The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Research Paper

A research paper, like an essay, needs to be planned, organized, and developed. However, compared to the idea-generating strategies that are used in essays, research projects place more emphasis on gathering, evaluating, and interpreting information. The following article by Lois Weldon provides an overview on how to write a good research paper.

In its essence, the research paper is an argument or discussion based on a well-developed thesis, which uses several authoritative sources in order to provide valid evidence. When students are faced with such task, it usually seems like a monumental project to them and their first reaction is being overwhelmed with the amount of work in front of them. However, the process of writing a research paper is pretty straightforward and if the researcher follows this step-by-step guide, it will be easier for them to deliver high-quality work that will be useful in terms of the topic it elaborates.

Organization is the first step to success!

You won’t be able to achieve anything if you don’t get organized before you start the process of researching and writing. First of all, you should choose your topic. These are the steps that follow after that initial decision:

–          Find several high-quality sources

–          Get some index cards and start brainstorming and taking notes

–          Organize those notes and divide them by subjects

–          Work on the project’s outline

–          Start with the actual writing

–          Review the work and improve it

–          Work on the final proofreading (pay a professional service to do this for you if you are not certain in your language skills).

Research before you select the topic!

It is very important to conduct a decent library research before you choose the topic of the research paper. Find a spacious table in the library and go through many sources that have the potential to provide you with quality material.

When you are certain that you’ll have enough sources for it, you can choose your topic. It is recommended to write about something you are really interested about, because you are never going to be able to deliver great work if you’re not motivated by its subject of interest.

You will need to develop three main questions about the topic and think about their answers. This needs to be very specific, as choosing a topic that is too general won’t enable you to develop a useful and focused research paper. Choose one of these three questions and develop the paper’s thesis on its basis.

Work on your sources and take notes!

Besides using online sources, you will have to use the real library in order to find authoritative books on the subjects. Academics rarely accept research papers that are based on online sources only, so make sure to locate at least three books that will be relevant to your subject of interest. Go through those sources and make sure to take plenty of notes during the process.

While you are reading those books and going through online sources, millions of ideas will start going through your head. Some of them will be extraordinary, while others will be useless. Write them all down! Use different colors in your notes in order to stress the most important thoughts.

Make sure to organize those notes. Go through every single one of them and place the really useful ideas aside. Then arrange them by topic and relevance, in order to make the paragraph outlining much easier.

Start with the actual writing!

Now that you have the needed material, you can finally start writing the research paper. Your first step of practical work will be writing an outline, using the arranged note cards. Make sure to plan the word count within these paragraphs, because that will make your writing process much more organized and effective.

After you have the outline, use it to write the first, draft version of your project. The introductory paragraph has to be strong enough to catch the reader’s attention, and you have to develop a strong thesis statement that will flow through the paper and lead to final conclusions. The first draft may not be perfect, but don’t get discouraged by that fact. Read it many times and make improvements and re-arrangements of sentences or entire paragraphs. Don’t be too attached and edit down the writing if necessary. Keep working on your research paper until you are totally satisfied with it.

Final step: Proofreading

Academic writing is not all about providing work that will be useful for the academic community. Your research paper has to be written in academic language, which means that you will need to do an effective proofreading. If you are not too certain about the typographical, grammatical or spelling errors, pay a professional proofreading service to do the work for you, or ask a friend who is capable enough to help you.

Lois Weldon is a writer at She lives happily in London with her husband and lovely daughter.

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