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How to Write a Research Underpinning Paper


A research underpinning paper is really just a paper with research supporting any quantitative or qualitative data. Writing a research underpinning paper is just like writing a regular research paper in that all assertions must have some sort of citation or other documentation to support what the author says. Proper citations and underpinnings lend validity and support to a research paper that might otherwise be a summary of another writer's thoughts or a complete fabrication. Write a research underpinning paper by researching proper theoretical underpinning for your topic, directly tying it to research findings and explicitly stating its origin.

Choose a topic that isn't too narrow or too broad. For example, if your topic is "Learning Strategies," you should narrow the focus to"Learning Strategies for Early Education" to keep yourself from researching too much information without a way to blend your pieces of research together. Once you have chosen a focus, begin researching the underpinning for your paper. The underpinning is any theoretical or background work that has been done in the field that will support your research and thesis.

Use an online search database or scholarly article database to identify the beginnings of research for your topic. For example, one of the early theories about learning strategies was called "Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains." You may come across this in your research and use Bloom's information as underpinning for any qualitative or quantitative research you conduct or references from others.

Include theoretical research underpinnings throughout your research paper and especially after any examples of experimental trials and their findings. For example, qualitative research focuses on how and why things happen, thus smaller, more specific research samples would be collected to support underpinning with Bloom's taxonomy. Quantitative research involves large amounts of information collected over a long period of time or from lots of research experiences. To use this type of research in your paper, you would need to run various trials and summarize findings in your paper with Bloom's research as the underpinning or theoretical basis for your study.

Properly cite all underpinning in footnotes, parenthetical citations or a works cited list at the end of your paper. You'll need to use MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) formatting as specified by the discipline you are writing for. In general, the liberal arts and humanities fields use MLA, while the social sciences use APA formatting. It is extremely important to format all in-text citations properly as they give the reader a way to cross-reference your research underpinning. Proper underpinning lends credibility to your paper by asserting that your information is adding to the intellectual body of knowledge about a topic that has been researched and hypothesized about by other academics.

Items you will need
Primary and secondary research sources
MLA or APA style guide
About the Author

Julia Barrus is a writer and teacher who has published with several online sources since 2008. Barrus has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in secondary education curriculum and instruction with an endorsement in English from the University of Phoenix.

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