How to Write a Research Paper

Research paper is a scientific assignment of high volume of work which target is to define some particular issue, research it, and offer new solutions to the problem that can make a base for further investigation. What is the purpose of making students spend time on writing such tasks? Having learned how to write a research paper, you will acquire skills in locating relevant information, analyzing your findings, and sharing the results. That is to say, you will get prepared to answer any question, no matter how complex it is that is a useful skill for an adult. Follow our instruction to make it simple to complete your college papers!

Step 1. Force Yourself to Act

The early bird catches the worm. Be that early bird get an “A” for your research paper – late preparation can hardly save from a disaster. Well, such procedure is familiar to you: you postpone it for several times, and then the last day comes. As a rule, at this moment something goes wrong. Now that you have experience in this concern don’t allow to play out this scenario again, especially when you have an important task. It is one of those research paper tips that can be applied to any serious assignment.

Step 2: Topic Choice

Whether you are free to choose a topic or your teacher assigned it, you are to take into account a number of aspects which will help you select that one which will simplify the process of writing.

If you were assigned a topic, accept it for what it is even if you didn’t like it, and think how to write a research paper on that theme. Such situation presupposes different levels of independence. You can be offered detailed guidelines or options to choose from. In both cases, you are to think if you have any idea about it and if your answer is “no,” you are to consult several sources to get informed.

If you are to pick out a topic yourself, you have to be more attentive when evaluating worthiness of variants. Ask yourself:

  •         Will I find enough information when writing my research paper on this theme?
  •         Is the chosen topic so original that it will allow to bring to the surface some new opinion and details?
  •         Is the subject in discussion related to my sphere?

Having come to the conclusion that you know what your topic offers to you, proceed.

Here is a number of important moments one should consider when choosing a topic:

  •         Your interest in it. Author’s engagement with a theme is contagious – you are more likely to engage your audience if you are interested in it.
  •         Uniqueness. Writing a research paper on some widespread topic is a thankless job: even if you do your best, your text will look like other ten samples which were handed to your teacher. It will not help you to stand out from the crowd.
  •         Readiness to ask for help. When you spent plenty of time on a topic choice, but the worthy idea didn’t come, it’s high time to ask for a valuable piece of advice. Your friends and your professor can help you find a proper topic or give a hint where to look for it. Don’t be shy or frightened to ask for assistance!
  •         Readiness to change your theme. When preparing to write an assignment, admit a simple truth: for now, you are not an expert in how to do a research paper. It means you can make mistakes. The very first mistake might be a wrong topic. Be ready to correct it as soon as you found out (in the majority of cases, it happens on the research stage) – there is no need in making multiple attempts to take hold of it!

Step 3: Research

At times, research leads to confusion. Some students fail to find more than two sources when try to complete their research papers devoted to some complicated topic, others can’t stop researching being inspired by more and more credible information. No extremes are good, but an obligatory minimum comprises five qualitative sources. To choose the best sources to rely on throughout the process of writing, you should:

  • select among professional publications
  • search for empirical research (articles and books) conducted by experts in your area of studying in specialized journals and on the Web.
  • make a “trip” to the library – an old fashioned approach allows to find valuable materials, be it a book, a journal or a newspaper, that are not available to the wide public otherwise than this way, just don’t be shy to ask a librarian for assistance.
  • search online – to choose online sources that will help you in writing a research paper, prefer the sites ending in “gov” “edu” or “org” to make use of qualitative information (if you fail to find any source of this kind, change your search query – your request must have something in common with the titles of articles).
  • use university’s membership to get access to paid academic databases free of charge (if you do not know which databases are available or don’t know passwords – ask a librarian) and find plenty of scientific publications on any topic (focus on specialized databases related to your domain to get better results).
  • “dig” everywhere – to find more valuable sources belonging to your sphere don’t be lazy to look through the bibliography list of worthy books penetrating your realm that you have already found.

how to write research papers

Step 4: Outline

Now it’s time to make a detailed plan of your writing. The algorithm of proper research paper outline looks like this:

Make notes and organize them

  • print out all the information taken from different sources;
  • highlight the phrases that are of particular importance (directly on those copies, and using a tucked paper and a pencil when working with books), differentiate between the core facts and nuances that can be useful;
  • note where you can use this or that information;
  • organize notes into categories and paint them in different colors (when analyzing fiction, classify your notes into those which support the central idea and color it in red,  those about symbols used in the work – in blue, about plot – in yellow, etc.);
  • make a list of notes for every resource – it simplifies consolidation of ideas.

Write an approximate variant of reference page. Research paper outline helps to prevent from plagiarism. All you need to do is to look through your highlighted notes and write titles of works, their authors, page number, year of publication, publishing house and arrange them in correspondence with the assigned format.

Identify the type of research paper. To correctly determine the focus of your assignment, you should know its type. There exist two main variants of a task: argumentative (expressing opinion as for some debatable issue and arguing for one position) and analytic (representing a new way of looking at some important question, be it controversial or not, which presentation must persuade the reader that your unique view was proved due to research).

 Take your target audience into account. Writing a research paper outline, you are to keep in mind your reader’s level of awareness on the theme. It is about tone and focus of your writing. Professors will not need explanations of the basics, but a less informed reader will be grateful for that, just like additional examples.

Work on your structure.

  • Create a thesis: in one or two sentences, express the main goal or the central idea of your paper without any extra information. Later on, it will land at the end of your introduction. It is an essential part of research paper outline as it gives a benchmark for your introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion. Wording can be changed later. To develop it easily, determine the question to which your whole assignment should provide an answer.
  • Construct a skeleton for the main part: Having looked through your notes, write down the ideas that have the best evidence base placing the strongest ones at the beginning. Provide further research under each point.

Mind your research paper format.

There is a great number of formats: APA, MLA, AMA, CSE, Chicago, Turabian, APSA, etc. Every such format has its peculiarities resulting in changes in presentation, even in structure. In APA research paper format, you will need to include a number of determined chapters (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion).

Fine-tune your outline. Read it once again to fix any inaccuracy and include in-text citations – it saves much time in the process of writing.

Step 5: Writing a research paper

  •         Start with meat. If you are eager to know how to write a research paper quickly, here it is: one of the valuable tricks is not to start writing with introduction. Instead, arrange your main ideas. Ascertain that every your statement is followed by supporting evidence and explanations. Opinions should be supported by facts, facts – by explanations, such is the pattern applied to this type of assignment. Use transitions to help your reader follow your train of thought.
  •         Form conclusion. When writing a research paper conclusion, gradually pull away from the topic: start with restating your thesis in different words than the statement which is prepared to be inserted in your introduction, enumerate the central ideas. Devote your final sentences to the idea in broad sense bringing to the surface some valuable implication of attained results.
  •         Write your introduction. It is a conclusion in revers: represent your topic in general and narrow it to the thesis using a hook to grab the audience.
  •         Arrange your text up to the format. Make certain you’ve taken into consideration every detail including margins, spacing, font, capitalization, chapter titles, peculiarities of structure, in-text citations, reference list, etc.

Step 6: Editing and proofreading

  •         First reading. Read it yourself for several times, apply effective programs for grammar, editing and spelling check to detect misprints, ask someone else to have a look at it to eliminate inaccuracies in voice, tone, logic, to ensure correspondence to research paper format, and to make certain the text sounds rather persuasive.
  •         Put the last stroke. Wait for a couple of days and read it again, repeat the last point, save your research paper in several places for safety and print out. You’ve coped!