How to Write a Research Paper - Writing Guide & Examples
- What is a Research Paper?
- How to Start a Research Paper?
- How to Write a Research Paper?
- Understand the Paper Requirement
- Choose a Research Paper Topic
- Conduct the Research
- Create a Research Paper Outline
- Write the First Draft
- Write the Second Draft
- Revise and Proofread
- Research Paper Examples
- Research Paper Topics
Writing a research paper is not that scary. However, you need to have a strong grasp of the style fundamentals that make up such a paper and great writing skills, of course.
You might be assigned a research paper on a challenging topic as a part of your high school or college writing assignments. Generally, the main purpose of the paper is to evaluate your research abilities and writing aptitude.
How often have you spent countless hours researching for writing tips? Is a difficult topic bugging you into writer’s block? Well, worry not! We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide below to help you understand how to write a great research paper.
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper involves a comprehensive study or research about a particular topic and its analysis. The paper involves evaluating a research topic and proving your stance on it through relevant and persuasive arguments and findings. Such a paper is aimed at evaluating a student's academic knowledge and their potential to undertake research.
Writing your paper for a research-based topic requires you to put in effort for investigating the topic better and finding relevant supporting arguments. It basically involves studying a specific academic subject and highlighting your research work through thorough analysis.
A research paper could be a doctoral dissertation, a master-level thesis, or an independent term paper. Before you start with a research paper, you need to submit a research proposal. A research proposal, conversely, is more like a pitch used to convince your reader of the value of your research.
You need to be well aware of the basics of the writing process for a research paper. These basic fundamentals make an accepted and accredited paper structure. Aside from an interesting theme, the paper must follow a coherent structure. It should organize and present your research effectively in a logical sequence.
Since it involves detailed research, aspects like tone, word choice, clarity, and readability must be given due attention. Your paper must conform to your instructor’s requirements for works cited, general level format, style guide, and logical flow.
An impactful research paper that’s well-crafted is guaranteed to help you in getting ahead in your academics. It will also aid in your professional life. It showcases your intellectual abilities and potential for excellence.
How to Start a Research Paper?
Writing a research paper is not a piece of cake that everyone can enjoy. It takes time, research, effort, strong writing skills, and most importantly, creative thinking skills. Writing a research paper means you have to go through state-of-the-art work to find a potential problem that needs to be solved. And then find a suitable solution for it with the help of facts, evidence, and examples.
You need to consider several factors before you begin writing your research paper. These include:
- Study the state-of-the-artwork
- Brainstorm ideas
- Look for a potential problem in the existing studies
- Research relevant material
- Find a suitable solution
- Compose arguments and supporting points of your paper
- Consider your audience (professor, other researchers, casual readers, experts, and decision-makers)
- Purpose of the research/study
When you start your research paper, you need to make sure that you have these things ready. So that you do not have any trouble while writing your paper. It will not just save your time but also keep you away from distraction.
How to Write a Research Paper?
‘What are the steps in writing a research paper?’
The process of writing a research paper begins with understanding the paper requirement. Once you know the purpose of your writing and what you need to write in your paper, you can easily draft a research paper.
Below are the steps that you need to follow for writing your research paper.
1. Understand the Paper Requirement
When you begin writing your research paper, make sure you know what you are going to do. Understanding the requirements of your assignment is the first step towards writing a successful paper. Therefore, ensure that everything is clear in your head and you have understood every instruction.
- Carefully read the instructions and clarify any confusing things with your professor.
- Identify the formatting guidelines, goals, word limit, and submission deadline.
- Make a list of key points and cross off the item when you complete it.
Be realistic with your research plan and spare enough time for your paper.
2. Choose a Research Paper Topic
When you start writing a research paper, you need a compelling research paper topic that impacts your reader’s mind. The topic of your research paper should be able to grab your reader’s attention. It should be a unique, up-to-date, original, and fresh idea to discuss.
A brilliant research paper will always feature an exciting theme or topic that will instantly draw the reader in. Make sure you choose a theme that challenges and inspires you.
Avoid choosing broad topics. Instead, narrow down your theme to get an exciting idea that will motivate you as a writer and your readers. Opt for a subject that you can easily write about and has a wider scope for research and analysis.
3. Conduct the Research
Your research paper should reflect high standards of academic writing and analytical skills. The more comprehensive your research, the better your chances of extracting insightful arguments and strong supporting evidence.
Always make sure that you use trusted sources for gathering information for your paper. These should be authentic references like:
- Journal publications, e-papers, and field reports
- Online encyclopedias, tutorials, and databases
- Books, newspapers, and periodicals
- Reports, guides, and government publications
- Related blogging platforms and article repositories
- Vertical files, dictionaries, guides
- You can also check your university’s writing lab to get more authentic sources.
Detailed research helps your writing process in several ways:
- Understanding your theme or topic better
- Creating a research question
- Organizing your paper in a logical flow
- Formulating ideas effectively for the perfect impact
- Writing a thesis statement that impresses your teacher
- Discussing your topic with clarity and authority
While you’re conducting your research, it is suggested that you take notes of important facts and information and keep a check on your sources. You’ll need these later to build your reference list and bibliography, as well as in-text citations.
4. Create a Research Paper Outline
After collecting the data for your paper from credible sources, craft a strong outline to organize the content. The research paper outline will help you structure your paper according to your professor’s instructions.
The general research paper format follows the traditional outline and organizational research paper structure. Generally, the parts of a research paper include the Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion. Creating an outline for a research paper with these parts helps organize your paper better.
However, here is a complete outline for a research paper.
- Title page
- Literature review
- 5. Write the First Draft
The first draft of your paper needs not to be perfect, you are allowed to make mistakes, and they can be corrected later. Just write a rough draft to organize the information and give a proper structure to the paper. You can polish your work in later drafts and make it perfect according to your professor’s instructions.
Below are the sections that must be included while writing the first draft of a research paper.
Compose a Title Page
A research paper cover page includes relevant information about your research paper. For example, the author’s name, instructor’s name, submission date, and the institute’s name. The title page should tell the reader what the paper is all about so that they have a clear idea about your topic.
Write an Abstract
The abstract includes summary sentences that highlight the central theme of your research paper. The length of an abstract is normally half a page. The section provides an overview of the research area or topic that is being discussed.
Everything is added briefly and without any detailed explanation of the subject. Ideally, an abstract should address the following important points:
- Key features of the study
- What steps did you take for the study?
- Your approach to the study or research
- How did you conduct the research?
- An overview of the most significant research findings and results
Make sure you do not provide any background details of the research area or references for the citations that you added in the paper. Also, avoid explaining the purpose of undertaking the research or investigation in your abstract.
Develop a Strong Thesis
A thesis statement includes summary sentences for highlighting the main point of your research paper. It offers an informative preview or synopsis of the supporting arguments. It highlights the central theme or idea, and every supporting argument you present will naturally link to it throughout the paper.
Keep in mind that your thesis statement must clearly present your core theme or stance of the research topic. Every other argument will follow from this summarized viewpoint. Your thesis statement must be highly impressive, so it inspires the reader to read through your content.
Write an Introduction
Your introduction has to be catchy and exciting. It must be informative enough to inspire your reader positively. The intro part includes details like your area of research, brief background information on the topic, and a preview of your study.
Wherever required, use interesting, relevant, and brief points to explain your central idea and supporting arguments. A good introduction always explains your main research approach, the key theme, and your aim of conducting the research.
It clearly provides answers to three important questions with regards to your audience:
- What is the area of research and the central theme?
- Why am I writing this research paper?
- What actions should I take?
The introduction is usually about half to three-quarters of a page. It should follow the structure below:
- Background context for the research topic
- Aims and Objectives
- Contextual background for the problem area or topic
- Technical background details
- Assumptions and constraints
- Purpose of the research or investigation
Write the Body Section (Methods, Results, and Discussion)
This section helps organize your research into a coherent flow. The body paragraphs are divided into the Method, Results, and Discussion. The body of your research paper forms the essence of all of your research and analysis. All your arguments must be structured in a logical flow so the reader can follow your research from the beginning to the end.
Make sure you add relevant headings and subheadings in this section, so the readers have a clear idea of your discussion. Proper headings also help promote readability, letting your reader know what kind of information you’re presenting.
The body paragraphs should have the following features:
- Researched facts, real-world information through intelligent arguments that are supported by strong evidence
- Organized points and arguments presented under relevant headings for a structural flow
- The central theme and all arguments effectively connecting through with figures and tables
- Short paragraphs, each highlighting a unique concept or idea
- Proper formatting, citations, and layout to present information with clarity
Write a Compelling Conclusion
The concluding section must restate your central theme and personal stance on the area of research. It should not restate your earlier arguments. It restates your thesis statement and states if the hypothesis was proved or not. Moreover, it also presents a sort of call to action and compels the readers to think about the subject.
Use convincing points to explain why further research is required or how a solution meets an identified research gap. Based on your proposed solution, the conclusion should inspire your reader to believe your stance.
It should follow the structure: (objectives, key features, result).
A good conclusion will provide the following details:
- An account of whether your research purpose and aims have been achieved
- Summarized view of the vital arguments of your research
- Illumination of the major outcomes and results of your investigation or study
- Compose a Title Page
6. Write the Second Draft
The second draft needs to be perfect and properly organized. You need to consider every little detail required to make your paper perfect. At this point, your focus is on the following things:
- Check whether your first draft has effectively answered your research questions
- Check whether the information is in a logical flow and making sense to the reader
- Identify any justification or assumptions that can be presented to clarify the idea
- Keep your reader’s perspective in mind and remove any information that creates a conflict of interest
- Rearrange the ideas and content wherever required
- Make sure you have met the required word limit
- Include the bibliography section to cite all the study material you have used in your paper
- Add the appendices section and include the required information
7. Revise and Proofread
The final step is revision and proofreading. This step helps you ensure that your paper has no flaws and errors and it is up to the mark of your professor’s expectations. The goal of this process is as follow:
- Remove spelling and grammatical errors
- Confirm that you have completed all the tasks specified in the instructions
- Make sure the organization of the paragraphs is in a logical flow
- Each sentence is supporting your thesis statement
- All the unnecessary and irrelevant information is removed
- You have clearly identified all the technical terms
- All the sources are cited properly according to the selected citation style
Research Paper Examples
These research paper samples will help you in formatting your paper and knowing how to write it successfully.
Here are some more research paper examples you can review to get a better understanding.
Research Paper Topics
To give you an idea of what makes an ideal and research-worthy topic, we have added some research paper topics to help you get started.
How does homeschooling impact the psychological growth of a child?
- Transcultural medical practices and how do they impact different cultures?
- Impact of war on civilizations and future generations
- Explain Green Chemistry and its Impact on Overall Environment
- What is Smog? State and explain its negative impact on human health.
- Plastic and its Cons: Explain the global disadvantages of plastic waste.
- What are the main causes of the global population, and is it disrupting the balance of natural resources?
- Are the standard tests helpful in measuring students' competency?
- What are the causes of frequent forest fires in the US?
- Explain the pros and cons of the No Child Left Behind Act.
- What are the ethical concerns related to the latest scientific advancements?
We hope this guide was helpful for you in learning how to write a good research paper. It’s not too difficult to craft a winning research paper. All you need is to add the right elements to impress your readers. You need to be familiar with the paper basics and writing fundamentals to create an excellent research paper.
Instead of spending hours on research or idea conceptualization, just use our guidelines above to write an impactful paper.
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