Few academic projects instil more dread than the dreaded research paper, a word synonymous with many hours and hard work. Fortunately, there is a way around them. As long as you know how to prepare a research paper properly, you will realize that they are alright, or at least less unpleasant.
This article explains how to write an academic research paper in straightforward, step-by-step directions. We will go through how to start a research paper, how to create an outline for a research paper, how to use citations and evidence, and how to finish a research paper.
But before we go into the details, let’s define a research paper and see how it varies from other sorts of writing.
What Is A Research Paper?
A research paper is a piece of academic writing that is based on the author’s original investigation and analysis of the subject matter, as well as interpretation of the research findings. Writing a research paper might be frightening at times. Students, particularly those who are new to the rigors of academics, may be concerned about the procedure, especially because professors usually assign a significant amount of the final grade to the paper.
How Do You Start A Research Paper?
Choose a research paper topic that both interests and challenges you. Your attitude toward the issue will likely influence how much work and excitement you put into your inquiry. Concentrate on one aspect and narrow the topic from “Religion” to “World Religion” to “Buddhism.” Obtain teacher approval for your proposal and thesis before performing substantial research. It will also save you time and effort.
If you need clarification about what is expected of you when completing an assignment or project, carefully study the assignment sheet or talk with your teacher. Choose a topic that you are comfortable with. Topics that are extremely technical, academic, or specialized should be avoided. Topics having a small number of source materials should be avoided. The most significant component in receiving a great grade is being responsible and devoted to the paper you write.
Length of a Research Paper
The subject and assignment define the length of a research paper. A research paper’s usual length is between 4,000 and 6,000 words; however, shorter papers of 2,000 words and longer papers of 10,000 words are fairly uncommon.
A school-assigned paper’s acceptable length should be indicated in the assignment. Otherwise, let the topic dictate the length: Complex issues and extensive research will necessitate additional explanation.
Steps to Write a Research Paper
The following is a step-by-step guide to writing a research paper oriented toward students rather than professional researchers. Consider this a basic overview to keep you on track, as certain techniques may not apply to your individual assignment.
1.Â Â Â Â Â Recognize the Purpose
Some of you may think this is obvious, but you might be surprised at how many students begin a research paper without first examining the assignment requirements.
As a result, you should begin by evaluating the work and carefully reading the writing prompt. Look for technical criteria such as length, formatting (single vs. double spacing, indentation, and so on), and citation style. Take note of the specifics, such as whether an abstract or cover page is necessary.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Choose Your Topic
Open-ended homework requires students to choose their own themes. Despite its seeming simplicity, choosing a topic for a research paper is the most important decision you will make since it influences everything that follows.
When deciding how to choose a topic for a research paper, the first consideration is if it will provide enough information for a whole piece. You should choose a topic that contains enough data and complexity to allow for a lively discussion. However, you should avoid general subjects in favor of ones that are limited enough to allow you to convey all of the vital information without having to cut too much.
Try not to be robotic when selecting your topic; it is nevertheless preferable to select something for which you have a real passion. Ideally, you will choose a topic that meets both requirements, providing an acceptable amount of depth while also keeping you engaged.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Gather Preliminary Information
Because it’s called a research paper for a reason, the sooner you start your research, the better.
Determine what research is available on your topic as soon as feasible in order to improve it and build your thesis statement. An early investigation will help clear up any misconceptions you may have about the issue and point you in the right direction for more information.
Typically, sources may be found online or at a library. When performing internet research, choose reputable sources such as scholarly journals and academic papers. Some search engines, which are discussed more below in the section labeled “Tools and resources,” allow you to access just reliable sources and academic databases.
When conducting research, keep the distinction between primary and secondary sources in mind. Primary sources include direct experiences like published articles or autobiographies, whereas secondary sources are more remote, like reviews or biographies. When performing research, it is advisable to skim sources rather than completely read each one. If a source looks to be useful, save it for a complete reading later. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to filter through sources you’ll never use, wasting time that might be spent finding a beneficial source.
You may be asked to write a literature review that outlines your sources and sends them to an expert for validation on occasion. Even if a literature review is not required, it is still good to compile a list of potential sources early on; you’ll be glad you did later.
4.Â Â Â Â Â Make a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is the most effective way to begin a research work. Aside from preparing your reader, the thesis statement makes it simple for other researchers to assess whether your work will be useful to their own research. Similarly, you should examine other research articles to assess the value of their thesis statements.
A great thesis statement presents all of the important parts of the issue without going into too much detail. If you’re having difficulty expressing yourself, try phrasing your problem as a question and then addressing it.
5.Â Â Â Â Â Identify Supporting Evidence
It is now time to do the actual research in the process of how to write an academic research paper. Now is the time to comb over your sources and determine the specific information you want to include in your paper.
Supporting evidence is often discovered by reading each source and taking notes. Isolate just the information that is directly related to your topic; do not clog your work with extraneous details or tangents, no matter how exciting they may appear. Always keep track of the page numbers, not so that you can find the information later but also so you may cite it.
Bibliographic cards, in addition to highlighting and taking notes, are a common study strategy. Simple index cards with bibliographical information (source citation, page numbers, subtopic category) on one side and a fact or direct quote on the other. Although bibliography cards are not necessary, some students find them useful for staying organized, especially when writing an outline.
6.Â Â Â Â Â Create an Outline for Your Research Paper
Many students want to know how to write an outline for a research paper. Outlines are especially important in research papers since they require a logical and methodical structure to guarantee that all concerns are addressed.
Make a list of all the important categories and subtopics you need to address; this will act as your outline. Consider the material you gathered when constructing your supporting evidence and the best way to split and organize it.
Once you’ve compiled a list of subjects to discuss, think about the best way to deliver them. Which subtopics are comparable and should be grouped together? Are there any subtopics that need to be clarified if given out of order? If your content is highly clear, you may utilize a chronological technique and deliver everything in the order that it happened.
Because research papers are so complicated, try separating your outline into paragraphs. If you have a lot of content to cover, this will help you stay organized. Furthermore, it gives you more control over the direction and flow of the study report. Addressing structural concerns during the outline process rather than after the full paper has been written is typically preferable.
7.Â Â Â Â Â Create the Initial Draught
When your outline is finished, you should start writing your research paper. This is by far the most time-consuming and difficult procedure, but if you’ve properly organized your materials and created a precise strategy, everything should go well.
If you need to learn how to write an introduction, starting a research paper might be difficult. As a result, it is critical to prepare your thesis statement ahead of time. Begin with your thesis statement and then fill out the rest of your introduction using secondary material; save the specifics for the body of your research paper, which comes next.
The body of your research paper is the longest section. Unlike essays, research papers frequently divide the content into sections with separate titles to assist reading. Use the parts of your outline as a guide.
Stick to your outline and organize your work per paragraph. Because this is simply the first draught, there is no need to be concerned about every word being perfect. You’ll be able to improve and polish your writing later, but for now, focus just on presenting the important facts. In other words, it is acceptable to make mistakes since you will remedy them afterward.
Connecting paragraphs is one of the most common difficulties encountered while writing long works such as research papers. The longer your job, the more difficult it is to weave things together correctly. Make use of transitional phrases to improve the flow of your writing, especially at the beginning and conclusion of each paragraph.
8.Â Â Â Â Â Make Sure To Acknowledge Your Sources Properly
Citing your sources validates your data and connects your research piece to the scientific community as a whole. Citations must follow stringent formatting criteria due to their importance, yet, there are multiple sets of regulations!
To identify the right formatting style, examine the assignment. Academic research papers often credit their sources in one of two styles: MLA or APA.
- APA (American Psychological Association)
- Modern Language Association (MLA)
In addition to MLA and APA, you may come across CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style), AMA (American Medical Association), and IEEE standards on occasion (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
Citations may look complex at first, with all of their criteria and specific information. However, after you’ve mastered them, you’ll be able to accurately acknowledge your sources without having to think about it. Keep in mind that each formatting style has its own set of requirements for citing any sort of source, including photographs, websites, speeches, and YouTube videos.
9.Â Â Â Â Â Proofreading
Last but not least, proofread your research paper to find and correct any flaws. We recommend going over it twice: first, for structure issues like adding/deleting sections or rearranging paragraphs, and second for wording, grammar, and spelling mistakes. Two independent editing sessions allow you to focus on one issue at a time rather than both at the same time.
Outline of the Research Paper
An outline is meant to help you properly evaluate your topic and organize it sensibly before writing. Creating a strong outline is the most important stage in writing an effective research paper. Check your outline to ensure that the topics addressed are presented in a logical order. In your outline, include an introduction, body, and conclusion. You can create a rough outline and tweak it as you write your research report.
In the introduction, state your thesis and the purpose of your research paper. What is the main reason for writing the paper? Include your plans for dealing with your problem. Is this a list of facts, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the main points you’ll be covering in your post and why they’ll be of interest to your readers.
The body contains the arguments that support your thesis. This section is divided into various subsections, which may vary depending on your discipline, the teacher’s expectations, and so on. A literature review, methodology, analysis, findings, and commentary are common components of the body of research paper.
In conclusion, restate or restructure your thesis or research question. Consolidate your points. Explain how you came to this decision. Why is your research important, and how may the findings be used in future studies.
A research paper does not have to be a tough or unpleasant task. To be successful in this academic endeavor, a student or researcher must follow a certain process. As a beginning point for this method, consider your most fervent hobbies. It is essential to be interested and excited about the issue when creating a high-quality research report.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
- What factors contribute to a good research paper?
Select credible and valuable sources. Utilize index cards to make notes useful notes that you might need during the writing process. Your notes should be organized according to the subject matter. Create a well-considered strategy.
- How should a research paper be formatted?
The title page, every quotation, remark, and references page are all double-spaced throughout the document.