How to write a research paper: #1 beginner’s guide with Examples

What is a research paper?

For academic purposes, a research paper is a written report that presents the author’s analysis, interpretation, and argument on a topic after conducting extensive individual research on the topic. Academic essays and research papers are similar, but research papers are typically longer and more in-depth assignments that are meant to gauge both your writing and intellectually rigorous research abilities.

When writing a research paper, you must show that you are well-versed in your subject, interact with a range of sources, and add something unique to the conversation. You will be guided step-by-step through the entire writing process in this manual, from comprehending your assignment to editing your finished product.

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Table of contents

Recognize the assignment

Successfully completing a research paper entails completing the specific tasks assigned to you. Make sure you fully comprehend the assignment task sheet before you begin: Think carefully about your time constraints and word count; be realistic and allow yourself enough time for research, writing, and editing.

Select a topic for your research paper.

There are many ways to come up with a topic for a research paper, from writing down ideas on paper to discussing them with a classmate or professor. Try free writing, which entails choosing a broad subject and writing continuously for two or three minutes to find absolutely anything pertinent that might be interesting. You can get ideas from other research as well.

Research paper discussion or recommendation sections frequently offer suggestions for additional specific subjects that merit in-depth study. Once you’ve selected a broad subject area, focus on a particular area by selecting a topic that interests you, satisfies the requirements of your assignment, and is doable in terms of research. Make an effort to come up with unique and focused ideas.

preliminary investigation

Try to identify a topic that you can center your paper on while taking note of any discussions that seem crucial to the subject. To make sure you don’t overlook anything obvious, consult a variety of sources, including journals, books, and trustworthy websites. Check the sources that disagree with your ideas as well as those that support them. You might find it useful to create some research questions at this point to serve as a guide.

Form a thesis statement.

The purpose and stance of your paper are established by the thesis statement, which summarizes your main argument. The thesis statement should respond to the research question you used as a starting point. It should also outline the arguments and supporting data you’ll use to back up your position. The thesis should be simple, arguable, and comprehensible.

This implies that it should succinctly summarize your case in one or two sentences, make a claim that necessitates additional research or analysis, and make a coherent point that connects to every section of the paper. The thesis statement can be a guide as you write, though you will probably edit and improve it as you conduct more research. This central claim should be backed up and expanded upon in each paragraph.

Make an outline for your research paper.

An outline for a research paper is essentially a list of the main points, supporting arguments, and supporting data you want to include, divided into sections with headings so you can get a general idea of the structure of the paper before you begin writing. It is worthwhile to set aside some time to create a structured outline because it can greatly improve the effectiveness of the writing process.

Write the research paper’s first draft.

There will be errors in your first draft, but you can fix them later. At this point, your top priorities should be the following: The introduction does not need to be written first. Start where it feels most natural for you to start; some people prefer to finish the hardest parts first, while others prefer to start with the simplest.

Use the outline you made as a road map while working. Do not really remove lengthy passages of text. Move it to a different document if you start to dislike something you’ve written or realize it doesn’t quite fit; however, don’t completely throw it away because you never know when it might come in handy.

Paragraph structure

Research papers’ fundamental building blocks are paragraphs. Each one should concentrate on a specific notion or claim that contributes to the development of the paper’s main thesis or objective. Here is an illustration of a paragraph with good organization.

To find out more, mouse over the sentences. Figure paragraph The 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell has had a lasting influence on ideas regarding the connection between politics and language. Given the several recent negative review articles that cited the essay, this impact is very clear. For instance, have a look at Mark Falcoff’s 2009 piece “The Perversion of Language” or “Orwell Revisited” in The National Review Online, in which he evaluates a number of common terms (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more).

Falcoff’s in-depth examination of the ambiguity present in political language purposely echoes Orwell’s own point-by-point dissection of the language used in politics at the time. Even 63 years after its publication, modern intellectuals still reference Orwell’s article.

Using references

Keeping track of citations is essential at this stage to prevent unintentional plagiarism. Make sure to identify the source of the information each time you utilize one. To automatically generate citations and store your reference list as you go, make use of our free citation generators.

Create the introductory text.

What, Why, and How should be covered in the research paper introduction. The reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worthwhile reading, and how you will support your claims when you have finished the introduction.

What? Be clear about the paper’s subject, provide background information, and describe any important terminology or concepts. Why? The most crucial and challenging aspect of the introduction is this. Try to give succinct responses to the following inquiries: What fresh information or viewpoint do you present? What significant questions does your article attempt to define or address? How?

The beginning should provide a “map” of what will be presented, briefly outlining the most important aspects of the work in chronological order. This will let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper.

Write a research paper body that is compelling.

How to organize the information offered in the paper is the main challenge for most writers, which is one reason why an outline is so helpful. However, keep in mind that the outline is merely a guide and that you can be flexible with the presentation of the facts and reasons when writing. Keep an eye out for sentences that seem to cover the same topics. If two paragraphs cover the same subject, they must do so in separate ways. Try to make the transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections as seamless as possible.

Research paper conclusion

The purpose of the research paper’s conclusion is to guide the reader away from the document’s thesis and give them a sense of closure.

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