Tips on Writing a Research Paper

Tips on Writing a Research Paper

When it comes time to write a research paper during any point in your academic career, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Many times, the teacher hands out the research paper writing assignment with a long list of requirements for information that must be included. If you’re lucky enough, the professor may give you a topic to write about leaving one of the toughest jobs out of the research paper writing process. However, most times during college or even high school all that will be said is to complete writing of a research paper in a technical, social, or scientific way. It is then up to you to do the rest.

The easiest way to get through the task of writing a research paper is by getting yourself organized. Start by identifying the four main points to writing a research paper. Three points if your teacher gave you a topic. These steps include:

  • Choosing a topic
  • Doing the research
  • Creating an outline (like this one)
  • Doing the writing (rough draft and final draft)

See, now that you have your large task broken down into smaller steps, the research paper writing job already seems like it’s going to be a little easier to finish, doesn’t it? Now, let’s dive into each of these steps in further detail.

Decide What You’re Going to Be Writing About in Your Research Paper

In this step of research paper writing, you are going to brainstorm about different topics that you could possibly write about to complete your research paper. Start by looking at what the specific instructions say that your teacher has given you. In some cases, you may have to stick within certain guidelines. For instance, you can write about a specific planet within the solar system, but you get to choose which planet. When deciding on your topic, ask yourself three questions:

  • Is the topic something that has been written about a lot, or can I bring new ideas to the reader through my research paper writing?
  • Is there enough in terms of facts and statistics out there to research on the topic for writing your paper?
  • Does the research paper topic relate to the class?

You must answer yes to each of these questions before making your final decision. In the event, you are not able to come up with a topic on your own, don’t be afraid to ask around to your classmates or even your instructor. Even if you don’t do the writing of your research paper on exactly what they mention, you may be able to think of a new idea based on something that they said.

Write Your Paper with Passion and Originality

Never write about something that you have no interest in. Your boredom will show through in your research paper writing. Whatever the main topic is, try and brainstorm on it until you find something that really gets you interested.

Like mentioned before, you may have been given a specific topic to write about. Chances are, your entire class has also been given that same topic. If this is the case, it’s up to you to make your research paper writing unique to all the other papers. Try to find facts, data, and other statistics that are a little less known. The most popular information is what everyone is going to write about, and you want to be the student that stands out.

If you do start writing and you find that you cannot be original or interested in the topic you have picked, don’t be afraid to change it. Just because you decided on something, doesn’t mean you have to stick with it. Switch it up before you get to far into it.

Researching Your Essay Writing

Well, it is a research paper, so there should be no doubt that you are going to have to do research. Searching for details that you can use in your writing is probably going to be the most time-consuming part. If you do things properly, it doesn’t have to be the most difficult.

Finding Reliable Resources

With all the information that can be found on the Internet today, it is up to you to determine what is reliable. You can do this by checking the source. Generally, if it ends with a .edu, .org, or .gov, it is going to be more trustworthy than something that ends in .com or .net. You can evaluate in full how to determine if a website is one that can be used in research paper writing by reviewing the credibility of WWW resources here.

Even though the internet is probably the most convenient way of doing your research, you should look in other places. You want to have at least three to five sources to prove that what you are stating is believed by more than one person. Here are a few other places to look:

  • Professional interviews
  • Blogs
  • Journals
  • Book
  • Encyclopedias
  • Newspaper articles
  • Peer reviewed articles

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Get out from behind your computer and head the library. It may seem a little outdated, but the building holds a goldmine of information that you are not going to be able to find online, no matter how hard you try. Another benefit of going to the physical building is the fact that there is a person there to help you. Talk with the librarian about the research paper you are writing. They may be able to point you in the right direction of a wealth of sources.

In those books that you find at the library, you are going to come across another bonus. The publications are professional works, so there is a bibliography included in the back. Flip to that section and see what resources that author used to do their own research paper writing. Evaluate if there are any that sound like they could be useful to you and check them out. You may find all of your reliable research paper writing resources in the back of one book. That’s going to save you a lot of time!

Start Writing Down Ideas

Now that you know what you are writing about, and you have some specifics to include in the forms of facts, statistics, and other data, it’s time to start putting your pencil to paper. Don’t just start writing, though. You need to organize your thoughts. Most professional research paper writing is done starting with an outline. Here is where you can get a very general idea of what the final product is going to look like. A basic outline looks like this:


A.Introduction with thesis statement

B.Body paragraph

    1.Supporting evidence

C.Body paragraph

    1.Supporting evidence

D.Body paragraph

    1.Supporting evidence


Your outline may vary a bit from this one depending on the style you are writing your paper in and the guidelines required for that specific format. Be sure to check your instructions and see what your teacher is asking for.

Organizing Your Notes and Research

Find places within your outline where you can make notes and insert facts from the research that you have done. Whenever you are going to use something from another source in your paper, make sure that you not only cite that source within the document but also create a working bibliography paper of the resources used. This will save you from trying to sort through all of your paperwork at the end.

Forming A Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is going to explain to the reader what your point of view is on the topic you are writing about. Even with a research paper, you are going to have a specific angle you are going to take your writing. This should clearly be identified within the thesis. While you are forming the thesis, keep in mind who your audience is going to be. In most cases, if you are in school, that is going to be your teacher. However, your instructor may give you a specific audience to target instead of putting the focus on them specifically.

Form Your Main Ideas

Your main ideas are going to be what make up the majority of your research paper writing. These are what are found within the body of the essay. As you are organizing your notes and resources, think about what you have and what is most important for writing your research paper. Also, take into consideration what you have the most information on. If it is a main point, you should have plenty to write about. There are two different ways to organize your main points:

  • Chronological order starting from the past and working to the present
  • Most important to least significant

Complete Your Outline

Even though your outline isn’t your actual research paper writing, it still has a start and finish. You will start with headings. Slowly you start filling in the blanks. In the end, your outline will contain all your main ideas, introduction and conclusion notes, in-text citations, and bullet points you want to be included in your paper. This is when you confirm that you have written down words, phrases, or sentences that will be transferred over to your actual writing.

Start Writing

It may seem as though it took you a while to get here, but now you are finally ready to start the actual writing process for your research paper.

Do the Body First

It may seem out of order because it is, but it is recommended that you start your writing with your body rather than the introduction. This is when you can get out all of your main points, supporting statements, quotes, data, and any other research that you have done.

Use clear transitions to move from one paragraph to the next so that you can keep your reader focused on what you are saying. If you jump around too much, you are going to lose them.

Write an Effective Conclusion

Your conclusion is going to be fairly simple because all it does is summarize everything that you have said in your body paragraphs. Your main objective is to give the reader a feel of closure. You also want to reinstate your thesis here.

Form an Introduction

Now that you have all of your thoughts and ideas clearly formed, you can do your introduction. In this short, three to five sentence paragraph, you want to include a hook, something that grabs the reader’s attention, your thesis, and a brief summary of what is going to come in your research essay writing.

In-text Citations and Bibliography

Following the completion of all the writing for you research paper, you have to go through and make sure that you properly cite or quote anything that you have taken from another source. If you don’t, it can be considered plagiarism and you can be punished. Some schools simply give you a zero while others may ban you from their campus completely. This is a step that you cannot leave out. Also, review your bibliography and ensure all the resources you have used are included.

One Final Polish

Now, all parts of your research paper writing are complete. Wait a minute before turning it in though. Step away from your paper for a short time, at least an hour or a day, and come back with a clear head. Read it from start to finish and check for the following making all the necessary corrections:

  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Chronological order or order of importance
  • Citations and bibliography
  • Missing supporting details

When you are confident that you have included everything for an “A” paper, print it out and at last you can give it to your professor knowing you have done all the hard work required to get the grade you want.