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Experts’ Guide on How to Write a Research Paper

How to write a research paper

If you’re a college student, you’ll most certainly be assigned to write a research paper. Hearing the word research paper, itself can be so dreadful. It sure is intimidating for the ones who have never taken up a research paper assignment before. Don’t worry, we will assist you.

This guide will walk you through every step of writing a strong, impactful and effective research paper and getting the grade you want!

What is the definition of a Research Paper?

A research paper is a form of academic writing entailing a detailed study, assessment, or analysis of a particular topic on the basis of empirical observation. Research papers are comparable to analytical essays, but research papers involve the use of previous research and observational facts, as well as stringent citation codes. Research papers are the most effective means to transmit information over a large network and are a cornerstone of modern research.

Research papers are more detailed studies, lengthier, and are contrived to assess writing skills and efficiency in scholarly research. To write a research paper you are required to exhibit a strong knowledge of your assignment, engage with various sources of information, and forge an original contribution to the study. PenMyPaper suggests that you go through some research paper examples to get a better idea of how to write a research paper.

Sometimes, students are confused between a research paper and a research proposal. Keep in mind that a research proposal is written for obtaining approval from authorities or committees and also for securing funding for conducting the research proposed. This article elaborately explains a step-by-step procedure on how to write a research paper successfully and effectively.

Research Paper Outline Template

Research papers, more than formal essays, require a systematical and methodical structure to ensure that all concerns are addressed, which is why outlines are so crucial. A research paper outline is like a format that shows how you are going to incorporate the key points in the form of sections with headings so that you have a sketchy outline of what your paper will look like.

A research paper outline typically has the following format:

  1. Abstract
  • In the research paper abstract, a detailed summary of the study is provided.
  • It includes a concise overview of the entire research paper, research question, the importance of the study, methods of research, and findings.
  1. Introduction
  • Provide a concise overview of the topic you are studying and analyzing
  • Briefly explain the significance of your research
  • Explain the objective- what you aim to achieve through this
  • End with the thesis statement
  1. Research Question
  • Give a background information
  • Explain the impact of the issue
  • State the causes contributing to such issues
  • Feasible solutions to be examined
  1. Literature Review

a. Concepts and theories (newspaper articles, books and relevant publications)

  • Discuss related theories and explain the issue and propose a solution
  • Discuss the significance of main theories to describe the issue

b. Empirical literature (journals)

  • Synopsis of related empirical studies conducted so far
  • Methodology summary
  • Main findings of the study
  • Limitations in the research

c. Your roadmap based on what you have found in the literature review

  • Whose concept(s) and definition(s) you are going to replicate or use in your research
  • Explain distinct aspects of the problem you will be analyzing
  • What methods are best suitable for your research?
  1. Research Methodology
  • Specify the philosophy behind the study, the approach, the research strategy
  • Specify the nature of the study and research methods and materials
  • State the analysis methods
  • Explain why you chose the particular methods
  1. Results And Discussion
  • Discuss the major findings of your study
  • Explain with the help of tables, charts and graphical representation
  • Compare with previous research findings
  • Did you come up with something new? Did you find anything that supports previous finding(s)?
  • Discuss the main limitation you faced
  1. Conclusion And Recommendation
  • A synopsis of the issue analyzed, methodologies, and major finding(s)
  • Briefly restate the goal of this study and what you have accomplished through the research
  • Explain how researchers can further study and expand your work in the future

Research Paper Components

  1. Abstract: A research paper abstract is a summary of a research paper. It is a short paragraph entailing the gist of your paper. It contains the background context, general and specific topic of your research, central questions, the purpose and significance of your study and a summary of your research methodology. You also give a brief idea on the findings of your study. Basically, an abstract is the gist of your whole research paper. Keep in mind that even though the abstract appears before every other section, it is written only after you have completed the entire paper.
  2. Introduction: In the research paper introduction, you introduce your topic to the readers and give them a concise overview of the issue you are examining. In the introduction paragraph, you include your thesis statement which shows the purpose of your paper. You have to include a rationale for your study and explains why it is significant. Introduction directs the flow of your research paper.
  3. Literature Review: You have to mention the current published works related to the topic and evaluate what other researchers and authors have already covered. Include the sources you have studied and these should be credible and valid. Provide a general background of the topic that will help the readers to know about the past and prevalent scenario.
  4. Research Methodology: The research methodology should contain how you have conducted your research, what was the approach, strategy, and methods for data collection and analysis. The methodology you have employed for the research must be explained explicitly in this section.
  5. Data Analysis: All of the components of a research paper are important, but this part is perhaps the most significant section in terms of practicality. Here, you analyze the data you have gathered during the course of your investigation. You are not required to interpret them as you have to do that in later part.
  6. Results: Here, you examine the data you have obtained in the course of the research. It should emphasize any potential implications indicated by the analysis that might be pertinent to other sphere of study. You must also mention any inadequacies in your approach that could help you improve the outcomes.
  7. Conclusion & Recommendation: To wrap up your research paper, briefly reinstate your thesis. Briefly go over your entire research paper. And finally, the very last component of your research paper is the reference section where you have to include all the sources you have consulted and used. You must cite all the references in the format instructed by your professor or university.

How to Write a Research Paper- The Steps

  1. Understand the Assignment

If you are concerned about how to write a research paper successfully, you need to first have a thorough understanding of your assignment. Consider the following things first:

  • Read your assignment carefully. In case of any confusion, clarify with your professor.
  • Determine the objectives, timeframe, word limit, submission method, and formatting.
  • Make a checklist of key points. Tick off the points as you are completing each point.
  • Take sufficient time for research as research is the pivotal part of this process.
  • Carefully consider the word limit and timeframe.
  1. Narrowing your Topic

Choosing a good research paper topic for your paper is a thought-provoking task. You have to keep several aspects in mind. You have to choose a topic where you can find sufficient information to conduct your research. The idea is to find an appropriate, researchable, manageable, relevant, interesting, and feasible research topic. So, after you have gone through your brainstorming session on your desired topic, now you have to narrow down your research. You need to make sure that you can explain why you need to research that topic and the significance of your research.

  1. Gather Information

It’s best to get started researching as soon as possible—after all, it’s a research paper assignment.

Figure out what research is possible for your issue as soon as possible to narrow your topic and create your thesis statement. Early research will help you clarify any misunderstandings you may have about the subject and identify the best methods and approaches for gathering additional information.

It is one of the most essential stages in the research process as a research paper cannot be done without sufficient research. You have to study through various sources to collect sufficient and relevant information to help construct a thorough research paper. Below are mentioned some sources where you can collect relevant materials:

  • Suggestions and information from your professor
  • Library, articles, catalogue, periodical indexes, and bibliographies
  • Work of previous researchers
  • Journals, books, other academic sources
  • Primary vs. Secondary sources of information
  • Online resources, Web-based information (Wikipedia)
  • Materials in audio format
  • Encyclopedias
  • Google Scholar

When conducting research, it is preferable to skim sources rather than reading each one thoroughly. Set a source aside if it appears to be valuable, and read it thoroughly later. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting time reading over sources you won’t use, time that may be better spent discovering a useful source.

In your research paper, you have to provide a literature review. It is a section where you explain the sources and provide them to an expert for validation. Even if a literature review isn’t necessary, it’s still a good idea to develop a list of potential sources ahead of time.

  1. Organize the Information

Once you have collected all the significant and relevant information, it’s time to arrange and organize them systematically. Critically analyze all the data and information. Make sure that you ensured and verified the credibility and reliability of the information and sources. Check for accuracy. And finally, organize the related and important information in different sections and sequence them logically under each head. As per PenMyPaper, always keep a track or note of each source you collect to study and use for your paper separately.

  1. Carry out the literature review

The research study involves a cumulative process. It implies that you are supposed to contribute something valuable towards education. PenMyPaper recommends learning a literature review for a research paper as this step helps you narrow down and gather background on the topic.

Conducting a literature review helps in determining the questions on the topic that have already been explored and addressed. It also helps in determining the scope and limitation of your research and most importantly what research questions you should explore.

Following are the ways you can implement a literature review:

Online Keyword: Through online search engines, you may conduct a preliminary search by use of specific keywords related to your research topic.

Academic Sources: You can use textbooks published by well-known academics and researchers.

Examine Previous Research: Go through the previous studies undertaken by credible and reputable institutions about the subject matter.

  1. Compose Research Questions

The aim and objective of every research paper are to find solutions to the research problems. Start with finding a question, a problem, or a gap, that has not been answered or addressed. Formulating good research questions helps you develop a strong thesis as well.

In an essay or a research paper, usually, you develop a single research question to guide your thinking and reading. The solution or answer you find is your thesis statement and is the central claim or position that your paper argues for.

While bigger research project, such as a thesis or dissertation, may involve more than one research question. And all the questions must connect and center around a particular theme research question.

  1. Prepare a Thesis Statement

thesis statement gives a brief but broad overview of your research paper. It covers the central idea of your research topic. It demonstrates the objective and position of your paper. Now that you have chosen a topic that is suitable for the assignment, and have researched your topic well and organized it, you’re ready to develop your argument or claim. This claim or assertion is what you write in your thesis and try to prove in the research paper throughout. Last but not the least, make sure that it is unique and authentic and should be relevant and appropriate for your topic.

  1. Draft a Research Paper Outline

Follow the above research paper outline format to create an outline for your paper. As research papers are lengthier and complicated, it is better to break the outline into paragraphs and create headings for each topic to be discussed. For beginners, this process is helpful for keeping things organized as you have so much information to cover. Besides that, you can have greater control over the direction and flow of your research paper. Make sure you incorporate the supporting evidence in the outline. It is better to solve structural problems while you outlining than later after you have written down everything.

  1. Prepare the first Draft

After you have organized all the information according to the outline shown above, now it’s time for you to write the first draft. You can use whatever technique is suitable for you, like writing summaries, using quotations, paraphrases etc. You may start from the very first section or with the one that feels easier for you. Try to work from your ideas and that will help avoid plagiarism. If you are using someone’s quotes, you need to cite your reference. You also need to separately put more information about the sources on the “Reference or Works Cited” page.

 9.1. Write the introduction

In the research paper introduction, three broad questions are answered: what, why, and how. The readers should be able to have a clear insight into your research paper after reading the introduction. Reading the introduction, they will be able to understand what your paper is about, how you will develop your arguments and why your paper is worth reading.

What? Explicitly describe the topic, provide background context, and define significant terminology or concepts.

How? The introduction must include a “map” of what will be covered, succinctly outlining the important aspects of the work in chronological sequence, to let the readers understand what they can expect from the body of the article.

Why? This is one of the most crucial as well as challenging parts of the introduction. You must answer the following questions as explicitly as possible: What new perspectives or information can you offer through this study? What crucial concerns does your paper contribute to help resolve?

9.2. Create an engaging body paragraph

Most authors struggle with how to organize the information offered in their papers, which is why an outline is so helpful. Using your thesis statement as a guide can help you stay on track. However, be mindful, that the outline is merely a guide, and you can be creative with the sequence in which you put forward the arguments and the material when writing.

Keep an eye out for paragraphs that appear to cover the same topics and if so, they should take various approaches to it. Make transitions between the paragraphs, sentences and sections as seamless as possible.

9.3. Write the final paragraph

The purpose of a research paper conclusion is to give the readers a sense of closure. Briefly discuss the broader implications of your argument. Also emphasize what the paper has to offer for future researchers. You may propose any questions that the paper’s argument generates though it does not or cannot attempt to answer. The key idea here is to compose an impactful conclusion to imprint a strong impression on the readers.

 9.4. Cite your sources properly and correctly

Citing your sources assures that everything you have included in the paper is valid and forges a connection between your research article and the larger scientific community. Citations must adhere to strict formatting guidelines due to their importance but the problem is, there are multiple sets of guidelines.

To determine whether formatting style is necessary, consult the assignment. In most cases, academic research papers use one of the following methods for citing sources:

  • APA
  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • Harvard
  1. Review your Draft

Before writing the final paper, you have to revise your draft very carefully a couple of times so as to correct any mistakes and edit your content as per the instructions and requirements. Make necessary changes as per requirement, and arrange and rearrange content to adhere to the research format. Always keep in mind the aims and objectives of your study and the readers.

Given below is a checklist of a few questions that you must ask yourself in order to finalize your draft.

  • Is the thesis statement clear and compact?
  • Did I follow the format of research?
  • Did I cite all the sources properly?
  • Did I present my claims or arguments in a logical order?
  • Did I omit something?
  • Have I supported my thesis with strong arguments?

 A Few Words to Encourage You

Research paper assignments, the term itself brings fear and chaos to the minds of students. What’s more, is that it is time-taking and tedious. But there’s a procedure one can conform to achieve success in this academic endeavor. Being interested and motivated in the topic aids in delivering better performance and creating a high-quality research paper. With this extensive guide, we hope that you have understood how to write a research paper. But if you still have further concerns, please feel free to contact PenMyPaper. PenMyPaper has a team of brilliant and experienced academic writers who can write any paper in various domains like management, nursing, finance and more.

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