Nova A.
Nova A.

The Ultimate Guide On How To Write A Research Paper

14 min read

Published on: Apr 25, 2021

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

how to write a research paper

Writing a research paper can be a daunting task, especially if you're not sure where to start. It requires a significant amount of research, organization, and effective writing skills.

Many students struggle with writing research papers, which can negatively impact their grades and academic success. Without a clear understanding of the process, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin.

That's where this comprehensive guide comes in!

In this blog, we'll provide you with expert tips and a step-by-step process to help you write a successful research paper. 

From choosing a topic to polishing your final draft, you'll learn the essential skills and techniques to craft a winning paper.

So, whether you're a seasoned student or new to research paper writing, this guide will provide you with the knowledge to tackle this challenging task!

Let’s get started.

On This Page

What Is a Research Paper?

A research paper is a written document that presents the author's findings and analysis on a particular topic or issue. 

It is typically required in academic settings and is used to demonstrate a student's ability to conduct research and articulate their thoughts clearly and cohesively.

Research papers can take various forms, including argumentative, analytical, or expository, depending on the purpose and requirements of the assignment. 

They typically involve a thorough investigation of the chosen topic. This is done by using a variety of sources, such as books, academic journals, and online databases.

Elements of Research Paper

When crafting a research paper, several key elements should be included to ensure a comprehensive and well-structured piece of work. 

These elements contribute to the overall effectiveness and clarity of your research paper. 

Here are the essential elements to consider:

  • Title: A concise and informative title that accurately reflects the content of your research paper.
  • Abstract: A brief summary that provides an overview of the research paper, including the purpose, methodology, key findings, and implications
  • Introduction: This section introduces the research topic and presents the research question or objective. It also highlights the significance and relevance of the study.
  • Literature Review: A comprehensive review of existing research and scholarly articles related to your topic. It demonstrates your understanding of the existing knowledge and identifies gaps that your research aims to address.
  • Methodology: Describes the research design, approach, data collection methods, and any tools or instruments used. This section should be detailed enough for others to replicate your study.
  • Results: Presents the findings of your research in a clear and organized manner, often using tables, graphs, or statistical analyses.
  • Discussion: Analyzes and interprets the results, discussing their implications and significance.
  • Conclusion: Summarizes the main points of your research paper, restates the research question or objective. It also offers final thoughts on the significance and implications of your study.
  • References: Provides a list of all sources cited within the research paper using the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).
  • Appendices (if applicable): Includes additional materials such as questionnaires, surveys, or raw data that support and supplement your research.

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Research Paper Outline

In order to write a good research paper, it is important that you have an outline. This will help with the structure and organization of your work so there are no gaps or confusion as well as keep readers engaged during the reading process.

Here’s an example of a generic research paper outline.

I. Introduction

A. Hook or attention-grabbing statement
B. Background information on the topic
C. Thesis statement

II. Literature Review

A. Overview of existing research on the topic
B. Discussion of key theories or concepts related to the research
C. Identification of gaps or limitations in current knowledge

III. Methodology

A. Research design and approach
B. Description of the sample or participants
C. Data collection methods
D. Data analysis techniques

IV. Results

A. Presentation of the findings
B. Use of tables, graphs, or visual aids to support the results
C. Interpretation of the results and their relevance to the research question

V. Discussion

A. Analysis and interpretation of the results in relation to the existing literature
B. Explanation of any unexpected or contradictory findings
C. Discussion of the implications and significance of the research

VI. Conclusion

A. Summary of the main findings
B. Restatement of the thesis statement
C. Final thoughts or recommendations

VII. References

A. List of all sources cited in the research paper following the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA)

Expert Tip

Explore this comprehensive blog post on crafting an effective research paper outline.

How to Start a Research Paper?

Starting a research paper can be an intimidating task, but with the right approach, you can set yourself up for success. Here are some key steps to help you begin your research paper:

  • Conduct Preliminary Research

Before diving deep into your research, conduct some initial exploration to gather background information and identify key sources. This will help you refine your topic and develop a solid research question.

  • Develop a Research Plan

Outline a plan to structure your research process. Determine what types of sources (e.g., books, articles, websites) are relevant and create a timeline for completing different stages of research.

Collect credible and relevant sources that provide information and support for your research question. Use library databases, scholarly journals, and reputable websites. Evaluate the reliability, credibility, and authority of each source.

  • Create an Outline

Organize your ideas and main points by creating an outline. This will serve as a roadmap for your research paper, helping you maintain a logical flow and coherence throughout.

  • Write an Engaging Introduction

Start your research paper with an attention-grabbing introduction. Provide context, briefly introduce the topic, and state the research question or objective. Engage the reader and set the tone for the rest of the paper.

  • Craft a Strong Thesis Statement

Develop a clear and concise thesis statement that reflects the purpose and main argument of your research paper. It should address the research question and guide your writing.

  • Begin Writing the Body

Start developing the main body of your research paper based on your outline. Present your arguments, analysis, and supporting evidence in a logical and structured manner. Ensure each paragraph focuses on a single point and supports your thesis statement.

  • Revise and Edit

Once you have completed your first draft, revise and edit your research paper. Check for clarity, coherence, grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Ensure your writing flows smoothly and effectively communicates your ideas.

How to Write a Research Paper?

A research paper is written in the following order:

1. Title Page 

The title or cover page of a research paper is the first page that a reader sees, so it makes a lot of difference. 

This page contains information like the writer's name, instructor, institute, and the paper's submission date. 

It also states the title of the research paper to tell people what the topic is discussed.

2. Abstract 

An abstract is to a research paper what a trailer is to a movie. It includes a summary of the main theme and ideas of the research paper. An abstract is a summary, so it should exceed a page. 

In simpler terms, an abstract provides an overview of the topic on which the research is done. It doesn’t include explanations and details about the topic but stays focused on the research question. An abstract contains the following information:

  • Steps were taken for the study of the topic.
  • How was the research conducted?
  • Main outcomes of the research. 

The structure in which this information will be provided should be the topic, key ideas, and results. In the abstract, make sure not to add information like the background of your study and the referencing procedure.

3. Introduction 

The purpose of the introduction is to inform the reader about the topic and the major thesis statement that will be discussed in the paper, so it should be informative. The introduction is divided into three parts; the area of research, background information, and the thesis statement. 

In order to make your introduction interesting for readers, add information and points that are relevant to the central idea. 

In general, writing the introduction paragraph of a research paper should include the following things: 

  • Background information on the topic
  • Aims and objectives of the research conducted
  • Background information on the problem area. 
  • Technical details
  • Assumptions
  • Purpose
  • Thesis Statement 

A thesis statement is the main argument about the research paper that identifies the writer’s stance on the subject or a topic. 

It also acts as the preview or synopsis of the research paper. To write a thesis statement, use the research topic, and organize the key ideas and points.

Usually, a thesis statement is a part of the introduction, but in some cases, an instructor wants his student to submit the thesis for the research paper separately. 

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If you are not instructed to submit one separately, always add a thesis statement in your introduction to increase its strength and make it more impactful. 

As the thesis statement is the core theme of your research paper, every piece of information that you gather will naturally support this main argument.

4. Limitations

After introducing the topic and the major thesis statement, instantly state what you are going to do in the research. 

In this section, the writer limits the scope of the paper due to a number of factors. Anything that provides a limit in data gathering and research is presented in this part of the research paper. 

5. Methodology 

Every research requires a writer to follow a methodology for collecting the data. Present the type of research methodology you chose to gather information for your paper. 

A researcher uses two basic methods. It is either qualitative or quantitative. 

  • Qualitative methods are used to gather data for subjects like humanities and social science. 
  • Quantitative Method is the gathering of data in concrete numbers and figures. This method is used to collect data for scientific researchers, where figures are studied to form a decision. 

6. Literature Review 

Reviewing and analyzing the work previously done on your topic is a literature review. The writer should draft this section in his paper to present what was the existing knowledge available and how his research contributed to the field. 

7. Main Body 

No matter which research paper type you are drafting and for which academic level, the body contains the findings and discussion. 

All the information that you gather related to the topic will be part of this section. The body of the research papers basically organizes your research. And the raw information in a sensible manner to make it understandable for the readers. 

One major condition to writing a good body of your research paper is to write all the information in a logical flow using transition words and phrases. This helps to show that all paragraphs are interconnected, and they should gradually lead up to the conclusion. 

In a nutshell, the body paragraphs contain the following elements:

  • Researched information and facts (including surveys, figures, etc.). 
  • Real-world information with strong arguments and evidence.
  • Organized and structured points and arguments under headings and subheadings to maintain a logical flow in the paper
  • The central theme of the paper 
  • The topic sentences state what the paragraph is about.   
  • Proper formatting and outlining of the paper. 

8. Conclusion 

The conclusion of a research paper is as important as its introduction and body. The conclusion of the paper contains the restated theme of the research paper and the personal stance of the writer on the topic. 

Note that the conclusion should not restate the arguments already made. Don’t introduce new arguments or points in the concluding paragraphs of a paper. It only states the rephrased thesis statement and whether the hypothesis made earlier is proven or not. 

The conclusion also starts a CTA (call to action) and makes the audience think about the subject matter or topic. If you believe that further research should be done, then state its reasons and how the solutions can be made to meet the research gaps. 

The conclusion generally contains information in the structure, like the research objectives, key features or ideas, and results.

9. Bibliography 

The bibliography or “work cited” page is the end page of the research paper that shows the references and sources from where the information is taken. Make sure to take information from credible sources for your research paper. This page plays a very important role. 

Plagiarism is a crime that no writer wants to commit. By providing the source of your information and giving references with proper citations, plagiarism is avoided. Also, it increases the credibility and authenticity of the writer’s work. 

Keep in mind that the citation style and referencing differ for every format, like APA and MLA. Identify your paper format to draft a bibliography. 

10. Proofreading and Editing 

Once you have written and compiled all parts of the research paper, proofread it a couple of times to make sure it is flawless. Check every minor and significant element of the paper and make corrections before submitting it. 

Check out this video below for further assistance.

Research Paper Format

When you are assigned a research paper to write, clarify which paper format is required to write your paper. 

Usually, research papers are written in two formats: APA and MLA. Whatever format is assigned, make sure to draft your research paper accordingly. 

The basic elements of the research paper format are as follows:

  • Margins - Leave margins of 1 inch on both sides and top and bottom of the text.
  • Text Format - Use font type ‘Times New Roman’ in size 12pt for the entire text, excluding headings and subheadings. Moreover, double-space your content and add quotations, notes, and work cited.
  • Headings and Subheadings - Use frequent headings and subheadings to organize the text.
  • Running Head with Page Numbers - Add page number to every page of your research paper. Moreover, provide your last name before the page number and put a period.  
  • Work Cited - The last page or the reference list should be drafted according to the format. 
  • Figures, Tables, and Illustrations - Provide sources and titles to all your relevant tables and figures.

Research Paper Examples

The following are some easy-to-understand examples that will help you draft your research paper accurately and professionally. 

Expert Tip

Looking for more examples? Here’s a dedicated blog on research paper examples.

Research Paper Topics

When selecting a research paper topic, it's important to choose something that aligns with the requirements of your assignment. 

Here are some broad categories and examples of research paper topics to inspire your exploration:

  • A compare and contrast between the Northern Renaissance and Italian Renaissance 
  • The impact of Thomas Nast’s works on the literature of the 19th century 
  • The portrayal of the transgender community in the changing media
  • Can China’s One-Child policy be beneficial for other countries of the world 
  • How has the concept of feminism evolved over a decade?
  • The significance of the Affordable Care Act of America’s healthcare system?  
  • Pros and cons of Montessori Methods
  • Is donating organs in exchange for money ethical?
  • Should there be limitations and censorship of the content available on the internet?
  • The formation of black holes and their significance

Expert Tip

If you’re still struggling to find a relevant topic, check out our blog featuring 200+ research paper topics.

Final Checklist

Now that you have finished your research paper, the last thing you should do is make sure it is perfect. Check everything off this list to make sure your paper is ready to submit.

  • Review the Assignment Guidelines: Double-check that you have met all the requirements specified by your instructor. This includes formatting style, word count, and any specific instructions.
  • Check for Clarity and Coherence: Read through your research paper to ensure that your ideas flow logically from one paragraph to another.
  • Proofread for Grammar and Spelling: Carefully proofread your paper for any grammatical errors, typos, or spelling mistakes. Use grammar and spell-check tools, but don't solely rely on them.
  • Verify Proper Citations: Ensure that you have correctly cited all the sources used in your research paper, following the guidelines of the required citation style specified in the style guide.
  • Assess the Introduction and Conclusion: Pay special attention to the opening and closing paragraphs. Make sure your introduction effectively engages the reader, states the purpose of your research, and aligns with the expectations of a peer-reviewed publication.
  • Evaluate the Overall Structure: Take a step back and assess the overall structure of your research paper, ensuring that it follows the standard sections typically found in peer-reviewed publications.
  • Follow Ethical Guidelines: Make sure you have followed ethical guidelines in your research, including obtaining necessary permissions, properly acknowledging sources, and avoiding plagiarism.

Check out this informative video below for more information.

In conclusion, writing a research paper may seem like a challenging task, but with the right approach and guidance, you can tackle it successfully. 

By following the step-by-step process outlined in this blog, you can navigate the complexities of research, organization, and effective writing. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed with your research paper or any other academic writing, you can use our AI writing tool. Or turn to, we are always here to help. Our expert writers provide personalized and custom research paper writing services.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 5 parts of the research paper?

The five parts of the research paper are;

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion

What is the easiest part of a research paper?

Methods are the easiest part of a research paper. This is where you should include all the information about your research, including what methods were used and which sources helped gather data for your paper.

How many pages should a research paper be?

The average length for a research paper is 5-7 pages. For this kind of document, there should be at least two paragraphs on every page. However, the word count will vary depending upon various factors such as type or technicality within your specific field. So please consult an instructor before submitting anything.

What should you not do in a research paper?

Below are some things that you do not do in your research paper.

  • Don’t lengthen your paper
  • Don’t write incomplete information
  • Don’t plagiarize your work
  • Don’t forget to cite sources
  • Don’t write incorrect information

What is the introduction of the research paper?

The introduction is a great way to hook your readers and showcase your work. It provides context for the paper, interestingly introduces the topic, and gives overviews of each section before moving on to the next.

Nova A.


Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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