Nova A.
Nova A.

How to Start a Research Paper - An Easy Guide

11 min read

Published on: Jun 18, 2021

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

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Are you about to write a research paper but don’t know where to start? 

Writing a research paper is the most challenging type of academic work. And you are not alone if you are stuck at the start. Indeed, starting a research paper is the most difficult step in the research process.

But don’t worry! This guide will make starting a research paper easy for you!

We will walk you through the essential steps to help start your research paper with confidence. You will also get some great tips and examples to make it even easier!

So let’s dive in! 

Steps for Starting a Research Paper 

Starting a research paper can be effective with a clear plan. Here are the steps you should follow to start a research paper successfully:

 Understand the Research Guidelines

First of all, try to understand the assignment requirements and guidelines. By taking the time to grasp what is expected of you, you'll be able to approach your research with clarity.

Here are the elements that you must be aware of:

  • Scope of the Research:

As a student and a researcher, you are expected to conduct research within your discipline of study. The scope of the research will be limited according to your field of mastery. 

  • Formatting and Citation Guidelines:

There are several formats for writing academic papers and citing sources. For instance, APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard are some of the most popular ones.

These styles specify the margins, font size and style, title page, heading formats, etc. However, the most important part of these guidelines are the citations.

Sources must be accurately and correctly cited in-text and at the end of your paper according to the specified style. So before you start writing, ask which citation style you are expected to use.

  • Deadlines:

Another important thing to know beforehand is the deadline. Whether you are writing a research for your degree program or for a research journal, there are always deadlines involved.

You should know the last date of submission so you can plan and write your paper accordingly.

Finally, If any aspect of the guidelines or requirements is unclear, seek clarification. Ask your instructor early on to avoid misunderstandings or going off track in your research.

Once you know what is expected of you, you can move on to the next step.

Choose a Topic 

You need to select a specific and engaging topic for your research. Here’s what you should consider while deciding on a topic:

  • Consider Your Interests:

It is important to choose a topic that you find interesting. Your passion and motivation for the research topic will make the process meaningful for you and others. 

  • Consider its Feasibility:

When choosing a topic, make sure that it is not too broad or too ambitious. Prefer topics that are narrow and specific enough, so you can conduct and write the research within the deadline. 

  • Consider the Sources and Existing Literature

Before finalizing a topic, conduct preliminary research to gather background information. This will help you understand the existing knowledge and identify any gaps or areas for further exploration. 

The more you familiarize yourself with the topic, the easier it will be to refine and narrow it down.

  • Seek Feedback

Finally, seek feedback from your instructor, advisor, or peers, especially if you are unsure about your choices. They can provide valuable insights and help you determine which topic has the most potential for success. 

Expert Tip

Wondering what topic to choose for your research? Check out this list of research paper topics to get your thoughts running.

Conduct Research

After choosing a topic for your research paper, it's time to gather information and conduct thorough research. Conducting thorough research will provide you with the necessary knowledge and evidence to develop and support your research. 

Here are some tips to conduct research effectively:

  • Make a Research Design

Once you know you main topic and research questions, you need to decide how you would conduct your research. It could be a quantitative or qualitative research design, depending on your research questions.

Expert Tip

There are several ways to conduct research, wondering which one is for you? Learn about various types of research in our guide.

  • Find Credible Sources

Seek out credible sources such as scholarly articles, academic journals, books from reputable authors, and reliable websites. Ensure that the sources are relevant to your topic and provide reliable and up-to-date information.

  • Evaluate the Sources

Assess the credibility and quality of the sources you find. Consider the author's credentials, publication date, peer-review process, and relevance to your research. This step helps you ensure that the information you gather is reliable and supports your research paper effectively.

  • Take Notes and Organize the Information

While conducting research, take organized notes to capture key points, ideas, and supporting evidence. Additionally, organize your information according to themes or subtopics to make it easier to refer to during the writing process.

 Develop Your Thesis 

Now that you have your topic and conducted thorough research, you should develop the main thesis of your research. It presents the main argument or hypothesis that you will explore and support throughout your paper. 

These tips will help you develop your research thesis:

  • Fill the Research Gap

Your thesis should address a point that has not been covered in previous research. You could also propose or apply a new perspective, methodology, or theory to cover your topic in a new light.

  • Make a Debatable Claim 

A strong thesis statement presents a debatable claim or argument. 

Avoid stating facts or general statements that are widely accepted. Instead, take a position or offer a unique perspective on the topic. Your thesis should be thought-provoking and capable of sparking a discussion or generating interest among readers.

  • Be Clear and Concise 

Your thesis should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid using vague language or generalizations. Instead, focus on conveying your central idea and main variables clearly.

Draft an Outline 

Congratulations, you’ve reached the final step of your pre-writing stage. You need to create an outline for your research paper, and you’re all set! 

  • Know the Structure of a Research Paper

A research paper consists of the following parts:

  • Abstract 
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology 
  • Main body 
  • Conclusion 
  • Bibliography
  • Identify the Main Sections

Create main sections or headings that correspond to the key ideas or sub-topics of your paper. These sections will form the backbone of your outline. 

Make sure your ideas flow logically and build upon each other. 

  • Arrange the Supporting Points:

Under each main section, list the supporting points or sub-arguments that contribute to the overall discussion. 

These can be specific pieces of evidence, examples, or analysis related to the main point. Arrange them in a logical order, ensuring a smooth transition from one point to another.

  • Add Details and References

Include brief descriptions or key phrases for each point in your outline. These descriptions act as reminders of what each section or point is about. 

Moreover, include references to the sources that you might want to include in your paper. 

Expert Tip

Struggling to make an efficient outlince? Don’t worry! Learn how to write a research paper outline with our guide.

With these steps done, you have taken a great start. Now you have all you need to begin writing the actual research paper. 

How to Write a Research Paper Introduction?

A research paper introduction provides an overview of the topic, establishes the context, and presents the main thesis of the study. 

It grabs the readers’ attention and presents the context of what the research is about. Here are the steps involved in writing a good introduction for your research paper:

Introduce the Topic With a Hook 

Begin writing an introduction with a compelling hook that grabs the reader's attention. This can be an interesting fact, a quote, or a thought-provoking question related to your topic. 

For example, a paper exploring ways to prevent plastic pollution in the ocean could start with:

Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. But where does it come from? And is there any way to prevent plastic pollution?

The beginning should be interesting and engaging But unlike a literary work or common essays, you don’t need to focus on the catchiness of your opening. 

Keep it academic, serious, and clearly related to your central thesis.

Discuss the Background and Context

The second part of the introduction includes the background information that gives context to your topic. This section helps the reader understand the broader context for your research. 

This section should also serve the following purpose:

  • Define Key Terms: 

If there are any technical terms or concepts that are crucial to understanding your research, provide clear definitions. 

  • Explain Historical or Theoretical Background: 

Present any relevant historical or theoretical context that relates to your research topic. This can include key events, theories, or trends that have influenced the development of the field. 

  • Discuss Previous Research 

You could also briefly summarize the existing body of research related to your topic. Highlight key studies, theories, or findings that are directly relevant to your research question. 

Establish Significance of the Research

Now that your readers are aware of the basic context, you need to address why your research contributes to the field.

Explain why your research topic is relevant and significant in the real world. Discuss any academic and practical implications, societal impact, or potential benefits that your research can offer. 

By establishing its significance, you engage the reader and emphasize the importance of your study.

State Your Thesis

Now the reader is prepared to get to the point. Start writing your thesis statement, research problem, and research questions. 

Clearly state the main point or argument that your research paper will focus on. Your claim should be debatable and require evidence and analysis to support it. 

Provide Roadmap for the Reader

Finally, provide an overview of the main points you are going to explore. This gives the reader an overview of the main ideas and structure of your paper. The preview should be concise and highlight the main aspects that will be addressed in the body paragraphs.

Use clear transitional phrases to guide the reader through the overview. 

For example, you can use phrases such as "In the first section, we will examine..." or "Following the results section, we will present the implications of our study." These transitions help the reader navigate through the various sections of your research paper.

You can read a research paper introduction example below:

Research Paper Title Page 

Your title page presents all the necessary information about your research paper, such as your name, its title, and yor institution. Here is how you make a title page in the two most common formatting styles.

Title Page in APA 

  • Write the Running head in the header.
  • Page number on the top-right corner
  • Write the title of your research, your name, and your institution in the center of the page
  • Also include the author note at the bottom, if required.

Running Head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER                                  1


First Name Last Name


Author Note:

Title Page in MLA 

  • Write the name of your institution at the top
  • The title of your work appears in the middle of the page
  • Finally, write your name, the name of your supervisor, and the date at the bottom of the page


Title of Your Research

Your Name 

Supervisor’s Name


Tips for Starting a Research Paper 

The following are the tips that every writer should follow when start writing a research paper.

  • Take it step-by-step. Do not rush at the beginning, or it will become overwhelming.
  • Start working early. Break down the writing process into manageable tasks to avoid procrastination.
  • Plan your time. Develop a research schedule to ensure that you finish it within the deadline. 
  • Keep it simple and organized. Whether you are taking your notes or writing any part of your research paper, use direct and simple language so you don’t get lost in words.
  • Get feedback.You should take expert feedback during the starting phase of your research. Your professors and peers can help to refine your research questions, outline, etc, and help you make them better.

To Conclude,

Starting a research paper may seem difficult at first, but by following the right steps and strategies, you can have a great start. 

Remember to stay organized throughout the process, take notes, and seek feedback from others to refine your work. By using our AI essay writer, you will be able to produce a high-quality piece of academic writing.

Still unable to start due to time constraints or personal issues? Don’t worry, is here for you!

Our team of multi-disciplinary and qualified writers can help you write your research paper on any topic. We ensure it meets the highest standards of quality and academic integrity. 

So hire our research paper writing service today and get your paper before the deadline!

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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