How to Write a Research Paper that Deserves an A
How to Write a Research Paper: A Detailed Academic Writing Guide
When students get the task to prepare a research paper, the first question that comes up is “how to write a research paper in a decent way?” In this article, we try to explain to you the whole process and discuss each step in detail.
How to Organize a Research Paper
As a college student, you should write a research paper before graduation. If it is your first experience, the task might give you a hard time. Academic writing might be confusing and tedious. With our professional advice and help, you will get an impressive assignment worthy of an excellent grade. This guide discusses each step of the writing process in detail to develop a general understanding of the specifics. With this writing toolkit, you may cope with any academic task.
Tip 1. There is no universal formula for writing a perfect paper. You can use a standardized approach (described in this article) but you should modify it following the writing instructions by professors and guidelines of the educational institution. Read handouts and visit the writing lab on the university’s website before beginning the project. Let’s start with the terminology. A research paper is a peculiar type of academic writing. A writer should conduct an independent study to investigate the topic or problem in a comprehensive way.
Professors like such academic assignments since they can show the student’s knowledge, as well as research and critical thinking skills. To succeed, you should employ all your abilities to make an original contribution to the topic.
These research paper assignment guidelines can take you through the whole writing process from the first letters to proofreading the final draft before submission. We discuss each stage of the writing process at a time.
Understand the Assignment
The success of any assignment depends on your understanding. The first step to writing a research paper is studying the requirements and determining what your professor wants you to do:
- Read the task sheet a few times. Pay attention to any unclear or confusing parts. It is always reasonable to clarify these questions with your professor before starting the assignment.
- Determine the goal of the task and what you should do to prepare it (take into account the deadline, length, and formatting issues).
- Prepare a bulleted list of the key steps. Then, you should check off items to understand what you have done and what aspects are ahead of you.
While planning, be realistic and allocate enough time for studying the topic, preparing the draft, and polishing your work.
Choose a Research Paper Topic
You need a plausible topic. To come up with a good one, grab a pen and a piece of paper and hold a brainstorming session with your group-mates.
Free writing is another effective approach. Take a very broad topic and narrow it down in several phases until you get a specific research idea.
You might find inspiration studies of fellow researchers. Usually, in the recommendation section, the authors suggest research paper topics that require extra investigation.
Also, focus on your personal preferences and strengths. It is always easier to investigate a topic that is interesting to you. Ensure that it is possible to research a topic (there are enough pieces of evidence and sources to support your arguments). The aim is to choose a specific and original subject:
- An essay researching the chronology of the American Civil War is neither original nor specific.
- An essay studying the experience of Black people in the bordering states during the American Civil War is a good choice.
Conduct Preliminary Research
Use different sources that discuss the chosen topic, including books, scholarly journals, and reputable websites.
Consider different perspectives. Do not be afraid of ideas that contradict your argument. They may help you research the topic without bias. While reading sources, answer the following questions
- Are there any overlooked issues?
- Is your topic significant to academic community? Is it a subject of heated debates?
- Can you contribute to the debates?
You should develop the main research question for your project. To draft a good research question, finish this sentence: “The paper is going to study how, what, and why…”
Develop a Thesis Statement
A thesis is the core idea (argument) of the paper. It should reflect the author’s perspective and outline the main evidence used to prove or justify it. The thesis should answer your research question.
The thesis statement should make a claim and summarize your arguments. It should make a coherent element and relate to every part of research.
You may change this first version of the thesis as you research the problem in detail. It is your primary guide, and each paragraph should refer back and develop this statement.
Outline for Research Paper
The research paper outline is a short list of sections and subsections with key arguments, ideas, and evidence. Usually, students underestimate the importance of this step. If you dedicate enough time to creating a good outline, the writing process may become much easier and more efficient. It may help you plan how to write a research paper.
Prepare the First Draft of a Research Paper
Usually, the first draft is too long, too broad, and far from perfect. Well, it is understandable since the goal is to write; you may polish the project later. In this stage,
- Follow your inspiration;
- Pay attention to the logical organization of chapters and paragraphs;
- Write clearly and reference all borrowed ideas in a proper way.
Are you aware how to start a research paper? You can begin by writing a thesis, an introduction, or one of the body paragraphs. If you follow your outline, you should include all the elements into your work.
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N.B.: Avoid deleting large portions of text. Even if you do not like some passages, they might prove useful later.
Structure of a Research Paper
How to Complete an Introduction for a Research Paper
The introduction should answer three main questions: What? Why? How?
- WHAT is the argument? Introduce the topic, including key concepts and terms, and provide the background.
- WHY is you research important? Explain why you choose the topic and how it could contribute to the debates.
- HOW are you going to prove your argument? Provide a clear map of all pieces of evidence in a chronological order. You may leave this part till the end when you have a complete paper with a clear structure.
The introduction should advertise your paper. It should be attention-grabbing to get readers interested in your topic and make them read it up to the end.
Use ethos (credibility), pathos (emotional appeal), and logos (reasoning) to develop a good thesis statement. Include it at the end of your introduction.
How to Write the Body
Compared to other parts of a research paper, the body is the longest and most complicated one. Organize evidence in a logical way with a constant focus on the thesis. Use your outline as a guideline to stay on track. Consider that you may always deviate from the original plan. Use sources wisely to support your argument.
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Methods Section of a Research Paper
Students have no problem with this part of the assignment since it is merely a description of what the research has been performed.
Results Section of a Research Paper
How to write a research paper results section depends on your research methodology and setup.
In the case of a quantitative study, the section presents numerical data. In the case of a qualitative research, this part defines the main trends.
Organize large data sets in graphs and tables. Include raw data in appendixes for reference.
You should explain the results with brief commentaries. Try not to repeat yourself but describe each important finding. Leave all explanations, opinions, and interpretations for the discussion section.
Discussion Section of a Research Paper
The discussion part interprets the results got in the course of research and positions them in the knowledge pool on the topic. In this part, you should explain what you have learned from readings and observations. You should also explicate how the data obtained may contribute to the discussion. Use transition sentences to show how one idea leads to another one. In such a manner, you can organize all arguments in a logical sequence. The discussion always refers back to the introduction, thesis, and reviewed literature. The main goal of this section is to show the evolution of thoughts.
To compose an effective discussion section, you ought to:
- Use your critical thinking abilities to analyze and synthesize the gathered data. Avoid restating the results and pieces of literature.
- If possible, describe the development of the topic and predict how it could change in the future.
- Support each idea with data and determine whether the results you got are in line or contradict the reviewed literature.
How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper
To sum up the project, you should restate the thesis statement considering conducted research. Briefly summarize every piece of evidence. If you believe your research needs studying, suggest specific questions or directions.
Appendices in Research Paper
Appendices contain information that can enlarge the reader’s understanding of the topic, but it is too extended for the inclusion into the body. The examples are charts, tables, questionnaires, maps, lengthy statistics, parts of historical documents, glossaries, lists of terms and concepts, and images. You can decide on the number of appendices yourself. Everything depends on the specifics of the assignment. Name each appendix with a letter in alphabetical order (Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C, etc.). They should appear after the reference page.
The rough draft of your project is almost ready. It is time to create the bibliography page.
You should add each used source to this list and format it keeping to the chosen referencing style. Each referencing style sets different rules and standards. So, it is always reasonable to check the up-to-date style guide. The task might be confusing since the same source may be formatted differently in APA, Harvard, MLA, or other styles.
If you do not cite sources as requested, you can be accused of plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Ensure that this step gets due attention.
The length and complexity of the assignment define how many sources for a research paper are needed. In the majority of cases, about five entries is a good number. With a few sources, you may not be able to justify your opinion. With too many sources, your paper may become a compilation of other writers’ opinions.
How to End Your Research Paper
The Second Draft
Before submission, you should prepare the second draft, which is the improved version of the first (rough) draft. Take the following steps:
- Read the paper and ensure that it meets the assignment requirements.
- Assess the justification of each assumption. Add more pieces of evidence to improve weak arguments. If you cannot substantiate some issues, delete them.
- Rearrange your ideas to improve the general logic of the paper.
- Think whether you can add any ideas.
Revise, Edit and Proofread
The final touch is to polish your paper before submission. Check all transitions, evaluate the structure, and assess the credibility and power of evidence. Add section headings to allow the reader to follow the argument with ease.
The next stage is proofreading. Take a close examination to fix grammatical and mechanical mistakes, improve word choice, and make corrections in punctuation and syntax. Deal with:
- run-on sentences;
- dangling modifiers;
- spelling mistakes;
- the comma use;
- colloquial language.
You should always go through your paper a few times. Step back and have a scrupulous look at the general picture. Try to read the piece backward. Go from your last sentence up until you get to your first sentence. Such an approach may refresh your apprehension and activate critical thinking. As a result, you can come across more errors.
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An outside perspective is also useful. Ask friends or fellow students to read your paper and share their subjective opinion. A person that sees the piece for the first time can detect more mistakes. Also, you may get fresh ideas on possible improvements. Do not be afraid to use automated proofreading software (both online and offline). In such a manner, you may avoid many mistakes. Do not overly rely on these tools and accept each single manually.
Research Paper Checklist
If you follow the proposed plan, writing a research paper can become much easier. Once you complete your assignment, go over this checklist before submitting the paper to your professor.
- The paper follows all the requirements in the instructions sheet.
- My introduction is engaging, original, and content-related. It provides enough background information.
- My thesis statement introduces the core argument and explains the writer’s perspective.
- My paper has a logical structure with relevant sections and subsections.
- Each paragraph comprises a topic sentence.
- All the paragraphs are relevant to the thesis statement and develop the research problem.
- My paragraphs are well connected with the help of effective transition phrases and words.
- My conclusion restates the thesis statement and lists all arguments provided in the paper to support the main assumption.
- My conclusion shows how my paper boosts my understanding of the topic and contributes to the knowledge pool.
- My conclusion wraps up the paper and does not add new information.
- I have referenced every thought and piece of information borrowed from external sources.
- My reference list is complete and consistent. I have followed the required citation style.
- I have polished my assignment and addressed any remarks or feedback from my supervisor (if applicable).
- My table of contents is complete and relevant. Each section and subsection goes with the corresponding page number.
We believe that at this point, you understand how to write a research paper. Even if everything goes very well in theory, you can try your skills only in practice with a real-life assignment. Well, you are sure what to do and how to organize the writing process. What you need is time. The hasty timing may cause you too much stress. Staying organized when the clock is ticking is almost impossible.
What should you do if the deadline presses? Is the game up? No, get in touch with our exclusive research paper editing services. Why should you order from our sophisticated writers? Our proficient writing company is the best research paper writing service on the Internet.