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        How to Write a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide

        • calenderAug 09, 2023
        • calender 6 min read

        Are you a scholar or an academic seeking to publish your research paper? As you’ll know, achieving this goal isn’t exactly a piece of cake. That’s exactly why we’ve created this 11-step guide on how to write a research paper.

        A research paper demands more depth than an academic essay, but it’s certainly more concise than a thesis! When writing a research paper, you must undertake an extensive and independent investigation of your subject. Your work must be an original augmentation, not a mere duplication.

        We’ll explain in more detail, but here are our tips on how to write a research paper:

        1. Analyze what’s required from your paper
        2. Finalize a suitable research paper topic
        3. Undertake preliminary research
        4. Write a working thesis statement 
        5. Develop a research paper outline 
        6. Write an informative but engaging introduction
        7. Draft the body of your paper 
        8. Write a research paper conclusion 
        9. If required, write an abstract 
        10. Thoroughly revise your paper 
        11. Edit and proofread your research paper 

        As you can see, this guide to writing a research paper is nothing if not comprehensive! Without further ado, let’s start. Here are the steps on how to write a research paper:

        1. Analyze what’s required from your paper

        Before you start researching and writing your paper, you need to study the assignment requirements in detail. You need to know the specific deliverables that you’re expected to highlight in your paper. This includes everything from word limit specifications to whether or not you should include an abstract or acknowledgments section in your paper. 

        Familiarize yourself with the specified formatting style, grammar conventions, and vocabulary guidelines. Then, set a realistic deadline for yourself and create a writing schedule accordingly. Knowing what your paper needs to deliver will help you choose a suitable topic and write the paper in a step-by-step manner.

        2. Finalize a suitable research paper topic 

        To finalize a topic for your research paper, start with the subject areas that interest you. This way, you can ensure that you won’t run out of steam midway through the project! However, you should also ensure that your topic has some significance in your field. All the other tips for writing a research paper are useless if your topic doesn’t meet the parameters of your assignment!

        Your topic needs to be specific enough to fit the limited span of a paper, but broad enough to warrant significant research. For this to happen, you can start with some background research. Read up on the existing literature in your niche and look for the recommendations or suggestions others have made in their papers. This will present a list of potential topics, from which you can choose one and narrow it down to your benefit.

        So if you were interested in studying the impacts of climate change, you’d have to narrow down a region or an affected population. Take a look at the following research paper topics:

        Assessing the impact of climate change on the global ecosystem

        Impact of climate change: Assessing mitigation strategies on local and global levels

        3. Undertake preliminary research

        While researching your topic, you’ll have a general list of potential sources for your paper. Narrow it down or expand on it further to gather substantial but focused research material. Make sure you explore both supporting and contradictory views on the subject.

        If you’re confused about how to sort your information, try the five Ws and one H method. Your research should answer the why, when, what, who, where, and how of your research problem. This will help you clearly outline the problem you intend to address through your research paper.

        When learning how to write a good research paper, remember that effective note-taking is as important as reading up on the right sources. This will help you avoid the anguish of knowing that a particular study provides supporting evidence for your argument but being unable to find it! Keep a record of useful information in whatever format works best for you. You can also make a mind map for your paper!

        4. Write your thesis statement

        Your thesis statement is a succinct summary of your topic in one or two sentences. If you’re wondering how to start a research paper, this is the answer! Your thesis statement will be the first or second sentence in your paper, introducing your reader to your topic.

        Obviously, your research paper thesis statement can’t be wordy, nor can it be insubstantial. You need to summarize your research paper but not burden the thesis statement with too many details. If you’re confused about how to write a thesis statement, use this method:

        1. Draft a question out of your research topic. (Essentially, your central research question!)

        2. Answer this question as briefly but comprehensively as possible.

        Ta-da! You have your thesis statement. Make sure to review this once you’re done with the entire paper since the scope of your paper can change while you’re working on it.

        5. Develop a research paper outline

        Knowing how to write a research paper outline can significantly simplify your work ahead. List all the key arguments you want to make in your paper and the supporting evidence you’ve collected. Then, develop an order in which to present these arguments, creating a logical flow for your paper.

        Structure your research paper outline by defining your headings, subheadings, and the involved sections. Now, you have an idea of what your paper should look like, which will help you while writing your research paper.

        6. Write an informative but engaging introduction

        Your introduction plays an important role: It introduces your paper! So, you need to capture your reader’s attention, tell them exactly what your paper is about, and then offer some contextual information. This will help the reader determine if your paper is useful for them and tell them what to expect if they keep reading.

        Your research paper introduction should include three key elements:

        1. A hook to capture the reader’s attention

        2. A succinct thesis statement

        3. Background information/Significance of your research question

        If you’re like most students, you’re going to struggle with writing an introduction for your paper. In this case, you can leave it for the end, after you’re done writing the body of your paper. This will help you get a better idea of the scope of your work, which always helps when you’re writing an introduction!

        7. Draft the body of your paper 

        A research paper requires well-organized body text with neatly labeled headings and subheadings. Adapt your outline into paragraphs that flow from each other logically. This may be difficult to execute and you might end up straying from the outline, which is quite alright!

        Make sure each of your paragraphs follows the meal plan:

        1. Main idea (topic sentence)

        2. Evidence (properly cited sources or other data)

        3. Analysis (explaining how the evidence supports your topic sentence)

        4. Link to the larger claim (linking sentence)

        Don’t fuss over the details in this step, just focus on getting it all on the paper. No first draft is ever perfect, and yours isn’t going to be an exception. Pay attention to your arguments instead, and double-check them with the outline to ensure that you’re not repeating yourself.

        Once you’re done writing the research paper body, of course, remember to revise it a few times!

        8. Write a research paper conclusion

        Once you’ve presented all your arguments and discussed them thoroughly, it’s time to end your paper. Like everything else about writing a research paper, there are standard ways to do this. If you’re confused about how to write a research paper conclusion, follow this structure:

        1. Restate your thesis (revise it based on your findings)

        2. Summarize your key arguments and evidence

        3. End with an impactful concluding sentence

        Like an essay conclusion, you need to keep your conclusion brief and to the point, avoiding unnecessary information. So don’t add any new arguments in your conclusion, but if any statistics are crucial to your paper, you may analyze them in brief.

        9. If required, write an abstract

        If your course requires you to write an abstract for the research paper, you should get to it after all the writing has been done. A research paper abstract is a concise summary of your paper, providing a clear and condensed version of the main content. Just as you sift through the abstracts of other papers, students and researchers will read yours to check its relevancy to their topic.

        Research paper abstracts generally range between 250 to 300 words. A well-crafted abstract encompasses all key aspects of the research such as the objective, methodology, results, and conclusion. There are two ways to present this information:

        1. Structured abstract: Commonly used in scientific research, this type of abstract is formatted with distinct sections with respective headings (Background, Methods, Results, Conclusion, etc.). This format helps readers quickly scan the key elements of your research and find the specific information they could be interested in.

        2. Unstructured abstract: Often used in arts and humanities, this type of abstract is written as a continuous paragraph. This format provides flexibility and narrative style, helping writers present their findings in a concise but adaptable manner. It favors qualitative research.

        Check with your instructor about the type of abstract you need to write for your paper.

        10. Thoroughly revise your paper  

        This is where you check whether you’ve correctly followed all the steps to write a research paper. But don’t let this process get chaotic! There are several aspects of the research paper you need to zoom in on, and it’s best if you handle them one at a time.

        Check your research paper in the following stages:

        1. Does your paper meet the requirements for your assignment?

        2. Have you included all the arguments from your outline?

        3. Do your arguments flow from each other logically?

        4. Have you made any unsubstantiated claims?

        5. Will your paper benefit from rearranging some sections or points?

        Make sure that every single sentence in your paper is there for a reason: to carry forward the argument. There shouldn’t be any irrelevant information or filler sentences.

        Don’t be afraid to remove chunks of text that don’t make sense and add new, crucial points to your paper. The revision is your chance to improve your paper as much as possible; don’t waste it!

        A thorough edit awaits your paper, but a few rounds of basic proofreading in this round can’t hurt. Wherever possible, correct writing mistakes and typos so you’ll have fewer things to worry about later!

        11. Edit and proofread your research paper  

        You can review and revise your paper a few times after writing it, but none of those is as comprehensive as research paper editing. This process takes place after you’ve completed all the other steps to writing a research paper. After that, you’ll undertake paper formatting according to the specified guidelines and then you can edit and proofread your paper!

        Before you begin, remember that not everyone is well-versed in language and writing to be able to edit their own paper. Even the most experienced researchers get their documents edited before they send them out for publication! So if you aren’t confident in your ability to edit your paper, look for some paper editing services to help you out.

        If you do want to edit your paper, though, we’ve got you covered. You can use this research paper editing checklist to review your paper effectively:

        We hope our tips on writing a research paper help you out while writing your own. Now that you know how to write a research paper, go ahead and start working! Good luck!

        If you’d like to keep reading, here are a few of our expert articles:

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        Prasanna Linkedin

        Prasanna is on a little break from academia and spends his time compiling fiction writing tips. He enjoys poetry, mythology, and drawing lotuses on any surface he can find.

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