How to Write a Research Essay in Public Administration

Writing guide
Posted on April 25, 2021

A research essay is a common assignment for students in a variety of subject and it often creates a feeling of anxiety which typically makes a negative impact on your productivity. This anxiety is mainly caused by the fact that lots of students lack experience in writing such types of academic papers. That’s why we have created this easy guide where we discuss different aspects of writing a research essay in public administration. We’ll guide you through the entire process from choosing a topic to creating an outline to editing and proofreading and will provide you with useful tips that will help you work smarter not harder. If you need advice on creating other types of college projects, here you’ll also find a lot of full guides to all writing assignments out there.

What Is a Research Essay in Public Administration?

A research essay in public administration has the purpose to demonstrate student’s ability to do a library-based research and present their own interpretation or evaluation or argument. You need to show your academic knowledge of the essay’s subject and involves investigating a field of knowledge to find the best possible information in a certain area.

You need not just review relevant literature in the field and summarize the ideas presented by other people. Your task is to argue a point or analyze the perspective. Besides, your research essay in public administration should present your own thinking. It’s important to ensure that all your ideas are backed by convincing evidence and are supported by ideas of other scholars.
In this guide, we’ll describe different stages of writing a research essay and offer suggestions for approaching this type of writing. Let’s start with the first step – picking a topic.

Choosing an Interesting Topic for a Research Essay in Public Administration

Selecting a good topic for your research essay may be challenging and rather time-consuming but it will be easier if you follow these steps.

  • Choose a topic you are interested in. That will make the writing process more rewarding. You may look through resources in online databases and in your university library. A good idea is to check news to find trending topics that are currently discussed.
  • Use online encyclopedia and reference books to find background and general information on the chosen topic. They can help you discover general trends, definition, subtopics and other information about the subject you are interested in. Create a concept mind map to understand different aspects of the topic and their relations.
  • Select one aspect of your topic that you like most and do preliminary research to learn as much about it as possible. You may search through scholarly databases to find periodicals, e-books, journals, and videos on your topic.
  • Form a research question that will guide your research and writing forward. You need it to stay focused and ensure that your research and writing are relevant.
  • Narrow your topic or broaden it to ensure that it is manageable within the required word count of your research essay in human resources management. Make sure that the aspect you are going to research is specific enough to guide your writing.

If you have no idea of how to get started, here are 15 impressive research essay topic ideas for your inspiration.

  • Role of Youth in Nation Development;
  • Corruption and Economic Crimes in Public Sector;
  • Methods for Dealing with Human Rights Violation;
  • Pros and Cons of Centralization and Decentralization;
  • Scientific Methods of Management in Public Sector;
  • Why Do Government Agencies Fail to Meet Performance Goals?
  • Employee Motivation in Public Sector;
  • Leadership and Decision-making in Public Organizations;
  • Impact of Governmental Reforms on Public Productivity;
  • Types of Organizational Structure in Public Sector;
  • Implementation of Public Policy;
  • How Do Local Officials Use the Concept of Social Equity in Decision-making?
  • Impact of Transparency on Government Accountability;
  • Transparency in Government Decision-making.

Do Research

There are different approaches to conducting the research because this step is rather flexible. But still, it’s important to stay focused on your research question and work consistently to move quickly. It’s crucial to find reliable sources and dig deep into them.

At first, you may use some general sources like online encyclopedias to find relevant keywords you can use for further research but you can’t base your essay on them and cite them in it. You may use general sources as a starting point to get a better understanding of how complex your subject is and what aspects you should research additionally. At this stage, you can use skimming techniques to read everything quickly and identify key concepts and arguments.

Then you should use the keywords you have found to search through academic databases and try to find relevant primary and secondary sources. At this stage of the research process, you need to read texts carefully, paying attention to everything that relates to your subject. Keep in mind that you should try to find different opinions on specific aspects of your topic. You should read a variety of scholarly articles and other sources that present different viewpoints and synthesize that information in your research essay in public administration to explain your topic in-depth.

You should make notes as you read and write down all the necessary information about your sources. You will need it if you decide to cite or paraphrase someone’s idea in your essay and create a references list. That’s why you should create a preliminary bibliography list and try to organize your research on note cards or sticky notes.

Create a Strong Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should present your own particular way of thinking and analyzing a specific subject. Keep in mind that your thesis should be highly specific and focused on a particular aspect. It would be a serious mistake to try to make your thesis statement too broad in order to include a lot of research to support it. A good thesis statement has to state the argument and reveal how a writer is going to make that argument.

Remember; your thesis has to answer your research question but you can finalize it only after you complete the research and writing a draft. So first, you need to create a preliminary thesis and use it to guide your writing. For example, your thesis statement for a research essay about leadership in public sector may look like this one:

‘Leadership is critical to the public sector organizations because it influences their performance and satisfaction of their employees and contributes to enhancing planning, efficiency, transparency, and accountability.’

Of course, you should be ready that you may need to change your thesis during the writing process as you perform additional research on the topic. The preliminary thesis statement determines a general focus and you should re-examine your evidence as you write a draft to identify certain patterns and develop an argument. Your ideas may change, and you may come to a different conclusion, so you should finalize it in your thesis.

Create a Detailed Outline

Use outline to organize your thoughts before you actually start writing. You already have a working thesis and now you need to think of what main points and evidence you will use in your research essay to support it. If your research essay is long, you may use these key points as subheading and if your paper is short, you can focus each paragraph in the body on a single main point.
Don’t try to include all the information that you have researched in your essay if it doesn’t belong to your topic and doesn’t contribute to supporting your argument. You should think critically about what you are going to communicate in your research essay in public administration and decide what specific structure can help you do it in a clear, organized way. Besides, your outline has to include and introduction and a conclusion, so you should think how you can organize these parts of your research essay as well.

Write a Draft of Your Research Essay in Public Administration

At this point of the writing process, you have a lot of interesting ideas that you want to present in your essay and you have a clear direction because you already have the thesis statement and a working outline. They will help you organize your presentation. So let’s discuss the key elements of a successful research essay in public administration.

In the introduction, you have to present the background information to provide a context for your piece of writing. You should start an introductory paragraph with a strong opening sentence to grab your reader’s attention or arouse their curiosity. You may provide an interesting quote, a surprising statistics or interesting fact related to your topic. You should start broad to introduce your topic and then explain how you are going to approach it in your essay. You should also explain why your major idea is important and why your essay is worth reading. You can also briefly outline the main points that your research essay covers.

In the body, you need to provide a logical argument to support your thesis statement. Use the working outline as a flexible guide and build your research essay in public administration around the points you want to make. You should summarize, analyze, and explain your sources as you integrate them into your discussion. It’s not enough to just report what you have learned from a specific work – you should evaluate it.

Keep in mind that each paragraph should develop only one main idea. You should think of it as a block that consists of series of related sentences and has the beginning, the middle, and the ending. You may follow this basis paragraph structure:

  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main point;
  • Include a couple of supporting sentences to explain your key idea;
  • Provide relevant evidence and examples to support the main idea of the paragraph;
  • Explain your evidence and examples and explain why they are relevant and how they support the main idea of the paragraph and the thesis;
  • End every paragraph with a concluding sentence that provides links to the research question and to the next paragraph.

Make sure that each paragraph in the body develops your thesis. Besides, you should use transitional words and phrases to link your paragraphs together. In this way, you can give your readers cues of how your ideas develop your thesis. You may use such transitions as in addition, moreover, also, nevertheless, however, finally, on the other hand, most importantly, thus, as a result, consequently, therefore etc.

In the conclusion, you have to wrap everything up and try to make the final powerful impression on your reader. In this part of your research essay in public administration, you need to move from detailed to a general level and return the topic to the context provided in the introductory paragraph. If you provided a complex argument, you may need to summarize the key points to your audience and emphasize once more the significance of your topic and your findings. It’s important to write a strong conclusion and guide your readers toward thinking about implications of your thesis. You can achieve this goal by putting your topic into a larger context, by giving specific advice or by making some prediction about the future.

When you finish your draft, you will need to revise it, take another look at how you organized your ideas, and make changes to improve the content, logical flow, sentence structure, and word choice. Be ready that you may need to revise your draft several times until you can complete the final draft. Then you should proofread your final draft and fix minor grammar and spelling errors and typos to make it the best it can be.

We have discussed all the essential steps in writing a successful research essay in public administration. Try to follow them when you assigned to complete such type of academic paper. Such assignments can be a challenge, but if you work hard and practice a lot, you are sure to take your writing skills to the next level and get good grades you are after.

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