How To Write A Research Paper: A Step By Step Guide

When you’re in university, one of the toughest challenges is figuring out how to how to write a research paper. It’s something that a lot of students struggle with, either because they don’t have the skills or their schedules are too packed. However, once you know all the essential dos and don’ts of writing a research paper and the proper formatting techniques that you should employ, things should become much easier.

What Is A Research Paper?

Simply put, it is a technical piece of writing that is aimed at addressing a particular topic or issue and potentially providing answers. It contains the results of scientific research and an in-depth discussion into its significance and how it pertains to the main topic. Typically, these papers also contain information about how academic research was carried out and the limitations faced by the researchers.

What Makes A Good Research Paper And How To Write It?

In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at some important research paper guidelines and list some tips that will help you become a better writer. In summary, a good research paper should have the following characteristics:

  • It should have a proper structure
  • It should only contain original work
  • It should contain the appropriate use of language

We will address each of these characteristics in this article.

Make A Research Paper Outline And Structure

What should a research paper include?

In this portion, we’re going to take a look at the typical structure of a research paper which most college and high school students should use. Proper structure is crucial to a good college research paper. Unfortunately, it’s something a lot of students struggle with. Nowadays, a lot of us choose to seek the services of good freelancers and agencies and pay for research papers to be written in our stead. Just make sure that they are qualified and experienced in UK college coursework standards.

Title Page

This is merely a page that contains the research title and the names of contributing authors. When choosing a heading, it’s important that it is both clear and concise. Try not to fill it up with too much jargon or use phrases that the general public can’t understand. Last but not least, the title should be catchy. While it’s easier to think of attractive headings for good debate topics, it’s much more challenging when you’re faced with a technical and boring subject. If you’re dealing with the latter, think about how you can dumb it down without losing the meaning.

How to write a research paper abstract

An abstract or very brief summary of the paper is usually given a single paragraph. Here are the parts  you should include in it:

  • Your reason for conducting this research
  • What is the main argument at hand?
  • What approach did you use to conduct this research?
  • What are the results and what are their implications?

How to start a research paper introduction

First of all, every good introduction starts with some background information on the topic. You can do this by referencing existing literature but make sure to restrict it to 2-3 lines.

What is the topic sentence? The first sentence or the ‘topic sentence’ is the hardest because it should be able to hook the reader at the get-go. How to write a topic sentence? The key is in the wording. Make sure that you use simple, persuasive language and avoid jargon at all costs.

Once you’ve done that, it is time to introduce your thesis statement, where you let the reader know what stance you will be taking.

How to write a research paper thesis statement

A thesis statement clearly expresses your position on the topic. When you’re writing this, keep in mind that a good thesis statement should:

  • Focuses on one specific aspect of the research
  • Allows the reader to figure which direction the content will take
  • Allows for further discussion to take place

How to write methods in a research paper

The method section of your research essay should feature the following sub-sections:

  1. Participants – the number of participants involved in the study and what the selection process was
  2. Materials – this should include a list of all the equipment, substrates, and literature that was utilized to conduct the study
  3. Design – how did you design the experiment? What were the independent and dependent variables? What was the control used?
  4. Procedures – the list of steps taken during the experiment.

How to write a research paper conclusion

Here are features every strong conclusion includes:

  • Restatement of the topic
  • Restatement of your stance or thesis statement
  • A summary of all the main points discussed
  • A concluding statement that ties all the points together into one main idea
  • A call to action, derived from the potential impact of these findings.

Research paper outline example

If you’re wondering how to organize a research paper, here’s an example of a formal outline:

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
    1. Topic sentence
    2. Background information
    3. Thesis statement
  4. Method
    1. Participants
    2. Materials
    3. Design
    4. Procedure
  5. Body Paragraphs
  6. Discussion
  7. Conclusion
    1. Rephrasing of topic and stance
    2. Summary of main points
    3. Concluding statement
    4. Call to action
  8. Citations

Do not be lazy and resort to making a tentative outline as you’ll only end up being confused when you start writing.

Use The Proper Research Paper Format

Your lecturer or supervisor will tell you which citation format to use. Usually, it will be one of the following:

APA formatting style

Here’s an example of the APA format:

Dumais, S. A., Rizzuto, T. E., Cleary, J., & Dowden, L. (2013). Stressors and supports for adult online learners: Comparing first- and continuing-generation college students. American Journal of Distance Education, 27(2), 100-110. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2013.783265

MLA formatting style

Here’s an example of the MLA format:

Gupta, Sanjay. "Balancing and Checking." Essays on Modern Democracy. Ed. Bob Towsky. Hinsdale: Brook Stone Publishers, 1996.

Chicago formatting style

Here’s an example of the Chicago format:

Schoenfield, Miriam. "Moral vagueness is ontic vagueness." Ethics 126, no. 2 (2016): 257-282. https://doi-org.exproxy.umuc.edu/10.1086/683541.

How To Write A Research Paper Draft

Writing a good paper or research report is all about planning. It helps you figure out which sections to include and which content fits where. Even before you attempt your first draft, you should have a solid plan in place.

How to start a research paper?

Before the actual writing, we highly recommend that you start with an outline or a draft. Think of it as an information paper that you need to refer to from time to time. Use the template we’ve listed above and tweak it to your lecturer’s expectations. After you’ve drawn up a solid plan, then start writing out the first draft.

Don’t worry so much about mistakes when you’re writing the first draft. You can weed those out during the revision phase.

Research paper notes

Taking extensive notes can really help write a research paper. This allows you to keep all the relevant information in one place and thereby save time. When writing a history research paper, it pays to keep notes of dates and timelines so that you don’t get confused.

Make A Revision Of Your Research Paper

Your first draft is very likely to be riddled with mistakes. Hence it’s best to revise your research paper multiple times. Keep an eye out for:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Grammatical errors
  • Correct use of tenses
  • Missing citations
  • Incorrect citation format

Research papers are something that a lot of students have a tough time with. A lot of the time, they simply don’t know how to write one. In this article, we’ve taken a look at all the basics that a student may need to up their technical and academic writing skills, including what constitutes a research paper, the typical structure, citation formats and tips on outlining and first drafts.