How to Start a Research Paper: 7 Easy Steps
Students dread getting assigned research papers and procrastinate when it comes to writing them.
They delay the writing process in hopes of getting done with it in a single day.
But writing a good research paper isn’t a task that can be completed in one sitting.
Research paper writing consists of several important steps that must be followed when writing. Starting a research paper alone requires preparation and planning.
Want to learn how to start a research paper?
Continue reading to find out the basic plan to approach the introduction for a research paper.
- 1. How to Start a Research Paper
- 1.1 Understand the Guidelines
- 1.2 Choosing a Research Paper Topic
- 1.3 Conduct Research on Your Topic
- 1.4 Sketch a Research Paper Outline
- 1.5 How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper
- 1.6 How to Write an Introduction Paragraph
- 1.7 How many Sentences Should be in a Paragraph?
- 1.8 Finish Writing your Research Paper
1. How to Start a Research Paper
The mistake that most students make is that they jump straight to the writing process without doing the required research. It is called a “research paper” after all, so it is understood that you will need to conduct some kind of research before you decide to start writing.
It does sound boring and pretty tedious, but it can be made easier with just a little planning and sticking to a format.
The must haves to write an introduction and get your research paper off the ground are:
- Deciding on a research paper topic
- Carrying out research
- Organizing the data and findings
- Creating a research paper outline
- Creating a thesis statement
No matter the subject that you are writing for, or your academic level, these basic steps will help you in starting all research papers.
Let’s discuss about each of these steps in detail to give you a better understanding of the writing process.
1.1 Understand the Guidelines
Before getting started it is always a good idea to carefully read the professor’s guidelines. This will help ensure that you are clear about what is asked and you don’t go off track. Also, the guidelines will help you understand how you plan to approach and answer your research question.
There might be some specific instructions regarding the formatting of your research paper. For example, your teacher has provided the instructions regarding the citation style that should be followed.
A detailed research paper guide will help you understand how to craft each section and write it in perfect order. Learning how to write a research paper is a detailed process and this is why we insist that you dedicate ample time to understand its elements and practice to master it.
1.2 Choosing a Research Paper Topic
The foundation of any piece of writing is the idea behind it. The topic sets the tone for the entire paper, and your job becomes easier when you write on a topic that interests you.
If given the opportunity to write on a topic of your choice, it is best to start early and brainstorm different ideas. You can’t expect to immediately decide on a topic, some might seem too vague or generalized. While some won’t have enough information available to write on.
The steps for choosing an informative topic are:
- Pick a topic that you are passionate about
- Keep in mind the reader’s interest
- It must be relevant to your subject
- Must not be too broad – should be manageable
If you are out of ideas and can’t find anything that fits your interests, here is a list of interesting research paper topics.
1.3 Conduct Research on Your Topic
The process of writing a research paper is incomplete without actually performing the research. It is definitely the most exhausting stage of the life cycle. But it is the most crucial step, you can’t expect to write an entire paper on a particular topic without having background information on it, can you?
You can start by reading an article on your chosen topic, surf the internet for credible resources. Or go through different scholarly books and journals. An effective way of doing so is to hit the nearest library and start digging up information.
Look for facts and supporting evidence that will support your thesis statement. To prove your statement, it is important that you must have supporting details and relevant facts. Only then you will be able to prove your research question of hypothesis.
It is quite possible to get overwhelmed with the excessive information so you should organize your findings from the start.
1.4 Sketch a Research Paper Outline
Once you have gathered the necessary data, the next step is drafting an outline. Your outline or structure will act as a placeholder for the actual information. Simply note down the important and main ideas that will go in each section.
Group together your own ideas along with the gathered information. Don’t think of it as the final version, you can make changes to it as you go. Writing a research paper outline will just help make the actual writing process more organized and easier to complete. While without an outline, you are likely to go astray and away from your paper’s main focus.
1.5 How to Write a Thesis for a Research Paper
Crafting a clear and arguable thesis statement is another element of a research paper. A thesis statement usually comprises of one to two sentences and is usually situated at the end of your introduction paragraph.
The thesis statement sums up the main idea and the purpose of your research, which helps keep you on the right track. Keep referring back to your thesis statement to avoid getting lost in discussing irrelevant ideas.
Brainstorm different thesis ideas before finalizing one. Remember that the purpose of a thesis statement is to make the reader understand your topic and not to confuse them further.
To understand better, going through some thesis statement examples is a great idea. This way you will know how to start a thesis statement and what makes an impactful thesis statement. This will also help you craft an insightful statement for your research paper.
1.6 How to Write an Introduction Paragraph
Writing an exciting research paper introduction is a daunting task. However, if you have followed the earlier steps, you are good to go. You have an interesting topic, thesis statement, relevant information and a research question. These are the main components of writing an introduction, with the addition of a catchy hook.
A hook sentence is a chance to grab the reader’s attention by sharing an interesting quote, fact, statistic or an anecdote.
Avoid using sentences such as:
“This paper is based on…”
“In this paper I am going to discuss…”
1.7 How many Sentences Should be in a Paragraph?
Honestly, it depends. The number of content, paragraphs and lines per paragraph, all depends on the topic and scope of your research paper. As a general rule of thumb and a simple answer to the ‘how many sentences make a paragraph’ question is that a good paragraph has two to three sentences. However, this number of sentences can increase, based on the subject and the type of study.
1.8 Finish Writing your Research Paper
All the above-mentioned steps were to get you started with the writing process. However, following these steps will not be enough. Use your thoughts and ideas as well as the evidence to craft an informative and interesting research paper.
Don’t forget to proofread your paper. Once you are done with these stages, read your paper with a fresh mind to get rid of any errors or vague ideas. We hope that this article was helpful in getting you started with your research paper.
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