Nova A.
Nova A.

How To Start A Research Paper - Steps With Examples

9 min read

Published on: Jun 18, 2021

Last updated on: Feb 10, 2024

how to start a research paper

So, you've wrapped up your research, and now you're eyeing that blank page, wondering where to start your research writing journey. 

Don't fret – We're here to guide you through those initial steps, making it simple and straightforward.

You've done the groundwork, and now it's time to shape your findings into a well-structured research paper. This guide will walk you through the essential first steps, helping you refine your ideas and lay a solid foundation for your research paper project. 

Let's turn your valuable findings into an impressive research paper, step by step. Ready to begin? Let's get started!

On This Page

Understanding the Target Journal

Knowing the target journal is like tailoring a suit – it ensures a perfect fit for your work. Here's what you need to focus on:

Research and Familiarize Yourself

Before you start composing your paper, take the time to research and understand the target journal thoroughly. 

What kind of research do they specialize in? Who is their audience? 

Familiarize yourself with their tone, style, and specific requirements. This knowledge is key to aligning your work with the expectations of the journal.

Reviewing Samples

A practical way to grasp the essence of your target journal is by studying papers they've previously published. These samples guide you through their preferred structure, writing style, their research paper format, and thematic nuances. 

Identifying Structural Elements

Journals often follow a standardized structure, typically comprising sections like Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Apprehending these structural elements is similar to knowing the layout of a map—you won't get lost in the details. 

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Pre-Writing Strategies

Before your fingers touch the keyboard, let's explore essential pre-writing strategies that will lay a strong basis for your research paper.

Brainstorming

Begin with a freewheeling brainstorming session. Let your thoughts flow without restriction. 

Jot down every idea, no matter how big or small. Ask yourself questions: 
What are the key themes? What questions arise from your findings? Consider this the canvas where you sketch the preliminary outlines of your paper.

Guiding Tip: Set a timer, let your mind wander, and don't be afraid of unconventional ideas. The goal is to explore every nook of your research.

Outlining Research Paper

Now that you've gathered your thoughts, it's time to give them structure. The research paper outline will keep you on track. 

Start with the key sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Briefly sketch out what each section will cover. This not only organizes your ideas but also provides a clear path for your readers to follow.

Guiding Tip: Keep your outline flexible. It's a guide, not a rigid rulebook. Adjust as needed when you dive deeper into your research paper.

Research Organization

Categorize your findings according to the sections of your outline. Ensure that each piece of information aligns with its designated spot. This organization not only streamlines the research paper writing process but also enhances the clarity and coherence of your paper.

Guiding Tip: Use tools like note cards, spreadsheets, or mind maps to organize your research visually. It's like arranging your toolkit for easy access during the writing process.

Starting Writing the Paper

Now that you've laid the groundwork, it's time actually to start writing your research paper. 

Beginning With the Title and Title Page 

The title is the face of your research paper, the first impression it makes. Keep it concise, informative, and reflective of your study's essence. 

A good research paper title aims for clarity rather than complexity—your title should draw readers into the heart of your research.

Examples:

"Impact of Environmental Changes on Biodiversity in Urban Parks: A Longitudinal Study"

Why it's good: This title is concise, informative, and reflective. It clearly communicates the research focus (impact of environmental changes on biodiversity), the setting (urban parks), and the study's nature (longitudinal).


"An Examination of Various Factors Influencing the Complex Interactions of Biodiversity in Multiple Urban Park Settings: A Comprehensive Longitudinal Study on Environmental Changes"


Why it's bad: This title is excessively long and convoluted, making it difficult for readers to quickly grasp the main idea. It lacks conciseness and may deter potential readers due to its complexity.

Designing an Effective Title Page

Here are some tips for creating an impactful title page: 

  • Title Placement: Center it about one-third down the page.
  • Author Information: Include your name and affiliation beneath the title.
  • Running Head: If required, add a consistent running head with a shortened title.
  • Page Numbering: Follow formatting style guidelines for page numbers.
  • Formatting Style: Adhere strictly to the specified formatting style (APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Font and Spacing: Use a readable font, adhering to size and spacing guidelines.
  • Date: Include the submission or completion date, if needed.

Attention to the title and title page ensures a polished and professional presentation, enhancing accessibility and engagement for your readers.

Write an Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your entire paper. Crafting an effective research paper introduction involves several key elements and strategies.

What to Include in Your Introduction:

  • Compelling Hook: Start with an engaging hook—an anecdote, a surprising fact, a thought-provoking question, or a relevant quote. This hook should grab your reader's attention and draw them into your topic.
  • Background Information: Contextualize your research topic within the broader field of study, highlighting its significance and relevance. This sets the stage for your readers, helping them understand the background and importance of your work.
  • Statement of Purpose: Clearly state your research question or hypothesis. This may function as a thesis statement, summarizing the main point of your paper.
  • Context and Rationale: Offer the rationale behind your research. Explain why your topic is important, outlining gaps in existing literature or real-world implications. Establish the need for your study, emphasizing its contribution to the field.

If you are still wondering how to start a research paper intro, you should read the sample below for a more precise understanding: 

NOTE: 

In some cases, the introduction may incorporate elements of a literature review. This occurs when you provide a summary of relevant research to contextualize your study. 

Conversely, a literature review may be a separate section following the introduction, where you dive deeper into existing literature. The choice depends on the structure and requirements of your specific research paper.

Initiating the Methods Section

In the methods section, you detail how your study was conducted. This section guides readers on how to navigate your study's methodology.

Begin with a concise overview of your research design, participants, and materials. Provide enough information for replication, but don't overwhelm. 

Guiding Tip: Be transparent. Clearly articulate your research process, allowing readers to understand the reliability and validity of your study.

Write the Results Section

Start the results section by stating your findings in a logical order. Use tables, graphs, or charts for clarity. 

Remember, this section is about presenting facts, not interpretation. Guide your readers through the data, setting the stage for the upcoming analysis.

Guiding Tip: Keep it objective. Stick to presenting what you found without delving into the implications. Save that for the discussion section.

Beginning the Discussion

The discussion section is where you interpret your results and draw conclusions. Begin by summarizing your key findings, then dive into their implications. Discuss the broader significance of your study, relating it back to your research question. 

Guide readers through your thought process, offering insights that bridge the gap between your findings and the existing body of knowledge.

Guiding Tip: Connect the dots. Your discussion should seamlessly lead from your results, providing a satisfying conclusion to your research journey.

Overcoming Writer's Block

By employing strategic techniques and adopting a proactive mindset, overcoming writer's block becomes an achievable feat.

Combatting Blank Page Syndrome:

  • Acknowledge the common challenge of a blank page and accept initial messiness.
  • Start anywhere, not necessarily with the introduction; revisit it later.
  • Set realistic goals for each writing session to achieve steady progress.

Writing Exercises and Prompts:

  • Freewrite to unleash thoughts without worrying about structure or grammar.
  • Experiment with prompts related to your research topic for fresh perspectives.
  • Visualize ideas using mind maps to serve as a writing roadmap.

Breakdown of Tasks:

  • Divide the paper into smaller, manageable sections to reduce overwhelm.
  • Create a comprehensive outline as a roadmap for the writing process.
  • Prioritize and start with the sections that feel more straightforward to build confidence.

If you need a detailed guide on a research paper writing process read our blog on how to write a research paper!

Refining the Initial Draft

Refining your initial draft is where the true transformation of your research paper begins. Here's how to enhance your work:

  • Revision and Editing: Review your draft critically. Check for clarity, coherence, and logical flow. Refine language for precision and conciseness.
  • Structural Refinement: Ensure each section aligns with its purpose. Trim redundant information and strengthen transitions between ideas.
  • Cohesive Argumentation: Assess the coherence of your argument. Confirm that each point supports your thesis and fits into the paper's narrative.
  • Peer Feedback: Seek input from peers or mentors. Fresh perspectives can illuminate areas for improvement.
  • Final Polishing: Address grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors. Ensure citations adhere to the chosen citation style guide and make sure you have cited the research paper properly. 

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How to Start a Research Paper Samples -H2

We have compiled some sample research paper PDFs to give you a better understanding of various elements of a research paper. Check them out to further clear your concepts with these examples: 

To Sum it Up!

As we conclude our guide on starting a research paper, you're now armed with the essentials for this scholarly journey. From understanding your target journal to overcoming writer's block and refining your draft, we've covered crucial ground.

Your research paper awaits its transformation from an idea to an impactful document. If you find yourself in need of support, remember that our research paper writing service is here to assist you. 

Reach out to our professional essay writing help today, and let's turn your ideas into a compelling academic masterpiece!

Nova A.

WRITTEN BY

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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