How to write a Research Paper

By Nikita Lamba


Writing research papers does not come naturally to nearly all of us. A research paper is any kind of academic writing based on original research which features study and explanation from the author, a research paper is more than the sum of sources, more than a compilation of different pieces of information about a topic, and more than a review of the literature in a field. A research paper scrutinizes a perception or argues a point. Despite of the type of research paper you are writing, your completed research paper should present your own thinking backed up by other’s ideas and information.

1. Choose a research paper topic

There are many ways to produce an idea for a research paper, whether you prefer old-fashioned brainstorming by writing notes, or talking with a professor or batch mate to figure out how to come up to a topic. You can try free writing, you can also gain inspiration from other research, the discussion or recommendations sections of research papers habitually include ideas for other specific topics to examine.


Once you have the main subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that:

 Belongs to your interest area

 Is original

 Is possible to research

2. Understand the assignment

Part of finishing a piece of assessment successfully means achieving the specific tasks set out for you. Identify the assignment deadline, goal, length requirements, formatting style and submission method.


Also consider:

Time frame: be realistic and plan for time to research, write and edit separately.

Word limit: work with the specific topic and avoid trying to cover too much information if not needed.

Purpose: Each purpose comes with different requirements so attention should be given to that also.

3. Understand your audience

While asking yourself how to write a research paper, the need to consider audience is important. Their knowledge level control your writing style, choice of words and how much detail you need in explanations of theories.

A master’s thesis is usually written for an expert audience and if you are writing an undergraduate paper, you can assume your audience is somewhere between generalist and expert.

4. Conduct preliminary research

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic and try to find an issue that can focus your paper more or less. Use several types of sources, including books, journals and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything conspicuous. To avoid confirmation bias, do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that disagree with your point of view. It might be helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. In addition, this stage will help you determine whether there is a possible error in your argument. If you find there is an error, you can adjust your argument or topic at this stage itself. Most people do not conduct a great deal of research at this point, it is only to ensure the paper is on track and to get a sense of the literature.


5. Develop a thesis statement

A thesis statement is a statement of your fundamental argument, it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what substantiation and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer. The thesis statement should be concise, litigious, and articulate that means it should briefly summarize the argument in a sentence or two, also make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis; and make a logical point that relates to every part of the paper. The thesis statement will be refined as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process.

6. Create a research paper outline

A research paper outline works as a valuable guide to use during the writing process. It is basically a list of the key topics, arguments and evidence you will include, divided into sections with headings so the paper is planned before you begin writing. A research paper outline can

help make the writing process much more professional, so it is worth granting the time to create one.

7. Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the crucial building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

8. Write a first draft of the research paper

The first draft should not be the last, as you can polish later on. The main goal at this stage is to:

 Turn your rough ideas into feasible arguments

 Add detail to those arguments

 Get a sense of what the final product will look like


Priorities while writing the first draft:

 Maintaining forward momentum, write now and perfect later.

 Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences.

 Express your ideas as visible as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when

you come to perfecting the text.

 Keeping your arguments flexible i.e., be prepared to alter arguments if needed. If you get

stuck on one section, move on to another and come back later.

 Citing clearly, time can be saved by including the essentials such as author name, year of

publication and page numbers etc.

9. Write a compelling body of text

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to systematize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason a research paper outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide while writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

After completing the draft, compress the paragraphs into only topic sentences and read them one at a time. Check for smooth conversions between paragraphs.

10. The conclusion

The conclusion is designed to help reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of irrevocability. Map out the course of the paper, highlighting how it all comes together to prove the thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how the paper has settled the issues raised.

11. The second draft

Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft, identify any statements that might require validation, keeping reader’s perspective primarily in mind, remove the points if you cannot substantiate them further.

12. The revision process

The objective during the revision and proofreading procedure is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-expressed as possible.

Finally, you need to make sure that the paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style.

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