Writing a research paper can be an overwhelming process. It may be a little intimidating to get started, but don’t worry, we have you covered with this article that provides solid tips and tricks for beginners on crafting their first piece of academic writing. We will discuss how to write a research paper, what should go into your outline, creating a thesis statement, and more.
Table of Contents
How To Write A Research Paper:
Identify your research questions.
First, you will need to identify your research questions. A question can be as simple or complex as a topic, and there are no hard rules when it comes down to the length of the question; some may take one sentence while others might require an entire paragraph with several supporting examples.
If the research paper is your own choice of subject matter, then take some time brainstorming ideas for topics before narrowing down on just two or three options, so it doesn’t seem like too much work when choosing between them later in this process! It’s also a good idea to select a relevant topic for the course you are taking.
Conduct preliminary research
Once you have selected your research question, it’s time for some preliminary work! First, you should prepare an outline of what will go into each section and the designated word count or pages (if applicable). Your outline will help give structure when writing because sometimes we don’t know where our thoughts want us next, so having something planned out ahead helps keep things organised while also making sure everything gets said.
Now let’s talk deadlines! Make them realistic but not too far away from now. If possible, try setting one at least two weeks after starting just in case there are any unforeseen circumstances such as a family emergency or illness.
Ensure you have all the resources needed for your paper before starting, including books and articles relevant to the subject. This way, there’s no need to search around in between writing which might be distracting.
Develop a Theses Statement.
Your theses statement is the backbone of your paper and is the main point you are trying to prove. It should be concise, clear-cut, and engaging enough to make people want to read on! Think long and hard about your chosen topic and look through the preliminary research material you have amassed. If you are passionate about your research, your theses statement should simply come to you.
Visit your local library or some academic websites online and look at some published theses statements by the leading researchers in your field. Extrapolate how the researchers tied their research paper to their theses statement and take notes.
Establish a Research Mindmap
It might be distracting to have too many points in your paper, so you must decide on the most relevant and compelling arguments for each section before writing anything else. You should also know what kind of research material will support those claims – this way, when someone reads through your paper, they can see how everything ties together!
It may seem like an unnecessary step, but if done correctly from start to point finish, then you won’t need any significant revisions later down the line, which could save you a lot of time wasted. It’s always better safe rather than sorry.
Establish the first draft
Your first draft is going to be rough, but that’s okay! It doesn’t have the same pressure as a final draft, and you can use it for revision. First drafts are about getting ideas out of your head onto paper, so they’re not just floating around in there – this is where we get our best insights on what needs more work or if something should even stay at all (sometimes first impressions aren’t always accurate).
Your first draft is just that- a draft. Try not to overthink grammar or punctuation at this stage. Just get your ideas out and onto paper. Use your mind map to guide your content flow, and make sure you follow the topic sentence-paragraph rule.
There will be time for revisions later on! Just get all of those ideas out before they disappear in that mind fog we know so well as writers’ block!
If possible, try not to use jargon words. These are often confusing even though some people might understand them right away; instead, explain concepts with simple language using examples where possible.
Remember to be honest with your reader and yourself about what the paper will accomplish, why it’s worth reading for them (and not just because they’re required), how well-written or researched it is, and what the key takeaways are.
Look back over your paper for any typos or errors that might not have been noticeable while you were writing it – this can be a great time to make revisions! Spellcheck, too, because sometimes those words just aren’t in there (or they’re spelt wrong).
Write a powerful introduction.
Your introduction should be thought-provoking and should make your readers want to keep reading. After grabbing the reader’s attention, you should summarise what you will be discussing in the paper and why it is necessary.You’re effectively adjusting your reader’s expectations to know a little more of what they’re getting.
Write a compelling body of text.
Divide your research paper’s body into sections, each of which should cover a different topic. Allowing your reader to follow the flow and understand what you are talking about concerning other points made before or after that same section.
The body gets into the research methods and the results of your study. It is where you discuss your findings, how they compare to other studies on this topic, and why these findings are crucial for future research. You can also highlight the study’s limitations and the steps necessary to replicate or extend this process.
Include your findings in infographics and tables. You want this information to be easy on the eyes, and it’s an excellent way for readers who don’t have an interest in delving deep into your research paper but only skim through them at first glance before they decide if there is anything worth reading more about
Use graphics that are not too complicated or difficult to read. The infographics also add visual variety and keep people engaged with what you’re talking about throughout each paragraph (or bullet point). These graphs show how different variables impact other things–like smoking versus weight gain over time—and then illustrate their relationship visually, so we understand better without having these numbers thrown out all of a sudden, like here where I threw less than 100 words between paragraphs.
In order words: make sure there isn’t too much information per paragraph because then people will get overwhelmed when reading through them, but don’t leave anything out either just enough content, so readers know exactly which point within each section goes along best together without having an
Include a literature review. A good research paper is not just about your thoughts and opinions. It should also include the work of others who have been studying this topic before you. A literature review will help to strengthen both their arguments as well yours! Your readers want proof that what they are reading has already had some thought put into by other people, so make sure there’s plenty in here for them!
It doesn’t matter if these sources were published or unpublished because all information is acceptable when writing an academic essay – even blog posts like ours 😉 If possible, try including at least three different types (e-journals/books) from various perspectives on one subject but don’t forget: quality over quantity always wins out!
Write a moving summery
The conclusion should summarise all points made throughout your paper with a brief statement about whether or not those conclusions were sufficient (whether they supported their hypothesis). It’s also good practice at times- if applicable -to include recommendations based on any new knowledge gained from conducting said experiment/study as well!
Request feedback from your colleagues
Often, mistakes will go unnoticed by an expert eye where we would notice them ourselves and vice versa, of course, so reach out to your peers to go over your work. You could save lots of time in the end, and it will be a lot of fun too! If you’re still not sure about something that seems off or just doesn’t sound right to your ear – Reach out to more people to get a second or third opinion.
It’s okay if they aren’t knowledgeable in the field, they could simply look out for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. If you don’t know anyone worth showing your work, there are plenty of online communities you could join that would be willing to go over your work on platforms like Facebook, Reddit or Quora.
Revise, Revise, Revise!
If something doesn’t sound right, try rephrasing things until it’s clear enough so people understand it without any confusion. It will also help your readers better follow along, making them feel like their attention has value!
Pay particular attention to your format and structure. Your paper should take your readers on a journey and should therefore flow seamlessly from one idea to the next. Refer to your outline to ensure that you are doing this effectively.
Compile your final draft
Once you are happy with your paper’s state, it’s time to put together the final draft. All your hard work comes down to this one moment. You may want to edit the article one last time, but the most important thing is that you should be proud of your work!
You may want to give it a quick read over one last time before you send in your paper. You may find a couple of errors or typos that might have slipped through the cracks! If there are no grammatical mistakes, then go ahead and print out copies for yourself, hand them off as required by assignment instructions if needed but otherwise, get ready because it’s submission day!
I hope that this guide will help you become a successful researcher! If, for any reason, the final draft doesn’t come out as well-written or coherent as you imagined, then this is your chance to get feedback from more advanced researchers on how they would improve what you have. If you are looking for something a little less academic, then here’s a definitive guide to creating an SEO friendly article! till next time!
About The Author
Webster is the founder and managing director at Pick Me Up Poetry. His creative journey began at an early age as an aspiring musician, and by 2013, he was the arts & culture facilitator for the University of Johannesburg. He is currently pursuing a Business Management degree with The University of South Africa and aspires to make PMUP a household name by 2025.