writing goals and ambitions” include students' descriptions of writing-related future goals and ambitions and ways in which writing will help them achieve those goals. Because completing a personal statement was one course requirement, this empowered students to meet the short-term goal of applying to graduate school programs. Two different students described the personal statement requirement as follows:

“ I like how they incorporated the writing class because as a rising senior at the time, I know that I needed to complete my graduate school application and just different things that gave an extra push to start off the academic year with.” “ If it wasn't for [the writing class and the professional development class] I wouldn't even have applied early to my programs because by me actually doing my personal statement and taking the GRE when I actually got to school in August I didn't feel overwhelmed like some of my other classmates. So, I was already steps ahead, more steps ahead than the others. So that was really good, I would say my senior year with the program, it was very beneficial.”

Other students described ways in which the skills they learned in the writing skills course would support a variety of academic, research and professional long-term goals:

“ I'm going to need to write personal statements. I'm going to have to do dissertations, I'm going to have to write grants one day. I'm going to have to do all of these different things and [if] I don't know how to do professional writing. I'm not going to be able to do any of those.” “ I'm really trying to help [mentor] with this so I can get a publication before going into grad school,” she described how she used writing skills to write the literature review for the manuscript she is writing with her mentor. She also described how the writing skills will be useful in graduate school : “I have to be able to write a whole dissertation, with [research area]- it's just so big it has a lot of writing.” “ Writing is everything that a [healthcare provider] does. So, in class you learn document, document, document, which means you have to effectively, efficiently and in the most simplest way, write exactly what's wrong with an issue or a problem, something you've seen. You have to write down everything. If you don't know how to write it and get your point across in one or two sentences, then somebody else isn't going to have time to read a paragraph worth of things. So something that I learned in class that actually translates to what I'm doing now is getting your point across quickly, and then later you can elaborate on that point. But don't take seven sentences to say you walked down the street.”

Structural Considerations

Statements under the theme of “structural considerations” describe structural factors that influence their experience in the STEM scholars program both societally (e.g., at systematic levels) and personally. Most of the students mentioned that being an HBCU student at a PWI was a culture shock given their cultural upbringing and previous educational experiences.

The following is a story about how the campus environment and social norms of a PWI impacted a student's experience in the summer program:

“ When I got to [PWI-redacted] it was very different, it was very different. Because in [HBCU-redacted] everyone was really friendly, everybody is speaking even when they don't know each other. And you know [PWI-redacted] it was just very different, the atmosphere, when people walk, they just don't say, “Excuse me.” They just bump into you, they're not friendly. So, that was a shocker to me. I would speak and they would just look at me like I'm crazy.”

The student also discussed feeling conflicted about attending a PWI for graduate school given her previous summer experience.

“ So now that I'm actually going to PWI for grad school, I don't know what to expect. I can code switch but I just feel like it's going to be very different because I'm a very friendly person.”

Another student shared her experience of being an HBCU student at a PWI and feeling the pressure to not appear as a “stereotype” about her racial group while on campus.

“ Well, it was a culture shock for me. Only because I came from an all-black elementary, an all-black middle and high and I came through an HBCU, so everyone that I've ever known has looked like me. Then when I got on [PWI-redacted] campus and I saw all of the Caucasian people, I was a little shocked because it was like I didn't want to seem like a stereotype. Because what I was comfortable with doing, I didn't want to make other people uncomfortable with how I look and that was never a concern for me and over the summer it became one. The second summer it got easier because I already knew what to expect, but walking around on campus, it was a shock.” However, the student felt the summer program and campus experience at a PWI exposed her to the realities of graduate education and the job market as a minority. “ I feel like it's kind of prepared me for it because I know that as you go higher in the rank, unfortunately there's not going to be a lot of people... I'm not going to see a lot of people that look like me and that within itself is intimidating. I feel like this experience that I had over the past two summers at [PWI-redacted] will help me get more comfortable with the idea that it's okay and that I am now part of the minority again, when, my entire life I felt like the majority.”

All of the students mentioned that the underrepresentation of racially and ethnically diverse professionals and leaders in their respective fields influenced their decision to pursue graduate studies and careers in science and aging. One student described how the lack of African American (AA) female doctors in health care settings motivated her to pursue a graduate degree in public health.

“ I guess that it's just not diversity in science and in public health period. And that just makes me go harder with this public health degree because when I actually talked to the people this summer with my research, they feel better if they see people that they look like. And that thought would lead to when I go to doctors, I preferably want to see an African American woman doctor but it's almost where we just lack it.”

All students described the importance of feeling comfortable. One student described how diversity in science and aging related fields can help increase patients' level comfort and the quality of service they receive.

“ And if you're talking to someone that looks like you, then I feel like you'll always feel a little more comfortable. And if there's no diversity, then they're not being given the opportunity or fair chance. Then it's like you're never going to get to see a difference, or even know if that would make a difference.”

Another student described a similar perspective:

“ I feel like it would make people more comfortable to want to go into health care. I feel most comfortable if I actually see someone that looks like me because it's like a connection there; I feel like they will be very relatable.”

For students who felt well-prepared by previous writing education experiences, the writing to advance diversity in aging research course elevated their writing skills to the next level: supporting advancement from competitive undergraduate-level writers, to competitive graduate-level writers. For students who described feeling under-prepared by the writing instruction they received in high school and college, this course provided instruction on basic skills including grammar and sentence structure, as well as more advanced professional writing skills. This case study suggests that the success of the writing course was due to the individualized instruction method, which relied heavily on instructor feedback and iterative coaching to improve student skills.

Through writing classes, students gained experience completing specific assignments and editing those assignments based on feedback and peer review. These assignments allowed students to gain the skills necessary to engage meaningfully with critical feedback, participate in a scholarly debate with peers and mentors, and write more clearly and concisely. Students also gained more confidence in their ability to write. This confidence, coupled with increased writing skills and willingness to engage in critical feedback, will support students as they apply to, and begin graduate school programs.

Students reported that participating in the advancing diversity for aging research writing class supported both their short-term and long-term goals. Because completing a personal statement for graduate school was a core course requirement, students were able to begin their senior year at their undergraduate institution more prepared to begin applying for higher education programs. Gaining writing skills, gaining confidence, and gaining willingness to engage with critical feedback will support a variety of long-term goals including collaborating on publishable academic manuscripts, securing scholarships, fellowships and grants, writing graduate or doctoral level theses, and successfully engaging in a variety of research and professional activities.

Finally, students reported that the lack of racially and ethnically diverse professionals in their fields significantly influenced their decision to pursue graduate studies and careers in science and aging. With demographics in the US shifting rapidly—becoming older and more racially and ethnically diverse (i.e., “graying and browning”) ( 1 , 2 )—students underscore the need for more representation of racially and ethnically diverse professionals in science and aging specializations. Increasing diversity in science and aging related fields yields opportunities to challenge longstanding disparities impacting diverse populations and promote innovative solutions for equitable, culturally responsive services.

Limitations

Though this study provides important insights into the experiences of Black undergraduate students in a PWI-based academic preparatory program, it does not include the experience of other underrepresented minority groups. Future research is needed to understand and examine how the experiences of the students in the sample compare to students from various racial and ethnic minority groups enrolled in academic preparatory programs.

Conclusions and Implications

Individually tailored professional writing instruction offers a unique opportunity to prepare racially and ethnically diverse students for successful entry into graduate school and a distinguished advanced academic trajectory. For students attending HBCUs who plan to apply to graduate-level programs at PWIs, professional writing instruction may bridge gaps for both students who feel prepared and for students who feel unprepared. For students who already feel prepared for advanced graduate study, this course provides an opportunity to review and sharpen basic skills, reinforcing the idea that anyone can become a stronger, clearer writer. The course also provides an opportunity to prepare for writing experiences in a more rigorous, graduate-level learning environment, such as giving and receiving critical feedback and engaging in a written scholarly debate. For students who feel unprepared for advanced graduate study, the course provides remedial instruction on basic skills and responsive, iterative feedback to improve writing confidence as well as writing skills.

Future studies seeking to implement an PWI-based academic preparatory program in partnership with HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions should take in consideration the historical contexts of these institutions, including the cultural experiences they provide to students. In addition, future research on the impact of a personalized writing course for racially and ethnically diverse students is needed to assess the effectiveness and validity of such preparatory course in increasing students' writing development and readiness for graduate school and professional careers in aging and related fields.

Data Availability Statement

Ethics statement.

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by University of South Carolina Institutional Review Board. Written informed consent for participation was not required for this study in accordance with the national legislation and the institutional requirements.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.

The research reported in this publication was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Aging (R25AG050484).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

importance of research skills in academic writing

Introduction to research skills: Home

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importance of research skills in academic writing

Research skills allow you to find information and use it effectively. It includes creating a strategy to gather facts and reach conclusions so that you can answer a question.

Starting your research

think about your topic – don’t be too vague or too specific (try mind mapping or keyword searching).

read broadly around your subject (don’t just use Google and Wikipedia). Think about a research question that is clearly structured and builds on literature already produced.

find information using the subject databases. View the Database Orientation Program to learn about databases and using search strategies to refine your search and limit results. View our library tutorial on planning your literature search and look at our library subject guides for resources on your specific topic.

Another good starting point for finding information is our library catalogue Library Search  which allows you to search across the library's electronic resources as well as major subject databases and indexes.

carry out a literature review . You may want to include journals, books, websites, grey literature or data and statistics for example. See the list of sources below for more information. Keep a record and organise your references and sources. If you are intending to carry out a systematic review then take a look at the systematic review page on our Research Support library guide.

evaluate your resources – use the CRAAP test (Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose - watch the video, top right). 

reach considered conclusions and make recommendations where necessary.

Your research journey

Your research journey.

Why do I need research skills?

they enable you to locate appropriate information and evaluate it for quality and relevance

they allow you to make good use of information to resolve a problem

they give you the ability to synthesize and communicate your ideas in written and spoken formats

they foster critical thinking

they are highly transferable and can be adapted to many settings including the workplace

You can access more in depth information on areas such as primary research, literature reviews, research methods, and managing data, from the drop down headings under Research Skills on the Academic Skills home page. The related resources in the right-hand column of this page also contain useful supporting information.

  • Conference proceedings
  • Data & statistics
  • Grey literature
  • Official publications

Books are good for exploring new subject areas. They help define a topic and provide an in-depth account of a subject.

Scholarly books contain authoritative information including comprehensive accounts of research or scholarship and experts' views on themes and topics. Their bibliographies can lead readers to related books, articles and other sources. 

Details on the electronic books held by the University of Southampton can be found using the library catalogue .

Journals are quicker to publish than books and are often a good source of current information. They are useful when you require information to support an argument or original research written by subject experts.  The bibliographies at the end of journal articles should point you to other relevant research.

Academic journals go through a "peer-review" process. A peer-reviewed journal is one whose articles are checked by experts, so you can be more confident that the information they contain is reliable.

The Library's discovery service Library Search  is a good place to start when searching for journal articles and enables access to anything that is available electronically.

Newspapers enable you to follow current and historical events from multiple perspectives. They are an excellent record of political, social, cultural, and economic events and history.

Newspapers are popular rather than scholarly publications and their content needs to be treated with caution. For example, an account of a particular topic can be biased in favour of that newspaper’s political affiliation or point of view. Always double-check the data/statistics or any other piece of information that a newspaper has used to support an argument before you quote it in your own work.

The library subscribes to various resources which provide full-text access to both current and historical newspapers. Find out more about these on the Library's Newspaper Resources page.

Websites provide information about every topic imaginable, and many will be relevant to your studies.

Use websites with caution as anyone can publish on the Internet and therefore the quality of the information provided is variable. When you’re researching and come across a website you think might be useful, consider whether or not it provides information that is reliable and authoritative enough to use in your work.

Proceedings are collections of papers presented by researchers at academic conferences or symposia. They may be printed volumes or in electronic format.

You can use the information in conference proceedings with a high degree of confidence as the quality is ensured by having external experts read & review the papers before they are accepted in the proceedings.

Find the data and statistics you need, from economics to health, environment to oceanography - and everywhere between - http://library.soton.ac.uk/data .

Grey literature is the term given to non-traditional publications (material not published by mainstream publishers). For example - leaflets, reports, conference proceedings, government documents, preprints, theses, clinical trials, blogs, tweets, etc.. 

The majority of Grey literature is generally not peer-reviewed so it is very important to critically appraise any grey literature before using it.

Most aspects of life are touched by national governments, or by inter-governmental bodies such as the European Union or the United Nations.  Official publications are the documentary evidence of that interest. 

Our main printed collections and online services are for British and EU official publications, but we can give advice on accessing official publications from other places and organisations. Find out more from our web pages  http://library.soton.ac.uk/officialpublications .

Patents protect inventions - the owner can stop other people making, using or selling the item without their permission. This applies for a limited period and a separate application is needed for each country.

Patents can be useful since they contain full technical details on how an invention works. If you use an active patent outside of research - permission or a license is probably needed.

importance of research skills in academic writing

Related resources:

Checking for CRAAP - UMW New Media Archive

How to Develop a STRONG Research Question - Scribbr

Guide to dissertation and project writing - by University of Southampton (Enabling Services)

Guide to writing your dissertation - by the Royal Literary Fund  

Guidance on the Conduct of Narrative Synthesis in Systematic Reviews  - by ESRC Methods Programme

Guidelines for preparing a Research Proposal - by University of Southampton

Choosing good keywords - by the Open University

Developing a Research or Guided Question  - a self-guided tutorial produced by Arizona State University

Evaluating information - a 7 minute tutorial from the University of Southampton which covers thinking critically, and understanding how to find quality and reliable information.

Hints on conducting a literature review  - by the University of Toronto

Planning your literature search  - a short tutorial by the University of Southampton

Using Overleaf for scientific writing and publishing  -  a popular  LaTeX/Rich Text based online collaborative tool for students and researchers alike. It is designed to make the process of writing, editing, and producing scientific papers quicker and easier for authors. 

Systematic reviews  - by the University of Southampton. 

Create your own research proposal - by the University of Southampton

  • Last Updated: Mar 13, 2024 3:14 PM
  • URL: https://library.soton.ac.uk/sash/introduction-to-research-skills

Englist

What is academic writing and why is it important?

Dec 27, 2020 | Academic Writing , College Applications , Englist blog , TOEFL Prep | 0 comments

Academic writing has become an increasingly important part of education as parents and educators realize the value of critical thinking skills and preparing students for college. 

Still, many students, parents, and even other teachers don’t have a great grasp on this area of learning and why it is so critical.

As such, at Englist we find it is important to not only teach academic writing, but also help everyone understand why it is imperative to the development of thoughtful and capable students.

What is academic writing?

First, what is academic writing? Most students see writing as something they just have to do because a teacher says so, and it becomes a painful and time-consuming assignment. Our mission is to end this kind of thinking.

Simply put, academic writing is teaching students how to write essays. That sounds pretty simple, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Essay writing is the process of sharing complex ideas, thoughts, or opinions. Writers learn to construct a rather complicated argument or explanation by combining sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into an essay.

Academic writing demands writers become clear in their explanations and reasoning, direct in their communication, and most importantly, able to make readers understand their topic and thesis.

An Idea!

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Master the Art of Writing Scientific Abstracts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on mastering the art of writing scientific abstracts. In the realm of academia and research, crafting a concise and impactful abstract is a crucial skill. An abstract serves as a window into your research, providing a snapshot of your study’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the essential components of a well-crafted scientific abstract, offering tips on how to effectively summarize your work while capturing the interest of your audience. Whether you are a seasoned researcher looking to enhance your abstract writing skills or a novice seeking guidance, this guide is designed to help you navigate the intricacies of abstract writing with confidence. By the end of this journey, you will be equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to create compelling and informative scientific abstracts that stand out in the academic landscape.

Key Elements of a Scientific Abstract

When it comes to scientific writing, one of the most crucial components is the abstract. An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper or article that helps readers quickly understand the purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions of the study. In this section, we will explore the key elements that make up a well-crafted scientific abstract.

Structure and Format

The structure of a scientific abstract typically includes sections such as background or introduction, methods, results, and conclusions. It is essential to follow a clear and logical sequence to ensure that the abstract effectively communicates the key points of the research.

Content and Style

The content of a scientific abstract should provide a brief overview of the research topic, the methods used to conduct the study, the results obtained, and the implications of the findings. It is important to be concise yet informative, using specific details to convey the main points of the research.

Writing Style Tips

When writing a scientific abstract, it is important to use clear and precise language. Avoid unnecessary jargon or technical terms that may confuse readers. Focus on presenting the key findings and their significance in a straightforward manner. Additionally, pay attention to the word limit specified by the journal or conference where you plan to submit your abstract.

Importance of Keywords

Including relevant keywords in your scientific abstract is crucial for increasing the visibility and discoverability of your research. Keywords help researchers searching for related work to find your abstract easily. Choose keywords that accurately reflect the main themes and findings of your study.

Impact Statement

Adding an impact statement to your scientific abstract can enhance its effectiveness. An impact statement briefly describes the significance of your research and its potential contributions to the field. This statement can help readers quickly grasp the importance of your work.

Clarity and Precision

Clarity and precision are key aspects of a well-written scientific abstract. Ensure that each sentence conveys a clear message and contributes to the overall coherence of the abstract. Avoid ambiguity and vague language that may obscure the main points of the research.

By incorporating these additional elements into your scientific abstract, you can elevate the quality and impact of your writing, making it more compelling and engaging for your audience.

Tips for Writing Effective Scientific Abstracts

When it comes to writing effective scientific abstracts, there are several practical tips that can significantly enhance the quality and impact of your work. One key tip is to practice and learn from examples. By studying well-crafted abstracts from reputable journals, you can gain insights into effective structure, language use, and content selection. This practice not only helps you understand the nuances of abstract writing but also exposes you to different styles and approaches that can inspire your own work. Moreover, analyzing successful abstracts can provide a roadmap for organizing your own research in a compelling and coherent manner. It allows you to see how other researchers have succinctly summarized their work while capturing the essence of their findings. Learning from examples is an iterative process that can refine your abstract-writing skills over time.

Avoid Jargon and Complex Language

In addition to learning from examples, another crucial tip is to avoid jargon and complex language. While it’s important to demonstrate your expertise in a particular field, using overly technical terms or convoluted language can alienate readers who may not be familiar with the specific terminology. Strive to strike a balance between showcasing your knowledge and ensuring that your abstract is accessible to a wider audience. Consider the primary goal of an abstract: to concisely convey the key points of your research in a manner that is easily digestible. By simplifying your language and focusing on clarity, you can make your abstract more engaging and impactful.

Incorporate Case Study Illustrations

Furthermore, incorporating case study illustrations can enhance the effectiveness of your scientific abstract. Visual representations of your research findings can provide a tangible context for readers, helping them visualize the practical implications of your work. Whether through graphs, charts, or diagrams, case study illustrations offer a visual narrative that complements the textual content of your abstract. These visual aids not only break up the text and make it more visually appealing but also reinforce the key messages you want to convey. When used thoughtfully, case study illustrations can strengthen the overall impact of your abstract and leave a lasting impression on readers.

Writing an effective scientific abstract requires a combination of practice, clarity, and visual communication. By learning from examples, avoiding jargon, and incorporating case study illustrations, you can craft abstracts that effectively communicate the significance of your research and engage a diverse audience.

Developing Abstract Writing Skills

Abstract writing is a crucial skill for researchers and academics. It serves as a concise summary of a research paper, enabling readers to quickly grasp the purpose and findings of the study. Here are two key points to consider when developing abstract writing skills:.

Skill Development Exercise: Abstract writing can be honed through practice. Researchers can benefit from regularly summarizing their research in a clear and concise manner. This exercise helps in distilling complex ideas into a brief format, improving communication skills.

Importance of Abstracts in Research Papers: Abstracts play a vital role in academic publications. They are often the first point of contact between the reader and the research, influencing the decision to read the full paper. A well-crafted abstract can attract more readers and increase the visibility and impact of the research.

In addition to the points mentioned above, developing abstract writing skills involves understanding the specific components that make up a good abstract. These components typically include a brief introduction to the research topic, a statement of the research problem or question, a summary of the methodology used, a presentation of the key results or findings, and a conclusion that highlights the significance of the study.

Furthermore, mastering abstract writing also requires the ability to tailor the abstract to different audiences and publication requirements. Researchers must be able to adjust the tone, level of detail, and emphasis in their abstracts based on whether they are submitting to a scientific journal, presenting at a conference, or writing for a general audience.

Another important aspect of abstract writing is the use of keywords. Including relevant keywords in an abstract can improve the discoverability of the research and help it reach a wider audience. Researchers should carefully select keywords that accurately reflect the content of their study and are commonly used in their field.

Overall, honing abstract writing skills is a continuous process that involves practice, attention to detail, and an understanding of the target audience. By mastering the art of crafting effective abstracts, researchers can enhance the impact of their work and contribute meaningfully to their respective fields of study.

Mastering the art of writing scientific abstracts is a crucial skill for PhD students embarking on their publication journey. By following a structured approach that includes key sections like Background, Research Questions, Methods, Results, and Conclusions, one can create a concise yet engaging summary of their study. Clarity and simplicity are paramount in ensuring broader understanding among readers. To hone this skill, analyzing abstracts from scientific articles in the field and practicing consistently is recommended. For a detailed guide on crafting effective scientific abstracts, visit. Avidnote’s guide on writing scientific abstracts . Start perfecting your abstract writing skills today for impactful research communication.

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Library Connect

Building skills for your career: Academic writing skills are career skills

  • by The Library
  • posted May 30, 2024
  • Researchers Students

importance of research skills in academic writing

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Academic writing is a versatile career skill that allows you to communicate clearly, concisely, professionally and effectively. By developing strong writing abilities you will be able to convey your ideas, knowledge and successfully collaborate with others in your professional life.  

Not quite sure what academic writing is? Have a look at some examples, along with grammar tips on the Write with academic style webpage.  

Academic writing requires correct referencing. Once you know which style you need to use (hint: check your course site and assignment instructions), refer to the Library Referencing guide s for correct formatting and examples.  

You can take advantage of our Griffith Mentors for help with writing and general university skills throughout the semester. Times and locations can be found on the Griffith Mentors Study Support webpage.  

Studying a postgraduate program? Check out Academic writing for researchers and learn how to write for particular styles and formats such as: research proposals, literature reviews, thesis, creative practice exegesis, articles, reports and research blogs.   

Want help with your academic writing? Book a session with a Learning Adviser for writing help, a Librarian for referencing guidance or attend a Library workshop .  

For international students who have English has a second language, EnglishHELP  provide one-on-one support to help develop and support academic writing. Visit the EnglishHELP website to book a consultation.  

Lastly, you can download this Academic Writing Checklist to keep you on track as you progress in your professional life.  

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Academic Essay Writing Made Simple: 4 types and tips

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The pen is mightier than the sword, they say, and nowhere is this more evident than in academia. From the quick scribbles of eager students to the inquisitive thoughts of renowned scholars, academic essays depict the power of the written word. These well-crafted writings propel ideas forward and expand the existing boundaries of human intellect.

What is an Academic Essay

An academic essay is a nonfictional piece of writing that analyzes and evaluates an argument around a specific topic or research question. It serves as a medium to share the author’s views and is also used by institutions to assess the critical thinking, research skills, and writing abilities of a students and researchers.  

Importance of Academic Essays

4 main types of academic essays.

While academic essays may vary in length, style, and purpose, they generally fall into four main categories. Despite their differences, these essay types share a common goal: to convey information, insights, and perspectives effectively.

1. Expository Essay

2. Descriptive Essay

3. Narrative Essay

4. Argumentative Essay

Expository and persuasive essays mainly deal with facts to explain ideas clearly. Narrative and descriptive essays are informal and have a creative edge. Despite their differences, these essay types share a common goal ― to convey information, insights, and perspectives effectively.

Expository Essays: Illuminating ideas

An expository essay is a type of academic writing that explains, illustrates, or clarifies a particular subject or idea. Its primary purpose is to inform the reader by presenting a comprehensive and objective analysis of a topic.

By breaking down complex topics into digestible pieces and providing relevant examples and explanations, expository essays allow writers to share their knowledge.

What are the Key Features of an Expository Essay

importance of research skills in academic writing

Provides factual information without bias

importance of research skills in academic writing

Presents multiple viewpoints while maintaining objectivity

importance of research skills in academic writing

Uses direct and concise language to ensure clarity for the reader

importance of research skills in academic writing

Composed of a logical structure with an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion

When is an expository essay written.

1. For academic assignments to evaluate the understanding of research skills.

2. As instructional content to provide step-by-step guidance for tasks or problem-solving.

3. In journalism for objective reporting in news or investigative pieces.

4. As a form of communication in the professional field to convey factual information in business or healthcare.

How to Write an Expository Essay

Expository essays are typically structured in a logical and organized manner.

1. Topic Selection and Research

  • Choose a topic that can be explored objectively
  • Gather relevant facts and information from credible sources
  • Develop a clear thesis statement

2. Outline and Structure

  • Create an outline with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion
  • Introduce the topic and state the thesis in the introduction
  • Dedicate each body paragraph to a specific point supporting the thesis
  • Use transitions to maintain a logical flow

3. Objective and Informative Writing

  • Maintain an impartial and informative tone
  • Avoid personal opinions or biases
  • Support points with factual evidence, examples, and explanations

4. Conclusion

  • Summarize the key points
  • Reinforce the significance of the thesis

Descriptive Essays: Painting with words

Descriptive essays transport readers into vivid scenes, allowing them to experience the world through the writer ‘s lens. These essays use rich sensory details, metaphors, and figurative language to create a vivid and immersive experience . Its primary purpose is to engage readers’ senses and imagination.

It allows writers to demonstrate their ability to observe and describe subjects with precision and creativity.

What are the Key Features of Descriptive Essay

importance of research skills in academic writing

Employs figurative language and imagery to paint a vivid picture for the reader

importance of research skills in academic writing

Demonstrates creativity and expressiveness in narration

importance of research skills in academic writing

Includes close attention to detail, engaging the reader’s senses

importance of research skills in academic writing

Engages the reader’s imagination and emotions through immersive storytelling using analogies, metaphors, similes, etc.

When is a descriptive essay written.

1. Personal narratives or memoirs that describe significant events, people, or places.

2. Travel writing to capture the essence of a destination or experience.

3. Character sketches in fiction writing to introduce and describe characters.

4. Poetry or literary analyses to explore the use of descriptive language and imagery.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

The descriptive essay lacks a defined structural requirement but typically includes: an introduction introducing the subject, a thorough description, and a concluding summary with insightful reflection.

1. Subject Selection and Observation

  • Choose a subject (person, place, object, or experience) to describe
  • Gather sensory details and observations

2. Engaging Introduction

  • Set the scene and provide the context
  • Use of descriptive language and figurative techniques

3. Descriptive Body Paragraphs

  • Focus on specific aspects or details of the subject
  • Engage the reader ’s senses with vivid imagery and descriptions
  • Maintain a consistent tone and viewpoint

4. Impactful Conclusion

  • Provide a final impression or insight
  • Leave a lasting impact on the reader

Narrative Essays: Storytelling in Action

Narrative essays are personal accounts that tell a story, often drawing from the writer’s own experiences or observations. These essays rely on a well-structured plot, character development, and vivid descriptions to engage readers and convey a deeper meaning or lesson.

What are the Key features of Narrative Essays

importance of research skills in academic writing

Written from a first-person perspective and hence subjective

importance of research skills in academic writing

Based on real personal experiences

importance of research skills in academic writing

Uses an informal and expressive tone

importance of research skills in academic writing

Presents events and characters in sequential order

When is a narrative essay written.

It is commonly assigned in high school and college writing courses to assess a student’s ability to convey a meaningful message or lesson through a personal narrative. They are written in situations where a personal experience or story needs to be recounted, such as:

1. Reflective essays on significant life events or personal growth.

2. Autobiographical writing to share one’s life story or experiences.

3. Creative writing exercises to practice narrative techniques and character development.

4. College application essays to showcase personal qualities and experiences.

How to Write a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays typically follow a chronological structure, with an introduction that sets the scene, a body that develops the plot and characters, and a conclusion that provides a sense of resolution or lesson learned.

1. Experience Selection and Reflection

  • Choose a significant personal experience or event
  • Reflect on the impact and deeper meaning

2. Immersive Introduction

  • Introduce characters and establish the tone and point of view

3. Plotline and Character Development

  • Advance   the  plot and character development through body paragraphs
  • Incorporate dialog , conflict, and resolution
  • Maintain a logical and chronological flow

4. Insightful Conclusion

  • Reflect on lessons learned or insights gained
  • Leave the reader with a lasting impression

Argumentative Essays: Persuasion and Critical Thinking

Argumentative essays are the quintessential form of academic writing in which writers present a clear thesis and support it with well-researched evidence and logical reasoning. These essays require a deep understanding of the topic, critical analysis of multiple perspectives, and the ability to construct a compelling argument.

What are the Key Features of an Argumentative Essay?

importance of research skills in academic writing

Logical and well-structured arguments

importance of research skills in academic writing

Credible and relevant evidence from reputable sources

importance of research skills in academic writing

Consideration and refutation of counterarguments

importance of research skills in academic writing

Critical analysis and evaluation of the issue 

When is an argumentative essay written.

Argumentative essays are written to present a clear argument or stance on a particular issue or topic. In academic settings they are used to develop critical thinking, research, and persuasive writing skills. However, argumentative essays can also be written in various other contexts, such as:

1. Opinion pieces or editorials in newspapers, magazines, or online publications.

2. Policy proposals or position papers in government, nonprofit, or advocacy settings.

3. Persuasive speeches or debates in academic, professional, or competitive environments.

4. Marketing or advertising materials to promote a product, service, or idea.

How to write an Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays begin with an introduction that states the thesis and provides context. The body paragraphs develop the argument with evidence, address counterarguments, and use logical reasoning. The conclusion restates the main argument and makes a final persuasive appeal.

  • Choose a debatable and controversial issue
  • Conduct thorough research and gather evidence and counterarguments

2. Thesis and Introduction

  • Craft a clear and concise thesis statement
  • Provide background information and establish importance

3. Structured Body Paragraphs

  • Focus each paragraph on a specific aspect of the argument
  • Support with logical reasoning, factual evidence, and refutation

4. Persuasive Techniques

  • Adopt a formal and objective tone
  • Use persuasive techniques (rhetorical questions, analogies, appeals)

5. Impactful Conclusion

  • Summarize the main points
  • Leave the reader with a strong final impression and call to action

To learn more about argumentative essay, check out this article .

5 Quick Tips for Researchers to Improve Academic Essay Writing Skills

importance of research skills in academic writing

Use clear and concise language to convey ideas effectively without unnecessary words

importance of research skills in academic writing

Use well-researched, credible sources to substantiate your arguments with data, expert opinions, and scholarly references

importance of research skills in academic writing

Ensure a coherent structure with effective transitions, clear topic sentences, and a logical flow to enhance readability 

importance of research skills in academic writing

To elevate your academic essay, consider submitting your draft to a community-based platform like Open Platform  for editorial review 

importance of research skills in academic writing

Review your work multiple times for clarity, coherence, and adherence to academic guidelines to ensure a polished final product

By mastering the art of academic essay writing, researchers and scholars can effectively communicate their ideas, contribute to the advancement of knowledge, and engage in meaningful scholarly discourse.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Glossary of research terms.

  • Purpose of Guide
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This glossary is intended to assist you in understanding commonly used terms and concepts when reading, interpreting, and evaluating scholarly research. Also included are common words and phrases defined within the context of how they apply to research in the social and behavioral sciences.

  • Acculturation -- refers to the process of adapting to another culture, particularly in reference to blending in with the majority population [e.g., an immigrant adopting American customs]. However, acculturation also implies that both cultures add something to one another, but still remain distinct groups unto themselves.
  • Accuracy -- a term used in survey research to refer to the match between the target population and the sample.
  • Affective Measures -- procedures or devices used to obtain quantified descriptions of an individual's feelings, emotional states, or dispositions.
  • Aggregate -- a total created from smaller units. For instance, the population of a county is an aggregate of the populations of the cities, rural areas, etc. that comprise the county. As a verb, it refers to total data from smaller units into a large unit.
  • Anonymity -- a research condition in which no one, including the researcher, knows the identities of research participants.
  • Baseline -- a control measurement carried out before an experimental treatment.
  • Behaviorism -- school of psychological thought concerned with the observable, tangible, objective facts of behavior, rather than with subjective phenomena such as thoughts, emotions, or impulses. Contemporary behaviorism also emphasizes the study of mental states such as feelings and fantasies to the extent that they can be directly observed and measured.
  • Beliefs -- ideas, doctrines, tenets, etc. that are accepted as true on grounds which are not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.
  • Benchmarking -- systematically measuring and comparing the operations and outcomes of organizations, systems, processes, etc., against agreed upon "best-in-class" frames of reference.
  • Bias -- a loss of balance and accuracy in the use of research methods. It can appear in research via the sampling frame, random sampling, or non-response. It can also occur at other stages in research, such as while interviewing, in the design of questions, or in the way data are analyzed and presented. Bias means that the research findings will not be representative of, or generalizable to, a wider population.
  • Case Study -- the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including data derived from the subjects themselves.
  • Causal Hypothesis -- a statement hypothesizing that the independent variable affects the dependent variable in some way.
  • Causal Relationship -- the relationship established that shows that an independent variable, and nothing else, causes a change in a dependent variable. It also establishes how much of a change is shown in the dependent variable.
  • Causality -- the relation between cause and effect.
  • Central Tendency -- any way of describing or characterizing typical, average, or common values in some distribution.
  • Chi-square Analysis -- a common non-parametric statistical test which compares an expected proportion or ratio to an actual proportion or ratio.
  • Claim -- a statement, similar to a hypothesis, which is made in response to the research question and that is affirmed with evidence based on research.
  • Classification -- ordering of related phenomena into categories, groups, or systems according to characteristics or attributes.
  • Cluster Analysis -- a method of statistical analysis where data that share a common trait are grouped together. The data is collected in a way that allows the data collector to group data according to certain characteristics.
  • Cohort Analysis -- group by group analytic treatment of individuals having a statistical factor in common to each group. Group members share a particular characteristic [e.g., born in a given year] or a common experience [e.g., entering a college at a given time].
  • Confidentiality -- a research condition in which no one except the researcher(s) knows the identities of the participants in a study. It refers to the treatment of information that a participant has disclosed to the researcher in a relationship of trust and with the expectation that it will not be revealed to others in ways that violate the original consent agreement, unless permission is granted by the participant.
  • Confirmability Objectivity -- the findings of the study could be confirmed by another person conducting the same study.
  • Construct -- refers to any of the following: something that exists theoretically but is not directly observable; a concept developed [constructed] for describing relations among phenomena or for other research purposes; or, a theoretical definition in which concepts are defined in terms of other concepts. For example, intelligence cannot be directly observed or measured; it is a construct.
  • Construct Validity -- seeks an agreement between a theoretical concept and a specific measuring device, such as observation.
  • Constructivism -- the idea that reality is socially constructed. It is the view that reality cannot be understood outside of the way humans interact and that the idea that knowledge is constructed, not discovered. Constructivists believe that learning is more active and self-directed than either behaviorism or cognitive theory would postulate.
  • Content Analysis -- the systematic, objective, and quantitative description of the manifest or latent content of print or nonprint communications.
  • Context Sensitivity -- awareness by a qualitative researcher of factors such as values and beliefs that influence cultural behaviors.
  • Control Group -- the group in an experimental design that receives either no treatment or a different treatment from the experimental group. This group can thus be compared to the experimental group.
  • Controlled Experiment -- an experimental design with two or more randomly selected groups [an experimental group and control group] in which the researcher controls or introduces the independent variable and measures the dependent variable at least two times [pre- and post-test measurements].
  • Correlation -- a common statistical analysis, usually abbreviated as r, that measures the degree of relationship between pairs of interval variables in a sample. The range of correlation is from -1.00 to zero to +1.00. Also, a non-cause and effect relationship between two variables.
  • Covariate -- a product of the correlation of two related variables times their standard deviations. Used in true experiments to measure the difference of treatment between them.
  • Credibility -- a researcher's ability to demonstrate that the object of a study is accurately identified and described based on the way in which the study was conducted.
  • Critical Theory -- an evaluative approach to social science research, associated with Germany's neo-Marxist “Frankfurt School,” that aims to criticize as well as analyze society, opposing the political orthodoxy of modern communism. Its goal is to promote human emancipatory forces and to expose ideas and systems that impede them.
  • Data -- factual information [as measurements or statistics] used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation.
  • Data Mining -- the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information, often to discover patterns and/or systematic relationships among variables.
  • Data Quality -- this is the degree to which the collected data [results of measurement or observation] meet the standards of quality to be considered valid [trustworthy] and  reliable [dependable].
  • Deductive -- a form of reasoning in which conclusions are formulated about particulars from general or universal premises.
  • Dependability -- being able to account for changes in the design of the study and the changing conditions surrounding what was studied.
  • Dependent Variable -- a variable that varies due, at least in part, to the impact of the independent variable. In other words, its value “depends” on the value of the independent variable. For example, in the variables “gender” and “academic major,” academic major is the dependent variable, meaning that your major cannot determine whether you are male or female, but your gender might indirectly lead you to favor one major over another.
  • Deviation -- the distance between the mean and a particular data point in a given distribution.
  • Discourse Community -- a community of scholars and researchers in a given field who respond to and communicate to each other through published articles in the community's journals and presentations at conventions. All members of the discourse community adhere to certain conventions for the presentation of their theories and research.
  • Discrete Variable -- a variable that is measured solely in whole units, such as, gender and number of siblings.
  • Distribution -- the range of values of a particular variable.
  • Effect Size -- the amount of change in a dependent variable that can be attributed to manipulations of the independent variable. A large effect size exists when the value of the dependent variable is strongly influenced by the independent variable. It is the mean difference on a variable between experimental and control groups divided by the standard deviation on that variable of the pooled groups or of the control group alone.
  • Emancipatory Research -- research is conducted on and with people from marginalized groups or communities. It is led by a researcher or research team who is either an indigenous or external insider; is interpreted within intellectual frameworks of that group; and, is conducted largely for the purpose of empowering members of that community and improving services for them. It also engages members of the community as co-constructors or validators of knowledge.
  • Empirical Research -- the process of developing systematized knowledge gained from observations that are formulated to support insights and generalizations about the phenomena being researched.
  • Epistemology -- concerns knowledge construction; asks what constitutes knowledge and how knowledge is validated.
  • Ethnography -- method to study groups and/or cultures over a period of time. The goal of this type of research is to comprehend the particular group/culture through immersion into the culture or group. Research is completed through various methods but, since the researcher is immersed within the group for an extended period of time, more detailed information is usually collected during the research.
  • Expectancy Effect -- any unconscious or conscious cues that convey to the participant in a study how the researcher wants them to respond. Expecting someone to behave in a particular way has been shown to promote the expected behavior. Expectancy effects can be minimized by using standardized interactions with subjects, automated data-gathering methods, and double blind protocols.
  • External Validity -- the extent to which the results of a study are generalizable or transferable.
  • Factor Analysis -- a statistical test that explores relationships among data. The test explores which variables in a data set are most related to each other. In a carefully constructed survey, for example, factor analysis can yield information on patterns of responses, not simply data on a single response. Larger tendencies may then be interpreted, indicating behavior trends rather than simply responses to specific questions.
  • Field Studies -- academic or other investigative studies undertaken in a natural setting, rather than in laboratories, classrooms, or other structured environments.
  • Focus Groups -- small, roundtable discussion groups charged with examining specific topics or problems, including possible options or solutions. Focus groups usually consist of 4-12 participants, guided by moderators to keep the discussion flowing and to collect and report the results.
  • Framework -- the structure and support that may be used as both the launching point and the on-going guidelines for investigating a research problem.
  • Generalizability -- the extent to which research findings and conclusions conducted on a specific study to groups or situations can be applied to the population at large.
  • Grey Literature -- research produced by organizations outside of commercial and academic publishing that publish materials, such as, working papers, research reports, and briefing papers.
  • Grounded Theory -- practice of developing other theories that emerge from observing a group. Theories are grounded in the group's observable experiences, but researchers add their own insight into why those experiences exist.
  • Group Behavior -- behaviors of a group as a whole, as well as the behavior of an individual as influenced by his or her membership in a group.
  • Hypothesis -- a tentative explanation based on theory to predict a causal relationship between variables.
  • Independent Variable -- the conditions of an experiment that are systematically manipulated by the researcher. A variable that is not impacted by the dependent variable, and that itself impacts the dependent variable. In the earlier example of "gender" and "academic major," (see Dependent Variable) gender is the independent variable.
  • Individualism -- a theory or policy having primary regard for the liberty, rights, or independent actions of individuals.
  • Inductive -- a form of reasoning in which a generalized conclusion is formulated from particular instances.
  • Inductive Analysis -- a form of analysis based on inductive reasoning; a researcher using inductive analysis starts with answers, but formulates questions throughout the research process.
  • Insiderness -- a concept in qualitative research that refers to the degree to which a researcher has access to and an understanding of persons, places, or things within a group or community based on being a member of that group or community.
  • Internal Consistency -- the extent to which all questions or items assess the same characteristic, skill, or quality.
  • Internal Validity -- the rigor with which the study was conducted [e.g., the study's design, the care taken to conduct measurements, and decisions concerning what was and was not measured]. It is also the extent to which the designers of a study have taken into account alternative explanations for any causal relationships they explore. In studies that do not explore causal relationships, only the first of these definitions should be considered when assessing internal validity.
  • Life History -- a record of an event/events in a respondent's life told [written down, but increasingly audio or video recorded] by the respondent from his/her own perspective in his/her own words. A life history is different from a "research story" in that it covers a longer time span, perhaps a complete life, or a significant period in a life.
  • Margin of Error -- the permittable or acceptable deviation from the target or a specific value. The allowance for slight error or miscalculation or changing circumstances in a study.
  • Measurement -- process of obtaining a numerical description of the extent to which persons, organizations, or things possess specified characteristics.
  • Meta-Analysis -- an analysis combining the results of several studies that address a set of related hypotheses.
  • Methodology -- a theory or analysis of how research does and should proceed.
  • Methods -- systematic approaches to the conduct of an operation or process. It includes steps of procedure, application of techniques, systems of reasoning or analysis, and the modes of inquiry employed by a discipline.
  • Mixed-Methods -- a research approach that uses two or more methods from both the quantitative and qualitative research categories. It is also referred to as blended methods, combined methods, or methodological triangulation.
  • Modeling -- the creation of a physical or computer analogy to understand a particular phenomenon. Modeling helps in estimating the relative magnitude of various factors involved in a phenomenon. A successful model can be shown to account for unexpected behavior that has been observed, to predict certain behaviors, which can then be tested experimentally, and to demonstrate that a given theory cannot account for certain phenomenon.
  • Models -- representations of objects, principles, processes, or ideas often used for imitation or emulation.
  • Naturalistic Observation -- observation of behaviors and events in natural settings without experimental manipulation or other forms of interference.
  • Norm -- the norm in statistics is the average or usual performance. For example, students usually complete their high school graduation requirements when they are 18 years old. Even though some students graduate when they are younger or older, the norm is that any given student will graduate when he or she is 18 years old.
  • Null Hypothesis -- the proposition, to be tested statistically, that the experimental intervention has "no effect," meaning that the treatment and control groups will not differ as a result of the intervention. Investigators usually hope that the data will demonstrate some effect from the intervention, thus allowing the investigator to reject the null hypothesis.
  • Ontology -- a discipline of philosophy that explores the science of what is, the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes, and relations in every area of reality.
  • Panel Study -- a longitudinal study in which a group of individuals is interviewed at intervals over a period of time.
  • Participant -- individuals whose physiological and/or behavioral characteristics and responses are the object of study in a research project.
  • Peer-Review -- the process in which the author of a book, article, or other type of publication submits his or her work to experts in the field for critical evaluation, usually prior to publication. This is standard procedure in publishing scholarly research.
  • Phenomenology -- a qualitative research approach concerned with understanding certain group behaviors from that group's point of view.
  • Philosophy -- critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs and analysis of the basic concepts, doctrines, or practices that express such beliefs.
  • Phonology -- the study of the ways in which speech sounds form systems and patterns in language.
  • Policy -- governing principles that serve as guidelines or rules for decision making and action in a given area.
  • Policy Analysis -- systematic study of the nature, rationale, cost, impact, effectiveness, implications, etc., of existing or alternative policies, using the theories and methodologies of relevant social science disciplines.
  • Population -- the target group under investigation. The population is the entire set under consideration. Samples are drawn from populations.
  • Position Papers -- statements of official or organizational viewpoints, often recommending a particular course of action or response to a situation.
  • Positivism -- a doctrine in the philosophy of science, positivism argues that science can only deal with observable entities known directly to experience. The positivist aims to construct general laws, or theories, which express relationships between phenomena. Observation and experiment is used to show whether the phenomena fit the theory.
  • Predictive Measurement -- use of tests, inventories, or other measures to determine or estimate future events, conditions, outcomes, or trends.
  • Principal Investigator -- the scientist or scholar with primary responsibility for the design and conduct of a research project.
  • Probability -- the chance that a phenomenon will occur randomly. As a statistical measure, it is shown as p [the "p" factor].
  • Questionnaire -- structured sets of questions on specified subjects that are used to gather information, attitudes, or opinions.
  • Random Sampling -- a process used in research to draw a sample of a population strictly by chance, yielding no discernible pattern beyond chance. Random sampling can be accomplished by first numbering the population, then selecting the sample according to a table of random numbers or using a random-number computer generator. The sample is said to be random because there is no regular or discernible pattern or order. Random sample selection is used under the assumption that sufficiently large samples assigned randomly will exhibit a distribution comparable to that of the population from which the sample is drawn. The random assignment of participants increases the probability that differences observed between participant groups are the result of the experimental intervention.
  • Reliability -- the degree to which a measure yields consistent results. If the measuring instrument [e.g., survey] is reliable, then administering it to similar groups would yield similar results. Reliability is a prerequisite for validity. An unreliable indicator cannot produce trustworthy results.
  • Representative Sample -- sample in which the participants closely match the characteristics of the population, and thus, all segments of the population are represented in the sample. A representative sample allows results to be generalized from the sample to the population.
  • Rigor -- degree to which research methods are scrupulously and meticulously carried out in order to recognize important influences occurring in an experimental study.
  • Sample -- the population researched in a particular study. Usually, attempts are made to select a "sample population" that is considered representative of groups of people to whom results will be generalized or transferred. In studies that use inferential statistics to analyze results or which are designed to be generalizable, sample size is critical, generally the larger the number in the sample, the higher the likelihood of a representative distribution of the population.
  • Sampling Error -- the degree to which the results from the sample deviate from those that would be obtained from the entire population, because of random error in the selection of respondent and the corresponding reduction in reliability.
  • Saturation -- a situation in which data analysis begins to reveal repetition and redundancy and when new data tend to confirm existing findings rather than expand upon them.
  • Semantics -- the relationship between symbols and meaning in a linguistic system. Also, the cuing system that connects what is written in the text to what is stored in the reader's prior knowledge.
  • Social Theories -- theories about the structure, organization, and functioning of human societies.
  • Sociolinguistics -- the study of language in society and, more specifically, the study of language varieties, their functions, and their speakers.
  • Standard Deviation -- a measure of variation that indicates the typical distance between the scores of a distribution and the mean; it is determined by taking the square root of the average of the squared deviations in a given distribution. It can be used to indicate the proportion of data within certain ranges of scale values when the distribution conforms closely to the normal curve.
  • Statistical Analysis -- application of statistical processes and theory to the compilation, presentation, discussion, and interpretation of numerical data.
  • Statistical Bias -- characteristics of an experimental or sampling design, or the mathematical treatment of data, that systematically affects the results of a study so as to produce incorrect, unjustified, or inappropriate inferences or conclusions.
  • Statistical Significance -- the probability that the difference between the outcomes of the control and experimental group are great enough that it is unlikely due solely to chance. The probability that the null hypothesis can be rejected at a predetermined significance level [0.05 or 0.01].
  • Statistical Tests -- researchers use statistical tests to make quantitative decisions about whether a study's data indicate a significant effect from the intervention and allow the researcher to reject the null hypothesis. That is, statistical tests show whether the differences between the outcomes of the control and experimental groups are great enough to be statistically significant. If differences are found to be statistically significant, it means that the probability [likelihood] that these differences occurred solely due to chance is relatively low. Most researchers agree that a significance value of .05 or less [i.e., there is a 95% probability that the differences are real] sufficiently determines significance.
  • Subcultures -- ethnic, regional, economic, or social groups exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish them from the larger society to which they belong.
  • Testing -- the act of gathering and processing information about individuals' ability, skill, understanding, or knowledge under controlled conditions.
  • Theory -- a general explanation about a specific behavior or set of events that is based on known principles and serves to organize related events in a meaningful way. A theory is not as specific as a hypothesis.
  • Treatment -- the stimulus given to a dependent variable.
  • Trend Samples -- method of sampling different groups of people at different points in time from the same population.
  • Triangulation -- a multi-method or pluralistic approach, using different methods in order to focus on the research topic from different viewpoints and to produce a multi-faceted set of data. Also used to check the validity of findings from any one method.
  • Unit of Analysis -- the basic observable entity or phenomenon being analyzed by a study and for which data are collected in the form of variables.
  • Validity -- the degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure. A method can be reliable, consistently measuring the same thing, but not valid.
  • Variable -- any characteristic or trait that can vary from one person to another [race, gender, academic major] or for one person over time [age, political beliefs].
  • Weighted Scores -- scores in which the components are modified by different multipliers to reflect their relative importance.
  • White Paper -- an authoritative report that often states the position or philosophy about a social, political, or other subject, or a general explanation of an architecture, framework, or product technology written by a group of researchers. A white paper seeks to contain unbiased information and analysis regarding a business or policy problem that the researchers may be facing.

Elliot, Mark, Fairweather, Ian, Olsen, Wendy Kay, and Pampaka, Maria. A Dictionary of Social Research Methods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016; Free Social Science Dictionary. Socialsciencedictionary.com [2008]. Glossary. Institutional Review Board. Colorado College; Glossary of Key Terms. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Glossary A-Z. Education.com; Glossary of Research Terms. Research Mindedness Virtual Learning Resource. Centre for Human Servive Technology. University of Southampton; Miller, Robert L. and Brewer, John D. The A-Z of Social Research: A Dictionary of Key Social Science Research Concepts London: SAGE, 2003; Jupp, Victor. The SAGE Dictionary of Social and Cultural Research Methods . London: Sage, 2006.

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Why writing by hand beats typing for thinking and learning

Jonathan Lambert

A close-up of a woman's hand writing in a notebook.

If you're like many digitally savvy Americans, it has likely been a while since you've spent much time writing by hand.

The laborious process of tracing out our thoughts, letter by letter, on the page is becoming a relic of the past in our screen-dominated world, where text messages and thumb-typed grocery lists have replaced handwritten letters and sticky notes. Electronic keyboards offer obvious efficiency benefits that have undoubtedly boosted our productivity — imagine having to write all your emails longhand.

To keep up, many schools are introducing computers as early as preschool, meaning some kids may learn the basics of typing before writing by hand.

But giving up this slower, more tactile way of expressing ourselves may come at a significant cost, according to a growing body of research that's uncovering the surprising cognitive benefits of taking pen to paper, or even stylus to iPad — for both children and adults.

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In kids, studies show that tracing out ABCs, as opposed to typing them, leads to better and longer-lasting recognition and understanding of letters. Writing by hand also improves memory and recall of words, laying down the foundations of literacy and learning. In adults, taking notes by hand during a lecture, instead of typing, can lead to better conceptual understanding of material.

"There's actually some very important things going on during the embodied experience of writing by hand," says Ramesh Balasubramaniam , a neuroscientist at the University of California, Merced. "It has important cognitive benefits."

While those benefits have long been recognized by some (for instance, many authors, including Jennifer Egan and Neil Gaiman , draft their stories by hand to stoke creativity), scientists have only recently started investigating why writing by hand has these effects.

A slew of recent brain imaging research suggests handwriting's power stems from the relative complexity of the process and how it forces different brain systems to work together to reproduce the shapes of letters in our heads onto the page.

Your brain on handwriting

Both handwriting and typing involve moving our hands and fingers to create words on a page. But handwriting, it turns out, requires a lot more fine-tuned coordination between the motor and visual systems. This seems to more deeply engage the brain in ways that support learning.

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"Handwriting is probably among the most complex motor skills that the brain is capable of," says Marieke Longcamp , a cognitive neuroscientist at Aix-Marseille Université.

Gripping a pen nimbly enough to write is a complicated task, as it requires your brain to continuously monitor the pressure that each finger exerts on the pen. Then, your motor system has to delicately modify that pressure to re-create each letter of the words in your head on the page.

"Your fingers have to each do something different to produce a recognizable letter," says Sophia Vinci-Booher , an educational neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University. Adding to the complexity, your visual system must continuously process that letter as it's formed. With each stroke, your brain compares the unfolding script with mental models of the letters and words, making adjustments to fingers in real time to create the letters' shapes, says Vinci-Booher.

That's not true for typing.

To type "tap" your fingers don't have to trace out the form of the letters — they just make three relatively simple and uniform movements. In comparison, it takes a lot more brainpower, as well as cross-talk between brain areas, to write than type.

Recent brain imaging studies bolster this idea. A study published in January found that when students write by hand, brain areas involved in motor and visual information processing " sync up " with areas crucial to memory formation, firing at frequencies associated with learning.

"We don't see that [synchronized activity] in typewriting at all," says Audrey van der Meer , a psychologist and study co-author at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She suggests that writing by hand is a neurobiologically richer process and that this richness may confer some cognitive benefits.

Other experts agree. "There seems to be something fundamental about engaging your body to produce these shapes," says Robert Wiley , a cognitive psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "It lets you make associations between your body and what you're seeing and hearing," he says, which might give the mind more footholds for accessing a given concept or idea.

Those extra footholds are especially important for learning in kids, but they may give adults a leg up too. Wiley and others worry that ditching handwriting for typing could have serious consequences for how we all learn and think.

What might be lost as handwriting wanes

The clearest consequence of screens and keyboards replacing pen and paper might be on kids' ability to learn the building blocks of literacy — letters.

"Letter recognition in early childhood is actually one of the best predictors of later reading and math attainment," says Vinci-Booher. Her work suggests the process of learning to write letters by hand is crucial for learning to read them.

"When kids write letters, they're just messy," she says. As kids practice writing "A," each iteration is different, and that variability helps solidify their conceptual understanding of the letter.

Research suggests kids learn to recognize letters better when seeing variable handwritten examples, compared with uniform typed examples.

This helps develop areas of the brain used during reading in older children and adults, Vinci-Booher found.

"This could be one of the ways that early experiences actually translate to long-term life outcomes," she says. "These visually demanding, fine motor actions bake in neural communication patterns that are really important for learning later on."

Ditching handwriting instruction could mean that those skills don't get developed as well, which could impair kids' ability to learn down the road.

"If young children are not receiving any handwriting training, which is very good brain stimulation, then their brains simply won't reach their full potential," says van der Meer. "It's scary to think of the potential consequences."

Many states are trying to avoid these risks by mandating cursive instruction. This year, California started requiring elementary school students to learn cursive , and similar bills are moving through state legislatures in several states, including Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin. (So far, evidence suggests that it's the writing by hand that matters, not whether it's print or cursive.)

Slowing down and processing information

For adults, one of the main benefits of writing by hand is that it simply forces us to slow down.

During a meeting or lecture, it's possible to type what you're hearing verbatim. But often, "you're not actually processing that information — you're just typing in the blind," says van der Meer. "If you take notes by hand, you can't write everything down," she says.

The relative slowness of the medium forces you to process the information, writing key words or phrases and using drawing or arrows to work through ideas, she says. "You make the information your own," she says, which helps it stick in the brain.

Such connections and integration are still possible when typing, but they need to be made more intentionally. And sometimes, efficiency wins out. "When you're writing a long essay, it's obviously much more practical to use a keyboard," says van der Meer.

Still, given our long history of using our hands to mark meaning in the world, some scientists worry about the more diffuse consequences of offloading our thinking to computers.

"We're foisting a lot of our knowledge, extending our cognition, to other devices, so it's only natural that we've started using these other agents to do our writing for us," says Balasubramaniam.

It's possible that this might free up our minds to do other kinds of hard thinking, he says. Or we might be sacrificing a fundamental process that's crucial for the kinds of immersive cognitive experiences that enable us to learn and think at our full potential.

Balasubramaniam stresses, however, that we don't have to ditch digital tools to harness the power of handwriting. So far, research suggests that scribbling with a stylus on a screen activates the same brain pathways as etching ink on paper. It's the movement that counts, he says, not its final form.

Jonathan Lambert is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance journalist who covers science, health and policy.

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A systematic literature review of empirical research on ChatGPT in education

  • Open access
  • Published: 26 May 2024
  • Volume 3 , article number  60 , ( 2024 )

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importance of research skills in academic writing

  • Yazid Albadarin   ORCID: orcid.org/0009-0005-8068-8902 1 ,
  • Mohammed Saqr 1 ,
  • Nicolas Pope 1 &
  • Markku Tukiainen 1  

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Over the last four decades, studies have investigated the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into education. A recent prominent AI-powered technology that has impacted the education sector is ChatGPT. This article provides a systematic review of 14 empirical studies incorporating ChatGPT into various educational settings, published in 2022 and before the 10th of April 2023—the date of conducting the search process. It carefully followed the essential steps outlined in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA 2020) guidelines, as well as Okoli’s (Okoli in Commun Assoc Inf Syst, 2015) steps for conducting a rigorous and transparent systematic review. In this review, we aimed to explore how students and teachers have utilized ChatGPT in various educational settings, as well as the primary findings of those studies. By employing Creswell’s (Creswell in Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research [Ebook], Pearson Education, London, 2015) coding techniques for data extraction and interpretation, we sought to gain insight into their initial attempts at ChatGPT incorporation into education. This approach also enabled us to extract insights and considerations that can facilitate its effective and responsible use in future educational contexts. The results of this review show that learners have utilized ChatGPT as a virtual intelligent assistant, where it offered instant feedback, on-demand answers, and explanations of complex topics. Additionally, learners have used it to enhance their writing and language skills by generating ideas, composing essays, summarizing, translating, paraphrasing texts, or checking grammar. Moreover, learners turned to it as an aiding tool to facilitate their directed and personalized learning by assisting in understanding concepts and homework, providing structured learning plans, and clarifying assignments and tasks. However, the results of specific studies (n = 3, 21.4%) show that overuse of ChatGPT may negatively impact innovative capacities and collaborative learning competencies among learners. Educators, on the other hand, have utilized ChatGPT to create lesson plans, generate quizzes, and provide additional resources, which helped them enhance their productivity and efficiency and promote different teaching methodologies. Despite these benefits, the majority of the reviewed studies recommend the importance of conducting structured training, support, and clear guidelines for both learners and educators to mitigate the drawbacks. This includes developing critical evaluation skills to assess the accuracy and relevance of information provided by ChatGPT, as well as strategies for integrating human interaction and collaboration into learning activities that involve AI tools. Furthermore, they also recommend ongoing research and proactive dialogue with policymakers, stakeholders, and educational practitioners to refine and enhance the use of AI in learning environments. This review could serve as an insightful resource for practitioners who seek to integrate ChatGPT into education and stimulate further research in the field.

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Students’ voices on generative AI: perceptions, benefits, and challenges in higher education

Examining science education in chatgpt: an exploratory study of generative artificial intelligence, evolution and revolution in artificial intelligence in education.

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

1 Introduction

Educational technology, a rapidly evolving field, plays a crucial role in reshaping the landscape of teaching and learning [ 82 ]. One of the most transformative technological innovations of our era that has influenced the field of education is Artificial Intelligence (AI) [ 50 ]. Over the last four decades, AI in education (AIEd) has gained remarkable attention for its potential to make significant advancements in learning, instructional methods, and administrative tasks within educational settings [ 11 ]. In particular, a large language model (LLM), a type of AI algorithm that applies artificial neural networks (ANNs) and uses massively large data sets to understand, summarize, generate, and predict new content that is almost difficult to differentiate from human creations [ 79 ], has opened up novel possibilities for enhancing various aspects of education, from content creation to personalized instruction [ 35 ]. Chatbots that leverage the capabilities of LLMs to understand and generate human-like responses have also presented the capacity to enhance student learning and educational outcomes by engaging students, offering timely support, and fostering interactive learning experiences [ 46 ].

The ongoing and remarkable technological advancements in chatbots have made their use more convenient, increasingly natural and effortless, and have expanded their potential for deployment across various domains [ 70 ]. One prominent example of chatbot applications is the Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, known as ChatGPT, which was introduced by OpenAI, a leading AI research lab, on November 30th, 2022. ChatGPT employs a variety of deep learning techniques to generate human-like text, with a particular focus on recurrent neural networks (RNNs). Long short-term memory (LSTM) allows it to grasp the context of the text being processed and retain information from previous inputs. Also, the transformer architecture, a neural network architecture based on the self-attention mechanism, allows it to analyze specific parts of the input, thereby enabling it to produce more natural-sounding and coherent output. Additionally, the unsupervised generative pre-training and the fine-tuning methods allow ChatGPT to generate more relevant and accurate text for specific tasks [ 31 , 62 ]. Furthermore, reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF), a machine learning approach that combines reinforcement learning techniques with human-provided feedback, has helped improve ChatGPT’s model by accelerating the learning process and making it significantly more efficient.

This cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) tool is widely recognized as one of today's most advanced LLMs-based chatbots [ 70 ], allowing users to ask questions and receive detailed, coherent, systematic, personalized, convincing, and informative human-like responses [ 55 ], even within complex and ambiguous contexts [ 63 , 77 ]. ChatGPT is considered the fastest-growing technology in history: in just three months following its public launch, it amassed an estimated 120 million monthly active users [ 16 ] with an estimated 13 million daily queries [ 49 ], surpassing all other applications [ 64 ]. This remarkable growth can be attributed to the unique features and user-friendly interface that ChatGPT offers. Its intuitive design allows users to interact seamlessly with the technology, making it accessible to a diverse range of individuals, regardless of their technical expertise [ 78 ]. Additionally, its exceptional performance results from a combination of advanced algorithms, continuous enhancements, and extensive training on a diverse dataset that includes various text sources such as books, articles, websites, and online forums [ 63 ], have contributed to a more engaging and satisfying user experience [ 62 ]. These factors collectively explain its remarkable global growth and set it apart from predecessors like Bard, Bing Chat, ERNIE, and others.

In this context, several studies have explored the technological advancements of chatbots. One noteworthy recent research effort, conducted by Schöbel et al. [ 70 ], stands out for its comprehensive analysis of more than 5,000 studies on communication agents. This study offered a comprehensive overview of the historical progression and future prospects of communication agents, including ChatGPT. Moreover, other studies have focused on making comparisons, particularly between ChatGPT and alternative chatbots like Bard, Bing Chat, ERNIE, LaMDA, BlenderBot, and various others. For example, O’Leary [ 53 ] compared two chatbots, LaMDA and BlenderBot, with ChatGPT and revealed that ChatGPT outperformed both. This superiority arises from ChatGPT’s capacity to handle a wider range of questions and generate slightly varied perspectives within specific contexts. Similarly, ChatGPT exhibited an impressive ability to formulate interpretable responses that were easily understood when compared with Google's feature snippet [ 34 ]. Additionally, ChatGPT was compared to other LLMs-based chatbots, including Bard and BERT, as well as ERNIE. The findings indicated that ChatGPT exhibited strong performance in the given tasks, often outperforming the other models [ 59 ].

Furthermore, in the education context, a comprehensive study systematically compared a range of the most promising chatbots, including Bard, Bing Chat, ChatGPT, and Ernie across a multidisciplinary test that required higher-order thinking. The study revealed that ChatGPT achieved the highest score, surpassing Bing Chat and Bard [ 64 ]. Similarly, a comparative analysis was conducted to compare ChatGPT with Bard in answering a set of 30 mathematical questions and logic problems, grouped into two question sets. Set (A) is unavailable online, while Set (B) is available online. The results revealed ChatGPT's superiority in Set (A) over Bard. Nevertheless, Bard's advantage emerged in Set (B) due to its capacity to access the internet directly and retrieve answers, a capability that ChatGPT does not possess [ 57 ]. However, through these varied assessments, ChatGPT consistently highlights its exceptional prowess compared to various alternatives in the ever-evolving chatbot technology.

The widespread adoption of chatbots, especially ChatGPT, by millions of students and educators, has sparked extensive discussions regarding its incorporation into the education sector [ 64 ]. Accordingly, many scholars have contributed to the discourse, expressing both optimism and pessimism regarding the incorporation of ChatGPT into education. For example, ChatGPT has been highlighted for its capabilities in enriching the learning and teaching experience through its ability to support different learning approaches, including adaptive learning, personalized learning, and self-directed learning [ 58 , 60 , 91 ]), deliver summative and formative feedback to students and provide real-time responses to questions, increase the accessibility of information [ 22 , 40 , 43 ], foster students’ performance, engagement and motivation [ 14 , 44 , 58 ], and enhance teaching practices [ 17 , 18 , 64 , 74 ].

On the other hand, concerns have been also raised regarding its potential negative effects on learning and teaching. These include the dissemination of false information and references [ 12 , 23 , 61 , 85 ], biased reinforcement [ 47 , 50 ], compromised academic integrity [ 18 , 40 , 66 , 74 ], and the potential decline in students' skills [ 43 , 61 , 64 , 74 ]. As a result, ChatGPT has been banned in multiple countries, including Russia, China, Venezuela, Belarus, and Iran, as well as in various educational institutions in India, Italy, Western Australia, France, and the United States [ 52 , 90 ].

Clearly, the advent of chatbots, especially ChatGPT, has provoked significant controversy due to their potential impact on learning and teaching. This indicates the necessity for further exploration to gain a deeper understanding of this technology and carefully evaluate its potential benefits, limitations, challenges, and threats to education [ 79 ]. Therefore, conducting a systematic literature review will provide valuable insights into the potential prospects and obstacles linked to its incorporation into education. This systematic literature review will primarily focus on ChatGPT, driven by the aforementioned key factors outlined above.

However, the existing literature lacks a systematic literature review of empirical studies. Thus, this systematic literature review aims to address this gap by synthesizing the existing empirical studies conducted on chatbots, particularly ChatGPT, in the field of education, highlighting how ChatGPT has been utilized in educational settings, and identifying any existing gaps. This review may be particularly useful for researchers in the field and educators who are contemplating the integration of ChatGPT or any chatbot into education. The following research questions will guide this study:

What are students' and teachers' initial attempts at utilizing ChatGPT in education?

What are the main findings derived from empirical studies that have incorporated ChatGPT into learning and teaching?

2 Methodology

To conduct this study, the authors followed the essential steps of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA 2020) and Okoli’s [ 54 ] steps for conducting a systematic review. These included identifying the study’s purpose, drafting a protocol, applying a practical screening process, searching the literature, extracting relevant data, evaluating the quality of the included studies, synthesizing the studies, and ultimately writing the review. The subsequent section provides an extensive explanation of how these steps were carried out in this study.

2.1 Identify the purpose

Given the widespread adoption of ChatGPT by students and teachers for various educational purposes, often without a thorough understanding of responsible and effective use or a clear recognition of its potential impact on learning and teaching, the authors recognized the need for further exploration of ChatGPT's impact on education in this early stage. Therefore, they have chosen to conduct a systematic literature review of existing empirical studies that incorporate ChatGPT into educational settings. Despite the limited number of empirical studies due to the novelty of the topic, their goal is to gain a deeper understanding of this technology and proactively evaluate its potential benefits, limitations, challenges, and threats to education. This effort could help to understand initial reactions and attempts at incorporating ChatGPT into education and bring out insights and considerations that can inform the future development of education.

2.2 Draft the protocol

The next step is formulating the protocol. This protocol serves to outline the study process in a rigorous and transparent manner, mitigating researcher bias in study selection and data extraction [ 88 ]. The protocol will include the following steps: generating the research question, predefining a literature search strategy, identifying search locations, establishing selection criteria, assessing the studies, developing a data extraction strategy, and creating a timeline.

2.3 Apply practical screen

The screening step aims to accurately filter the articles resulting from the searching step and select the empirical studies that have incorporated ChatGPT into educational contexts, which will guide us in answering the research questions and achieving the objectives of this study. To ensure the rigorous execution of this step, our inclusion and exclusion criteria were determined based on the authors' experience and informed by previous successful systematic reviews [ 21 ]. Table 1 summarizes the inclusion and exclusion criteria for study selection.

2.4 Literature search

We conducted a thorough literature search to identify articles that explored, examined, and addressed the use of ChatGPT in Educational contexts. We utilized two research databases: Dimensions.ai, which provides access to a large number of research publications, and lens.org, which offers access to over 300 million articles, patents, and other research outputs from diverse sources. Additionally, we included three databases, Scopus, Web of Knowledge, and ERIC, which contain relevant research on the topic that addresses our research questions. To browse and identify relevant articles, we used the following search formula: ("ChatGPT" AND "Education"), which included the Boolean operator "AND" to get more specific results. The subject area in the Scopus and ERIC databases were narrowed to "ChatGPT" and "Education" keywords, and in the WoS database was limited to the "Education" category. The search was conducted between the 3rd and 10th of April 2023, which resulted in 276 articles from all selected databases (111 articles from Dimensions.ai, 65 from Scopus, 28 from Web of Science, 14 from ERIC, and 58 from Lens.org). These articles were imported into the Rayyan web-based system for analysis. The duplicates were identified automatically by the system. Subsequently, the first author manually reviewed the duplicated articles ensured that they had the same content, and then removed them, leaving us with 135 unique articles. Afterward, the titles, abstracts, and keywords of the first 40 manuscripts were scanned and reviewed by the first author and were discussed with the second and third authors to resolve any disagreements. Subsequently, the first author proceeded with the filtering process for all articles and carefully applied the inclusion and exclusion criteria as presented in Table  1 . Articles that met any one of the exclusion criteria were eliminated, resulting in 26 articles. Afterward, the authors met to carefully scan and discuss them. The authors agreed to eliminate any empirical studies solely focused on checking ChatGPT capabilities, as these studies do not guide us in addressing the research questions and achieving the study's objectives. This resulted in 14 articles eligible for analysis.

2.5 Quality appraisal

The examination and evaluation of the quality of the extracted articles is a vital step [ 9 ]. Therefore, the extracted articles were carefully evaluated for quality using Fink’s [ 24 ] standards, which emphasize the necessity for detailed descriptions of methodology, results, conclusions, strengths, and limitations. The process began with a thorough assessment of each study's design, data collection, and analysis methods to ensure their appropriateness and comprehensive execution. The clarity, consistency, and logical progression from data to results and conclusions were also critically examined. Potential biases and recognized limitations within the studies were also scrutinized. Ultimately, two articles were excluded for failing to meet Fink’s criteria, particularly in providing sufficient detail on methodology, results, conclusions, strengths, or limitations. The review process is illustrated in Fig.  1 .

figure 1

The study selection process

2.6 Data extraction

The next step is data extraction, the process of capturing the key information and categories from the included studies. To improve efficiency, reduce variation among authors, and minimize errors in data analysis, the coding categories were constructed using Creswell's [ 15 ] coding techniques for data extraction and interpretation. The coding process involves three sequential steps. The initial stage encompasses open coding , where the researcher examines the data, generates codes to describe and categorize it, and gains a deeper understanding without preconceived ideas. Following open coding is axial coding , where the interrelationships between codes from open coding are analyzed to establish more comprehensive categories or themes. The process concludes with selective coding , refining and integrating categories or themes to identify core concepts emerging from the data. The first coder performed the coding process, then engaged in discussions with the second and third authors to finalize the coding categories for the first five articles. The first coder then proceeded to code all studies and engaged again in discussions with the other authors to ensure the finalization of the coding process. After a comprehensive analysis and capturing of the key information from the included studies, the data extraction and interpretation process yielded several themes. These themes have been categorized and are presented in Table  2 . It is important to note that open coding results were removed from Table  2 for aesthetic reasons, as it included many generic aspects, such as words, short phrases, or sentences mentioned in the studies.

2.7 Synthesize studies

In this stage, we will gather, discuss, and analyze the key findings that emerged from the selected studies. The synthesis stage is considered a transition from an author-centric to a concept-centric focus, enabling us to map all the provided information to achieve the most effective evaluation of the data [ 87 ]. Initially, the authors extracted data that included general information about the selected studies, including the author(s)' names, study titles, years of publication, educational levels, research methodologies, sample sizes, participants, main aims or objectives, raw data sources, and analysis methods. Following that, all key information and significant results from the selected studies were compiled using Creswell’s [ 15 ] coding techniques for data extraction and interpretation to identify core concepts and themes emerging from the data, focusing on those that directly contributed to our research questions and objectives, such as the initial utilization of ChatGPT in learning and teaching, learners' and educators' familiarity with ChatGPT, and the main findings of each study. Finally, the data related to each selected study were extracted into an Excel spreadsheet for data processing. The Excel spreadsheet was reviewed by the authors, including a series of discussions to ensure the finalization of this process and prepare it for further analysis. Afterward, the final result being analyzed and presented in various types of charts and graphs. Table 4 presents the extracted data from the selected studies, with each study labeled with a capital 'S' followed by a number.

This section consists of two main parts. The first part provides a descriptive analysis of the data compiled from the reviewed studies. The second part presents the answers to the research questions and the main findings of these studies.

3.1 Part 1: descriptive analysis

This section will provide a descriptive analysis of the reviewed studies, including educational levels and fields, participants distribution, country contribution, research methodologies, study sample size, study population, publication year, list of journals, familiarity with ChatGPT, source of data, and the main aims and objectives of the studies. Table 4 presents a comprehensive overview of the extracted data from the selected studies.

3.1.1 The number of the reviewed studies and publication years

The total number of the reviewed studies was 14. All studies were empirical studies and published in different journals focusing on Education and Technology. One study was published in 2022 [S1], while the remaining were published in 2023 [S2]-[S14]. Table 3 illustrates the year of publication, the names of the journals, and the number of reviewed studies published in each journal for the studies reviewed.

3.1.2 Educational levels and fields

The majority of the reviewed studies, 11 studies, were conducted in higher education institutions [S1]-[S10] and [S13]. Two studies did not specify the educational level of the population [S12] and [S14], while one study focused on elementary education [S11]. However, the reviewed studies covered various fields of education. Three studies focused on Arts and Humanities Education [S8], [S11], and [S14], specifically English Education. Two studies focused on Engineering Education, with one in Computer Engineering [S2] and the other in Construction Education [S3]. Two studies focused on Mathematics Education [S5] and [S12]. One study focused on Social Science Education [S13]. One study focused on Early Education [S4]. One study focused on Journalism Education [S9]. Finally, three studies did not specify the field of education [S1], [S6], and [S7]. Figure  2 represents the educational levels in the reviewed studies, while Fig.  3 represents the context of the reviewed studies.

figure 2

Educational levels in the reviewed studies

figure 3

Context of the reviewed studies

3.1.3 Participants distribution and countries contribution

The reviewed studies have been conducted across different geographic regions, providing a diverse representation of the studies. The majority of the studies, 10 in total, [S1]-[S3], [S5]-[S9], [S11], and [S14], primarily focused on participants from single countries such as Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, China, Indonesia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Tajikistan, and the United States. In contrast, four studies, [S4], [S10], [S12], and [S13], involved participants from multiple countries, including China and the United States [S4], China, the United Kingdom, and the United States [S10], the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan [S12], Turkey, Sweden, Canada, and Australia [ 13 ]. Figures  4 and 5 illustrate the distribution of participants, whether from single or multiple countries, and the contribution of each country in the reviewed studies, respectively.

figure 4

The reviewed studies conducted in single or multiple countries

figure 5

The Contribution of each country in the studies

3.1.4 Study population and sample size

Four study populations were included: university students, university teachers, university teachers and students, and elementary school teachers. Six studies involved university students [S2], [S3], [S5] and [S6]-[S8]. Three studies focused on university teachers [S1], [S4], and [S6], while one study specifically targeted elementary school teachers [S11]. Additionally, four studies included both university teachers and students [S10] and [ 12 , 13 , 14 ], and among them, study [S13] specifically included postgraduate students. In terms of the sample size of the reviewed studies, nine studies included a small sample size of less than 50 participants [S1], [S3], [S6], [S8], and [S10]-[S13]. Three studies had 50–100 participants [S2], [S9], and [S14]. Only one study had more than 100 participants [S7]. It is worth mentioning that study [S4] adopted a mixed methods approach, including 10 participants for qualitative analysis and 110 participants for quantitative analysis.

3.1.5 Participants’ familiarity with using ChatGPT

The reviewed studies recruited a diverse range of participants with varying levels of familiarity with ChatGPT. Five studies [S2], [S4], [S6], [S8], and [S12] involved participants already familiar with ChatGPT, while eight studies [S1], [S3], [S5], [S7], [S9], [S10], [S13] and [S14] included individuals with differing levels of familiarity. Notably, one study [S11] had participants who were entirely unfamiliar with ChatGPT. It is important to note that four studies [S3], [S5], [S9], and [S11] provided training or guidance to their participants before conducting their studies, while ten studies [S1], [S2], [S4], [S6]-[S8], [S10], and [S12]-[S14] did not provide training due to the participants' existing familiarity with ChatGPT.

3.1.6 Research methodology approaches and source(S) of data

The reviewed studies adopted various research methodology approaches. Seven studies adopted qualitative research methodology [S1], [S4], [S6], [S8], [S10], [S11], and [S12], while three studies adopted quantitative research methodology [S3], [S7], and [S14], and four studies employed mixed-methods, which involved a combination of both the strengths of qualitative and quantitative methods [S2], [S5], [S9], and [S13].

In terms of the source(s) of data, the reviewed studies obtained their data from various sources, such as interviews, questionnaires, and pre-and post-tests. Six studies relied on interviews as their primary source of data collection [S1], [S4], [S6], [S10], [S11], and [S12], four studies relied on questionnaires [S2], [S7], [S13], and [S14], two studies combined the use of pre-and post-tests and questionnaires for data collection [S3] and [S9], while two studies combined the use of questionnaires and interviews to obtain the data [S5] and [S8]. It is important to note that six of the reviewed studies were quasi-experimental [S3], [S5], [S8], [S9], [S12], and [S14], while the remaining ones were experimental studies [S1], [S2], [S4], [S6], [S7], [S10], [S11], and [S13]. Figures  6 and 7 illustrate the research methodologies and the source (s) of data used in the reviewed studies, respectively.

figure 6

Research methodologies in the reviewed studies

figure 7

Source of data in the reviewed studies

3.1.7 The aim and objectives of the studies

The reviewed studies encompassed a diverse set of aims, with several of them incorporating multiple primary objectives. Six studies [S3], [S6], [S7], [S8], [S11], and [S12] examined the integration of ChatGPT in educational contexts, and four studies [S4], [S5], [S13], and [S14] investigated the various implications of its use in education, while three studies [S2], [S9], and [S10] aimed to explore both its integration and implications in education. Additionally, seven studies explicitly explored attitudes and perceptions of students [S2] and [S3], educators [S1] and [S6], or both [S10], [S12], and [S13] regarding the utilization of ChatGPT in educational settings.

3.2 Part 2: research questions and main findings of the reviewed studies

This part will present the answers to the research questions and the main findings of the reviewed studies, classified into two main categories (learning and teaching) according to AI Education classification by [ 36 ]. Figure  8 summarizes the main findings of the reviewed studies in a visually informative diagram. Table 4 provides a detailed list of the key information extracted from the selected studies that led to generating these themes.

figure 8

The main findings in the reviewed studies

4 Students' initial attempts at utilizing ChatGPT in learning and main findings from students' perspective

4.1 virtual intelligent assistant.

Nine studies demonstrated that ChatGPT has been utilized by students as an intelligent assistant to enhance and support their learning. Students employed it for various purposes, such as answering on-demand questions [S2]-[S5], [S8], [S10], and [S12], providing valuable information and learning resources [S2]-[S5], [S6], and [S8], as well as receiving immediate feedback [S2], [S4], [S9], [S10], and [S12]. In this regard, students generally were confident in the accuracy of ChatGPT's responses, considering them relevant, reliable, and detailed [S3], [S4], [S5], and [S8]. However, some students indicated the need for improvement, as they found that answers are not always accurate [S2], and that misleading information may have been provided or that it may not always align with their expectations [S6] and [S10]. It was also observed by the students that the accuracy of ChatGPT is dependent on several factors, including the quality and specificity of the user's input, the complexity of the question or topic, and the scope and relevance of its training data [S12]. Many students felt that ChatGPT's answers were not always accurate and most of them believed that it requires good background knowledge to work with.

4.2 Writing and language proficiency assistant

Six of the reviewed studies highlighted that ChatGPT has been utilized by students as a valuable assistant tool to improve their academic writing skills and language proficiency. Among these studies, three mainly focused on English education, demonstrating that students showed sufficient mastery in using ChatGPT for generating ideas, summarizing, paraphrasing texts, and completing writing essays [S8], [S11], and [S14]. Furthermore, ChatGPT helped them in writing by making students active investigators rather than passive knowledge recipients and facilitated the development of their writing skills [S11] and [S14]. Similarly, ChatGPT allowed students to generate unique ideas and perspectives, leading to deeper analysis and reflection on their journalism writing [S9]. In terms of language proficiency, ChatGPT allowed participants to translate content into their home languages, making it more accessible and relevant to their context [S4]. It also enabled them to request changes in linguistic tones or flavors [S8]. Moreover, participants used it to check grammar or as a dictionary [S11].

4.3 Valuable resource for learning approaches

Five studies demonstrated that students used ChatGPT as a valuable complementary resource for self-directed learning. It provided learning resources and guidance on diverse educational topics and created a supportive home learning environment [S2] and [S4]. Moreover, it offered step-by-step guidance to grasp concepts at their own pace and enhance their understanding [S5], streamlined task and project completion carried out independently [S7], provided comprehensive and easy-to-understand explanations on various subjects [S10], and assisted in studying geometry operations, thereby empowering them to explore geometry operations at their own pace [S12]. Three studies showed that students used ChatGPT as a valuable learning resource for personalized learning. It delivered age-appropriate conversations and tailored teaching based on a child's interests [S4], acted as a personalized learning assistant, adapted to their needs and pace, which assisted them in understanding mathematical concepts [S12], and enabled personalized learning experiences in social sciences by adapting to students' needs and learning styles [S13]. On the other hand, it is important to note that, according to one study [S5], students suggested that using ChatGPT may negatively affect collaborative learning competencies between students.

4.4 Enhancing students' competencies

Six of the reviewed studies have shown that ChatGPT is a valuable tool for improving a wide range of skills among students. Two studies have provided evidence that ChatGPT led to improvements in students' critical thinking, reasoning skills, and hazard recognition competencies through engaging them in interactive conversations or activities and providing responses related to their disciplines in journalism [S5] and construction education [S9]. Furthermore, two studies focused on mathematical education have shown the positive impact of ChatGPT on students' problem-solving abilities in unraveling problem-solving questions [S12] and enhancing the students' understanding of the problem-solving process [S5]. Lastly, one study indicated that ChatGPT effectively contributed to the enhancement of conversational social skills [S4].

4.5 Supporting students' academic success

Seven of the reviewed studies highlighted that students found ChatGPT to be beneficial for learning as it enhanced learning efficiency and improved the learning experience. It has been observed to improve students' efficiency in computer engineering studies by providing well-structured responses and good explanations [S2]. Additionally, students found it extremely useful for hazard reporting [S3], and it also enhanced their efficiency in solving mathematics problems and capabilities [S5] and [S12]. Furthermore, by finding information, generating ideas, translating texts, and providing alternative questions, ChatGPT aided students in deepening their understanding of various subjects [S6]. It contributed to an increase in students' overall productivity [S7] and improved efficiency in composing written tasks [S8]. Regarding learning experiences, ChatGPT was instrumental in assisting students in identifying hazards that they might have otherwise overlooked [S3]. It also improved students' learning experiences in solving mathematics problems and developing abilities [S5] and [S12]. Moreover, it increased students' successful completion of important tasks in their studies [S7], particularly those involving average difficulty writing tasks [S8]. Additionally, ChatGPT increased the chances of educational success by providing students with baseline knowledge on various topics [S10].

5 Teachers' initial attempts at utilizing ChatGPT in teaching and main findings from teachers' perspective

5.1 valuable resource for teaching.

The reviewed studies showed that teachers have employed ChatGPT to recommend, modify, and generate diverse, creative, organized, and engaging educational contents, teaching materials, and testing resources more rapidly [S4], [S6], [S10] and [S11]. Additionally, teachers experienced increased productivity as ChatGPT facilitated quick and accurate responses to questions, fact-checking, and information searches [S1]. It also proved valuable in constructing new knowledge [S6] and providing timely answers to students' questions in classrooms [S11]. Moreover, ChatGPT enhanced teachers' efficiency by generating new ideas for activities and preplanning activities for their students [S4] and [S6], including interactive language game partners [S11].

5.2 Improving productivity and efficiency

The reviewed studies showed that participants' productivity and work efficiency have been significantly enhanced by using ChatGPT as it enabled them to allocate more time to other tasks and reduce their overall workloads [S6], [S10], [S11], [S13], and [S14]. However, three studies [S1], [S4], and [S11], indicated a negative perception and attitude among teachers toward using ChatGPT. This negativity stemmed from a lack of necessary skills to use it effectively [S1], a limited familiarity with it [S4], and occasional inaccuracies in the content provided by it [S10].

5.3 Catalyzing new teaching methodologies

Five of the reviewed studies highlighted that educators found the necessity of redefining their teaching profession with the assistance of ChatGPT [S11], developing new effective learning strategies [S4], and adapting teaching strategies and methodologies to ensure the development of essential skills for future engineers [S5]. They also emphasized the importance of adopting new educational philosophies and approaches that can evolve with the introduction of ChatGPT into the classroom [S12]. Furthermore, updating curricula to focus on improving human-specific features, such as emotional intelligence, creativity, and philosophical perspectives [S13], was found to be essential.

5.4 Effective utilization of CHATGPT in teaching

According to the reviewed studies, effective utilization of ChatGPT in education requires providing teachers with well-structured training, support, and adequate background on how to use ChatGPT responsibly [S1], [S3], [S11], and [S12]. Establishing clear rules and regulations regarding its usage is essential to ensure it positively impacts the teaching and learning processes, including students' skills [S1], [S4], [S5], [S8], [S9], and [S11]-[S14]. Moreover, conducting further research and engaging in discussions with policymakers and stakeholders is indeed crucial for the successful integration of ChatGPT in education and to maximize the benefits for both educators and students [S1], [S6]-[S10], and [S12]-[S14].

6 Discussion

The purpose of this review is to conduct a systematic review of empirical studies that have explored the utilization of ChatGPT, one of today’s most advanced LLM-based chatbots, in education. The findings of the reviewed studies showed several ways of ChatGPT utilization in different learning and teaching practices as well as it provided insights and considerations that can facilitate its effective and responsible use in future educational contexts. The results of the reviewed studies came from diverse fields of education, which helped us avoid a biased review that is limited to a specific field. Similarly, the reviewed studies have been conducted across different geographic regions. This kind of variety in geographic representation enriched the findings of this review.

In response to RQ1 , "What are students' and teachers' initial attempts at utilizing ChatGPT in education?", the findings from this review provide comprehensive insights. Chatbots, including ChatGPT, play a crucial role in supporting student learning, enhancing their learning experiences, and facilitating diverse learning approaches [ 42 , 43 ]. This review found that this tool, ChatGPT, has been instrumental in enhancing students' learning experiences by serving as a virtual intelligent assistant, providing immediate feedback, on-demand answers, and engaging in educational conversations. Additionally, students have benefited from ChatGPT’s ability to generate ideas, compose essays, and perform tasks like summarizing, translating, paraphrasing texts, or checking grammar, thereby enhancing their writing and language competencies. Furthermore, students have turned to ChatGPT for assistance in understanding concepts and homework, providing structured learning plans, and clarifying assignments and tasks, which fosters a supportive home learning environment, allowing them to take responsibility for their own learning and cultivate the skills and approaches essential for supportive home learning environment [ 26 , 27 , 28 ]. This finding aligns with the study of Saqr et al. [ 68 , 69 ] who highlighted that, when students actively engage in their own learning process, it yields additional advantages, such as heightened motivation, enhanced achievement, and the cultivation of enthusiasm, turning them into advocates for their own learning.

Moreover, students have utilized ChatGPT for tailored teaching and step-by-step guidance on diverse educational topics, streamlining task and project completion, and generating and recommending educational content. This personalization enhances the learning environment, leading to increased academic success. This finding aligns with other recent studies [ 26 , 27 , 28 , 60 , 66 ] which revealed that ChatGPT has the potential to offer personalized learning experiences and support an effective learning process by providing students with customized feedback and explanations tailored to their needs and abilities. Ultimately, fostering students' performance, engagement, and motivation, leading to increase students' academic success [ 14 , 44 , 58 ]. This ultimate outcome is in line with the findings of Saqr et al. [ 68 , 69 ], which emphasized that learning strategies are important catalysts of students' learning, as students who utilize effective learning strategies are more likely to have better academic achievement.

Teachers, too, have capitalized on ChatGPT's capabilities to enhance productivity and efficiency, using it for creating lesson plans, generating quizzes, providing additional resources, generating and preplanning new ideas for activities, and aiding in answering students’ questions. This adoption of technology introduces new opportunities to support teaching and learning practices, enhancing teacher productivity. This finding aligns with those of Day [ 17 ], De Castro [ 18 ], and Su and Yang [ 74 ] as well as with those of Valtonen et al. [ 82 ], who revealed that emerging technological advancements have opened up novel opportunities and means to support teaching and learning practices, and enhance teachers’ productivity.

In response to RQ2 , "What are the main findings derived from empirical studies that have incorporated ChatGPT into learning and teaching?", the findings from this review provide profound insights and raise significant concerns. Starting with the insights, chatbots, including ChatGPT, have demonstrated the potential to reshape and revolutionize education, creating new, novel opportunities for enhancing the learning process and outcomes [ 83 ], facilitating different learning approaches, and offering a range of pedagogical benefits [ 19 , 43 , 72 ]. In this context, this review found that ChatGPT could open avenues for educators to adopt or develop new effective learning and teaching strategies that can evolve with the introduction of ChatGPT into the classroom. Nonetheless, there is an evident lack of research understanding regarding the potential impact of generative machine learning models within diverse educational settings [ 83 ]. This necessitates teachers to attain a high level of proficiency in incorporating chatbots, such as ChatGPT, into their classrooms to create inventive, well-structured, and captivating learning strategies. In the same vein, the review also found that teachers without the requisite skills to utilize ChatGPT realized that it did not contribute positively to their work and could potentially have adverse effects [ 37 ]. This concern could lead to inequity of access to the benefits of chatbots, including ChatGPT, as individuals who lack the necessary expertise may not be able to harness their full potential, resulting in disparities in educational outcomes and opportunities. Therefore, immediate action is needed to address these potential issues. A potential solution is offering training, support, and competency development for teachers to ensure that all of them can leverage chatbots, including ChatGPT, effectively and equitably in their educational practices [ 5 , 28 , 80 ], which could enhance accessibility and inclusivity, and potentially result in innovative outcomes [ 82 , 83 ].

Additionally, chatbots, including ChatGPT, have the potential to significantly impact students' thinking abilities, including retention, reasoning, analysis skills [ 19 , 45 ], and foster innovation and creativity capabilities [ 83 ]. This review found that ChatGPT could contribute to improving a wide range of skills among students. However, it found that frequent use of ChatGPT may result in a decrease in innovative capacities, collaborative skills and cognitive capacities, and students' motivation to attend classes, as well as could lead to reduced higher-order thinking skills among students [ 22 , 29 ]. Therefore, immediate action is needed to carefully examine the long-term impact of chatbots such as ChatGPT, on learning outcomes as well as to explore its incorporation into educational settings as a supportive tool without compromising students' cognitive development and critical thinking abilities. In the same vein, the review also found that it is challenging to draw a consistent conclusion regarding the potential of ChatGPT to aid self-directed learning approach. This finding aligns with the recent study of Baskara [ 8 ]. Therefore, further research is needed to explore the potential of ChatGPT for self-directed learning. One potential solution involves utilizing learning analytics as a novel approach to examine various aspects of students' learning and support them in their individual endeavors [ 32 ]. This approach can bridge this gap by facilitating an in-depth analysis of how learners engage with ChatGPT, identifying trends in self-directed learning behavior, and assessing its influence on their outcomes.

Turning to the significant concerns, on the other hand, a fundamental challenge with LLM-based chatbots, including ChatGPT, is the accuracy and quality of the provided information and responses, as they provide false information as truth—a phenomenon often referred to as "hallucination" [ 3 , 49 ]. In this context, this review found that the provided information was not entirely satisfactory. Consequently, the utilization of chatbots presents potential concerns, such as generating and providing inaccurate or misleading information, especially for students who utilize it to support their learning. This finding aligns with other findings [ 6 , 30 , 35 , 40 ] which revealed that incorporating chatbots such as ChatGPT, into education presents challenges related to its accuracy and reliability due to its training on a large corpus of data, which may contain inaccuracies and the way users formulate or ask ChatGPT. Therefore, immediate action is needed to address these potential issues. One possible solution is to equip students with the necessary skills and competencies, which include a background understanding of how to use it effectively and the ability to assess and evaluate the information it generates, as the accuracy and the quality of the provided information depend on the input, its complexity, the topic, and the relevance of its training data [ 28 , 49 , 86 ]. However, it's also essential to examine how learners can be educated about how these models operate, the data used in their training, and how to recognize their limitations, challenges, and issues [ 79 ].

Furthermore, chatbots present a substantial challenge concerning maintaining academic integrity [ 20 , 56 ] and copyright violations [ 83 ], which are significant concerns in education. The review found that the potential misuse of ChatGPT might foster cheating, facilitate plagiarism, and threaten academic integrity. This issue is also affirmed by the research conducted by Basic et al. [ 7 ], who presented evidence that students who utilized ChatGPT in their writing assignments had more plagiarism cases than those who did not. These findings align with the conclusions drawn by Cotton et al. [ 13 ], Hisan and Amri [ 33 ] and Sullivan et al. [ 75 ], who revealed that the integration of chatbots such as ChatGPT into education poses a significant challenge to the preservation of academic integrity. Moreover, chatbots, including ChatGPT, have increased the difficulty in identifying plagiarism [ 47 , 67 , 76 ]. The findings from previous studies [ 1 , 84 ] indicate that AI-generated text often went undetected by plagiarism software, such as Turnitin. However, Turnitin and other similar plagiarism detection tools, such as ZeroGPT, GPTZero, and Copyleaks, have since evolved, incorporating enhanced techniques to detect AI-generated text, despite the possibility of false positives, as noted in different studies that have found these tools still not yet fully ready to accurately and reliably identify AI-generated text [ 10 , 51 ], and new novel detection methods may need to be created and implemented for AI-generated text detection [ 4 ]. This potential issue could lead to another concern, which is the difficulty of accurately evaluating student performance when they utilize chatbots such as ChatGPT assistance in their assignments. Consequently, the most LLM-driven chatbots present a substantial challenge to traditional assessments [ 64 ]. The findings from previous studies indicate the importance of rethinking, improving, and redesigning innovative assessment methods in the era of chatbots [ 14 , 20 , 64 , 75 ]. These methods should prioritize the process of evaluating students' ability to apply knowledge to complex cases and demonstrate comprehension, rather than solely focusing on the final product for assessment. Therefore, immediate action is needed to address these potential issues. One possible solution would be the development of clear guidelines, regulatory policies, and pedagogical guidance. These measures would help regulate the proper and ethical utilization of chatbots, such as ChatGPT, and must be established before their introduction to students [ 35 , 38 , 39 , 41 , 89 ].

In summary, our review has delved into the utilization of ChatGPT, a prominent example of chatbots, in education, addressing the question of how ChatGPT has been utilized in education. However, there remain significant gaps, which necessitate further research to shed light on this area.

7 Conclusions

This systematic review has shed light on the varied initial attempts at incorporating ChatGPT into education by both learners and educators, while also offering insights and considerations that can facilitate its effective and responsible use in future educational contexts. From the analysis of 14 selected studies, the review revealed the dual-edged impact of ChatGPT in educational settings. On the positive side, ChatGPT significantly aided the learning process in various ways. Learners have used it as a virtual intelligent assistant, benefiting from its ability to provide immediate feedback, on-demand answers, and easy access to educational resources. Additionally, it was clear that learners have used it to enhance their writing and language skills, engaging in practices such as generating ideas, composing essays, and performing tasks like summarizing, translating, paraphrasing texts, or checking grammar. Importantly, other learners have utilized it in supporting and facilitating their directed and personalized learning on a broad range of educational topics, assisting in understanding concepts and homework, providing structured learning plans, and clarifying assignments and tasks. Educators, on the other hand, found ChatGPT beneficial for enhancing productivity and efficiency. They used it for creating lesson plans, generating quizzes, providing additional resources, and answers learners' questions, which saved time and allowed for more dynamic and engaging teaching strategies and methodologies.

However, the review also pointed out negative impacts. The results revealed that overuse of ChatGPT could decrease innovative capacities and collaborative learning among learners. Specifically, relying too much on ChatGPT for quick answers can inhibit learners' critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Learners might not engage deeply with the material or consider multiple solutions to a problem. This tendency was particularly evident in group projects, where learners preferred consulting ChatGPT individually for solutions over brainstorming and collaborating with peers, which negatively affected their teamwork abilities. On a broader level, integrating ChatGPT into education has also raised several concerns, including the potential for providing inaccurate or misleading information, issues of inequity in access, challenges related to academic integrity, and the possibility of misusing the technology.

Accordingly, this review emphasizes the urgency of developing clear rules, policies, and regulations to ensure ChatGPT's effective and responsible use in educational settings, alongside other chatbots, by both learners and educators. This requires providing well-structured training to educate them on responsible usage and understanding its limitations, along with offering sufficient background information. Moreover, it highlights the importance of rethinking, improving, and redesigning innovative teaching and assessment methods in the era of ChatGPT. Furthermore, conducting further research and engaging in discussions with policymakers and stakeholders are essential steps to maximize the benefits for both educators and learners and ensure academic integrity.

It is important to acknowledge that this review has certain limitations. Firstly, the limited inclusion of reviewed studies can be attributed to several reasons, including the novelty of the technology, as new technologies often face initial skepticism and cautious adoption; the lack of clear guidelines or best practices for leveraging this technology for educational purposes; and institutional or governmental policies affecting the utilization of this technology in educational contexts. These factors, in turn, have affected the number of studies available for review. Secondly, the utilization of the original version of ChatGPT, based on GPT-3 or GPT-3.5, implies that new studies utilizing the updated version, GPT-4 may lead to different findings. Therefore, conducting follow-up systematic reviews is essential once more empirical studies on ChatGPT are published. Additionally, long-term studies are necessary to thoroughly examine and assess the impact of ChatGPT on various educational practices.

Despite these limitations, this systematic review has highlighted the transformative potential of ChatGPT in education, revealing its diverse utilization by learners and educators alike and summarized the benefits of incorporating it into education, as well as the forefront critical concerns and challenges that must be addressed to facilitate its effective and responsible use in future educational contexts. This review could serve as an insightful resource for practitioners who seek to integrate ChatGPT into education and stimulate further research in the field.

Data availability

The data supporting our findings are available upon request.

Abbreviations

  • Artificial intelligence

AI in education

Large language model

Artificial neural networks

Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer

Recurrent neural networks

Long short-term memory

Reinforcement learning from human feedback

Natural language processing

Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

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See Table  4

The process of synthesizing the data presented in Table  4 involved identifying the relevant studies through a search process of databases (ERIC, Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Dimensions.ai, and lens.org) using specific keywords "ChatGPT" and "education". Following this, inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied, and data extraction was performed using Creswell's [ 15 ] coding techniques to capture key information and identify common themes across the included studies.

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  13. Writing Skills Development for Graduate Studies and Career Readiness in

    Gaining writing skills, gaining confidence, and gaining willingness to engage with critical feedback will support a variety of long-term goals including collaborating on publishable academic manuscripts, securing scholarships, fellowships and grants, writing graduate or doctoral level theses, and successfully engaging in a variety of research ...

  14. (PDF) ACADEMIC WRITING i Academic Writing

    Abstract. Academic writing is a fresh, structured approach to an important aspect of higher education scholarly work. It extends the existing body of knowledge in the field by synthesising ...

  15. Introduction to research skills: Home

    Research skills. Academic integrity. Digital skills. Research skills allow you to find information and use it effectively. It includes creating a strategy to gather facts and reach conclusions so that you can answer a question. Top tips. Starting your research. think about your topic - don't be too vague or too specific (try mind mapping or ...

  16. Learning Practical Research Skills Using An Academic ...

    1. Introduction. The nature and effectiveness of research training including the place of generic skills development and academic writing, is currently much debated in high-income countries. 1, 2 Less is known about research training in low and middle-income countries in Asia, including the Philippines 3 It is clear that universities in the Philippines are 'at a critical stage in their ...

  17. Research Skills: What They Are and Why They're Important

    Common research skills necessary for a variety of jobs include attention to detail, time management, and problem solving. Here we explore what research skills are, examples of in-demand research skills, how you can improve and use research skills at work, and how to highlight your research skills during the job search process.

  18. The Importance of Academic Writing

    May 27, 2023. --. Academic writing plays a crucial role in higher education and beyond. It is a fundamental skill that allows individuals to engage in critical thinking, articulate their ideas ...

  19. (PDF) Academic Research Skills of University Students

    Email: [email protected]. Abstract: The paper analyzes questionnaires administered to 135 English Language students in all four. years with an attempt to elaborate how developed the students ...

  20. Academic writing skills (with definition and examples)

    Academic writing skills are the traits taught while writing essays for college or university that can be useful in the workplace. Academic writing involves communicating ideas clearly and concisely and conveying arguments in a logical and convincing manner. ... Research is an important skill for academic writing that you can improve through ...

  21. What is academic writing and why is it important?

    Academic writing is imperative for students. It is necessary for practical purposes, as students will need to write essays for tests like TOEFL, IELTS, and the SAT, college applications, and then many more once they reach college. Upon graduation, at whatever job they have, they will have emails, reports, presentations, and speeches to compose.

  22. Master the Art of Writing Scientific Abstracts: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Developing Abstract Writing Skills . Abstract writing is a crucial skill for researchers and academics. It serves as a concise summary of a research paper, enabling readers to quickly grasp the purpose and findings of the study. Here are two key points to consider when developing abstract writing skills:.

  23. PDF Academic literacy: The importance and impact of writing across the ...

    a significant improvement in their writing skills based on grades while 42% of the students showed a significant improvement in their writing skills in the year of 2008. The statistics indicate that well over 50% of the students in each class improved their writing skills over the course of the semesters. III. Case Study 2. A. Background.

  24. Explaining research performance: investigating the importance of

    In this article, we study the motivation and performance of researchers. More specifically, we investigate what motivates researchers across different research fields and countries and how this motivation influences their research performance. The basis for our study is a large-N survey of economists, cardiologists, and physicists in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK. The ...

  25. Building skills for your career: Academic writing skills are career

    Researchers Students. Unsplash: Brett Jordan. Academic writing is a versatile career skill that allows you to communicate clearly, concisely, professionally and effectively. By developing strong writing abilities you will be able to convey your ideas, knowledge and successfully collaborate with others in your professional life.

  26. Types of Essays in Academic Writing

    It serves as a medium to share the author's views and is also used by institutions to assess the critical thinking, research skills, and writing abilities of a students and researchers. Importance of Academic Essays 4 Main Types of Academic Essays. While academic essays may vary in length, style, and purpose, they generally fall into four ...

  27. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

    Rigor-- degree to which research methods are scrupulously and meticulously carried out in order to recognize important influences occurring in an experimental study. Sample-- the population researched in a particular study. Usually, attempts are made to select a "sample population" that is considered representative of groups of people to whom ...

  28. Research Skills for Your Resume: 40+ Examples

    Information-gathering skills to help get your research started: Online and library research. Data sourcing. Independent thinking. Resourcefulness. Interviewing techniques. Observational research. Information synthesis. Document analysis.

  29. As schools reconsider cursive, research homes in on handwriting's ...

    Writing by hand also improves memory and recall of words, laying down the foundations of literacy and learning. In adults, taking notes by hand during a lecture, instead of typing, can lead to ...

  30. A systematic literature review of empirical research on ChatGPT in

    2.7 Synthesize studies. In this stage, we will gather, discuss, and analyze the key findings that emerged from the selected studies. The synthesis stage is considered a transition from an author-centric to a concept-centric focus, enabling us to map all the provided information to achieve the most effective evaluation of the data [].Initially, the authors extracted data that included general ...