Writing a Research Paper: Tips for Students

Are you going to write a research paper for the first time? If yes, this guide is exactly what you need. Writing a research paper isn’t as easy as ABC but it’s possible to make the time-consuming process more effective if you follow step-by-step instructions. Before you get started, you should make sure you have a clear understanding of the distinctive features this kind of paper has. 

Writing a Research Paper
Writing a Research Paper

How does writing a research paper differ from other papers?

A research project is a piece of writing, which is based on the consideration of the existing theories and the analysis of the findings of other authors. In the process of the interpretation of the existing results, you’ll be making your own conclusions and predictions concerning a certain issue. Writing a research paper supposes: the author will not only process the materials, which are available but also adds some valuable ideas he or she has got when conducting research. Find out how to achieve the goal successfully following a step-by-step guide.

Tips for getting started with research paper

Brainstorm up to 10 topic ideas and then choose the one you feel passionate about. If you lack inspiration, you can always find topics on the Internet. Limit the topic of your research to some certain aspect but don’t choose too specific topics, which are of interest for you only. Pick the idea, which will appeal to your reader and will be interesting for you at the same time. 

First and foremost, you need to make sure that you understand the assignment at hand properly. To do, you may want to create a task sheet by taking the following steps:

  • Read the assignment carefully. If anything is unclear at this point, do not hesitate to contact our professor for clarifications.
  • Identify the purpose of the assignment, its deadline, format to be used, required length and method of submission.
  • Organize this information into a bulleted list. Cross out the completed parts in the process of preparing your research paper.

After you have defined the technical aspects of our project, it is time to consider the target audience. It usually depends on your academic level. Thus, Master’s theses are usually written with the assumption that they will be read by an expert audience. However, for an undergraduate student it is appropriate to assume that the target audience stands on the border between the expert and generalist categories.

In the introduction of the research work, you need to determine the object, subject of the study, and the main problems. Formulate the purpose and content of the tasks. Report what the novelty of the study is, if any.

The basics of research paper writing

Choosing the topic

Deciding on the topic for your research paper is probably the most challenging and definitely the most important one. A good tactic to generate the initial idea for our research topic is to brainstorm the list of at least 10 options. You do not need to narrow these preliminary topics down. Free writing on a few most appealing options from the list will help with this task.

While preparing for writing a research paper, you need to bear in mind the following characteristics of an appropriate research topic:

  • It has to be of interest to you. While technically it is possible to write on anything, it is a common knowledge that students struggle to write good research on topics they do not even care about.
  • It must be original. Professors are bored to death of reading the same research papers every year. Therefore, you need to avoid topics that have been looked at for a long time and in which there is virtually nothing new to be discovered.
  • The topic has to meet the criteria of your assignment. It has to deal with the subject of your study and follow other requirements. For example, if you are writing a research of history, the scope of your prospective topics may be restricted to looking into a specific region or period.
  • However interesting and original your chosen topic may sound, it is necessary to make sure that sufficient information on it is available to actually conduct a research. This point means that you need to keep your creativity in balance with the resources and materials available to you either physically or online. Preliminary on the chosen topic will help you decide whether this requirement is met.

Writing a good research paper worth an A+: 7 must-steps 

When starting to research a scientific problem, you need to know: it is important to follow a certain sequence of mental operations. It is this sequence in the content of the work that reflects your understanding of the material and the problem you are working on. These are the steps you should make to create a high-quality research project. 

Create a strong thesis statement

A thesis statement is the key argument of your paper. In other words, it is the answer to your research question. However, it is not enough to simply state the answer. You need to outline the evidence that has brought you to such a conclusion.Thesis statement is the backbone of your research paper. Having it formulated from the beginning will enable you to structure the research properly. However, it does not mean that your thesis statement must be cast in stone. On the contrary, you need to adjust it as your research equips you with more information on the topic.

Look for trustworthy sources

Writing a research paper requires using a variety of both primary and secondary sources. The proportion of the types of sources depends on the topic of your research. The sources must come from either academic or professional literature. Online encyclopedias and blogs do not make trustworthy sources of information for a research paper.Another issue to pay attention to is the relevance of your sources. A good rule of thumb is to utilize secondary sources not older than five years from the date of your research.

Write a detailed paper outline

A sufficiently detailed research paper outline is the key part of your project. It is the list of topics to cover and arguments to present in each section of your research paper. The outline acts as the guide you will follow while drafting your research paper.The outline may change in the process of writing the paper. However, you must take care not to change it too dramatically so as to keep the paper in touch with the thesis statement. 

Write a research paper draft

Once you have your thesis statement and outline ready, start working on the first draft of your paper. The thing to bear in mind is that the first draft is meant to be written poorly.You may start the draft from any section of the paper as long as you stick to the outline. In fact, it is preferable to write an introduction and conclusion after the body of your research has been drafted.

Check whether the paper has all the constituent parts

Consider revising your draft as a two-stage process. The first step is to check whether you have followed the outline and if the technical requirements for the research paper such as the minimum word count have been met. It is also the opportunity to check whether the line of argumentation presented in your outline works well and make necessary corrections to it. Create several next drafts focusing on the content of the paper rather than possible language issues, there will be time for them later.

Edit and proofread the paper

Once you have reached the point where you are moderately satisfied with the contents of your draft, it is time to take care about the grammar and style. Again, there is no need to correct everything in a single sitting. You may proofread the paper several times focusing on different aspects of writing for every attempt.

Reread the paper to make sure it sounds great

You need to reread the paper a few times to make sure it sounds well. To move things even further, you need to ask your friends, relatives, or peers to look through your research paper and share suggestions on how to improve it. The feedback from an independent audience is also helpful in making your writing clear and up to the point. 

It would be great if you could read it to someone. If not, you can ask a professional writer to check the paper and make the improvements, if necessary.