Barbara P
Barbara P

Research Paper - An Ultimate Writing Guide for Beginners

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Published on: Feb 1, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 23, 2022

Research Paper

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If you are a university student, you might have to write at least one research paper before you graduate. Writing a research paper for the first time can be a challenging task. But it can become an amazing experience if you follow the proper procedure.

This complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know about writing an effective and impactful research paper.

What is a Research Paper?

A research paper is an expanded essay presenting the author’s own evaluation, interpretation, or argument. In a simple essay, you can write everything you know about the topic regardless of the authenticity of that knowledge. Still, in a research paper, you need to present authentic information.

It is a writing assignment based on the author’s original research on a specific topic. The research paper contains a discussion on the existing literature, its analysis, and the interpretation of research findings.

A research paper is not just a review of the existing literature but an analysis of a perspective. The analysis should be backed up by authentic facts and reliable data and information.

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Purpose of Research

The purpose of drafting a research paper may vary from person to person or discipline to discipline; one might want to:

  • Review the existing knowledge
  • Construct a new product
  • Provide a solution to a specific problem
  • Investigate a problem or some disease
  • Develop a new theory

A student writes a research paper for a single or a combination of reasons presented. No matter what the reason for writing a research paper is, it should be based on the following steps:

  • Present a question
  • Collect relevant data to answer the posed question
  • Give the answer

Types of Research

A research paper can be drafted for any field. Whether you belong to an arts or sciences background, a research paper can be drafted.

There are mainly two types of research through which students gather data and present it in the form of paper. They are the following:

1. Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is the method of observation that refers to the concept, characteristics, definition, and description of things. This type of research is concerned with non-numerical data.

2. Quantitative Research

Quantitative research focuses on facts and figures. It is a process of investigating a phenomenon through mathematical, statistical, and computational techniques. For example, a survey was conducted to get the total population of a country. The final number will be based on that survey.

Research Paper Format

Every paper requires a specific formatting and citation style. Here are some of the common formatting styles:

  • MLA Research paper format
  • APA Research paper format

The below table provides the formatting guidelines of MLA and APA style guides.

RequirementsMLA guidelinesAPA guidelines
Margin1-inch all side1-inch all sides
Font size12pt12pt
Font styleTimes New RomanTimes New Roman
AlignmentLeft alignedLeft aligned
Paragraph indentationTab or 0.5-inch space5-7 spaces
Page numberIn the header, right sideIn the header, right side

Your research paper should be formatted according to the guidelines provided by the instructor. Make sure to choose one style and follow it throughout your paper. The formatting gives strength to your research and makes it effective.

How to Start a Research Paper?

If you wish to write an effective paper, make sure to draft a plan and work accordingly.

The following are the steps involved in starting your research paper:

1. Understand the Guidelines

The first and foremost thing to do when starting your research paper is to understand the instructions provided. The guidelines present which format to choose: the type of paper, the length, and the parts to be included in your paper.

Read every detail provided and alter all your processes and paper accordingly.

2. Topic Selection

Topic selection is the most crucial stage of the whole research process. The research will revolve around the paper topic, and if you have chosen an inappropriate topic, all your efforts will be in vain. On the other hand, if you are not assigned a topic, choose a researchable and arguable topic to get enough information to write a paper.

3. Conduct Research on your Topic

The research paper requires a writer to conduct deep and conceptual research of the chosen topic. Research is a well-organized process of gathering and examining information to increase your understanding of the aspect about which you are concerned or interested.

The research you are carrying out should have the following qualities to make the paper impactful:

  • Systematic: based on creativity but does not use intuitions.
  • Controlled: variables are controlled to get reliable results
  • Logical: based on logical reasoning
  • Empirical: validate the result with provable facts and figures
  • Replicable: verified by replicating the study
  • Significant: should provide the significance of your findings

4. Draft a Thesis for your Research Paper

A thesis statement is the main idea of your research paper. The whole research revolves around that idea. It is a single statement that tells the reader what they should expect from the paper.

Writing a thesis statement is both essential and challenging. Think of ideas to develop a strong thesis statement as all of the content will be drafted to support this one claim.

5. Clarification of Research Hypothesis

Initially, the selected research questions were investigated and rejected for many reasons. For example:

  • The questions are not sufficiently focused on the area of study
  • Might not be defining the appropriate concepts
  • Too many intervening and moderating variables

If your research questions are not clear, you can go back to the previous step and modify a conceptual and theoretical model, or you can also go back to the first step and change the topic and study area. But, after this stage, there is no going back. So, if your research questions are not clear, do not move forward unless you get clarification.

6. Draft a Research Paper Outline

After collecting all the supporting material, it is time to create an outline. Drafting an outline is important if you wish to create an effective paper. Organize your research and arrange all the gathered information into different parts of the research paper. An outline will act as a backbone of your paper because of which your content will stand firm.

The outlining will make the actual writing process of the paper easier. In addition, it will provide a pathway making it easier for the writer and the audience to stay focused and understand the major argument.

Develop a good research paper outline keeping in mind the guidelines provided. Once you have created an outline for your research paper, start writing it.

How to Write a Research Paper?

Writing a research paper and a general paper is similar. The only difference is that the research paper is controlled and requires caution. While writing a research paper, you need to be very careful about what you write, how you write, the words and phrases you chose, the ideas you express, and the validity of your conclusion.

The following are the steps for writing a research paper:

  • Title/Cover Page

The title page is the first page of your research paper. It includes the following information about the topic and the writer:

    • The topic of your research paper
    • The name of the writer
    • The name of the department
    • The name of the instructor
    • Date of submission
    • Institute’s name

The format of the cover page is usually provided in the guideline as well. So draft the first page according to the requirements.

  • Abstract

The abstract comes at the start of the research paper, but it is written after when you are done with your research work. This is the summary of the paper which gives an overview of what you are going to do and a brief summary of results and findings.

It should be written in a way that will give the paper complete detail in just one paragraph—a brief description of the problem, discussion points, and the final result.

  • Introduction and Statement of the Problem

The introduction part will present the overview of an issue you will examine—a short justification of why your target audience should read your paper. Define the scope and the methods you are going to use.

Choose a strong topic sentence to enhance the credibility of the introduction paragraph. Word choice matters, usage of the right words plays an important role in writing an effective research paper, so select some good words to write.

In this part, present the statement of the problem as well. This is to make sure that the readers are familiar with the major thesis statement at the beginning of the research paper. The thesis statement is given at the end of the introduction.

  • Limitations of the Study

Provide the limitations of the research and study. Indicate what you intend to do and what you will avoid attempting. You may, by choice, limit the scope of your document due to any factors such as gender, age, time, personnel, geographic location, etc.

  • Methodology

A research methodology is a process or the methods you are going to use in your research. Define your specific research questions, data collection process, the research methods, and justification why you chose this particular method.

There are various methodologies that you may use while collecting data for your research paper. the most common methodologies are:

    • Survey

A survey is a quantitative method of collecting data from a pool of respondents. However, survey methodology has a weakness because the respondents might not give their honest opinion.

    • Interview people

It is a great method to use if the goal is to collect data from a small group without spending a lot of money.

    • Experiments

Experiments are performed to extract new information. The results obtained from the experiments are the most authentic findings, providing real and relevant information.

  • Literature Review

A literature review is a review of existing information and knowledge and theoretical and conceptual contributions to a particular field of study. It is a collection of the most relevant and significant publications regarding the topic to provide a comprehensive overview of what has been done.

It includes journal publications, conference papers, books, articles, and other sources relevant to a particular field of study.

  • Main Body

The main body of the research paper contains all the evidence and information that supports the major argument. In addition, it is the section where all the details and explanations about the research, analysis, findings, and discussion are provided.

List all the major findings, analyze their significance, discuss their relevance to the previous studies. Then, use charts and tables to explain and summarize your findings.

Your analysis should be based on the following questions:

    • Are the findings or results significant?
    • What contribution are they making to the existing literature?
    • Are they supporting or rejecting the previous results?
    • Are there any limitations?
  • Conclusion and Future Recommendations

A conclusion should support your thesis statement. First, give a brief recap of the problem that you have examined. Next, briefly tell about the original goal of the research, and then tell about your accomplishments from your research work. Finally, summarize your argument and provide the final words.

Give some future recommendations for future researchers to expand your work. This section is helpful for the researcher who wants to get some ideas for their research work.

It is important to know that the first draft was never perfect. You have to review it at least three times to make sure it is ready for submission. After that, you can ask your friend or somebody to read your draft so that they can help you find problems and shortcomings in your drafts.

  • Bibliography

The last part of the research paper is the bibliography. A bibliography is a list that contains all the details of references and sources used while researching and gathering information. Any source that you consult or take help from is added to this list.

Moreover, all the in-text citations are elaborated on in this list as well. This section is equally important as the rest of the research paper. This is because it helps avoid plagiarism and maintain originality in the content.

  • Proofread and Edit

Once you are done with your research paper, revise it a few times to ensure that the content is properly formatted and free from mistakes. After formatting, organize your paper and make the necessary edits.

Professionals suggest thoroughly checking the entire paper and using automatic spell and plagiarism checkers to ensure that the content drafted is original and authentic.

  • Use Plagiarism Checker

After you are done with the editing and formatting stuff, check your draft for plagiarism. Again, it is important to use a plagiarism checker to remind you if you forgot to reference a source.

There are a lot of plagiarism checker tools freely available, and they provide excellent services. Plagiarism checker scans through the text and finds content that is similar to the published text.

It is important to avoid plagiarism; otherwise, it may lead to rejection. So, cite your work properly. A work cited won’t be recognized as plagiarism if you have rephrased it or used it within the inverted commas.

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Research Paper Outline

When writing a research paper, it is important to draft an outline to provide a logical structure to your document. An outline includes different sections, and each section should be perfectly and professionally developed.

The following are the major parts of a research paper outline:

  • Title/cover page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction and statement of the problem
  • Limitations of the study
  • Methodology
  • Literature review
  • Main body
  • Conclusion and future recommendations
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography

Each of the parts will be discussed further in the content.

Research Paper Example

The writing process of your research paper can get simpler if you know what steps to take. Moreover, consult the already existing research papers to see how they are formatted and structured.

Below are the examples of some good research papers:

Research Paper Topics

Choosing the right topic can be as time-consuming as writing a research paper itself. So select a topic from the list and get started on your research paper.

  • Major differences in Italian and the Northern renaissance art forms
  • The portrayal of minority groups and the changing media
  • How did the objectives of feminism change over a decade?
  • The Black Lives Matter movement in the US
  • How do teaching methods help college students learn better?
  • Significance of No Child Left Behind act.
  • How are divorce rates changing with time?
  • How to prevent human trafficking?
  • Effective programs to reduce teenage pregnancy
  • Cons of genetically modified food products

Choose a topic that works for you and gather strong supporting information to make your research paper effective.

Writing a research paper can be challenging if you are short on deadlines and are not familiar with the correct research and writing procedure. For example, suppose you are assigned a research paper to draft or write a lab report. And you have no clue where to start; get help from a professional writer.

EssayWriter.college is a reputable writing company that provides custom services for all your academic assignments. Simply hire an expert essay writer to get assistance in your research paper and other academic writings.

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Barbara P


Barbara P (Marketing, Literature)

Barbara has a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university and extensive experience working in the medical field. With her practical experience conducting research on various health issues, she is skilled in writing innovative papers on healthcare. Her many works have been published in multiple publications.

Barbara has a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university and extensive experience working in the medical field. With her practical experience conducting research on various health issues, she is skilled in writing innovative papers on healthcare. Her many works have been published in multiple publications.

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