Imagine that the term “research paper” comprises just two words, yet it is the most daunting task. Students struggle to write research papers due to the various topics that have to be addressed. We have to be honest with you here. To write a research paper and submit it according to the instructions issued by your professor will require you to concentrate and spend ample time doing research on the internet. Nonetheless, we do not want you to worry too much. Instead, believe that you can write a research paper and submit it in time. As you continue reading this guide, you will find it easy to write a research assignment that will grant you a good grade.
A research paper can be defined as a piece of academic writing that focuses on an in-depth analysis of a particular topic and must be based on available scientific evidence. Research papers are based on statistical data and conclusions must be made out of the findings observed in the analysis part. With this definition, you can see that there is no room for your own opinion in a research paper. Everything you write in a research paper must be based on empirical evidence and personal opinion or feelings.
Many students are used to writing an essay. While you can perhaps write your own essay within hours, a research paper is different. Some college students take as long as one week to complete their research papers. A research paper takes a long time because it involves different steps. To make sure you do not end up submitting an essay instead of a research paper, compare and contrast the two documents below.
As you can see, there are many differences between an essay and a research paper. While they are both used in college settings, they do not serve the same purpose, and their approach is equally different. The use of primary sources in research writing makes the process different from essay writing. Although essay writing involves the use of scholarly materials, utilizing primary sources is not a requisite. The only thing that teachers look for in an essay is whether it makes sense. In contrast, the first research paper step is to ensure that you will get primary sources to prove your thesis statement, which some prefer calling a hypothesis. Both tasks fall under the academic writing category, but their approach differs significantly. You will have to come up with many items before you start researching and writing a research paper.
When you realize that you have to write your research paper, it is time to understand the steps you have to follow. As we have already mentioned, a research paper follows a particular style. We will first list the steps followed in writing a research paper, after which we will offer a comprehensive analysis of each step. By the time you are reading this guide, you will realize that writing a research paper is not impossible. The following are the steps followed in writing research papers.
You only need to identify the above steps as the main areas of focus for your research paper. However, you must remember that each topic comes with some other sub-topics that must be addressed in your research paper. Writing a research paper without expanding each of the steps mentioned above will cause your paper to appear too shallow. In the next section, we will expound on what is expected of your research paper in each step highlighted above.
We regard grasping your topic as one of the key points of writing a research paper because there is nothing much you can write about if you do not understand the requirements. Once your professor sends you the instructions for your research paper, you must know a few things, as noted below:
The only way to grasp your topic for your research paper is to carefully read the instructions first. In fact, re read the instructions for better comprehension. This way, you will not miss key details of your research paper. Once you do, then you are ready to proceed to step two of your research paper.
The second step of writing a research paper is to choose a topic. Sometimes, your professor will grant you the freedom to choose a topic for your paper. In other cases, you will have a topic ready. Assuming you are asked to select your research paper topic, the best strategy is to understand the discipline in which the paper falls. For example, you may have a paper on environmental pollution. In that case, you could choose to write about the correlation between global warming and environmental pollution. Alternatively, you can choose several topics and focus on one that seems to be more interesting to you. Do not rush to select a topic for your research paper. Remember that you will be required to address the topic in the literature review part. If you choose a complicated topic without credible sources online, you will inevitably find it hard to write your research paper as quickly as you would want. Therefore, ensure that the topic for your research paper has available credible sources online. We will get to know how to get credible sources later, but it suffices to say that Google Scholar is a suitable place to get them.
Before we move to the third step of writing a research paper, let’s identify the three key factors you have to consider when choosing a topic.
Once you are done selecting your topic, the next step is to conduct preliminary research. Start research early enough so you can have ample time to identify useful primary sources and secondary sources. This step will require you to go online and look for credible sources that can support your topic. Since we have already stated that this writing assignment demands reliable sources, you need to find them before you start writing. This is a step that is always difficult for any college student because it requires time and creativity. Hopefully, the steps shared below will help you do your research without struggles and complete your research paper in time.
In the example above, it means that you should type your keyword followed by the last part of the statement. This way, you are assured of getting information from educational institutions which are considered scholarly in nature. So, if we wanted to generate sources about global warming, we will type this:
When you type this keyword, you will get multiple sources containing the information you need for your topic.
At this point, you have understood the topic for your research paper, developed a topic and found the credible sources you need to write your paper. You now need to develop your hypothesis. Many college students consider this to be the thesis statement, although it is more of a hypothesis. Your hypothesis should be short and coherent. It is a short statement that becomes the basis for your research question. Let’s assume your research paper topic is global warming and pollution. You can choose any of these examples to be your hypothesis:
The examples can be used as hypotheses for your research paper. Remember that your research paper will then focus on proving whether the statements are factual, and you will do that by providing a literature review and a methodology part, which comprises data analysis.
A research paper outline is critical for your paper because it becomes the guide for the rest of your work. When you are done with the preliminary steps mentioned earlier, you should now come up with the structure of your paper, which is what we call the research paper outline. For a research paper, the outline should have the following elements.
Typically, the listed elements are common in every research paper. It is a big step toward writing a research paper because you avoid deviating or going off-topic. The moment you write the above outline, you should now expand it further. At this, we know you may not be familiar with the requirements of each section. Therefore, our next step focuses on each of the elements of the research paper outline so you can handle your writing assignment with ease.
Before that, let’s remind you that your research paper outline does not have to be submitted with the rest of the research paper. It is part of your first draft to keep you focused on the exact steps of writing a good paper. You can include a thesis statement in your outline to make it easy for you to remember. This research paper step of creating an outline will help any college student understand the contents of the research project and motivate extensive research on the topic. While some experienced writers do not create a research paper outline, it is an essential research process that you always consider. In fact, learn to do it even when you write essays. In essay writing, an outline is not as complicated as it is in research paper writing, but some students do not even complete one. In essence, a research paper outline will go a long way to help you remain in check.
Now that you have developed your outline and identified the sources for your research paper topic, the next step is to start writing. You will obviously start writing by addressing each of the elements in your research paper outline. So, how do you write a research paper?
The abstract part of a research paper comes first in your work, but it is written last. Students struggle to write a research paper abstract because they do not take the time to learn the steps involved. When writing your research paper abstract, observe the following principles:
The above principles will ensure that your research paper abstract is relevant and interesting to readers. If you are wondering about the exact outline to follow your abstract, just use the following as a guide.
Remember that your research paper abstract should not exceed one page. In fact, some professors will ask you to limit the word count to about 200. That means you have just a page to summarize everything that you have written in your research paper.
A research paper abstract should not contain certain information since it might confuse the readers or discourage them from reading the rest of your research. Firstly, your research paper abstract should not be lengthy. As we have mentioned, an abstract is a summary. Therefore, do not provide all the contextual information for the readers. Instead, mention the relevant information that pertains to your research without going into details. Secondly, avoid repetition. Redundant words and the use of vocabulary will take the space that you should be using to explain the major details of your paper. Be clear and precise in your abstract. Thirdly, do not list references in your abstract. While a research paper abstract is a summary of the entire paper, it should not contain the primary sources or secondary sources used in the paper. The other elements to avoid in the abstract include jargon, citations, images, and acronyms. You can use these in other sections, but not here.
School rankings have been a popular culture in the United States. A college student wants to join the highest-ranked educational institution due to the belief that such a school will play a role in educational outcomes. The common belief among parents and learners is that highly ranked students contribute to the attainment of good grades. Nonetheless, some argue that the process of ranking schools is unfair and that it causes poor academic performance. We use data from the most recent studies to examine this argument. Also, we relied on a sample of 1000 respondents and analyzed 500 reports. Contrary to the notion that school rankings influence performance, our studies revealed that students’ perceptions and parents’ backgrounds are the leading factors. Parents should therefore consider motivating their children to concentrate more, while policymakers in the education sectors should work closely with guardians to dispel this notion.
It is imperative to note a few things about this abstract. One, the first two sentences provide a background of the topic. In your research writing project, ensure that you mention a few things about your subject. Let the readers know what the topic is about and the prevailing attitudes. Two, the abstract provides the previous findings or arguments about the topic. This part is crucial because it informs the readers that your paper is about something that is considered important. Therefore, mention previous findings in your abstract without delving too much. Three, the abstract reveals the methodology used in the research. It is an important research writing step because it plays a role in making your results believable. Fourth, the research paper abstract explains the findings without bias. The language and tone used in the abstract are not subjective or unfair, and it is based on the research sources. Finally, the abstract contains recommendations. As you can see, the abstract acts as the summary of the paper. It would be enough to understand the entire paper just by reading the abstract.
The introduction is an important part of your research paper. It marks the start of your first draft and will be crucial in guiding the other stages. In your introduction, you will be expected to include several elements, including the main ideas of your paper, a good thesis, the background of the topic, and whether you think conducting the research is important. If you take the time to read other research papers, you will notice that their thesis statements are very strong. Also, each of the papers has primary sources and secondary sources. This is because a good research paper must incorporate these sources. However, please note that your research paper introduction does not need research sources. You will cite sources later in the literature review. All you need to do in your introductory paragraph is provide the elements mentioned here. In short, we could state that your introductory paragraph needs to answer the What, Why, and How questions. Let’s explain further.
By incorporating these questions, you will provide a roadmap, logic, and basis for doing your research paper. If you approach the paper as recommended, your introductory paragraph will be rich; it will convince the readers to continue reading the body paragraphs that follow.
The problem statement is regarded as part of the research paper introduction, although some professors may ask you to write it separately. If your teacher asks you to write separately, focus on showing the magnitude of your problem. For example, let’s imagine you are writing about global warming. Your problem statement should be dedicated to writing about the severity of the matter. Highlight the issues caused by global warming, and explain why failing to investigate the matter could exacerbate the situation. This does not have to be a long section. Just one paragraph is enough.
Let’s see a short example of a problem statement in business ethics.
Business ethics continues to attract discussions among entrepreneurs and scholars. The issue of pertinent because modern consumers are well-informed on this matter. However, many business owners do not recognize the connection between business ethics and profit trends. Therefore, it is imperative to investigate this matter further.
As mentioned earlier, you need to have research questions and a hypothesis. Please note that some professors will ask you to work with a research question instead of a thesis statement or hypothesis. If that happens, turn your hypothesis into a question. For example, if your hypothesis reads “Pollution exacerbates global warming,” you should phrase it this way:
Does pollution exacerbate global warming?
In the literature review section, you will focus on analyzing what others have said about your topic. There is hardly any room for your own opinion. Instead, you will emphasize the main ideas of a source. Still, it is your duty to ensure that the information is presented devoid of grammatical mistakes. Pay attention to this section because it is important in your research process. Conduct extensive research so you can get the best sources. This research paper step is the defining moment because it shows whether you have done your work well or not. There is no required logical sequence for the sources in your literature review, although the main idea of each paper should be presented. To write a good literature review, analyze your sources and answer these questions:
There is no other better way to do this part of your research writing than by answering the questions. Let’s see how a good literature review looks like
Fake news is a threat to democracy and liberties. According to Smith (2019), fake news interferes with the rights of voters by promoting falsehoods, which influence the electorate to make the wrong voting choices without knowing. The author offers the case of Donald Trump, whose ascension to the presidency was aided by false information spread on social media. However, the writer fails to draw a specific connection between fake news and the erosion of democracy. Hence, more research is needed to address this gap since editorially independent information published can be trusted.
In the methods part of your research paper, you will be required to specify and justify the research design to use. It is important to stick to the same choices you made in the research proposal if at all you submitted one. Ordinarily, a research proposal precedes research writing. If you did not submit any research proposal, you could choose any method, including qualitative or quantitative. In a qualitative research design, you can choose focus groups, interviews, or observations to make your conclusions. As for quantitative, sampling and longitudinal approaches are preferred. You will have to specify how you collected the data for your research. Did you use a sample group or interviews?
Besides choosing your research method, you will be required to provide the analysis of your data and the results. As you can see, to write essays is nowhere near doing research writing. In the results section, you will need to do the following:
The discussion section signals you are coming close to a conclusion. Before your write your research paper conclusion, the discussion part serves as an important part because it informs your readers about the findings you made. It also focuses on other areas. When you reach this part of your writing process, address the following items:
Inform the reader about the whole process. Clarify your findings, state the limitations you experienced, explain the key discoveries, and predict future outcomes. If you are unsure of how to approach some of these parts, just look for research paper examples online and follow their formats. A paper written using this recommended style will attract a good grade. Remember that while you inform your readers about the whole process, do not restate your thesis. You can do that perhaps in the research paper conclusion, although it might not even be necessary because this is not an essay writing task.
The writing process of this part is not hard as long as you have handled the preceding sections properly. The objective of this part is to offer your final thoughts on what should be done about your study. Your readers have no problem trusting your research paper conclusion since it is informed by findings and other editorially independent information. The good thesis statement you expressed has been proven to be accurate or inaccurate, and the entire part contains all the relevant information to draw conclusions. Do not just mention your findings here. Let the readers know what to do. Let’s say you were working on a paper about the effects of unfair school rankings in the US. Specify what should happen going forward. If your topic was about how parents could utilize Google in school search, explain everything and offer guidance.
Now, your research writing is coming to a close. Your reference page appears last, and it contains the list of all the research sources that you used in your paper. Typically, a reference page follows a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, or any other your professor might ask you to follow. Navigate our site to learn more about the various formatting styles used in research writing and essay writing.
Congrats! You have a paper written according to this guide. Before you submit it, go through it to ensure it has all the relevant information specified in your rubric. Professors always issue rubrics on what to include in your paper. Make sure everything is covered. A good example of a rubric contains the expectations of each section and the marks awarded.
You are now done writing your research paper and confirmed that its contents align with the expectations. The next step is to edit the work so that spelling mistakes do not deny you vital marks. You can hire professional editors to edit the work for you if you find it challenging. However, you can proofread your research paper by utilizing the tools that check grammatical mistakes, such as Grammarly, which is available on many trusted partner programs online. You can also find other tools on other platforms, especially if you visit an advertising-supported site that contains ads on the side.
Once your research paper is complete, the entire writing process has come to an end, and the only thing remaining is to submit your paper. You will find submission details in your rubric, and you should follow those guidelines. Your professor will check the work and provide feedback after a few weeks, after which you will know the areas to improve the next time you are asked to do another research writing project.
The period depends on your experience and the length of the paper. If you are writing a research paper for the first time, you will take weeks to complete it. A 50-page research paper can take even four weeks to write.
Again, this one depends on your preference. The good thing about hiring a professional research paper writer is that your work will be done professionally. However, you should be careful because only a few sites offer excellent research paper writing services.
Absolutely. Your thesis or hypothesis is crucial and should be the first research paper step.
Your main idea should appear in the introduction first