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Students are asked to write a research paper at the college or university level. Do you know how to write a research paper? Many students find it difficult to even begin working on such a piece of writing. But why? Why do students find research papers so scary?
This is because it involves multiple processes. It is much more complex than a typical high school or college essay.
This blog will show you how to write a research paper. But first, it's important to understand what a research paper is before getting into too much detail.

What is a research paper?

Here is the research paper meaning:
A research paper is a large piece of academic document that is based on the research of the author. The goal of writing a research paper is to show your understanding of a topic or to deliver new results based on the research done. 

Scholars from academia compile data from previously finished research projects. In the research paper, the author compiles evidence in favour of or against the thesis. Its aim is to contribute knowledge, answer questions, or solve problems, helping others understand and build upon the existing information in a particular field.

How to Write a Research Paper in a few simple steps?

If you’re wondering how do you write a research paper? Here is a simple guide to writing a research paper specially designed for students. From selecting a topic to organizing your research, we’ve covered everything. By following these research paper guidelines, you can easily generate an excellent piece of paper.

Steps to write a research paper

Understand the assignment 

Unbelievably, a lot of students start writing research papers without even reading the instructions. Even though some people may already know this, it's crucial to highlight how important it is to read the rules thoroughly before beginning.

To start, carefully read the instructions and topic. Note down any technical requirements given, such as paper length, word count, formatting rules, or citation style. Furthermore, pay attention to details, such as whether an abstract or a cover page is required or not.

Once you have a clear understanding of all requirements, proceed with the writing stage. Despite the fact that research papers follow certain guidelines, you can follow the regular writing procedure with a few extra steps. However, the basic structure of the writing process doesn't change.

For example, let's talk about a hypothetical scenario where a student named James is asked to write a research paper on climate change. Before start the writing process, James carefully read and understood the assignment details. The instructions say that James's paper about climate change should:

  • Follow APA formatting guidelines.
  • Be 10-12 pages long.
  • Include at least ten academic sources.
  • Have a cover page.
  • Include an abstract.

With these instructions in mind, James now has a solid point to start his writing process. He can proceed by doing detailed research. He has to gather accurate sources and arrange his findings. James can polish his thoughts and arguments by adhering to the conventional writing process of drafting, revising, and editing, resulting in a work that is well-organized and cohesive.

James improves his chances of completing a research paper that satisfies all standards by taking the time to learn how to start a research paper and adhere to the proper writing procedure.

Decide on a Research Paper Topic

The selection of a research paper topic is a pivotal decision that shapes every aspect of your writing journey. From the beginning to the end, the chosen subject sets the tone for your entire paper. Therefore, your foremost priority should be dedicated to the thoughtful and strategic process of selecting the most fitting research paper topic.
It is crucial to choose a subject that provides a wealth of information and complexity so that a thorough and insightful discussion may take place.

Furthermore, it's crucial to make your research topic feel personal and interesting. Instead of picking a topic just because it meets the requirements, choose something that genuinely catches your interest. The best research paper topic is one that has enough material for study and keeps you excited and motivated as you go through the writing and research journey.

Gather Early Information

Start your research early. A research paper involves deep analysis and investigation. Checking previous studies about your topic helps you create a strong thesis statement and refine your chosen subject. Early research does two things: it clears up any confusion you might have and shows you the best ways to find more important information. It's like laying the groundwork for your study.

Make a Strong Thesis Statement 

Write a thesis statement on the basis of your research. The thesis statement defines the purpose and stance of the paper. It is an explanation of your primary argument. Your research question should be addressed in the thesis statement. It should also include a synopsis of the arguments and evidence you plan to use in support of your position.

A clear, controversial, and cohesive thesis statement is ideal. This means that it should have a brief overview of your argument in a few phrases. It must have a claim that needs more support or analysis and a cohesive point that ties into each area of the work.
Throughout the writing process, the thesis statement serves as a roadmap. However, it is likely to be refined as you conduct extra research. This main point must be developed and supported in every paragraph.

Develop an Outline 

A research paper's outline consists of a synopsis of the key ideas, evidence, and any other information you would like to add. It is organized into sections with headings so that, before you begin writing, you know roughly how the document will look. It is worthwhile to invest some time in creating a structured plan. Moreover, it can greatly improve the efficiency of the writing process.

Tip: You can use ChatGPT to create an outline for your research paper. This way, you can organize and structure your paper well. 

Write the first draft of research paper 

After completing the outline, it's time to add data in the outline. This process takes a lot of effort and attention, but it can go more smoothly if you prepare ahead and organize yourself well.
It's normal to feel overwhelmed when writing the introduction of a research paper. To meet this challenge, think about grabbing the reader's interest right away using an attention-grabbing opening statement or tale. Next, provide a succinct and captivating thesis statement that sums up your paper's primary point of contention. Expand on your thesis by giving pertinent background data and putting the importance of your study issue in context. The in-depth information and proof should be saved for the later portions of your work.

In the main part of your research paper, you share what you found and analyzed in your study. To make it clear and organized, think about dividing it into parts or sections with subheadings. Each part should talk about a different aspect related to your main idea. Use examples, evidence, and explanations in each part to support what you're saying. Remember, this is just the first version, so focus on getting your ideas out there rather than trying to make everything perfect.

Maintaining a coherent flow throughout your paper depends on the seamless connections between your paragraphs. Every paragraph should start with a topic phrase that connects the topics in the previous and next paragraphs. Make use of transitional words and phrases to seamlessly move your reader from one idea to the next. 
Once you've written the main part of your paper, it's time to make a strong conclusion. Sum up your main points and conclusions briefly, emphasizing why they matter. Aim to leave the reader with a new thought or perspective, not just repeating what you've already said. Avoid introducing new information in the conclusion; focus on repeating the important ideas and giving the reader a sense of completion.

Use Proper Citations      

Have you reviewed the research paper guidelines before starting it? It is very important to cite your resources properly because it sets your paper apart from others. Each time you use any information in your paper, make a note of the source where that information came from. 


Due to its significance, citations should follow precise formatting rules. But the problem here is that there are different types of formatting styles, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian. If you’re asked to format your paper in APA format, you can check our latest guide on how to write a research paper in APA format
At first, citing sources might seem tricky with all the rules and details. But once you understand them, citing your sources will become easy.

Tip: You can use online citation generators, such as Citation Machine, MyBib, etc., to create your research paper citation.

Revise and Polish Your Paper

The most important factor in learning how to write a research paper is to dedicate time to proofreading and editing your paper. For thorough review, we advise conducting two editing sessions. One session will focus on addressing the structural issues, and the other is dedicated to improving spelling, grammar, and word choice.
When you're doing the structural edit, use this checklist:

  • Is your main point clear in the thesis statement?
  • Does your paper have a smooth flow from start to finish?
  • Are your ideas organized well in each paragraph?
  • Did you back up your arguments with specific details and facts?
  • Do your arguments really support your main point?
  • Have you removed any unnecessary repetition to make things clear and brief?
  • Did you cite your sources correctly to give credit and avoid plagiarism?

To make sure that your citations are precise and formatted correctly, you can also review the instructions on how to write an essay in MLA format.
Once structural issues have been resolved, shift your attention to the editing of word choice, grammar, and spelling. Think about the following elements:

  • Check if your writing is clear and straightforward.
  • Make sure your sentences connect well and express your ideas effectively.
  • Remove unnecessary words that might weaken your writing.
  • Double-check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Reading your paper out loud or having someone else review it can help catch any overlooked issues.
  • Editing is a different skill than writing, and proficiency in one doesn't imply mastering the other.

Fixing technical issues, such as grammar and spelling, is easy with a spellchecker in your word processor or, even better, a writing assistant like Grammarly. It not only corrects mistakes but also offers suggestions for better word choices and tone. 

Tools and Resources

If you don't know how to write a research paper and are looking for online tools and resources, this section is for you.

Tools and resources

Google Scholar

This is the official Google search engine, and it is only meant to be used for academic articles. It's a fantastic way to find recent research and sources. It is also free to use.

Zotero 

Zotero is a free of charge, open-source research manager that functions as an interface between an organizational CMS and an academic research search engine. You can use it to search the internet for research materials related to your subject and quickly share them with peers. It also creates citations on its own.

Google Charts

With the help of this useful and free tool from Google, you can make simple graphs and charts using any data you provide. If you need to discuss complex evidential study, charts, and graphs are a great visual assistance for presenting numerical data. 

How long should a research paper be?

The size of the paper depends on multiple factors, such as the topic and the instructions given by the college or university. Always prioritize substance and quality over quantity.
Research papers for undergraduate assignments usually have a page count of five to fifteen, though this can change depending on the course and the professor's expectations. On the other hand, Graduate-level research papers that are meant for publication in scholarly journals can often be much longer—20, 30, or even 50 pages.

Best Tips for Writing a Research Paper

While writing a research paper, keep the following points in mind:

  • Pick a topic that fascinates you when performing research. When you are passionate about a topic, writing a paper becomes more engaging.
  • Select a thesis statement that accurately expresses your true opinion or hypothesis. Let your thesis guide your writing.
  • Keep in mind all grammatical rules. This facilitates the editing process.
  • Sentences should be complete without being overly wordy.
  • Ensure that each paragraph contains a minimum of four sentences.
  • Reference every source you use. You should never pass off someone else's study as your own. Ensure that the original author receives credit for his or her work.

Here are some research tips:

  • Make use of reliable sources. Websites that are editable by the public may include incorrect information.
  • Verify if the data is accurate. Check the dates to find out when the study was finished. It might be better to look for something more recent if it was more than 20 years ago.
  • Make a list of all the information you have about the resource. You might find this useful when creating your list of references.
  • If a resource was used throughout the work, include it in your reference list.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will I have to write a research paper in college?

Research papers are frequently used in college courses as a means of evaluating the student's understanding of a particular subject or their overall research abilities. You should expect to write at least a few research papers before graduating. However, the number will depend on the lecturer and the course.

What is the process for choosing a research paper topic?

If you aren't assigned a topic, try to come up with one that is both broad enough to allow for plenty of supporting evidence and narrow enough to let you to address the key points. It makes the work easier if you choose a topic you are personally interested in.

What are the parts of a research paper?

These are the main parts of a research paper:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References

Where can I conduct my paper research? 

Today, most research is carried out in libraries or online. Old publications, newspapers, and visual media like documentaries can be valuable for certain topics. Additionally, parks, historical sites, and museums are also excellent resources for research.

What is the proper way to cite sources in a research paper? 

Make sure you review the assignment criteria to determine the appropriate formatting for citations based on the style you're using. While there are other formats, MLA and APA are the most commonly used for school research projects.

Let’s Wrap

In conclusion, you may write a research paper with confidence if you follow these practical instructions and strategies. Do your homework, arrange your ideas, back up your claims, edit carefully, and embrace improvement. Allow your ideas to flow and write papers that will have an influence on your field of study.
You can also seek assistance from an online research paper writing service to have your research paper completed for you.