Research paper writing is a skill, but luckily it’s something that can be learnt and mastered. If you’re struggling with your research paper, read on for some advice to help you take your skills from novice to pro.
In this guide, we will explain what a research paper is, tips on how to write a research paper, how long a research paper should be, and tools and resources.
What is a research paper?
A research paper is a document that presents information in support of an argument. It relies on research, analysis, and facts to make its point.
A research paper also requires you to cite your sources and put them in the right format.
Research papers are one of the most common assignments you’ll encounter in college.
How long should a research paper be?
In most cases, the length of a research paper depends on the topic or assignment. Typically, research papers should be 4,000-6,000 words, but there are also short papers around 1,000 to 2,000 words and long papers over 10,000 words.
Mostly, the length is dictated by your professor.
Below are easy-to-follow steps to writing a research paper
Choose a topic
Choosing a topic for a research paper is a significant step. You will take a lot of time researching, writing, and revising your essay. So, it is crucial to choose the right topic.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best topic for your research paper:
- Brainstorm: First, you should consider everything you know about the topic you want to write about. That will help you come up with ideas for your research project. Think about what interests you and what makes sense as a topic for an academic paper. Also, try to think of ways the subject could be analyzed or explored in more detail than just presenting facts and figures about it.
- Narrow your topic down: Once you have come up with several ideas for topics, narrow them down by deciding if they are worth researching or not.
- Relevance. Ensure your topic is relevant to your field of study and interests. Choose something that you can connect with emotionally or personally.
Do some research
Researching is one of the essential parts of writing a research paper.
Researching can also help you understand where to look for information, what types of sources are available and how to conduct your search.
There are different kinds of research papers, and each one requires a different approach to writing. Some of them require only basic research skills, while others require you to dig deeper into the topic. There are things that you should never forget during the process:
- Find the latest information on the topic.
- Use credible websites that contain helpful information about your case. Avoid blogs and opinion-based websites.
- Search for relevant books and journals in libraries and bookstores.
- Take notes from these resources as well as from your own experience.
- Make sure that your topic or question is relevant to current events and issues in society today.
Create a thesis
A thesis statement is defined as an author’s opinion about some aspect of the subject matter in the form of a sentence that clearly states the central idea or main point of their argument or paper.
The thesis statement is the core of your research paper. It is a one-sentence summary of your paper that states your position on a topic and informs the reader of what you will discuss in the body of the paper.
The thesis statement should be clear, concise, and specific. The purpose of an effective thesis statement is to:
- State your position on a topic
- Focus your research
- Inform readers about the content of your paper
- Organize the rest of your essay around this main idea
When you’re done developing your argument, you’ll have a clear idea of what kinds of evidence support your thesis, and you’ll be able to organize your essay so that it flows logically from one point to another. You may even change your mind about some things along the way, which can be good because it means you’re thinking critically about what you’re reading!
Create an outline
The outline is your tool to ensure that your research paper is organized and easy to understand. It will help you keep track of the facts, events, and ideas you want to include in your form.
The outline should list all the topics you plan to cover in your paper with appropriate headings and subheadings.
The outline will also help you see if there are any gaps in your paper when it comes time to writing it.
Once you have completed an outline, it is time to start writing. You can begin by summarizing each section in a paragraph or two and fill in the details under each heading and subheading.
Draft the body
The body of a research paper is where you present your findings, support them with evidence and illustrate how they relate to the subject.
The body of your research paper should explain your thesis in detail with supporting evidence. It should also include a clear and concise summary of the relevant literature.
The body should be divided into several paragraphs, each addressing a different point related to the topic. Each paragraph should have its topic sentence that clearly states what you will say about that point.
The first paragraph of the body should summarize the points made in the introduction and provide an overview of what you plan to discuss. The next few paragraphs will expand on each point in more detail, providing evidence and analysis. You may want to use subheadings within these paragraphs to make it easy for readers to follow what you’re saying.
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Writing: intro, conclusion, and citations
The introduction is the first paragraph of any research paper. The purpose of the introduction is to provide an overview of your topic and set the stage for arguments.
The body of your paper includes paragraphs that present your analysis and support for your thesis statement or argument. It may also contain background information, definitions, or other supporting material in these paragraphs if it is relevant to your discussion.
The conclusion summarizes the main points you made in your essay. It should not contain new information but rather a restatement of the main points made in your paper.
Revision is the essential part of writing a research paper. It is also the most time-consuming task. Several steps are involved in revising and editing your work, and these steps will help you get rid of the grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors in your paper.
The first step is to read through your entire paper at least twice before submitting it to your professor. The second step is to reread the whole paper after making corrections. That will ensure that all of your errors are gone from the document; it is best to use a computer spell checker or grammar checker software before submitting your work for grading.
Tools and resources
Below are some of the tools and resources that you can use to achieve an A+ Research paper:
Google Scholar is a free resource that researchers can use to find academic articles. The service allows users to search for scholarly literature and other documents. Google Scholar also allows you to check the impact factor of individual journals and articles.
Zotero is a freemium and open-source research tool that can be used to manage references and sources. It’s beneficial for students, researchers, and academics because it allows you to create a library of all your research sources in one place and share it with your colleague. Also, it automatically generates citations.
Google Charts is a free tool for data visualization from Google. It allows you to create graphs and charts using your data in various ways. The charts are mostly interactive; you can see the data change as you scroll over a chart.
Grammarly helps students improve their writing by pointing out grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, sentence structure issues, and word choice problems.
The tool has a free version, which offers grammar checks but not plagiarism checks. The premium version of Grammarly includes a plagiarism checker. That is especially useful if you are required to submit work online.
Hopefully, the above tips will help you write a research paper better.
Struggling to find the time and energy to finish your research paper in time? We can help.