Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How To Effectively Write An Undergraduate Research Project

An essential requirement for graduating from a tertiary institution is an undergraduate research project. The research project is often done under the guidance of an assigned supervising lecturer. Usually the research is done within the constraint of a student's field of study.
The assigned supervisor serves to receive research proposals from students. An approval of the student's research interest is granted after the supervisor has considered the possible outcome of the research project. In some other cases, the supervisor will be the one to assign research topics to students. In either case, the supervisor is expected to guide the students to the very end.

Research Proposal:
Writing a research proposal can be tedious for students who are new to conducting and writing research papers. The proposal of the anticipated research work is a descriptive overview of the subject to be studied which must include among other things: aims and objectives of the work, research methodology, software and hardware to be employed, assumptions to be made and of course references.  

Research Guideline:
It is incumbent that an undergraduate research project passes through certain phases which include: researching, presentation and print submission. These phases are important as they are meant to help build confidence in the student and also help him or her to be able to stand and defend their research work, especially in the presence of an external supervisor.

Research Paper:
In order to develop an acceptable project write up, the content of your research must follow certain guidelines. In most cases the following format should be adopted:
  • Title page
  • Approval page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content
  • List of tables
  • List of figures
  • List of symbols
  • Research write up (Chapter 1-5)
  • References
  • Appendices (If applicable)
Title page: Just as its name implies, the title page is where the title of the research work is written in full, the author's name and the matriculation number are also written on the title page. Authors department and institution name are written down in full on the title page. Importantly, the title page is where the usual phrase "it is in partial fulfilment of the course requirement required for the award of the (degree type is imputed e.g. B.Sc, B.A, LLB, B. Eng degree). Finally a date is added.

Approval page: This page begins with the author's institution name, faculty and department. Signatures of the supervisor, head of department and external supervisor are penned on the approval page. These signatures are important as it justifies the fact that the student’s research work has gone through proper scrutiny and as a result has been granted approval.

Dedication page: On this page the author can dedicate his or her work to anyone who so deemed fit.

Acknowledgement: This page is very important. On this page the author acknowledges all the individuals who contributed to the successful outcome of the research project.

Abstract: Usually not more than 100 words, the abstract is a very brief summary of the statement of problem, method employed and possibly results obtained and recommendations for further studies. All these should be 100 words in a single paragraph.

Table of contents: The table of content page is like a map or guide to help a reader navigate through the written research project. Consequently it must be done with care and should be edited at the end of the write up so as to ensure that every page matches up with the listed page on the table of content.  The main heading(s), sub-headings(s) and page numbers are listed here.

List of Tables, Figures and Symbols: Although part of the main content. The list of table, figures and symbols is an expanded map of the tables, figures and symbols used in the research write up. The list of tables, figures and symbols should be compiled on separate pages respectively. These lists are meant to direct a reader directly to the page on which the table, figure or symbol of interest is located.

Chapter One: This is where the author introduces the subject by describing the background, scope and research purpose. A substantial amount of data should be presented in regard as to why the study is crucial and worth carrying out. This chapter can be concluded by stating the aims and objectives of the research, constraints and limitation of the study.

Chapter Two: The literature review should be presented in this chapter. An undergraduate research project is usually based on the ground work of other researchers. So the author should present in a chronological order a review of these researches in this chapter. It's an ideal thing for the author to rephrase in clear terms the intentions of the researchers and not to just copy and paste. Emphasis should be laid on the researcher's contribution to the study at hand comparing and contrasting between relevant facts that were left out by past researchers.

Chapter Three: This where the author describes the research methodology. The author is expected to write in the past tense. It is here the author presents a blue print of the research, procedures, geographical settings of the area of study, data sampling and data sources, method adopted and justification. Materials and equipment used should be stated likewise.

Chapter four: In this chapter the author presents, analyze data and result obtained. Relevant charts, graphs, tables and the like are presented in this chapter. A comparative analysis of the result obtained can be made with that of past researches in this chapter. The research student should be very careful in making presentations and analysis in this chapter.

Chapter five: This is the final chapter of an undergraduate research project. In this chapter the research student lays down his or her conclusions and recommendations. Suggestions for improvements for other researchers with a similar bias can also be included.

References: This is a comprehensive itemization of all text books, journals, magazines and other materials from which the author has made citations in the research work. There are several referencing styles which may include any of MLA, APA and Chicago style.

Appendices: Appendices helps back up the research claims. Materials that are relevant to the work but are not included, extensive proofs, official data from a case study and the like should be itemized here.

Vital Tips:
1.     It's an ideal thing to proofread your work after writing. So sit down and pore through your write up by going through each page carefully. Watch out for typos and grammatical blunders and be quick to correct them. You could consult a freelance editor to help you edit your work
2.     Ensure that all the corrections made by your lecturer are effected accordingly. It's a common practice for you to take your work to your supervisor after completing each chapter.
3.     Visit your departmental library and see some of the research write ups of your seniors that have been approved by your supervisor if any. Trace and understand patterns, adopt them to ease yourself of any unforeseen mishap. 


  1. Thanks for this write up. This will actually guide the students in writing their projects. I hope they will take advantage of this to enlighten themselves.

    1. You're welcome Sir and thank you for the comment.