How to Start a Research Paper - 9 Simple 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.
How to Start a Research Paper?
Most students make the mistake of jumping straight to the writing process without doing the required research. However, you 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.
Follow the steps given below to start a research paper perfectly. No matter the subject you are writing for or your academic level, these basic steps will help you start all papers. Let’s discuss each of these steps in detail to understand the writing process better.
1. Understand the Guidelines Before
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 make 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.
Make notes of the following important elements:
- Number of sources required
- Paper format
- Font size and type
- Word count
- Page and paragraph spacing
2. Choose 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 decide on a topic immediately; some might seem too vague or generalized. In contrast, some won’t have enough information available to write on.
The tips for choosing an informative topic are as follows:
- 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.
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.
You can start by reading an article on your chosen topic, surf the internet for credible resources. Also, 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, you must have supporting details and relevant facts. Only then you will be able to prove your research question or hypothesis.
It is quite possible to get overwhelmed with excessive information, so you should organize your findings from the start.
4. Create 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 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.
Here is a detailed guide that will help you in writing a research paper outline effectively.
5. Develop a Thesis for a Research Paper
Writing a thesis statement that is clear and arguable is another element of a research proposal paper. A thesis statement usually comprises 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 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.
Here is a blog on thesis statement examples for a research paper that you can go through for crafting a strong thesis.
6. Start with the Main Body Paragraphs
Start writing the main body of your essay’s first draft. Most people prefer to write this section before the introduction. It will because these paragraphs give a proper direction to your paper.
Also, ensure to start these paragraphs with a topic sentence and avoid discussing multiple ideas in a single paragraph.
7. How to Start a Research Paper Introduction
Writing an introduction to a research paper 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.
However, it is better to always start your introduction with an engaging hook statement to grab the reader’s attention. It may include:
- Interesting quote
- An interesting fact
Also, avoid using the following sentences as a part of the introduction.
“This paper is based on…”
“In this paper, I am going to discuss…”
The number of content, paragraphs, and lines per paragraph depends on the topic and scope of your research paper. 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.
How to Start a Research Paper with a Quote?
Starting a research paper with a quote is a good practice. All you have to do is to find a famous quotation that fits your purpose.
As you have to use that at the beginning of the research paper, make sure it is specific and to the point.
Here are the tips to start a research paper with a quotation.
- Avoid commonly used quotes.
- Explain how it relates to your main theme.
- Select a quotation that your audience can connect to.
- Acknowledge the source.
- Ensure that the selected quote matches your tone of the paper.
Refer to the following example to get a detailed idea of the rest of the paper.
Karl Marx, the writer of the pamphlet ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ proclaims, “Communism abolishes all eternal truths…instead of constituting them on a new basis” (Marx 81). In other words, communism throws out all beliefs, not only ones that counter the ideas of communism.’
Marx’s insistence on “abolishment” reflects the greater implication that communism not only represents a change in a political system or a belief but also negates all previously accepted aspects of life.
This would require a radical change of heart for all people. Marx’s call for abolishing truths requires too much change in people’s lives; his ideas are not ideal for changing society.
How to Start a Research Paper About a Person?
If you start a paper about a paper, it might refer to telling a story chronologically. It includes the below-given elements.
- State the full name of the individual.
- Discuss his lifetime synopsis.
- Discuss the work history.
- Explain how the person can relate to the audience.
- Challenges that he had faced.
- Discuss the cultural, social, and economical activities that he was involved in
Thus, discuss the personality by addressing these elements to create an engaging paper. Here is an example for you to understand better.
This research paper aims to write about a project manager, Patricia Jefferson. She has several years of project management experience. Her main research areas are specifically in managing large, long-term construction projects for multifamily residences.
How to Start a Research Paper Conclusion
Start the conclusion of your paper by restating the thesis statement and the main research question. Similarly, emphasize the main ideas instead of adding new information.
Remember, a strong conclusion is important, just like an introduction paragraph. It is considered the last chance to make an impression on the readers. Therefore, it should give an overall effect by explaining the outcomes of the research briefly.
9. Finish Writing your Paper & Revise
All the steps mentioned above where to get you started with the writing process. However, following these will not be enough. Use your thoughts, ideas, and evidence to craft an informative and interesting research paper.
Don’t forget to proofread your last draft and take enough time for it. You can also ask your friends and family 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.
The following is a checklist to ensure that you don’t miss out on any important aspect.
- Is the thesis clear and specific?
- Is the writing piece well-organized?
- Do the arguments prove the thesis statement?
- Are the primary sources authentic and properly cited?
- Did you avoid repetition?
- Is the grammar and sentence structure correctly used?
Hopefully, this blog was helpful in getting you started with your research paper. It will also help you learn about writing the different sections of a research paper in depth.
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