With the rise in social media and the overwhelming popularity of applications like Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat, an increasing number of college and university courses are assigning research papers on social media. This can be both a good and bad thing. The good part is that social media is very familiar to college students, so there is a lot to talk about. The bad part is that because social media is so new, there isn’t as much academic research on the subject as there is for some other types of media. For example, a social media network that launched in the past six to twelve months is much less likely to have had research done on it than one that is five or ten years old.
So how should you handle writing a research paper on social media?
Fortunately, there are five tips that will help give you an edge when you write this kind of academic paper. They are:
Treat This Like Any Other Research Paper
First, don’t panic just because your research paper is about social media. Treat this like any other research paper and chances are good that you will be fine. Go through the steps you would for any other research paper: Develop a topic, research your topic, compose and outline, and draft your essay. These steps don’t change just because your topic is about a new media subject. In the end, one research paper is pretty much the same as any other in terms of developing your final essay.
Don’t Rely Only on the Internet
It can be tempting to think that everything you need to know about social media can be found on social media, or at least online. However, like any other research subject, it’s important to use a variety of sources. In this case, that means visiting your college or university library, either online or in person. Publications such as academic journals, newspapers, and magazines have information you won’t find by doing a simple Google search.
Know When to Go Beyond Academic Journals
If your subject is a newer social media channel, you might not find a lot of academic journal articles written specifically about it. To supplement what you do find, you can use reputable popular sources (as long as your instructor allows it – always check if you don’t know!) from publications like news magazines, national newspapers, and trade journals. These sources often have more up to date information, along with specific information targeted for your subject. In the case of popular sources, though, it’s important to vet them carefully to make sure that the source you are using is reputable and credible. You don’t want to use a source only to discover later that it was actually a “satirical” magazine or that the article was written by someone who had never used social media and didn’t understand it.
Draw Connections to Existing Research
That brings us to a related tip. When you do have to rely on popular sources to find information, it’s usually a good idea to connect these back to related information from scholarly sources. For example, let’s say you are researching a new network that just launched last year. After reading popular sources about it, are there ways to say it is similar to or different from earlier social networks? How, then, might academic research on those older networks shed light on the challenges the new one faces? Making these connections will show your ability to apply research and will also help to make seemingly unrelated articles relevant to your topic.
Remember to Visit the Social Networks You Write About
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s hard to write convincingly about a social media network you’ve never visited. It becomes easy to make mistakes, or to overlook mistakes in your sources, if you aren’t up to date on what that network is doing right now. Many change regularly, so be sure to visit and see what they are currently doing, how they work, and how their users are interacting within the network before you type out your research essay. That way your paper will be up to the minute and will have the best information about your topic.
These guidelines are provided by experts from SmartWritingService.com research paper writing service which prepares customized academic projects for students all over the world.