Civil Engineering Research Paper and How to Reach the Highest Level of Quality

Writing guide
Posted on January 17, 2019

Research is important because it will help you know where to find different types of information to solve engineering problems in your career. As an engineer, you will be required to research engineering guidelines, standards, and other sources to prevent engineering failures. Your ability to conduct comprehensive and accurate research is very important though.

Most students find research classes boring or frightening or even both. The commitment levels to produce a good research paper are enormous, and that is what most students fear. A literature review as well as collecting and analyzing research data is the most difficult part of the process. However, the undergraduate research experience can influence your future career choice. It will allow you to develop professionally and personally in ways not possible through in normal lectures. The research experience will give you an opportunity to gain some deeper knowledge of research techniques and processes. You will be able to apply classroom learning in real-world contexts, explore academic literature, and develop an important relationship with your supervisor.

In your career as a civil engineer, you will be mandated required to present their findings on projects. A good number of civil engineers are involved in the research. The satisfaction of a civil engineer is derived from seeing a complex project completed. Engineers are required to have problem-solving and writing skills. Their work entails that they possess the ability to identify and evaluate complex problems. They are often forced to come up with cost-effective, safe, and efficient solutions. Writing skills enable engineers to communicate with other people. They must explain their projects to the government, elected officials, and other engineers. Civil engineers, therefore, must be able to write reports that are clear, concise, and understandable to those with no technical or scientific background.

To earn your degree, you will be required to conduct a research study. You will identify a research topic, perform the appropriate research, and write a project.

What Is a Topic Subject and How to Handle This Stage?

A topic is a general area of inquiry and it designates the general subject of the research. It is a specific issue you are to discuss. It is a subject that a person wants to learn about. Research topics are supposed to be interesting and meaningful to the student and the instructor; there must be enough resources available to carry out the work. Also, you must make sure that your research can be accomplished within the time limits available to you. Other things to consider include the availability of intellectual and financial resources available to you.
In civil engineering paper, you will be required to narrow down the general topic down to a more specific topic for your project. Identifying a research topic is one of the most difficult tasks.

6 Must-Follow Tips from Our Writers to Come Up with a Hot Topic

  1. Identify the issue. You will be required to identify the issue to be addressed and convince your supervisor that the topic is worthy of investigation. Give a clear statement of objectives that your study will accomplish. You are then supposed to develop a research plan that will accomplish the objectives and present them in sufficient detail to your supervisor.
  2. Brainstorm for ideas. What topics in the civil engineering course are you most interested in? Is there an aspect of a class that you want to know more about? Once you identify the topic into a question: you should ask yourself what you want to learn exactly about road designing. For example, you can ask yourself how do we make roads using more durable materials. Write down the keywords or the concepts.
  3. Read widely on the topic. One of the commonest methods of identifying a research project is for the student to develop a research hypothesis after extensive reading, analysis, careful thinking, and discussion with their advisor. If you are lucky, an instructor may assign you with a topic but most often instructors require their students to select their own topic of interest. Read many articles on the topic or topics you are considering. Reading will help you have an overview of the topic and see how your idea connects to wider, narrower, and related issues.
  4. Stay within the limits. A topic may be hard to research if it is too broad or too narrow. You can limit your topic by geographical area or by time frame, but it should not be too narrow as it will give you a hard time getting the necessary resources.
  5. Be flexible. You may be required to adjust your topic during the research process. You may narrow, broaden or modify it depending on the material that is available for your research or based on what your lecturer advises you.
  6. Consult your supervisor. You should expect to work closely with the supervisor as they are essential to the success of the project. Also, it is important that you realize that identifying a research project is very challenging. It will require multiple iterations in which an idea is proposed. Some preliminary information is collected on the topic and a scope of work is developed. Your civil engineering research paper will take you a good amount of time.

Here are some possible topics for a civil engineering research paper:

  • Indoor Reduction of Wind Farm Noise for Rural Residences;
  • Field Tests on Geosynthetic Reinforced Unpaved Roads;
  • Improving Water Quality in New York City;
  • Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Old Infrastructure.

Pre-writing Tips: The Way to Effective Body Writing

  • Know the purpose of your research. You have to think about the purpose of your research. The purpose of your paper may be to understand a problem and propose a solution to it. A critical researcher regularly considers the purpose of the research, what is supposed to be achieved and why.
  • Schedule. Research consumes a lot of time, and time management is of great essence. You will, therefore, be required to have a timeline of things that you should accomplish by a specific date (e.g. find 20 sources by June 30, complete chapter 1 by July 15). You will need time to get an overview of what material is available in your university library, take notes, and start putting notes together.
  • Search for bibliographies. To make your work easier, you should search for necessary bibliographies before you start writing. This includes looking for the sources that other authors have used, searching if they are available online, and saving them for later use.
  • Know your resources. Spend time getting to know what resources your library offers. Ask the research librarian for some assistance if needed. Check some of the academic databases that your university has subscribed too and whether you can access them outside the school.
  • Seek help. Before starting, you should seek help from your instructor. They will help you locate specific pieces of hard to find information or clarify grey areas. They may also recommend a few authors who are well-versed in your topic.

The Actual Research and How to Conduct It Properly

Your civil engineering research paper will have the following parts:

Cover Page

This part contains the paper’s title, your name, and the year.


The abstract will be a broad overview of your paper, and it is never more than a page. It describes what your paper is all about, objectives its significance, the methodology, and the main findings. You should take the time to write a good abstract because it is the first part of the paper that will be read by your instructor.

Introduction and Statement of the Problem

Here, you are to explain the main research problem and why it is important, how original it is and if it will fill a gap in other studies.

Literature Review

This section includes a review of what other authors have written about your topic. You will be required to provide relevant information that has been done on the topic from the analysis and summary of published literature and reports. This section will draw heavily on the previous work by others and other sources of data that should be extensively referenced.


Discuss the research methodology that you used for your study. What did you do, how you did you do it. You should provide enough information on the research schedule with specific tasks and milestones that can be used to track the progress of the research.

Limitations of the Study

In this section, you will indicate what you are not going to attempt. You can limit your paper by personnel, time, and geographic location among others.

Expected Results and Methods of Analyses

Here, you will describe the data expected to be generated by the research. Describe how the data will be processed, summarized or analyzed. Identify statistical methods that you will use to process the data. Also, describe how you will assimilate and interpret literature, interviews, or other non-qualitative information.


Here, you state what you have learned or proved. Describe interesting observations, new questions, and future work here.


For your work to be considered credible, you should use sources that are regarded as highly credible. You should not rely on those that give a personal opinion or anecdotal evidence.

Sources that are considered reputable include:

  • Specialist magazines or newspapers of high repute;
  • Government reports, reports from recognized and reputable organizations;
  • Published theses;
  • Journals: If possible, try to restrict yourself to peer-reviewed journals which are journals that are reviewed by experts who work in the field of research before they are published.

Some More Important Things to Consider

Geographical Restriction: If your topic focuses on a particular county, you will need the information from that country’s resources.
Year Range: Some universities require that you use information published that fit a particular year range. You could be restricted to sources that are not more than 10 years old or less.

Editing: How to Polish Your Paper to Perfection

The research is a formal academic document and should be written formally. Write your research in the third person. You should be clear and succinct. The report should be written in the past tense because the document describes the work that has been done before.

You should ensure that your work meets the required level of academic writing. It should also be presented in a clear and logical manner. The necessary high standards in spelling, referencing, and grammar should be met.

  • Stay within the word limit: you should strive to remain within the word limit. Most instructors penalize students for failing to reach the word limit or writing beyond what was required of them.
  • Cut long sentences in two: keep your sentences short to avoid losing the reader’s focus. Readers often get stuck when reading long utterances.
  • Remove repetition: use varied vocabulary. You should not use the same words repetitively in the research unless they are keywords.
  • Proofread: proofread your work multiple times to identify and correct mistakes.
  • Seek help: request someone else to review your paper and check for mistakes.

Plagiarism: Make Sure There is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

To avoid plagiarism, you are required to properly cite and attribute the work of others in the literature review and background section of your work. You should cite words that you have used directly from other authors. You must also document the source when you use the ideas or information of others even if they appear in your own words. However, you are not required to cite sources for materials that are considered common knowledge.

You should expect to put a lot of work into your research. First, you will be required to come up with a research proposal which constitutes the first part of the project. The research proposal will establish the organization for the final document. Equally, you must strive to produce high-quality research project.


  1. Bui, Y. (2013). How to write a master’s thesis. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.
  2. Ram, P., Sethi, A., Madadin, M., & Menezes, R. (2016). Research at an undergraduate level – An insight into its importance. Nepal Journal Of Epidemiology, 6(1), 528. doi: 10.3126/nje.v1i1.14734
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