How to Write a Research Paper
A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Good Research Paper
If you are a student, there is a high probability that you will have to write at least one research paper before graduating. However, crafting a good research paper can be tough enough if you have never previously dealt with such a type of academic task.
Where should I start? What aspects does such writing cover? What academic style should I use? Which structure is the best for research papers? These are the most common questions that will probably cross your mind once you receive your topic and look through the requirements given. But don’t you worry. We are here to guide you through the entire process of research paper writing and structuring with our easy-to-follow instructions and tips. So, just check the research paper guidelines below and write an impactful piece that can easily become an important part of your academic toolkit.
What is a Research Paper
So, what is a research paper? In a few words, a research paper is a piece of academic writing that covers analysis, interpretation, and argumentation based on the author’s in-depth independent research.
Generally, research papers are pretty similar to other types of academic essays. The only difference is that they are usually longer and include more detailed instructions designed to assess both your writing and scholarly research skills. Such assignments require you to engage with different sources, demonstrate a strong knowledge of the given subject, and make an original and personal contribution to the debate.
Tips on How to Structure a Research Paper
Your paper should tell a story of how you conducted your research, what new ideas and experiences you came across, and how they impact your research field. And in order to pass all these messages and information to your readers, it’s essential to structure your paper in a logical and perspicuous manner.
The widely adopted format and structure that research papers mostly follow is the popular IMRaD format standing for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This format helps students to tell their stories in an organized and clear order.
Additional requirements depending on the educational institution you are studying may include the following structural parts:
- Table of Contents – It is normally placed right before or right after the abstract.
- Appendices – This section can be placed after all parts included in the paper.
- Acknowledgments – You can place them either at the end of your writing or before the abstract.
However, you should keep in mind that these parts may be acceptable for some academic standards but may be inappropriate for others.
Research Paper Outline
If you are wondering how to write a research paper fast without compromising the quality, then a good outline can become your helping hand.
The way that you create an outline for your research paper mostly depends on your assignment and the requirements given by your instructor. If you are asked to turn in an outline, be sure to make one that follows the rules, examples, guidelines, or limitations you have been given. However, even if you aren’t required to provide an outline, writing one is recommended, as it can become an essential tool for building your research paper.
Creating a well-structured outline is really about following basic guides and patterns. You don’t need to be too formal. But you shouldn’t be too casual as well. Just make sure that whatever format and style you choose makes sense for your type of paper. For example, let’s say you have two main points you want to cover in your paper. In such a case, three or five primary sections might not work for your research paper. You will need more in order to open the given subject and meet all the objectives fully. You will need more subsections to introduce ideas, explain various points of view on the topic, present your opinions, and so on.
Moreover, as you create your outline, think carefully about what you are trying to pass your readers or communicate in your paper and what structure lets you do that in a clear, well-defined way.
Also, remember that you can revise the mind map or outline of your paper at any time. It is much easier to restructure writing by cropping out or adding sections and headings to a ready-made outline than to start over with the writing itself.
Research Paper Introduction
How to impress your readers more effectively if not by an informative and powerful introduction? The introductory part of your writing is that exact key point that can decide whether your paper will succeed or fail. That’s why you should make it as perfect as possible.
In general, your paper introduction should address three core questions: what, how, and why? When reading your paper’s introduction, the reader should clearly understand what the topic is about, how you will build and develop your arguments, and why it is worth reading.
In the introduction section, you will need to cover the following aspects:
- present contextual material or relevant background;
- define the key terms or concepts if necessary;
- explain the aims and focus of the paper and your specific goal;
- introduce your plan of organization.
Also, don’t forget to keep your introduction short and concise.
Research Paper Body
Well, now that you’ve made your point and stated all the arguments, it’s time to prove them. And this is where the body paragraphs of your paper enter the play.
Typically the length and content of this section entirely depend on the criteria and requirements set by your instructor, so check it out before starting.
However, as a basic rule, your paper should have at least three supporting points that can help you defend, prove, or explain your points. It’s recommended to put your weakest arguments first and the strongest ones last.
When writing the body for your paper:
- Use your outline and roadmap as flexible guides.
- Compose your writing around the points you want to make.
- Integrate the key sources into your discussion.
- Analyze, summarize, explain, and assess the work rather than merely report it.
Research Paper Conclusion
You need a comprehensive conclusion to bring your paper and thesis to its logical end. The conclusion is designed to help your audience out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of completeness.
When writing a summary for your paper, you can trace the course of your research, emphasizing how all the points got together to prove the core statement of your thesis. You can also discuss and explain the more general consequences of the argument, point out what the paper can offer to future students of the topic, and provide any questions the argument raises but cannot answer.
How to End a Research Paper
Once you are done writing and structuring the paper, it’s time to revise it for the final time before handing it out to your instructor. Revision mainly includes proofreading and editing your created content in order to identify possible mistakes and ensure the accuracy of the information.
Here are the main aspects you need to pay close attention to.
- Overall Structure: Carefully proofread your paper and check every part of it, including the logical flow of the introduction, depth, and correctness of discussion in the main body, as well as the effectiveness of the summary.
- Paragraph Level Concerns: Here, you need to focus on topic sentences, summary sentences, sequence of concepts within paragraphs, use of transitions between and within or between paragraphs, and so on.
- Sentence Level Concerns: This covers everything connected with sentence structure, grammar, word choices, spelling, and punctuation.
- Documentation: Here, pay more attention to aspects like consistent use of one system, citation of all used materials, appropriate use of footnotes or endnotes, the accuracy of references, etc.
After you go through all these core points, just ask yourself some questions like: Did you communicate what you wanted to get across? Is your paper clearer or easier to understand? Does it include everything the assignment requires for? If not, what are the missing points? If the answers are satisfactory, you can breathe happily and turn in your paper for revision.
Do You Still Need Help For Your Research Paper Writing?
Once you understand the methods and basic structure of research papers, they will stop being as intimidating and difficult as they seem at first glance. Surely, there is a lot you will need to do when composing a research paper from scratch, but there is no reason to be daunted. Just start slowly by taking it step by step, completing all the to-dos piece by piece, and giving yourself plenty of time. If you stay organized and focus on the process, be sure you will be able to create a perfect paper matching all academic standards and requirements.
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