How to Write a Research Paper - A Research Guide for Students (2024)

What is a research paper? A research paper is a piece of academic writing based on its author’s original research on a particular topic and analysis together with interpretation of research findings. Writing a research paper can be a little intimidating at times. Students, especially those new to the rigors of academia, often feel anxious about the process especially that the paper often gets assigned a big chunk of the final grade by a conscientious professor.

This article provides a detailed guide on how to navigate the challenge of writing a reliable research paper. It talks about recommended steps to be followed and elements to be covered in the paper. It offers tips on selecting a good topic and gathering the right information which can set research up for success. Finally, this article provides some guidelines on citation as well as on how to use free online tools, which can help deliver a sharp and clear final copy. Start writing an A+ research paper now!

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How to start a research paper?

Choose a research paper topic that interests and challenges you the most. Your attitude towards the topic may well determine amount of effort, enthusiasm you put into your research. Focus on a limited aspect, narrow it down from “Religion” to “World Religion” to “Buddhism.” Obtain teacher approval for your theme idea and thesis before making full-scale research. It will also help save time and effort.

If you are uncertain as to what is expected of you in completing assignment or project, re-read your assignment sheet carefully or ask your teacher. Select a subject you can manage. Avoid subjects that are too technical, learned, or specialized. Avoid themes that have only a very narrow range of source materials. Be responsible, devoted to paper you write – it is the main key to an excellent grade.

How to Write a Research Paper - A Research Guide for Students (1)

How to Write a Research Paper - A Research Guide for Students (2)

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Finding the right topic and making paper stand out

It is essential for students to examine and write about a topic they like and know better. Students who are invested and involved in the subject pay attention to details in making sure that paper is as strong as it could be. Achieving this goal means addressing requirements of each paper section such as research questions, methods, analysis, and discussion, among others. Surf the internet to get inspired by various research paper topics.

One of the initial steps you should perform in making a paper stand out is doing a bit of initial exploring to see what is out there already, think about future outline, thesis or hypothesis. Ask what has already been done about this particular issue in the past. Are there pathways that have not yet been explored, which student should shed light on? Indeed, one can make paper stand out by ensuring that some new or novel insights are explored, no matter how small. This will make research paper not only publishable or presentable at academic venues, but it’ll also receive high grades from professor assessing it.

Narrowing your topic

After going through the necessary amount of information, data and literature available on your desired topic, it is time to narrow the research down. It’s not appropriate if chosen issue is very broad as there may be several important aspects within this very theme. It won’t be a good solution to cover them all in one research paper as it’ll turn out vague or generic.

Pursue the unique pathway that caught your interest, and that’ll occupy a niche as well as advance the value of the conversation regarding the subject. At this stage, you should explain the reasons why your research study is essential and describe in detail the significance of your research.

Find information

For general or background information needed for an outline creation, check out useful URLs, general information online, using search engines, or encyclopedias online such as Britannica. Use search engines or other search tools as a starting point. Pay attention to domain name extensions, .edu (educational institution), .org (non-profit organization) or .gov (government). These sites represent institutions and are more reliable, however, be aware of possible political bias on some government sites.

Be selective of .com (commercial) sites. Many of these sites are excellent; although, a large number of them contain advertisem*nts for products and links to outer irrelevant sources. Network Solutions provides link where you can find out what some of the other extensions stand for. Be wary of millions of personal home pages on the Net. Quality of these personal homepages varies greatly. Learning how to evaluate websites critically and search effectively on the Internet will help you eliminate irrelevant sites and waste less of your time.

The recent arrival of a variety of domain name extensions such as .biz (commercial businesses), .pro, .info (info on products / organizations), .name, .ws (WebSite), .cc (Cocos Island) or .sh (St. Helena) or .tv (Tuvalu) may create some confusion as you won’t tell whether .cc or .sh or .tv site is in reality .com, .edu, .gov, .net, or .org site. Many new extensions have no registration restrictions and are available to anyone who wishes to register a distinct domain name that has not already been taken. For instance, if is unavailable, you can register as or via a service agent such as

If you need books for your research in the Library, use the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog).


  • Almanacs, Atlases, AV Catalogs;
  • Encyclopedias and Dictionaries;
  • Government Publications, Guides, Reports;
  • Magazines, Newspapers;
  • Vertical Files;
  • Yellow Pages, Zip or Postal Code and Telephone Directories.


  • Online reference materials (SIRS, ProQuest, eLibrary, etc.);
  • Wall Street Executive Library;
  • Index to Periodicals and Newspapers (,;
  • Encyclopedias (Britannica, Canadian Encyclopedia);
  • Newspapers;
  • Google Scholar;
  • Magazines and Journals;
  • International Public Library;
  • Subject Specific software (discovering authors, exploring Shakespeare).

Check out public and university libraries, businesses, government agencies, as well as contact knowledgeable people in your community. Read and evaluate, outline them. Bookmark your favorite Internet sites. Printout, photocopy or take notes of relevant information.

As you gather your resources, note down full bibliographical information (author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, URLs, creation or modification dates on Web pages, and your date of access) on your worksheet, printout, or enter the information on your laptop or desktop computer for later retrieval. If printing from the Internet, set up the browser to print the URL and date of access for every page. Remember that an article without bibliographical information is useless since you cannot cite it as a source.

How to Write a Research Paper - A Research Guide for Students (3)

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Make your thesis statement

Most research papers normally require a thesis, even on the step of outline creation. If you are not sure, ask your teacher whether your paper requires it and what they expect to see in your research paper thesis statement. In short, a thesis is the main idea, a central point of your research paper. The arguments you provide in your paper should be based on this central idea, that is why it is so important. Do some critical thinking, write your thesis statement down in one sentence. Your research paper thesis statement is like a declaration of your belief. The main portion of your essay will consist of arguments for support and defend this belief.

A thesis statement should be provided early in your paper – in the introduction part, or in the second paragraph if your paper is longer. It is impossible to create a thesis statement immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment. Before you write a thesis statement together with outline, you should collect, organize and analyze materials and your ideas. You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your research paper. It’ll naturally change while you develop your ideas.

Stay away from generic, too fuzzy statements and arguments. Use a particular subject. The paper should present something new for audience, make it interesting and educative for your readers. Avoid citing other authors in this section. Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers.


  • Outline and explain readers how you interpret research subject.
  • Tell readers what to expect from your paper.
  • Answer the question you were asked.
  • Present your claim which other people may want to dispute.

Make sure your thesis is strong. If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor, receive some revision comments, work on improvement of weak points. Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself.


  • Does my statement answer the question of my assignment?
  • Is my statement precise enough? It should not be too general and vague.
  • Does the body of my paper support my thesis, or are they different things? Compare them and change if necessary. Remember that changing elements of your work in the process of writing and reviewing is normal.
  • Can my position be disputed or opposed? If not, maybe you have just provided a summary instead of creating an argument.
  • Does it pass a so-called “so what” test? Does it provide new/interesting information for your audience or does it simply state a generic fact?

A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas. It increases credibility of paper and makes a good impression of its author. More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper.

Make a research paper outline


Research Paper Outline Format


  • a. Overview of an issue you are examining – include your main assertion or argument (thesis statement)
  • b. Offer a short justification - why your readers or target audience should care about your research paper (study importance)
  • c. Brief explanation of paper’s scope and planned method to be used in examining your issue


  • a. History behind the issue
  • b. How this issue impacts society
  • c. Critical factors impacting this issue
  • d. Possible solutions to be explored in your study


  • a. Theories, constructs and concepts (journal articles, textbooks and relevant publications)
    • i. Describe related theories used to explain issue or theories used to propose a solution to the issue
    • ii. How were concepts or theoretical constructs defined?
    • iii. Describe relevance of major theories used to explain the issue
  • b. Empirical literature (journal articles)
    • i. Overview of relevant empirical studies done to date
    • ii. Summary of methodology
    • iii. What were the major findings of your study?
    • iv. What were limitations raised regarding findings of the study?
  • c. Your pathway – based on what you discovered in literature review
    • i. Whose concept(s) and definition(s) are you going to borrow or use in your own research (if applicable)?
    • ii. Describe unique aspect(s) of issue that you will be examining
    • iii. Based on what you read so far, describe method that suits best for your own research


  • a. State specific research questions that you are examining
  • b. Describe research method – data and information collection process
  • c. Justify or provide a rationale - why you chose this specific method


  • a. Describe or list major findings
  • b. Use tables, charts and graphical illustration to help explain findings
  • c. Discuss relevance of findings in light of previous studies
  • d. Did any results surprise you? Was there anything that supported previous finding(s)?
  • e. What was the main limitation of your study?


  • a. A brief recap of issue examined, method used and major finding(s)
  • b. Briefly remind readers about original goal of this study and what you accomplished in your research work
  • c. Describe how future researchers can expand or build on your work

A research paper outline might be formal or informal. An informal outline (working outline) is a tool helping authors put down and organize their ideas. It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form. It helps authors make their key points clear and arrange them.

Sometimes students are asked to submit formal outlines with their research papers. In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics. The letters and numbers of the same kind should be placed directly under one another. The topics denoted by their headings and subheadings should be grouped in a logical order.

All points of a research paper outline must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral.

Example of an outline for a research paper:

Paper Title: An un-presidential rhetoric? A content analysis of Ex-President Obama’s tweets


  • a. Power of presidential speech – bully pulpit
  • b. Power of the president to set tone and agenda of public conversation
  • c. Case of un-presidential speech – Obama is first president to deviate from norms of tone, manner and demeanor of conversation
  • d. Study examines manner, tone, and keywords during Obama first term
  • e. Justify importance of study


  • a. Review of popular theories in political communication: agenda-setting theory, framing theory, etc.
  • b. Review of studies done on presidential communication and social media communication: strengths and weaknesses of methodologies used
  • c. Identify gaps and areas that should be filled in presidential communication and social media strategy


  • a. Use content analysis software: Timeframe is Obama tweets during one-year period
  • b. Code and classify them into positive, negative, and neutral language
  • c. Manner and keywords used: Formal, informal/slang; attacking, defending, etc.


  • a. Describe results of content analysis – use tables to present figures about positive, negative and neutral tone
  • b. Present tables about manner: formal, informal, attacking, defending, neutral
  • c. How does Obama speech via social media significantly differ from the previous president(s)?
  • d. Is there a method to the strategy? Using agenda-setting theory, describe whether media outlets or personalities follow his messaging lead.
  • e. Limitation of the study: Content analysis can only describe content but cannot offer in-depth cause-effect or correlations of things or variables.


  • a. Study sought to measure tone and nature of presidential speech using content analysis
  • b. Study found Obama language is positive, formal, likable and friendly
  • c. Study found common keywords used in his tweets (mention common keywords)

Researcher recommends that this study be expanded by using other method to measure perception of presidential tweets such as a random survey of undecided voters
Purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing an excellent paper. Check your outline to ensure that points covered flow logically from one to the other. Include in your outline an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. You may create the first outline as a draft and edit it while writing a research paper.

Introduction — State your thesis and purpose of your research paper clearly. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your issue. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you’ll cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your theme.

Body — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. This section is divided into many parts, that may vary, depending on your discipline, teachers’ requirements, etc. Usually, the body comprises a literature review, methodology, analysis, results, and discussion.

Conclusion — Restate or reword your thesis / research question. Summarize your arguments. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Why your research is valuable and how acquired results can be used for future researches.

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Organize your notes

Organize materials you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data. Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that information is factual, up-to-date, and correct. Opposing views should also be noted if they help support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper. Here you’ll analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest info you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place. You must also effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

Do not include any information that is not relevant to your issue under discussion, and do not include information that you do not understand. Make sure information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of question. Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately. As you classify your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page.
Devise your own method to organize your materials. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a marker to identify sections in your outline, IA3b – meaning that the item “Accessing WWW” belongs in the following location of your outline:

  • I. Understanding the Internet
    • A. What is the Internet
      • 3. How to "Surf the Net"
        • b. Accessing WWW

Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, like, IA2, IA3, IA4, etc. This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you systematize your notes according to your outline.

Knowing what is out there – the literature review

Research act in itself is a cumulative process. This means that one is expected to contribute something to the body of knowledge. And because of this expectation, this is where literature review process becomes so helpful in narrowing down and also providing background information about the topic. Engaging in a literature review helps determine what’s already known about problem that you are interested in exploring. No doubt doing a comprehensive literature review will save you time down the road by having clarity about the specific research questions that you want to explore.

  • Keyword Internet search. An excellent place to start with a review of related literature is by going online and doing some preliminary search using specific keywords related to topic or your outline. Perhaps a student can begin by looking at general information published on well-known sites and general publications before delving into specific journal articles and academic papers. Although these two receive the highest trust as sources because they are referred to as independent peer-reviewed work. Nevertheless, goal at this stage of the process is really to get that preliminary information.
  • Check previous researches. The next step of search process is to look at the work done by credible and respectable organizations about subject matter. What have they found, and what are they sharing and publishing online? Are the research works privately or publicly funded? Are the researchers affiliated with a company or foundation, or do they belong to university research institutions? It is essential to look at sources of funding or potential conflict of interest because the inherent bias in the findings needs to be considered in weighing credibility of research work.
  • Visit university library. Now that you have quite a bit of background information to work with, the time has come for you to spend the right amount of effort doing some searching and sleuthing at university libraries. Use research databases to look for journal articles or other primary and first-hand sources about your research topic. This type of library research is the stage where you’ll probably get a lot of information as to the institutions and scholars researching the specific theme (from specialties to sub-specialties) that you are interested in exploring.
  • Use academic sources. Remember that peer-reviewed academic journals tend to receive the highest credibility in academic research papers primarily because of the critical and often blind peer-review process, which is gold standard in judging the quality of research work. Furthermore, you’ll be well served if you use some books published by well-known researchers and academics on the topic that you are researching and writing about. If your work gets published or accepted at a conference, you have a good chance of being quoted or cited in subsequent work by other researchers in the area that you are pursuing.

After conducting a thorough lit review, you now have at least a comprehensive background information and understanding of various contours and nuances of your topic. Many of thesis questions that you may have already been answered, and you should have an idea as to where the gaps in knowledge are and what needs to be done to advance inquiry process and therefore contribute to the body on the topic that you have chosen.

The research question(s)

Research questions and research method that you will use to find answers are important because there are specific criteria that might be satisfied for them to be valid. First, your research questions should be specific in scope and timeframe. In scientific research, for example, research questions lend themselves to being measurable using a wide variety of methodology, be they quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.

If your research question, for example, pertains to how individual voters view women candidates for president, perhaps the best method is by doing field interviews or by conducting a phone survey of these voters using a random sampling method. There are many ways that may help you derive answers to your questions. It is crucial, however, to be aware that each method has an inherent set of strengths and weaknesses.

Research methodology

There exist various research paper methods that you may use while preparing information for your paper. Check the most popular methods and decide which suits you better:

  • Focus group. It is a great method to use if the goal is to obtain a lot of information from a small group of people without much investment in time and money. Just gathering them in one place (typically up to a dozen people) and asking them to provide insights into your research questions is often enough.

While it is suitable for convenience sake, findings from a focus group method, however, might not necessarily be generalizable to overall population, because participants were selected somewhat arbitrarily. A researcher can only make a valid conclusion or inference about their findings to the general population if everyone or every voter was given an equal chance to be chosen for the study in the form of random sampling.

  • Survey. Those conducted using a large sample with participants chosen randomly tend to be viewed highly in the realm of peer-reviewed research. However, it is essential to remember that surveys also have weaknesses because participants might not necessarily give their honest opinion (i.e., giving ‘prestige’ or politically correct answers), and they are influenced by many factors in the way that they answer survey questions.
  • Field experiments. Giving a specific group certain things while others experience a different situation these experiments are also employed to find answers to the impact of a treatment or a program on a community. Methods such as content analysis, experiments, direct observation, or participant observations are also conventional methods being used by researchers to find answers to research questions. Every student researcher should be familiar with standard research methods available for use and understand strengths and weaknesses that these methods bring to the study.

A note about replication: In writing the methods section of your research paper, it is crucial to be as precise and detailed about the methodology as possible. Other researchers should replicate the method that you employed to see if they can come up with the same findings that you arrived with. Replication is a critical component in the process of validating results and strengthening body that we have accumulated on specific research topics.

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Writing the results, analysis, discussion, and conclusion

After collecting data via research methods part, it is time to make sense of information you have. Results, analysis, discussion, and conclusion section help provide a space for you, as researcher, to interpret findings of your study and juxtapose it with previous findings and potential implications for future research work.

  • Results. First, it is important to talk about findings of your study. It is helpful to ask the following questions: Were research questions in your research answered? If you created a series of hypothesis statements (or educated guesses), were they supported or rejected? As well, it’ll be helpful if you provide support for your research findings in the form of tables, graphs, statistical figures, and other visual representations to aid reader in trying to understand and make sense of your data and information.
  • Analysis. In conducting analysis, you, as a writer and researcher, will play an important role in interpreting findings of your study to readers. Some thoughts must be provided in the following questions, for example: Are your results significant? Did findings support or reject previous research findings? With available evidence, it behooves you as a researcher to provide context and explain significance of information that you uncovered. It involves comparing and contrasting how your findings hold up against previous findings in similar studies.
  • Discussion. After laying out findings and doing analysis, it is only fitting to acknowledge some of the major or minor limitations of your study. Doing this part provides a necessary disclosure and a sense of transparency to the reader in terms of potential weakness or weaknesses of your research. Doing this part might even help future researchers design new methods as a way to deal with or solve the limitations of your study.
  • Conclusion. This section provides a chance for writer to summarize and tie everything together into a coherent narrative. A summary typically touches on the main points beginning with the main research question, methods employed, results, including findings. Conclusion section gives way for readers to remember the gist of your study. This section is especially helpful when readers don’t have enough time or when they are doing preliminary research and are trying to assess your research paper content quickly.

The process of writing a research paper

Flow and organization are two of the most important elements of writing. This means that your research paper must be structured well in such a way that every content element or sections that you write contribute to an overall message or an overarching theme. Often, it is helpful to write a simple one-sentence thesis statement stating what your research is all about. As you write, thesis statement helps serve as a reminder and as a compass to what are you trying to achieve with research paper.

It is smart to create a comprehensive outline with thesis statement to help with the clarity and article’s organization. For it to be helpful, your outline should indicate the sections that you want to cover in the research paper. For each section, use some bullet point statements to guide and remind you what you should say or what ideas you should express in that particular section. A good outline allows researcher to work in chunks (especially when you have flow in your thinking), and it helps prevent you as a writer from getting overwhelmed by the whole task. It is highly recommended that researchers write in bursts of time, typically two to three hours at a time, to maximize energy and focus.

Remember, as is true in any piece of writing, a good research paper is the one that is finished. Perfection and procrastination are enemy of good in writing process. Be sure to have enough discipline to dedicate time, a regular schedule, for doing the writing regardless of whether you have ‘writer’s block’ or not. This is the only way that you’ll meet deadline and complete project.

How to Write a Research Paper - A Research Guide for Students (7)

Write your first draft

Start with the first topic in your research paper outline. Read all relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, example, with the Roman numeral I. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, for example, write summaries, paraphrases or quotations on note cards, or separate sheets of lined paper. Before you know it, you have a well-organized term paper completed exactly as outlined.

After you have completed draft, it is worthy to remind everyone that a first draft is never perfect. You would go through at least three reviews and iterations making sure it follows thesis before it can be ready for submission. Consider asking somebody, a friend, or a professional to read your draft and help you identify some gaps or passages that reader has difficulty understanding. Also, be sure you put the draft aside, get some fresh air or do something else for a few hours before going back and reading it again.

After the draft – reviewing your work

Here are some useful tips that every student should follow while working on research paper draft. It is better to check all aspects twice and submit an excellent paper for grading.

Read your paper for any content errors. Double-check facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline format. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep your paper’s purpose and your readers in mind.


  • Is my thesis statement concise and clear?
  • Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything?
  • Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence?
  • Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing?
  • Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments?
  • Have I made my intentions and points clear in essay?

Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed. Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you spot and improve overall paper’s quality to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes only a second pair of eyes is managed to see mistakes that you missed.


  • Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence?
  • Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples?
  • Any run-on or unfinished sentences?
  • Any unnecessary or repetitious words?
  • Varying lengths of sentences?
  • Does one paragraph or idea flow smoothly into the next?
  • Any spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Are quotes accurate in source, spelling, and punctuation?
  • Are all my citations accurate and in correct format?
  • Did I avoid using contractions? Use “cannot” instead of “can’t”, “do not” instead of “don’t”?
  • Did I use third person as much as possible? Avoid using phrases such as “I think”, “I guess”, “I suppose”
  • Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective?
  • Did I leave a sense of completion for my reader(s) at the end of the paper?

Use “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk

For an excellent source on English composition, check out this classic book by William Strunk, Jr. on the Elements of Style. Contents include Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, Words & Expressions Commonly Misused, An Approach to Style with a List of Reminders: Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, and much more. Details of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. partially available online.

Apply correct citation and formatting

There is also a particular formatting style you must follow. It depends on the field of your studies or requirements of your University supervisor. There are several formatting styles typically used. The most commonly used are APA style and MLA style. However, there are such style guides as, Harvard, Chicago Manual of Style, American Medical Association (AMA) Style, APSA (American Political Science Association), ASA (American Sociological Association), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and more. Check informative style guides before completing formatting.

APA (American Psychological Association) style is mostly used to cite sources within social sciences field. The detailed information is in Publication Manual of American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used for liberal arts and humanities. The most recent printed guide on it is MLA Handbook (8th ed.). Instead of providing individual recommendations for each publishing format (printed, online, e-books, etc.), this edition recommends a single universal set of guidelines, which writers can apply to any kind of source. Also, remember to use parenthetical citations for MLA research paper format correctly.

Tools for research paper help

After you’ve done your review and did a few rounds of iterations for your research report, it is time to subject your paper to copy editing. Thanks to artificial intelligence-driven (AI) sites, copy editing is no longer such an expensive and onerous task. And professional copy editing can be done free of charge with the set of tools that can be found online.

Grammar checkers offer a chance to scan paper and find spelling mistakes, lexical or grammar issues. Even if paper’s content is good, misspelled words and errors in tenses may result in a low grade that will be very disappointing.

Plagiarism checkers provide excellent service such as text scan to make sure that your paper did not miss any crucial citation or did not fail to give credit to specific quotations and passages. Plagiarism is a plague that must be avoided at all costs. Researchers must take great care in giving credit where credit is due. Doing otherwise may lead to not only failing grades but also ruined careers and reputations.

Citation generators. Writing the research report, researchers should follow certain conventions of citing other people’s work in final paper of the study. The most common citation styles include American Psychological Society (APA), Harvard Citation, Chicago Manual of Style, and a few others that can be easily generated with help of free tools. Use it to transform one citation style to another. This is especially helpful if you are trying to submit your research report for peer-review or publication consideration with various publication outlets prescribing different citation styles.

Title page generators. A title page is the first thing your professor sees upon grading research paper. So, it should be formatted perfectly. Many college students find it difficult to memorize all indents, title case letters, and spaces that are specific for each standard. Use a generator to create title pages and format your citations in APA, MLA, Chicago and other styles.

When you have a research report ready, it is time to submit it for publication consideration or for peer-review for a potential presentation at a conference. It is important for researcher to read and follow carefully prescribed editorial guidelines of publication that you are submitting it to. Not following guidelines could prove detrimental — rejection of otherwise solid research work.

Some words of encouragement

Writing a research paper need not be a daunting and frustrating task. There is a set formula that a student or researcher follows to succeed with this scholarly endeavor. The best place to start with this process is to think about the topics that you are passionate about. Being invested and motivated in subject goes a long way in producing a strong quality research paper.

Next is to conduct a thorough literature review to see what’s already been done in the area that you are interested in doing research. This process helps you narrow your scope and will help set you up for success in finding the niche contribution that you want to achieve in doing the research. Finally, it is important to create a guiding thesis statement and an outline where you may work in chunks without losing the big picture and with a clear understanding as to how each element of paper contributes to flow and a strong organization of your final document.

If you feel any difficulties in writing a Research Paper, our writers and editors are always ready to help!

Reviewed by Dr. Rey Rosales, Professor in the Communication department at MacEwan University, holder of Ph.D.​ in Journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and MS in Radio-TV at Arkansas State University.

How to Write a Research Paper - A Research Guide for Students (2024)


What are the 7 steps of writing a research paper? ›

Seven steps to writing a university research paper
  • Step One: Determine the purpose of the paper. ...
  • Step Two: Refine your research question. ...
  • Step Three: Organize your approach. ...
  • Step Four: Collect information. ...
  • Step Five: Attribute the information. ...
  • Step Six: Write your conclusion. ...
  • Step Seven: Refine your thesis statement.
20 Dec 2020

What are the five 5 steps in writing a research paper which is the first? ›

The 5 steps you'll be going through are:
  • Choosing a research topic.
  • Gathering research.
  • Form a hypothesis or research question.
  • Outlining.
  • Write and edit.
23 Aug 2019

What are the 10 steps to writing a research paper? ›

Following these ten steps will help you write a good research paper.
  1. Choose Your Topic. ...
  2. Locate Information. ...
  3. Prepare Bibliography Cards. ...
  4. Prepare Note Cards. ...
  5. Prepare an Outline. ...
  6. Write A Rough Draft. ...
  7. Revise Your Rough Draft. ...
  8. Prepare Your Bibliography.

What is guide questions in research paper? ›

​A guiding - or essential - question will direct your research and should clearly communicate the focus of your research. Guiding questions explain what you are hoping to find out. Guiding questions should be "open." This means they cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" or single Google search.

How to start your research paper? ›

How to Start (and Complete) a Research Paper
  1. Choose a topic.
  2. Read and keep records.
  3. Form a thesis.
  4. Create a mind map or outline.
  5. Read again.
  6. Rethink your thesis.
  7. Draft the body.
  8. Revise.

What is the format of a research paper? ›

A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices.

How to end a research paper? ›

These include:
  1. Presenting the last word on the issues you raised in your paper. ...
  2. Summarizing your thoughts and conveying the larger implications of your study. ...
  3. Demonstrating the importance of your ideas. ...
  4. Introducing possible new or expanded ways of thinking about the research problem.
7 Sept 2022

What are the 8 important steps in writing research paper? ›

The Process
  • Step 1: Get familiar with the assignment.
  • Step 2: Pick a topic.
  • Step 3: Research.
  • Step 4: Organize research.
  • Step 5: Form a thesis.
  • Step 6: Create an outline.
  • Step 7: Write.
  • Step 8: Edit for content.
24 Aug 2022

How do you write a research topic? ›

Here are five ways to come up with a catchy research topic:
  1. Seek inspiration. Your research idea needs to be fresh, relevant, and interesting. ...
  2. Be clear. There's nothing that turns off readers more than unclear, garbled language. ...
  3. Avoid jargon. ...
  4. Make it personal. ...
  5. Consider your audience.
20 Dec 2018

What are the 5 chapters of research paper? ›

  • Chapter 1: Introduction.
  • Chapter 2: Methods.
  • Chapter 3: Major paper.
  • Chapter 4: Normal thesis chapter, final preliminary study.
  • Chapter 5: General discussion.

What are the steps to research a guide? ›

Depending on your familiarity with the topic and the challenges you encounter along the way, you may need to rearrange these steps.
  1. Step 1: Identify and develop your topic. ...
  2. Step 2 : Do a preliminary search for information. ...
  3. Step 3: Locate materials. ...
  4. Step 4: Evaluate your sources. ...
  5. Step 5: Make notes. ...
  6. Step 6: Write your paper.

What are the examples of guide questions? ›

Third, good guiding questions contain emotive force and intellectual bite. Questions like "Whose America is it?" "Who will survive?" "Where does money go?" "What is waste?" and "When are laws fair?" have import. As students, educators, and world citizens, we must try to answer them.

What is the purpose of a research guide? ›

Research Guides are librarian-curated pathways to information, videos, databases, and other resources for your discipline. That is, they pull many different types of resources on a subject or topic together in one place.

What is a good first sentence for a research paper? ›

This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook. The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

What is a good sentence to start a research paper? ›

An important issue emerging from these findings is … This research has investigated … The study set out to … The purpose of the present research was to …

How do I begin my introduction? ›

It should begin by providing your reader a general understanding of the overall topic. The middle of the introduction should narrow down the topic so your reader understands the relevance of the topic and what you plan to accomplish in your paper.

What is the best research format? ›

APA and MLA are the most common styles to use, but CMS is not unheard of - just not as common for undergrads. CMS is commonly used in traditional book publishing and academic publishing situations, so if you are doing post-graduate writing, it is good to know.

What are the 4 basic parts to the writing a research paper? ›

Title (cover page) Introduction. Literature review. Research methodology.

What is the best format for writing a research paper? ›

The APA format is the official style of American Psychological Association (APA) and is commonly used to cite sources in psychology, education and social sciences. APA research paper format is widely used in the research publishing industry.

How do you start the last paragraph of a research paper? ›

Your first step when writing your conclusion should be to restate your research topic. Typically, one sentence can be enough to restate the topic clearly, and you will want to explain why your topic is important. This part of your conclusion should be clear and concise and state only the most important information.

How to start a conclusion? ›

To begin your conclusion, signal that the essay is coming to an end by returning to your overall argument. Don't just repeat your thesis statement—instead, try to rephrase your argument in a way that shows how it has been developed since the introduction.

What is the summary of a research paper? ›

A summary is simply a brief overview of the main points of a research paper. It should not include any new information or arguments, but simply, concisely state the main points. The summary should be placed at the beginning of the research paper, after the title and abstract.

What are the 12 steps of research? ›

What are the steps of the research process?
  • Identify the project topic. ...
  • Review any available literature. ...
  • Submit process for review. ...
  • Create an initial hypothesis. ...
  • Design the research approach. ...
  • Begin gathering data. ...
  • Analyze the results. ...
  • Create your report.
13 Jul 2021

How can I start my topic? ›

Writing strong topic sentences
  1. Step 1: Write a thesis statement. The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement. ...
  2. Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences. ...
  3. Step 3: Expand with evidence. ...
  4. Step 4: Refine your topic sentences.
21 Jul 2022

What are the 10 examples of research title? ›

Research Topics:
  • Infectious disease. 29 articles | 1,643,000 views. ...
  • Nutritional immunology. 29 articles | 768,000 views. ...
  • Music therapy. 44 articles | 268,000 views. ...
  • Political misinformation. 11 articles | 219,000 views. ...
  • Plant science. 15 articles | 198,000 views. ...
  • Sustainable agriculture. ...
  • Mental health. ...
  • Aging brains.
17 Jan 2022

What makes a good research? ›

Good research is replicable, reproducible, and transparent. Replicability, reproducibility, and transparency are some of the most important characteristics of research. The replicability of a research study is important because this allows other researchers to test the study's findings.

What are the 3 chapters of research paper? ›

Dissertation Overview

Chapter I: Introduction. Chapter II: Review of Literature. Chapter III: Methodology (Research Design & Methods)

What is the last chapter of research paper? ›

The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation. It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question.

How do you start a chapter 1 research? ›

How to write an introduction chapter for a thesis
  1. Capture the reader's interest. ...
  2. Give an overview of your research topic. ...
  3. Detail how your research is going to make a contribution. ...
  4. Explain what your interest is in the topic. ...
  5. List your research objectives. ...
  6. Give a forthcoming chapter overview. ...
  7. Learn from others.
31 Jan 2019

What is the chapter 1 of thesis? ›


This chapter includes the introduction, theoretical framework, statement of the problem, hypothesis, scope and limitation, conceptual framework, significance of the study and the definition of terms used.

How do you write the first paragraph of a research paper? ›

The introductory paragraph of any paper, long or short, should start with a sentence that piques the interest of your readers. In a typical essay, that first sentence leads into two or three more sentences that provide details about your subject or your process. All of these sentences build up to your thesis statement.

What is the best title for research title? ›

Effective titles in academic research papers have several characteristics.
  • Indicate accurately the subject and scope of the study.
  • Avoid using abbreviations.
  • Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest.
  • Use current nomenclature from the field of study.
8 Dec 2022

What is the easiest part of a research paper? ›

Method. This should be the easiest part of the paper to write, as it is a run-down of the exact design and methodology used to perform the research. Obviously, the exact methodology varies depending upon the exact field and type of experiment.

What does a research guide look like? ›

A typical research guide contains article databases, library catalog links, video and photo resources, citation help, and contact information for experts such as teachers, media specialists, and tutors. They can also include book recommendations, graphic organizers, study games, and more. Research guide template.

What is a research topic guide? ›

Also known as a topic guide, this is an outline of key issues and areas of questioning used to guide a qualitative interview or group discussion.

What are 5 good research questions? ›

Five Questions for Good Research
  • What is the problem to be solved? Every good research project solves some particular problem. ...
  • Who cares about this problem and why? ...
  • What have others done? ...
  • What is your solution to the problem? ...
  • How can you demonstrate that your solution is a good one?

How to answer research questions? ›

To conclude, in order to be sure to answer a research question, follow these simple steps:
  1. Analyze the prompt - What is the question asking you to do?
  2. Research the topic - Look up information on your topic.
  3. Choose a side/argument - After analyzing the information you found, formulate your opinion or argument.
20 Oct 2021

Does guide questions need to be answered? ›

So, what are Guiding Questions? Guiding questions encourage conversation between student and teacher, and result in a fundamental sense of understanding. A guiding question is a question which encourages a student to consider the information they have been taught, but to come up with their own answers.

What is the importance of having research questions in your research paper? ›

The research question, if correctly completed, will help you to set out what it is that you want to answer. This can help you make a plan for your research, but might also help you to foresee any potential challenges or problems. This will save you time, energy, and effort.

What are the 7 steps of the research process quizlet? ›

  • define the problem.
  • review literature.
  • formulate hypothesis.
  • select research design.
  • conduct research.
  • analyze and interpret data.

What are the 8 steps of research writing? ›

A Beginners Guide To Research Papers: 8 Steps You Should Follow
  • Narrow Down A Topic. ...
  • Clearly Define Your Task. ...
  • Research Extensively. ...
  • Find Credible Sources. ...
  • Organize The Information. ...
  • Formulate An Argument Or Thesis. ...
  • Create The Outline Of Your Paper. ...
  • Write, Edit & Submit.
29 Oct 2020

What is the first step in choosing a topic? ›

When deciding on a topic, there are a few things that you will need to do:
  • Brainstorm for ideas.
  • Choose a topic that will enable you to read and understand the articles and books you find.
  • Ensure that the topic is manageable and that material is available.
  • Make a list of key words.
  • Be flexible.
21 Oct 2022

How do I choose a good research topic? ›

Here are some tips:
  1. Choose a topic that you are interested in! ...
  2. Narrow your topic to something manageable. ...
  3. Review the guidelines on topic selection outlined in your assignment. ...
  4. Refer to lecture notes and required texts to refresh your knowledge of the course and assignment.
  5. Talk about research ideas with a friend.
30 Jul 2021

What are the 5 chapters of research format of research? ›

Typically, a thesis contains the following chapters: an introduction; a literature review; a description of methodology; a report and discussion of results; and a conclusion. A thesis may have five to eight chapters depending on the nature of the study, the required word count and the requirements of the degree.

What is the correct order of steps in research? ›

Depending on your familiarity with the topic and the challenges you encounter along the way, you may need to rearrange these steps.
  • Step 1: Identify and develop your topic. ...
  • Step 2 : Do a preliminary search for information. ...
  • Step 3: Locate materials. ...
  • Step 4: Evaluate your sources. ...
  • Step 5: Make notes. ...
  • Step 6: Write your paper.

What are the six correct process of conducting a research? ›

The Research Process
  • Step 1: Exploring Your Research Idea and Constructing Your Search. ...
  • Step 2: Finding Background Information. ...
  • Step 3: Gathering More Information. ...
  • Step 4: Locating Current Research. ...
  • Step 5: Evaluating Your Sources. ...
  • Step 6: Cite What You Find in Discipline-Appropriate Format.
2 Jul 2020

What are the 12 steps in the research process? ›

What are the steps of the research process?
  1. Identify the project topic. ...
  2. Review any available literature. ...
  3. Submit process for review. ...
  4. Create an initial hypothesis. ...
  5. Design the research approach. ...
  6. Begin gathering data. ...
  7. Analyze the results. ...
  8. Create your report.
13 Jul 2021

What are the 7 types of research methods? ›

  • Research design step by step.
  • Descriptive.
  • Correlational.
  • Experimental.
  • Quasi-experimental.
  • Cross-sectional.
  • Longitudinal.
  • Case study.

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