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How to start your research paper [step-by-step guide]

start with my research paper

1. Choose your topic

2. find information on your topic, 3. create a thesis statement, 4. create a research paper outline, 5. organize your notes, 6. write your introduction, 7. write your first draft of the body, 9. write your conclusion, 10. revise again, edit, and proofread, frequently asked questions about starting your research paper, related articles.

Research papers can be short or in-depth, but no matter what type of research paper, they all follow pretty much the same pattern and have the same structure .

A research paper is a paper that makes an argument about a topic based on research and analysis.

There will be some basic differences, but if you can write one type of research paper, you can write another. Below is a step-by-step guide to starting and completing your research paper.

Choose a topic that interests you. Writing your research paper will be so much more pleasant with a topic that you actually want to know more about. Your interest will show in the way you write and effort you put into the paper. Consider these issues when coming up with a topic:

  • make sure your topic is not too broad
  • narrow it down if you're using terms that are too general

Academic search engines are a great source to find background information on your topic. Your institution's library will most likely provide access to plenty of online research databases. Take a look at our guide on how to efficiently search online databases for academic research to learn how to gather all the information needed on your topic.

Tip: If you’re struggling with finding research, consider meeting with an academic librarian to help you come up with more balanced keywords.

If you’re struggling to find a topic for your thesis, take a look at our guide on how to come up with a thesis topic .

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing. It can be defined as a very brief statement of what the main point or central message of your paper is. Our thesis statement guide will help you write an excellent thesis statement.

In the next step, you need to create your research paper outline . The outline is the skeleton of your research paper. Simply start by writing down your thesis and the main ideas you wish to present. This will likely change as your research progresses; therefore, do not worry about being too specific in the early stages of writing your outline.

Then, fill out your outline with the following components:

  • the main ideas that you want to cover in the paper
  • the types of evidence that you will use to support your argument
  • quotes from secondary sources that you may want to use

Organizing all the information you have gathered according to your outline will help you later on in the writing process. Analyze your notes, check for accuracy, verify the information, and make sure you understand all the information you have gathered in a way that you can communicate your findings effectively.

Start with the introduction. It will set the direction of your paper and help you a lot as you write. Waiting to write it at the end can leave you with a poorly written setup to an otherwise well-written paper.

The body of your paper argues, explains or describes your topic. Start with the first topic from your outline. Ideally, you have organized your notes in a way that you can work through your research paper outline and have all the notes ready.

After your first draft, take some time to check the paper for content errors. Rearrange ideas, make changes and check if the order of your paragraphs makes sense. At this point, it is helpful to re-read the research paper guidelines and make sure you have followed the format requirements. You can also use free grammar and proof reading checkers such as Grammarly .

Tip: Consider reading your paper from back to front when you undertake your initial revision. This will help you ensure that your argument and organization are sound.

Write your conclusion last and avoid including any new information that has not already been presented in the body of the paper. Your conclusion should wrap up your paper and show that your research question has been answered.

Allow a few days to pass after you finished writing the final draft of your research paper, and then start making your final corrections. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gives some great advice here on how to revise, edit, and proofread your paper.

Tip: Take a break from your paper before you start your final revisions. Then, you’ll be able to approach your paper with fresh eyes.

As part of your final revision, be sure to check that you’ve cited everything correctly and that you have a full bibliography. Use a reference manager like Paperpile to organize your research and to create accurate citations.

The first step to start writing a research paper is to choose a topic. Make sure your topic is not too broad; narrow it down if you're using terms that are too general.

The format of your research paper will vary depending on the journal you submit to. Make sure to check first which citation style does the journal follow, in order to format your paper accordingly. Check Getting started with your research paper outline to have an idea of what a research paper looks like.

The last step of your research paper should be proofreading. Allow a few days to pass after you finished writing the final draft of your research paper, and then start making your final corrections. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gives some great advice here on how to revise, edit and proofread your paper.

There are plenty of software you can use to write a research paper. We recommend our own citation software, Paperpile , as well as grammar and proof reading checkers such as Grammarly .

start with my research paper

  • EXPLORE Random Article

How to Start a Research Paper

Last Updated: March 10, 2024 References

This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 313,205 times.

A research paper employs primary sources/data to support a thesis statement. It is a type of persuasive essay used frequently in science, literature, and history curricula. Regardless of your level of education and chosen field, you'll need to follow a few simple steps to get your research paper off the ground. You'll need to decide on a topic, formulate a thesis statement, conduct research, organize your findings, and then set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Sample Research Papers

start with my research paper

Deciding on a Topic

Step 1 Get started early.

  • For example, if you are writing a research paper for a college course, you should know how long it should be, what sources can be used, the topics you can choose from, and the deadline to turn it in. Once you understand the parameters, you can set out a schedule to complete the paper on time. [2] X Research source

Step 3 Consult research on possible topics.

  • For example, if you are taking an American history course and you want to write a research paper on the origins of the American Revolution, you'd probably want to begin by reading other books on the subject. You'll soon realize that historians have discussed the Revolution's origins primarily in political and economic terms, but have given less attention to the social dimensions of the revolutionary experience. So you decide to focus — broadly — on the social origins of the American Revolution.

Step 4 Narrow down your subject, if possible.

  • Let's return to the social origins of the American Revolution. You might be able to cover this topic in 500 pages, but if you are writing a 20-page research paper for a class, you'll need to focus your topic further. What social group or groups will you focus on in order to address the social origins of the American Revolution? Break down the "social" into categories — women, racial minorities, farmers, city-dwellers, writers, travelers, businessmen, or children. There are numerous different angles you can take. See what hasn't been written before and then write on that subject.

Step 5 Choose your topic.

  • Let's say that you've decided to focus on the role of farmers and the American Revolution. Try to formulate a question based on your narrowed field such as: What role did farmers play in the origins of the American Revolution?

Constructing a Thesis

Step 1 Formulate several hypotheses.

  • For example, you could answer the above question (i.e., What role did farmers play in the origins of the American Revolution?) in several ways. Farmers directly participated in public riots against British officers. Farmers refused to sell their crops to British contingents. Farmers refused to quarter British soldiers in their homes. Farmers refused to pay taxes on their goods.
  • It is a good idea to start with several hypothetical thesis statements. If one proves to be false or isn't supported by enough evidence, you can start in a new direction quickly.

Step 2 Make sure your thesis is explicit.

  • For example: The quartering of British soldiers in the homes of poor farmers caused them to protest British taxes and to attack British troops.
  • This is a single sentence thesis statement that addresses both why the farmers chose to revolt and how they did so.

Step 3 Discuss your working thesis statement with others.

  • If your professor wanted to you to focus on the political causes of the American Revolution, she might stop you from researching farmers. This would save you time in the long run.

Performing Research

Step 1 Identify primary sources/data sources.

  • For our paper on the role of farmers and the American Revolution, we might need to visit local archives and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to get the necessary documents.
  • If you're feeling overwhelmed by the volume of research, see if your library has appointments with a research librarian. Librarians stay up to date with current trends in scholarship and can help guide your search. [10] X Research source

Step 2 Take extensive notes.

  • Include author, title, and publication information in your notes, so that you can type up a reference list at the end of your research paper. You can also use a program such as EndNote, RefWorks, or LaTEX to help you manage your citations.
  • Create a note sheet of quotations that you may want to use in your research paper. It is better to gather more than you need at this point, since you will need evidence from reputable sources to support your thesis.

Step 3 Evaluate your sources.

  • For web sources, use sources from peer-reviewed journals, government institutions and organizations, and public archives first. Blogs and other non-authoritative web sources are usually inappropriate for a research paper.
  • Organize your notes. Put your notes/data in a logical order that backs up your thesis statement. Organize them so they flow from one to the next. For our imaginary project, it would be best to put your notes on quartered British troops before notes on farmer's revolutionary actions. Since our argument is that quartered troops angered farmers into action, we need to discuss them in that order. [13] X Research source

Step 4 Interpret your findings.

  • For example, if you discovered that farmers were primarily unhappy quartering British soldiers because they ate all their food, you'd want to include that information in your thesis statement.
  • Quartered British troops consumed large quantities of food while housed with poor farmers. Because they couldn't feed themselves and quarter troops, these farmers chose to protest British taxes and to attack British troops. As such, farmers played a significant role in the origins of the American Revolution.

Starting Your Research Paper

Step 1 Write an outline.

  • Consider composing an outline as a list of questions you would like to answer. Start with your thesis at the beginning, then break it down into sections that back up your argument. Write questions like "Why is this research important?" and "What studies support my thesis?" Then insert information you found while researching into your outline that answers these questions.
  • You can also write a prose outline, instead of a question-based outline. Place headers that are the subjects of each paragraph or section of your research paper. Add quotes and other notes in bullets below the subject. You can begin your composition directly from a prose-based outline.
  • Continue researching if you need to fill holes in your outline. Be sure to gather bibliographic information as you go.

Step 2 Start with a factual statement about your subject.

  • This is how most people begin their research papers. They don't want to make their subject seem too obscure, so they write about larger points before jumping head first into their topic. [16] X Research source
  • Just make sure that your broad statement is related to your thesis statement. And make sure that everyone can agree with your broad statement. You don't want to have your readership criticizing your argument from the beginning. You need to build a certain degree of trust.
  • By all means, avoid the "Throughout history" or "In modern society" types of opening lines. These are so overused that they have become hackneyed, and they will damage your credibility as a writer before your reader has looked at another word. [17] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 3 Review what else has been written on your topic.

  • For example, if you want to write a research paper on philately (stamp collecting), you should probably begin by defining your key term. But don't go for the standard "Webster's Dictionary defines philately as..." opening. See if you can make your opening line attention-grabbing or intriguing. [19] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 5 Begin with a true story.

  • By setting up this story at the beginning, you'd be able to return to it periodically over the course of your paper to illustrate points and to re-assert your thesis statement. [20] X Research source
  • Interesting anecdotes or surprising facts can be a good way to hook your readers and lead in to your thesis statement. [21] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 6 Understand what is conventional for your field.

  • If you aren't sure about how to start your essay, have a look at some published works in your subject. They'll be a lot fancier than your paper needs to be, but they can give you a sense of that subject's conventions.

Drafting Your Research Paper

Step 1 Write your first draft.

  • Some writers find it helpful to write the body of the text and then return and write the introduction and conclusion. This gives them a better sense of what exactly they want to argue.

Step 2 Spellcheck your work.

  • Be sure to give the author credit. You don't want to be accused of plagiarism. [22] X Research source

Step 4 Create a bibliography.

  • In general, bibliographies should be organized by type of source and by alphabetical order.

Step 5 Revise your draft again for clarity and argument.

Expert Q&A

Matthew Snipp, PhD

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About this article

Matthew Snipp, PhD

To start a research paper, start by crafting a broad, factual statement about your subject to pull readers in before introducing your thesis. For example, if you’re writing about the role of famers in the American Revolution, make a blanket statement about the complex causes of the revolutionary movement. Alternatively, begin with a true story, such as an attack by a family on a British soldier quartered with them for eating all their bread. Then, return to the story periodically throughout your paper to illustrate the key points of your thesis. For more tips from our English co-author, including how to decide on a topic and formulate a thesis, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Start a Research Paper

How to Start a Research Paper

3-minute read

  • 24th November 2022

You’ve been tasked with completing a research paper. You’ve done all the research, collected your data, and now you’re finally ready to write the paper. Well done! But wait – when it comes to actually writing it, you don’t know where to begin.

We’ve all been there, and it’s normal for students to find themselves in this position. Should you start with the introduction ? Should you write the objectives of your research? Or, maybe you should just start throwing words on the paper and hope for the best.

You could do those things, but alternatively, you could read this post. We’ll share some tips for getting started on your research paper .

Reflect on Your Research

Try and write down 10 important things from your research. Additionally, you could start by tackling the implications of your research. The implications are potential questions from your research that justify further exploration. Consider these questions when developing research implications:

  • What is the significance of your findings?
  • How do the findings of your study fit with or contradict existing research on this topic?
  • Do your results support or challenge existing theories?

Tackle the Introduction

This is a good starting point. After all, it’s the first thing your audience will read. The introduction is only a paragraph, so no heavy writing is required. When writing the introduction, consider these pointers:

  • Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.
  • Try providing brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your paper help define or answer?
  • Let the reader know what to expect from the rest of your paper.

Form Your Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is basically the engine that will drive your paper, as it establishes its purpose and your position. Writing the paper will be easier once you have formed the thesis statement. However, it’s a good idea to have a solid understanding of your research before tackling it.

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It’s also essential that the statement be concise, contentious, and coherent. It should briefly summarize your argument in two sentences and make a claim requiring further evidence. And remember, the thesis statement doesn’t have to be set in stone. You’ll likely revise and refine it as you do further research.

Create an Outline of Your Paper

The outline can be another starting point if you’re not up for writing the introduction or thesis statement. An outline is a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings. You should write this in a separate document and refer to it when you actually start writing your paper. Think of the outline as a road map to guide you from start to finish.

We also recommend taking frequent breaks from your paper. By getting out of the library or dorm, you can reflect on your research without the pressure of having to write things down. You’ll be amazed at how ideas suddenly pop up when you’re not expecting them. Even just 10 minutes away from the computer can make all the difference.

Proofreading and Editing

Once you’ve made a start on your paper, whether it’s the introduction, thesis statement, or outline, don’t forget to proofread it. Why not put this in the hands of our expert proofreading team? We can check that your paper is off to a great start. We can also ensure perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Consider submitting a 500-word document for free.

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start with my research paper

How to Start a Research Paper

start with my research paper

Beginning is always the hardest part of an assignment. The introduction should not be the first thing you begin to write when starting to work on an essay. First, tons of research should be conducted — in order for your paper to be good. Only then you will be able to extract the main points of your work, and introduce them to your readers. A good introduction will also include your personal opinion of the problem, and, therefore, will make the writing easier overall. Let's dive into the details with admission essay writing services .

What Is a Research Paper?

A research paper is a type of writing in which the author does an independent analysis of the topic and describes the findings from that investigation. Furthermore, one will have to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the subject and evaluate them accordingly.

Don't Know How to Start Your Research Paper?

Head on over to Pro. Our research paper writing service can assist you with writing and polishing up any of the work that you write.

A good way to write an introduction for a research paper is to introduce your reader to the topic by telling them what you are writing about. Then, make sure you include an interesting fact, or some surprising statistical data, so that your reader will be hooked and will continue to read your research paper. Treat your essay introduction like an advertisement for a product you want to sell—if your advertisement is bad, the sales won’t be great. The same goes for a bad introduction; if it does not intrigue readers, they might lose interest in your paper.

The beginning is always the hardest part of an assignment. Regardless of if you are writing a small resume education section or a full-blown research paper - following the correct steps is very important . The introduction should not be the first thing you begin to write when starting to work on an essay.

You might also be interested in getting more info about HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH PAPER

Introduction Paragraph Outline

intro research paper

Present Your Essay Topic

The base of every essay is its topic. What you are writing about should always be a reflection of your topic. Simply start off your introduction by telling your readers, in a simple and accessible language, what it is you are writing your research paper about. Although, we suggest you include a “trigger” when introducing the topic of your paper. A personal reference, or a story that relates to the essay topic, are options for a good way to link plain text to people’s emotions. So, feel free to write sincerely, as if you were talking to a friend.

The best strategy to start your introduction is by writing a broad topic presentation, then gradually narrow it down to what you would like to focus on exactly. It will put your topic into perspective for readers’ general understanding. When writing your research paper, make sure to include your opinion on the issue in your introduction. This will make your topic sound more personal and it will likely become more important to your audience as well.

Provide Background Information and Context

The topic you begin writing about is likely very familiar to you, as it is expected that you have done plenty of research. But what about your readers? For the most part, the amount of context is determined by what your audience already knows—though, let’s focus on a bigger assortment of readers, to make sure everyone’s needs are met. Imagine that you are part of your audience. Read the information you provided in the introduction. Is this sufficient? Does it leave gaps and unanswered questions in your research? Your job as a writer is to provide the perfect background to your topic, which gives readers just enough information to be able to grasp your topic and enjoy your research paper to the fullest. Another extreme you should avoid is giving too much context—consequently making the audience feel bored right from the introduction. Write your essay as something that you would enjoy reading yourself, like a story, but not an academic research paper.

Explain the Importance of Your Research

There is no doubt that after plenty of research you are an expert in your field. But what about your readers? In the introduction you need to showcase the extent of your research and write about the work you have completed. This will also help your readers understand that your ideas are supported by other scholars, and you share their views in your paper.

Make sure to write about all the works you have studied in order to persuade readers of your expertise. For your introduction, simply use the names you are referencing, or their most important works, so that the audience does not feel overwhelmed. It is also necessary to cite all your sources—in order to avoid academic plagiarism.

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Simply chat with our academic writer to pay for essay .

Make Your Rationale Work

Rationale is the most important part of the beginning of your paper. Explain to readers the reasoning behind your research paper—the importance of this is a guarantee that they will keep reading and appreciate your topic. In the introduction, you need to write an explanation of how your paper fits into all the research that has already been done in that field; this shows your audience the importance of your essay and the role your research plays in the field overall.

Show the Significance of Your Research

You, and only you, understand how important your research is. The next step of your introduction is to prove to your audience how important it is. Include the basic, and the most important literature, you support your ideas with. This will show the readers your solid analytical skills, your writing capabilities, and your ability to sort out information to deliver the most important points for your paper. And the final part of the introduction is to simply explain why your research is important to the field, to society, to the whole world, and, most importantly, to the readers. When a person can relate to an idea, it is almost always a guarantee that your argument will be persuasive and have a positive outcome.

Make Sure Your Thesis Is Clear

A research paper introduction uses primary sources and data to support its thesis statement. A research paper’s thesis statement has a lot in common with a thesis for an essay, or other non-research assignment. The difference lies in the fact that in a research thesis, you gather evidence from valid sources to prove your perspective on a topic. Despite the fact that you support your thoughts by sources, the idea for your thesis in your introduction should be original and your own, as it reflects the way you think.

Here is a quick checklist for writing a thesis statement:

  • Remember, the thesis is your argument. Make sure it sounds assertive.
  • Write two to three versions of your thesis and choose the best one.
  • Share your thesis with a neutral person—to get a different point of view.
  • Discuss your thesis with others; they might have good ideas as well.
  • It should appear in your introduction, and be restated in your conclusion.

If you're looking to free yourself from the burden of academic writing, consider our research papers for sale , offering a convenient solution to meet your scholarly needs efficiently.

Research Paper Title Page

Mla title page.

Here are some tips from our writing team on how to format your research paper MLA title page:

  • The title page is double spaced and the text needs to be centred.
  • Write the name of your university or college.
  • Skip about one-third of the page down and type your research paper title—include a subtitle if you have one.
  • Skip several lines down and type your name, your course name and number, your instructor’s name, and your paper’s due date.


APA Title Page

  • Place a running head in your page’s header:
  • Use the label “Running head:” then, put your shortened title (IN UPPERCASE LETTERS), and align it all to the left.
  • Place the page number in this same header, but align it to the right, and begin with page number 1.
  • The header should be 1 inch from the top. Some teachers say 1/2 inch is okay as well.
  • Place your paper’s title in the upper half of the page, centred. Capitalize the first letter of all of the important words in your title.
  • Place your University’s name below your name, double-spaced.


Read also our research proposal example APA .

Final Thoughts

Congratulations on finishing your research paper! Answer these questions to avoid careless mistakes.

  • Are all of your quotations, paraphrases, and summaries accurate?
  • Are all of your references accurate?
  • Is your format the proper format assigned by your instructor?
  • Are all the concepts defined and easily understood by an average reader?
  • Is your “hook” good enough for the reader to become interested?
  • Is there a structure to your introduction that is easy to navigate for the reader?
  • Does your introduction give a good idea of what your paper is about?

And here are several tips for your help:

tips research paper

If you need, you can hire a coursework, buy research paper or other specialist at our research proposal writing service . All you need to do is just leave us a notice like ' write my paper for me ' or something else.

Research Paper Introduction Example

Now that you have a solid idea about the introduction of a research paper, let’s take a look at some examples from our writers. They will help you see how all of the rules we presented above work in practice. ‍

Research Paper Introduction Example: Should Parents Be Held Accountable for the Criminal Acts of Their Children? Recently, youth gang connected attacks have been occurring in an increasing prevalence, with some even causing deaths, such as the killing of a college student at Suburbs East. Such occurrences have made a lot of people to wonder about the origin of those violent actions, with much of the extent of guilt being put on the parents of such adolescents. In any event, one has to question whether the parents should be penalized for the offenses of their kids. Some people believe that parents should be held responsible for the criminal acts of their offspring because parents are mostly accountable for the education and upbringing of their kids, and frequently impact the actions and behavior of their children until they become mature and independent. This is because they are almost always the ones that raise their kids after birth. As such, it is believed that parents start to influence the ethical range of their children from a young age, and one’s ethics are critically impacted by the way parents act and their personalities (Gratz, 169). This logic can make parents responsible for their children if they do wrong later on — because they are understood to not have raised their child in the right way. Furthermore, there is an argument that children are virtually completely controlled by their parents, as they are apt to want to make their parents happy, and they would, therefore, listen to whatever they are told to do or how they are told to behave (Michael, Andrew and Michael, 4). This, in turn, makes many people think that parents should always be the ones to be blamed for the criminal acts of their children, as they believe that they have the power to warn and control them.

Need Some Help with Your Research Paper?

A research paper is a very challenging task to complete. The introduction is a crucial piece of it: it ensures that the reader is interested and will enjoy your paper. If you are still struggling with any part of your essay, remember that you can always pay for a research paper . We are always here to give you a helping hand to make your life easier.

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The Dreaded Introductory Paragraph

Writing the introductory paragraph can be a frustrating and slow process -- but it doesn't have to be.  If you planned your paper out, then most of the introductory paragraph is already written.  Now you just need a beginning and an end.

Here's an introductory paragraph for a paper I wrote.  I started the paper with a factoid, then presented each main point of my paper and then ended with my thesis statement.


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How To Start A Research Paper

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How To Start A Research Paper - Steps With Examples

Published on: Jun 18, 2021

Last updated on: Feb 10, 2024

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How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper - Structure and Tips

How to Write a Problem Statement for a Research Paper in 6 Steps

How To Write The Methods Section of a Research Paper Step-by-Step

How to Find Sources For a Research Paper | A Guide

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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!

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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.


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.

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: 

Research Paper Introduction Example

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. 

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: 

Research Paper Template

Research Paper APA Format

Research Paper College Level

Research Paper About A Person

Research Paper Thesis

Research Paper Topic Sentence

Research Paper Conclusion

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!

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How to Start a Research Paper

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Now when you know what is a research paper  it’s time to know how to start a research paper. Research paper writing begins with a writing assignment the instructor gives you. This assignment may be specific, or it may be general. It may assign you a research topic and point you in the direction the research should take. Or it may offer a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to  pick your topic  and stage your own research. The assignment serves as a road map to what you must do. It is your first clue to what your professor expects of you. If you have a thorough understanding of the assignment, you will be better able to deliver what is expected of you.

Tackling a research paper is, in many ways, like preparing to run a race.You have no hope of finishing among the leaders if you have no idea where the finishing line is or how to get there. That may sound sophomoric but the vast majority of research papers that end in failure do so because the writer proceeded with no clear understanding of what was expected and delivered something off the mark.

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The first step you take in tackling the paper should point you in the direction of a successful finish. You need to know what is expected of you and how to prepare to deliver it. By understanding where you need to end up, you will spare yourself a lot of trial and error in writing.

First Steps in Writing a Research Paper:

  • Interpret the assignment given.
  • Identify your instructor’s the expectations and grading criteria.
  • Analyze the audience of your paper.
  • Choose a topic.
  • Write a thesis statement.
  • Write a proposal.

Step 1: Interpreting the Assignment

Knowing precisely what you need to produce is the first step to producing a perfect paper. Not only will it spare you the frustration of assembling material that may not be appropriate to the assignment, but it will assure you of a better grade. One of the first questions on an instructor’s mind is: Did this student understand the assignment? A student’s ability to deliver what the assignment requests shows the teacher or professor that the student possesses the skills to properly interpret instructions and identify expectations.

Research papers typically begin with an assignment that identifies your teacher’s expectations and provides the information you need to know to complete the assignment.

What You Should Know before You Start

What is the purpose of the assignment? What does your instructor expect you to learn?

  • Is there an assigned topic? Can you choose your own?
  • What kinds of sources should you use?
  • How many sources should you use?
  • Are print and online sources equally acceptable?
  • When is the paper due?
  • How long should it be?
  • How should the paper be formatted?
  • How should bibliographic information be presented?
  • What are the qualities of a paper that gets an A, B, C, or D?

You cannot produce a good research paper if you do not know what “goodness”means to your professor or instructor who will be evaluating it. More important are those expectations that actually tell you what you are supposed to do. Writing assignments are often written very deliberately to test how well students read, interpret, and respond to the expectations that are outlined. Your professor may want to know how well you can summarize new ideas and complex material, or whether you can present a logical argument to support an opinion or advocate an idea. Another assignment might spell out how you should conduct your research by specifying the types of sources you should consult. Other instructors may use words like analyze, discuss, or investigate to describe what is expected. Students should not take these words lightly because they have specific meanings. You must learn to recognize the goals and expectations in an assignment.

When you receive a research paper assignment, read it thoroughly and be prepared to ask your professor about anything that is unclear to you. Make a list of the stated goals and expectations. Though you already have these on the assignment sheet but writing them down will make them concreted in your mind and help you to remember them. If you receive the criteria for how your research paper will be graded, examine them as closely as you do the assignment to determine what you are expected to do in order to achieve the grade you want. If your instructor does not provide the grading criteria, ask what they are. An example of typical university grading criteria appears below:

Step 2: Identifying Grade Criteria

A Grade: A research paper that merits an A demonstrates a generally high degree of competence and control of language. Typically, such a paper meets all of the following criteria:

  • Responds to the assignment thoroughly, thoughtfully, and with insight or originality.
  • Demonstrates strong reading comprehension of the assigned texts.
  • Is well-developed and supports analysis with effective textual evidence, reasons, examples, and details.
  • Is well-focused and well-organized, demonstrating strong control over the conventions of analytical writing.
  • Demonstrates facility with language, using effective vocabulary and sentence variety.
  • Demonstrates strong control of grammar, the rules of usage, and mechanics of standard English but may have minor errors.

B Grade: A research paper that receives a B is written in a clearly competent manner and displays generally consistent control of language. Typically, such a paper meets all of the following criteria:

  • Responds to all elements of the assignment competently and thoughtfully.
  • Demonstrates an adequate understanding of the readings.
  • Is adequately developed, using appropriate textual evidences, reasons, examples, and details.
  • Is focused and effectively organized, demonstrating control of the conventions of analytical writing.
  • Demonstrates strong language competence and uses appropriate vocabulary and sentence variety.
  • Shows good control of grammar, the rules of usage, and mechanics of standard English, although it may have some errors and minor lapses in quality.

C Grade: A research paper that earns a grade of C demonstrates some competence but is limited in one or more of the following ways:

  • Does not address all parts of the writing assignment.
  • Does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of the readings.
  • Is thinly developed, often relying on assertions with little textual evidence or few relevant reasons, examples, and details.
  • Is adequately focused and/or adequately organized, but connections between the parts could be more explicit.
  • Demonstrates limited facility with language and minimal sentence variety.
  • Demonstrates inconsistent control of grammar, usage, and the mechanics of writing.

Grade of D: A research paper receives a grade of D if it has one or more of the following flaws:

  • Is unclear and/or seriously limited in its response to the writing assignment.
  • Demonstrates a limited reading or misreading of the texts.
  • Is unfocused and/or disorganized, demonstrating little control of the conventions of analytical writing.
  • Demonstrates serious errors in the use of language, which may interfere with meaning.
  • Demonstrates serious errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics, which may interfere with meaning.

Grade of F: A research paper receives a grade of F when it:

  • Demonstrates little or no ability to develop an organized response to the writing assignment.
  • Contains severe writing errors that persistently obscure meaning.

Make sure to note any specific information or ideas that the assignment asks you to discuss in your research paper. It helps to ask any questions you may have, and take notes. Any information you receive will help you in your pursuit of the “perfect” research paper.

Make every effort to ensure that you understand what your professor is requesting. That way, you know what to deliver.

Types of Writing Assignments

Writing assignments in schools and universities are not created equal. The approach you take to receive an A in a paper written for one class will not necessary work well for you in another. You should expect that any research paper assignment, whether it is given at the high school or college level, will differ according to the class you are taking and the expectations of your professor. Even within a class, a professor’s expectations are likely to change from one assignment to another. Getting a good grade is not a function of “psyching out” your professor. It is a function of understanding the assignment and what you are being expected to do.

High School Research Paper

On a high school level, research papers are generally assigned to test an ability to look up information and explain it adequately in student’s own words. Here is a list of the kinds of assignments typically given in high school and what they mean:

  • Summary : An abbreviated account of a larger article, book, or other work. Examples: Book report,movie review, or a summary of something you read in the news or saw on TV.
  • Description : A detailed account of what things look like. Descriptions that help readers “see” what you are talking about are especially useful to clarify events, conditions, or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the reader. Good descriptions make appropriate use of adjectives and adverbs, metaphors, similes, and examples to build readers’ understanding. Examples: A history report about life in another time or a geography report about the culture and industries in another country.
  • Explanation : A description that tells why certain conditions exist or certain events occur. Explanations attempt to identify the cause or causes that create an effect. They attempt to answer the question,“Why”? Examples: A science report.
  • Process : A description of conditions that must exist and actions that must be taken to produce an outcome. Examples: Instructions someone should follow to do something successfully, such as following the steps in an experiment, or directions to a destination.
  • Narrative : A story about something that happened. Narratives are often told in chronological order with a beginning, middle, and end. Examples:“What I Did on My Summer Vacation”

College and University Research Paper

At the college and university levels, a much more is expected from students. Writing assignments become more complex. Instead of simply asking you to summarize or describe something, the assignment typically will present you with a challenge. Often, too, the assignment is not even called an “assignment.” Instead, it is called a “writing prompt,” meaning that the purpose of the assignment is to “prompt” your thinking and elicit a thorough written response from you. Writing prompts usually call upon the writer to use a combination of the approaches learned in high school (those listed above), as well as employ other approaches and strategies to advance new ideas, opinions, and arguments about the topic under discussion.

The path to producing a perfect research paper begins with understanding what those goals are and how to identify them in the assignment. Below is a list of terms that professors often use in writing prompts and what they mean:

  • Analyze  relationships among facts, trends, theories, and issues. Point out their significant likes and differences and tell why they are meaningful.
  • Argue  in defense of (or against) a concept, opinion, position, thesis, or point of view. Strong arguments apply logic and point out fallacies, errors, and “fuzzy” thinking.
  • Categorize  or classify items, concepts, or events by sorting them in sets of predefined qualities or conditions according to their similarities.
  • Compare and contrast  two or more events, ideas, or opinions by identifying their similarities and/or differences.
  • Define  the meaning of an unfamiliar term, phrase, or concept by describing the concept behind it.
  • Discuss  the implications of your research or various points of view on your topic by looking at different sides of the issue and pointing out their merits.
  • Examine  a topic in minute detail by describing it as if it were under a microscope.
  • Illustrate  a concept by using many significant details to describe it.
  • Interpret  a set of facts or events by explaining their significance and importance to your reader, or to other audiences with other needs or interests.
  • Give your  opinion  by telling what you think about the topic and provide an explanation about why you think it.
  • Reason  (the verb, not the noun) by presenting the logical thought process required to support a specific conclusion.
  • Synthesize  information from a variety of sources to support a single thesis, opinion, or conclusion.
  • Theorize  by presenting your own hypothesis, or best guess, about why things are the way they are.

Step 3: Analyzing the Audience

A key test of a good research paper is how well it resonates with your audience. It is useful, before you begin, to create a profile of a theoretical reader.

Rather than focus on your professor as your audience, assume you are writing for intelligent people of the same age and educational level as yourself. Assume that they have not read the material you have researched and that you will need to provide enough background to ensure that your audience will understand and respond to your arguments. You will determine how to present your information and ideas according to the effect you hope they will have on the reader.

What You Should Know about Members of Your Audience

  • Approximate age.
  • Approximate educational level.
  • Experiences they have in common.
  • Why they would be interested in your topic.
  • How much the average reader should already know about your topic.
  • What questions a reader is likely to have.
  • How that reader might react to your arguments.

Step 4: Choosing a Topic

Topics for some research papers will be assigned to you by your instructor, along with very specific requirements that you must follow in completing the paper. Others allow you to choose the topic you will research.

Many writing assignments are deliberately open-ended, allowing students to pick their own topics and pursue their own research. If your assignment is open-ended,you will have lots of latitude to research a topic that interests you, based on whatever guidelines or parameters your instructor specifies. The challenge then becomes finding a good research paper topic and devising a thesis and arguments to support it.

Below is an example of an open-ended writing assignment from a freshman English Composition class. It was designed to determine how effectively students can identify a topic, construct their own thesis statements, find sources to support the thesis, and use that research to present arguments their audience would find convincing.

Example open-ended assignment:

Pick an issue that interests you and find at least three newspaper articles or editorials from different sources that express differing points of view on the issue.Produce a five-page paper, including four pages plus a Works Cited page, that analyzes the various points of view.What appears to be the best course of action, based on the merits of the arguments that the articles present? Be sure to use arguments from each of your sources as you explore the issue. Paraphrase, summarize, and quote them accurately and be sure to cite them according to MLA style.

Open-ended writing assignments can be fun. They allow you to pursue your own topics of interest but they can also be frustrating because they require you to make decisions that your instructors make for you in specific assignments. Students often get lost and don’t know what to write about, or they spend a lot of time gathering research on vague topics that do not address their thesis.

The task becomes much easier if you already have a topic, one that is specific and focused and offers something to say. Coming up with one is the challenge but it is not as difficult as it sounds. Most of us know more—a lot more—than we think we know about the world around us and the subjects studied in schools colleges, and universities. At a minimum, people usually hold opinions about what is happening in our world, and, whether they realize it or not, they formed those opinions based on information and experience we gathered somewhere. If you find yourself stuck for a good research paper topic, ask yourself a few questions. You will find you have a lot more to say about those topics that you are involved with or that captured your interest than topics others might suggest, including your instructor.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a research paper topic:

  • Your hobbies and special interests.
  • Class discussions that caught your attention and aroused your interest.
  • Things you have read that caught your attention and aroused your interest.
  • True stories you have heard about on the radio or saw on TV that provoked a reaction from you and made you happy, sad, angry, or disgusted.
  • Things you have overheard that you would like to know more about.
  • Your hopes for the future.
  • Your worries about the future.
  • Things you dream about.
  • Issues you think someone should do something about.

Make a list of everything that comes to mind. You can use this list to begin brainstorming. You can even make games you play a starting point of your research paper: people playing Total War series can be interested in some period in history, like Ancient Rome or Napoleonic Wars, the fans of Fallout games may find it interesting to research technologies, nuclear weapons, or the physics of radioactive materials. Just write whatever comes to you.

When you have finished the list, pick the topic that most interests you—one that you actually want to write about and that you feel you would have a lot to say about. Open-ended writing assignments tend to be large, even massive, projects. They are often assigned weeks ahead of when they are due in order to give you plenty of time to find sources to support your arguments. See our collection of research paper topics, maybe you’ll find something interesting.

After you have picked a research paper topic, begin to focus it by writing down anything you can think about the topic of your choice.Things to consider as you narrow your topic:

  • Your opinion about it.
  • Interesting things you have heard about it.
  • Things you have read about it.
  • Others’ observations on it.
  • Any facts, assumptions, rumors,myths, and even the misrepresentations you have heard about it.

If you are assigned a research topic, you do not have a lot of flexibility. If the assignment requires you to write about a specific topic, simply write about it. Never stray from an assignment and head off in a direction all your own unless you first get approval from your professor. One of the best ways to ensure a bad grade is to write a research paper on a topic that in no way resembles the one you were assigned. No matter how perfect your research or how brilliant your style, you will most likely receive an F if you fail to produce what the assignment requests.

Instructors usually construct writing assignments with learning goals in mind. A student’s failure to correctly respond to an assignment means that he or she has not met those learning goals. Moreover, it raises a red flag to the instructor who may question whether the student understood the assignment or, worse, whether the student got lazy and desperate and found a well-written essay on the Internet and decided to submit it instead.

If you want to research a topic that was not assigned, ask your instructor if you can. Often, an instructor will be happy to let you follow your interests and conduct your own research, but always ask permission before you do.

Step 5: Developing a Working Thesis

A thesis statement is a claim that you intend to prove using sound, well-reasoned arguments drawn from careful research. It will be the central statement in your research paper when you actually sit down to write. Usually, your working thesis will not be the one that you actually present in your paper.

A working thesis simply aims to get you started on writing your research paper. You need it as an idea to guide you. Professors and writing instructors often refer to this process of developing an idea into a working thesis as “invention.” When you have finished this “invention” stage, you will find that you have the basis for a thesis statement and a good sense of direction in identifying the research you will need to support it.

The working thesis should be aimed at helping you narrow and manage your paper topic. A working thesis that is phrased in the form of a question can help guide your research. A good working thesis makes the job more manageable. Keep it focused and avoid making it too general. Theses that are too general often ramble and result in research papers that lose focus and therefore earn low grades.

Here are some examples of questions for working theses that are general and not well focused:

  • Should more money be spent on education?
  • How can the government balance the budget?
  • Why should we study art?
  • What should we do about global warming?
  • How can we eliminate poverty?
  • How should we respond to the energy crisis?

The following examples, however, are focused on specific issues that can be more easily researched:

  • Should more government-backed student loans be made available?
  • Should cuts in military spending be enacted before cutting domestic spending to balance the national budget?
  • Should the study of art history or the creative arts receive greater emphasis in America’s high schools?
  • Is wind energy a viable alternative to fossil fuels?
  • Will the extension of unemployment benefits improve life for the nation’s unemployed?
  • Will the sale of electric vehicles reduce American dependence on foreign oil?

Step 6: Writing a Proposal

Research proposals are only occasionally required in high school courses, sometimes in freshman-level college courses, and often in upper-level college business and science courses. However, even if your research paper assignment does not require you to submit a proposal, it is a good idea to develop one for your own purposes. A proposal helps you to organize ideas that can guide the research process. Research proposals allow you to start the thought process needed to focus your ideas. A good research proposal will identify the topic, present a working thesis, and offer a plan to prove it.

Think of your research proposal as an outline for how you will pursue your investigation and structure your research paper.

  • Your proposal should:
  • Identify your topic.
  • Present a working thesis.
  • Identify how you will conduct your research.
  • Present a hypothesis for what you expect to prove.

Having completed these 6 steps we can proceed to the main part in research paper writing – doing your research .

Back to How To Write A Research Paper .


start with my research paper

Research Paper Writing Guides

How To Start A Research Paper

Last updated on: Mar 27, 2024

The Definitive Guide on How to Start a Research Paper

By: Donna C.

Reviewed By: Leanne R.

Published on: Jan 1, 2024

How To Start a Research Paper

Research paper writing  can feel overwhelming, especially when you do not know where to start. 

There's a ton of information out there, and it can be challenging to put it in a coherent manner, leaving many researchers unsure of where to begin.

Deciding on a topic, creating a clear thesis, and keeping your audience interested can be a real task. The excitement of discovering something new is great, but there's also a fear of getting lost in a sea of information.

No need to worry! 

In this step by step guide, we will help you to tackle the challenging first steps of writing a research paper . We will tell you what prep work you have to do and how to start your research paper efficiently. 

So, why wait? Let’s dive right into it!

How To Start a Research Paper

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How To Start a Research Paper

No matter which type of research paper you're dealing with, the first step of writing is to do the groundwork. Knowing how to start a research paper gives you an edge in writing a thorough and academically sound research paper.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown for how to start a research paper, leading to an outstanding research paper introduction .

Step 1: Understanding the Research Topic

Before you learn how to write a research paper, carefully review the research problem. 

Identify key components such as the required length, formatting style (APA, MLA, etc.), and any specific expectations required by your publisher or journal. 

This step lays the foundation for tailoring your research approach to meet the journal’s unique criteria.

Step 2: Choosing a Research Topic

The importance of choosing the right research paper topic cannot be overstated, as it forms the basis for your entire research paper. Consider your personal interests, ensuring they align with the assignment guidelines. 

Go for a topic that helps and facilitates existing research, and make sure there is enough literature about it.

Take the time to explore various options, ensuring that readers understand your chosen topic and it also aligns with both your academic and personal objectives.

Step 3: Defining the Research Question 

Refining your chosen topic involves writing a clear and specific research question leading to a well-crafted abstract. 

This question serves as the guiding force throughout your research, ensuring a focused and purposeful exploration of the chosen subject.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself before starting a research paper:

  • What is the main purpose or objective of my research paper?
  • Who is my target audience, and what level of knowledge do they have on the topic?
  • What is the key message or argument I want to convey in my paper?
  • What evidence or data do I need to support my claims or arguments?
  • What are the potential counterarguments or opposing views that I should address?
  • What is the significance of my research, and why should readers care about it?

Step 4: Setting Clear Objectives and Goals

When you're working on a research paper, setting clear objectives and goals helps you know exactly what you want to achieve and where you're headed with your study.

Objectives outline the specific achievements or outcomes you aim to attain through your research. They provide a clear and measurable focus, guiding your efforts toward answering the overarching research question. 

Goals , on the other hand, provide the research with direction and purpose, offering a sense of the intended impact or contribution.

Section 5: Conducting Preliminary Research

Preliminary research involves gathering background information on your topic from credible and scholarly sources. This step helps you grasp existing knowledge, identify research gaps, and refine the direction of your study.

For conducting the research, make sure to follow these steps:

  • Utilize academic databases and libraries
  • Existing literature review
  • Use online resources and websites
  • Take detailed notes
  • Identify key concepts and keywords
  • Consider multiple perspectives
  • Evaluate source credibility
  • Cite your sources properly
  • Refine your research question
  • Establish a solid foundation

Utilize academic databases and scholarly articles to collect information on the current state of research related to your chosen topic. This foundational step informs the subsequent stages of your investigation.

Step 6: Creating a Working Thesis Statement

Develop an introductory thesis statement that concisely conveys the main point or argument of your research. 

Recognize that this statement may evolve as your understanding of the topic deepens throughout the research process.

Step 7: Developing a Research Plan

Craft a detailed research plan outlining the steps and timeline for each phase of your project. 

This plan serves as a roadmap, helping you stay organized and ensuring a systematic progression from initial exploration to the final draft.

Step 8: Organizing Research Materials

Systematically organize your research materials to facilitate easy access and reference during the writing phase. 

Categorize articles, notes, and references based on themes, supporting evidence, or relevance to specific sections of your research paper.

You can utilize folders, digital tools, or citation management software to categorize and label materials effectively.

Here are some popular citation management software tools:

Step 9: Creating a Visual Outline

Develop a visual representation of your research structure using a research paper outline . 

This visual plan helps you write an introduction and see how different ideas, supporting points, and important parts of your research paper are connected. 

Step 10: Start the Writing Process

Now that you've gathered information and figured out what you want to study, it's time to start writing. This means turning what you know into a clear and organized research paper.

Start with writing an introduction for your research paper emphasizing the main topic, followed by methodology , discussion , results , and  conclusion . 

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How To Start Research Paper - Examples

After following these steps, you should have a better understanding of how to start a research paper. 

When beginning a research paper, consider consulting the following examples to ensure you start your paper in the right way!

How To Start A Research Paper About A Person

How To Start A Research Paper Intro Example

Tips on How To Start a Research Paper

Starting a research paper can be exciting and a bit challenging. To make sure you do well, here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

  • Create a Timeline

Develop a realistic timeline for your research project. This helps in managing tasks efficiently and ensures you have sufficient time for each stage of the process.

  • Consider Ethical Considerations

Think about the ethical aspects of your research, especially if it involves human subjects. 

  • Stay Flexible in Your Approach

Be prepared to adapt your research plan as needed. Research is an evolving process, and staying flexible allows you to navigate unexpected challenges.

  • Use Primary and Secondary Sources Wisely

Distinguish between different types of sources and understand their respective roles in your research. 

  • Stay Updated on Research Trends

Keep yourself informed about recent developments and trends in your field. This knowledge will enhance the relevance and timeliness of your research.

All in all, starting a research paper requires thoughtful planning and a smart approach to existing literature. This guide is here to give you the tools to start your academic journey confidently. 

But if you need expert help, turn to our paper writing service online . 

At , our dedicated team is here to guide you 24/7, making sure your academic journey goes well. 

So, don’t waste time! 

Place your order and work together with experts to turn your ideas into impactful research!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to start a research paper thesis.

Begin your research paper thesis by clearly stating the main point or argument you will explore.  Craft a concise and focused thesis statement that outlines the purpose and direction of your research.

How to Start a Research Paper with a Quote?

Introduce your research paper with a relevant and impactful quote that sets the tone for your topic.

Ensure the quote relates directly to your research and adds value to the parts of the introduction, providing a perspective.

Donna C.

Donna writes on a broad range of topics, but she is mostly passionate about social issues, current events, and human-interest stories. She has received high praise for her writing from both colleagues and readers alike. Donna is known in her field for creating content that is not only professional but also captivating.

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Starting Your Research Paper: Let's Do This

  • Choosing Your Topic
  • What Sources to Use?
  • Planning Your Paper
  • Let's Do This
  • Some Stuff that Might Help

The Introduction

Writing the introductory paragraph can be a frustrating and slow process -- but it doesn't have to be.  If you have planned out your paper well and thought about your thesis statement, then most of the introductory paragraph is already written.  All you need now is a beginning and an end.

Beginning Sentences :  Here's your chance to introduce your topic and grab your reader's attention. Starting your paper with "In this paper, I will" or "This paper is about" is common to the point of overuse. Try starting with a strong hook, that actually draws in your professor and makes him or her want to read more. In your research, did you come across an odd factoid or interesting quote? Or how about starting with an anecdotal story or humor? There are many ways to make your writing more interesting for both you and your professor, so don't be boring.

Middle Sentences : Usually, the middle sentences cover the points in your paper.  Since you've already planned the order of your points, you already know how to place them in your introductory paragraph.  You don't have to include every single point, but make sure the important ones get in there. 

Ending Sentences : All the previous sentences have been building up to this: your thesis. Your thesis statement expresses the overall idea of your paper and show where you stand on the topic.  This guide from San José State University has a  great flowchart  to help you write a good thesis statement, as well as links to other resources.

This is an example of an introductory paragraph, from a paper I wrote in library school (yes, that's really a thing).  I start out with a broad statement that will hopefully draw in readers interested in this subject, then I narrow in on the specific topic that I intend to discuss in the paper.  The questions outline the points I'm going to discuss about that topic, and then I finish off with my thesis.

Virtual communities--online message boards, forums, online games, social networks where users contribute content and/or communicate with other users--bridge time and distance and are a huge part of our current quasi-cyber existence. One interesting issue to examine in the behaviour of virtual community users is the phenomenon of lurking--ie. limiting online community behaviour to observation or only sporadic contribution--as it presents an interesting framework within which to discuss and evaluate the social implications of  this particular technology . How do lurkers mediate virtual communities? What, if anything, prompts them to become more actively involved? As libraries move towards more kinds of virtual service, understanding the behaviour of less overtly active users and reaching out to them becomes increasingly important.

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How to Start a Research Paper Like a Pro

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Research papers are longer, more in-depth essays meant to test not only your writing skills but also your ability to do research. It is an academic writing piece that offers an analysis, interpretation, and argument based on extensive independent research. If you are in sixes and sevens about how to start a research paper, don’t be, as this article offers everything to get you on the right track of writing your research paper like a pro  custom writing service  provider. So, let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

The Ultimate Guide on How to Start a Research Paper

Let’s guide you about the best way to start a research paper that can impress your professor and improve your grades. After reading this blog, starting a research paper will be like a piece of cake. The first steps you’ll be taking are mentioned below:

Pick a Good Topic

The best and professional ways to start a research paper initiated by picking a topic for your paper. A carefully chosen topic not only makes the research process more enjoyable but also increases your chances of creating a successful and meaningful paper. Pick a topic you’re passionate about, and it’ll be simpler to stay motivated in the research and writing process. At the same time, ensure the subject is pertinent to your field of study so that your research is worthwhile and contributes to the existing body of knowledge in your area. Opt for something that’ll look good on the research paper title page! 

For example, if you are a political science student, you may be interested in exploring research paper topics related to political polarization. However, to ensure that the topic is relevant to your field, you may need to narrow it down further. You could focus on the impact of political polarization on voter behaviour in the United States. It will help you create a more focused research question and narrow your search for sources. Hence you won’t search how should I start a research paper again. 

Narrow Down the List

Once you’ve figured out what you want to write about, you have to narrow it down. If your topic is too broad, it’ll be tough to research and write about. Make sure you focus on an aspect of the topic that you can cover in your paper.

For example, if you are interested in exploring the topic of climate change, you could narrow it down to the impact of climate change on a specific region or industry. This will make it easier to research and write about in depth.

Here are some examples of good topics that could serve as title page for research paper:

  • The effects of social media on mental health
  • The impact of the #MeToo Movement on workplace policies and Culture
  • The Role of renewable energy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • The History and Evolution of hip hop music in America
  • The impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work.

Begin the Preliminary Research

First, do a basic Google search on the subject, and check out academic databases and libraries. It’ll give you an idea of the major points and ideas related to it. Then check out related abstracts and intros to get an idea of what people are arguing and researching on the topic. Very important step for starting off a research paper! 

For example, suppose your research paper is about the impact of social media on mental health. In that case, you might start by searching for articles that explore the relationship between social media use and depression or anxiety. You could also search for studies that examine the effectiveness of social media interventions for mental health.

Ascertain the Reliability of Sources

Once you’ve identified some possible sources, it’s crucial to assess their reliability and pertinence. That means making sure the sources are from trustworthy authors or organizations and that they offer current and relevant facts. To ensure you have a thorough understanding of the subject, it’s a good idea to use various sources, such as academic journals, books, and dependable websites.

For example, if you find an article that claims that social media has no impact on mental health, it’s important to check the author’s credentials and the source’s reliability. You may also find other articles that either support or refute the claims made in the initial article to ensure that you have a well-rounded understanding of the topic.

Organize Your Research Notes

If you want to ensure your research notes stay organized, you must set up a system that works for you. Whether you’re more tech-savvy and want to use an app or spreadsheet, or prefer a physical system like a binder or notebook, make sure it’s simple and you can easily access it. Also, remember to keep a record of your sources with details such as the author’s name, when it was published and any quotes or info that could be helpful. This way, you’ll have everything you need for citing your sources when it comes to writing.

For example, you could use a spreadsheet to organize your sources, including columns for the author’s name, publication date, title, and relevant notes or quotes. Alternatively, you could use a note-taking app to keep track of your sources and notes in one place, making it easy to access later in the writing process.

Create an Outline

Outlining is a great way to ensure your research paper is well-structured and easy to follow. It gives you a roadmap of the main points and arguments you can bring up in your paper. Here’s how to create an outline that works.

Think about the main points and arguments you want to make in your paper. Do some research to help generate ideas, and then create a list of those ideas. Finally, organize them into an outline. There are a few different ways to  lay out a research paper outline , but a common one is to use Roman numerals for the main topics, capital letters for the subtopics, and regular numbers for the sub-subtopics. This structure makes it easy to see how all the different parts of your paper fit together.

For example, if you are writing a research paper on the impact of social media on mental health, your outline might look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Background information on the topic
  • Research question or thesis statement
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Impact of social media on depression Evidence from research studies Personal anecdotes or case studies
  • impact of social media on anxiety Evidence from research studies Personal anecdotes or case studies
  • Effectiveness of social media interventions for mental health Evidence from research studies Criticisms of social media interventions
  • Recap of main arguments
  • Implications for future research or policy

Craft a Thesis Statement

The main point of your research paper is summed up in your  thesis statement . It’s usually just one or two sentences, but it’s important since it helps you stay focused while writing and ensures you’re on the right track.

If you want to develop a solid thesis statement, it’s important to take your time and consider your main point and the evidence that backs it up. Here are some tips to help you craft a strong thesis statement:

Begin with a Question:  Have you ever wondered how social media affects mental health? It can help you narrow down your research and determine your paper’s main argument.

Be Precise and Specific:  Don’t make vague or broad claims that don’t clearly explain your argument or position. For example, rather than writing, “Social media has a bad effect on mental health,” you could say, “Heavy use of social media has been linked to greater levels of depression and anxiety among young adults.”

Consider Counterarguments:  A good thesis should think about different points of view. Doing this shows that you’ve looked at the problem from all angles, making your argument stronger. For example, you could say: “Although social media can be bad for mental health, it can also give people who feel alone a way to reach out for help and support.”

Examples of Good Thesis Statements:

  • The legalization of marijuana would have a positive impact on the economy and reduce rates of drug-related crime.
  • Climate change is the most pressing global issue facing the world today, and urgent action is needed to mitigate its effects.
  • Using technology in the classroom can enhance student learning outcomes and improve educational equity.

Examples of Bad Thesis Statements:

  • This paper will discuss the impact of social media on mental health.
  • The death penalty is a controversial topic with strong opinions on both sides.
  • Animal testing is bad and should be stopped.

Write a Good Introduction

As you search ‘how do I start a research paper,’ it’s really important to write an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading your  research paper . Here are some tips if you are wondering how to start a research paper intro: 

Start With A Hook:  Grab the reader’s attention from the get-go by starting with a hook. For example, begin with a surprising fact, a thought-provoking statement, a query, or a relevant anecdote. Let’s say you’re writing a paper about how climate change affects the Arctic. You could start with something like: “The Arctic is melting quicker than the other ice sheets, and it’s having serious repercussions.”

Provide Background Information:  Once you’ve got your hook, give your readers more details about the topic you’re talking about. That could mean explaining some definitions, talking about its history, or even reviewing some current debates around it. For instance, if you’re looking into how social media affects mental health, you could include some facts and figures related to how often social media is used and the number of mental health issues.

Introduce Your Thesis Statement:  It’s a good practice to include a thesis statement in your introduction so your readers know the main point of your paper. It should be a concise summation of your main argument. For instance, if you’re writing about how climate change is impacting the Arctic, your thesis statement might be something like, “Climate change is leading to the rapid melting of Arctic ice sheets, resulting in rising sea levels, loss of habitat for wildlife, and heightened geopolitical tensions.”

For example, let’s say you are writing about “The impact of social media on mental health:” Here’s how your thesis statement should look like:

“Social media has become a ubiquitous part of modern life, with over 3 billion people around the world using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. While social media can provide a valuable source of connection and information, there is growing concern about its impact on mental health. Studies have shown that excessive social media use is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety, particularly in young adults. In this paper, we will explore the complex relationship between social media and mental health, and examine ways to promote healthy social media use.”

Write the Body Paragraphs

If you’re writing a research paper, the body paragraphs are where you get to develop your ideas and arguments to back up your thesis statement. Here’s some advice for crafting effective body paragraphs:

Structure Your Paragraphs:  Each paragraph should have a strong structure, beginning with a topic sentence that introduces the main point. You should back up this point with evidence – facts, statistics, or quotes – that demonstrate your point. Finally, analyze the evidence, explaining how it supports the argument and ties back to the overall thesis.

Use Evidence to Support Claims:  It’s essential to back up your arguments in your body paragraphs with evidence. It could be primary sources such as research, stats or old documents or secondary sources like books, articles or academic journals. Ensure you check your sources’ authenticity and relevance before using them in your paper.

Develop Your Ideas:  It’s important to flesh out your ideas in the body paragraphs and give enough detail and explanation to back up your argument. It could mean defining keywords, giving examples, or explaining what your findings mean.

Transition Between Paragraphs:  It’s a good idea to use transition words and phrases when writing to make it easier to read and keep your thoughts connected. Examples are “furthermore,” “in addition,” “similarly,” “in contrast,” and “on the other hand.”

Here is an example of how to structure body paragraphs:

Topic sentence:  Provide a clear and concise topic sentence that introduces the paragraph’s main idea. For example, suppose you are writing about the impact of social media on mental health. In that case, your topic sentence might be, “Excessive social media use has been linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety.”

Supporting Evidence:  Provide evidence to support your arguments, such as research studies or statistics. For example, you might include a study that found a correlation between social media use and depression.

Analysis:  Explain how the evidence supports your argument and relate it to the thesis statement. For example, explain how the study supports the argument that social media can negatively affect mental health and relate this to your thesis statement that promoting healthy social media use is important for mental health.

Here is an example of a transitional sentence between paragraphs:

“Furthermore, in addition to the negative effects of social media on mental health, there are also concerns about the impact of social media on privacy and personal data.”

Conclusion Paragraph

The conclusion of a research paper is just as important as the beginning. It’s your chance, to sum up your main points and leave the reader with a lasting impression. Here are some tips for writing a powerful conclusion:

Summarize the Key Points:  Sum up the most important points of your research paper. Summarizing the main ideas, you discussed and emphasized the importance of your findings.

Leave the Reader with a Final Thought:  Your conclusion is your last shot to grab the reader’s attention. Make sure to connect it back to your thesis and wrap up the main idea of your paper.

Keep it Concise:  The conclusion line should be short and sweet. Only highlight ideas or arguments already discussed in the paper.

End With a Strong Statement:  At the end of your conclusion, you should make a strong point that will stick in the reader’s mind, like asking a thought-provoking question or using a memorable quote.

Here is an example of a conclusion paragraph:

“In conclusion, this research paper has explored the impact of social media on mental health, providing evidence that excessive social media use can lead to higher rates of depression and anxiety. It is clear that promoting healthy social media use is crucial for maintaining good mental health. As we move forward, it is important for individuals, schools, and policymakers to consider the impact of social media on mental health and take steps to promote positive online behaviors. By doing so, we can ensure a healthier and happier society for all.”

We hope our expert essay writers have answered all your query of how to start my research paper. Embarking on a research paper journey can seem like a daunting expedition, but with the right approach and mindset, it can be a fulfilling adventure. By arming yourself with the tools and strategies provided in this post, you will confidently navigate through the terrain of selecting a topic, conducting research, outlining, crafting a thesis statement, and writing a paper that captivates your reader’s attention. However, if you need help, count on the best writers  to guide you through the thickets and ensure your success.

Now that it clear to all the readers how to start of a research paper. Now get to work and surpise your professor with the exceptional steps you learn here. Getting A+ grades can’t get easier than this step by step guide we’ve provided you. 

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How to Write a Killer Research Paper (Even If You Hate Writing)

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Research papers.

Unless you’re a weirdo like me, you probably dread them. When I was in college, depending on the class, I even dreaded these.

It’s the sort of project that can leave even the most organized student quaking in their boots, staring at the assignment like they’re Luke Skywalker and it’s the Death Star.

You have to pick a broad topic, do some in-depth research, hone in on a research question, and then present your answer to that question in an interesting way. Oh, and you have to use citations, too.

How on earth are you supposed to tackle this thing?

Fear not, for even the Death Star had weaknesses. With a well-devised plan, some courage, and maybe a little help from a few midichlorians, you can conquer your research paper, too.

Let’s get started.

1. Pick a Topic

And pick one that interests you. This is not up for debate.

You and this topic are going to be spending a lot of time together, so you might as well pick something you like, or, at the very least, have a vague interest in. Even if you hate the class, there’s probably at least one topic that you’re curious about.

Maybe you want to write about “mental health in high schools” for your paper in your education class. That’s a good start, but take a couple steps to hone your idea a little further so you have an idea of what to research. Here’s a couple of factors to look at when you want to get more specific:

  • Timeframe : What are the most important mental health issues for high schoolers that have come up in the last five years?
  • Location : How does the mental health of students in your area compare to students in the next state (or country) over?
  • Culture or Group : How does the mental health of inner-city students compare to those in the suburbs or places like Silicon Valley?
  • Solution : If schools were to make one change to high schools to improve the well-being of their students, what would be most effective, and why?

It’s good to be clear about what you’re researching, but make sure you don’t box yourself into a corner. Try to avoid being too local (if the area is a small town, for example), or too recent, as there may not be enough research conducted to support an entire paper on the subject.

Also, avoid super analytical or technical topics that you think you’ll have a hard time writing about (unless that’s the assignment…then jump right into all the technicalities you want).

You’ll probably need to do some background research and possibly brainstorm with your professor before you can identify a topic that’s specialized enough for your paper.

At the very least, skim the Encyclopedia Britannica section on your general area of interest. Your professor is another resource: use them! They’re probably more than happy to point you in the direction of a possible research topic.

Of course, this is going to be highly dependent on your class and the criteria set forth by your professor, so make sure you read your assignment and understand what it’s asking for. If you feel the assignment is unclear, don’t go any further without talking to your professor about it.

2. Create a Clear Thesis Statement

Say it with me: a research paper without a thesis question or statement is just a fancy book report.

All research papers fall under three general categories: analytical, expository, or argumentative.

  • Analytical papers present an analysis of information (effects of stress on the human brain)
  • Expository papers seek to explain something (Julius Caesar’s rise to power)
  • Argumentative papers are trying to prove a point (Dumbledore shouldn’t be running a school for children).

So figure out what sort of paper you’d like to write, and then come up with a viable thesis statement or question.

Maybe it starts out looking like this:

  • Julius Caesar’s rise to power was affected by three major factors.

Ok, not bad. You could probably write a paper based on this. But it’s not great , either. It’s not specific, neither is it arguable . You’re not really entering any sort of discussion.

Maybe you rework it a little to be more specific and you get:

  • Julius Caesar’s quick rise to power was a direct result of a power vacuum and social instability created by years of war and internal political corruption.

Better. Now you can actually think about researching it.

Every good thesis statement has three important qualities: it’s focused , it picks a side , and it can be backed up with research .

If you’re missing any of these qualities, you’re gonna have a bad time. Avoid vague modifier words like “positive” and “negative.” Instead use precise, strong language to formulate your argument.

Take this thesis statement for example:

  • “ High schools should stop assigning so much homework, because it has a negative impact on students’ lives.”

Sure, it’s arguable…but only sort of . It’s pretty vague. We don’t really know what is meant by “negative”, other than “generically bad”. Before you get into the research, you have to define your argument a little more.

Revised Version:

  • “ High schools in the United States should assign less homework, as lower workloads improve students’ sleep, stress levels, and, surprisingly, their grades.”

When in doubt, always look at your thesis and ask, “Is this arguable?”  Is there something you need to prove ? If not, then your thesis probably isn’t strong enough. If yes, then as long as you can actually prove it with your research, you’re golden.

Good thesis statements give you a clear goal. You know exactly what you’re looking for, and you know exactly where you’re going with the paper. Try to be as specific and clear as possible. That makes the next step a lot easier:

3. Hit the Books

So you have your thesis, you know what you’re looking for. It’s time to actually go out and do some real research. By real research, I mean more than a quick internet search or a quick skim through some weak secondary or tertiary sources.

If you’ve chosen a thesis you’re a little unsteady on, a preliminary skim through Google is fine, but make sure you go the extra mile. Some professors will even have a list of required resources (e.g. “Three academic articles, two books, one interview…etc).

It’s a good idea to start by heading to the library and asking your local librarian for help (they’re usually so excited to help you find things!).

Check your school library for research papers and books on the topic. Look for primary sources, such as journals, personal records, or contemporary newspaper articles when you can find them.

As you’re starting your research, create some kind of system for filing helpful quotes, links, and other sources. I preferred it to all be on one text document on my computer, but you could try a physical file, too.

In this text document, I start compiling a list of all the sources I’m using. It tends to look like this:

Research file example

Remember that at this point, your thesis isn’t solid. It’s still in a semi-squishy state. If your research starts to strongly contradict your thesis, then come up with a new thesis, revise, and keep on compiling quotes.

The more support you can find, the better. Depending on how long your paper is, you should have 3-10 different sources, with all sorts of quotes between them.

Here are some good places to look for reputable sources:

  • Google Scholar
  • Sites ending in .edu, .org, or .gov. While it’s not a rule, these sites tend to represent organizations, and they are more likely to be reputable than your run-of-the-mill .com sites
  • Your school library. It should have a section for articles and newspapers as well as books
  • Your school’s free academic database
  • Online encyclopedias like Britannica
  • Online almanacs and other databases

As you read, analyze your sources closely, and take good notes . Jot down general observations, questions, and answers to those questions when you find them. Once you have a sizable stack of research notes, it’s time to start organizing your paper.

4. Write an Outline

Even if you normally feel confident writing a paper without one, use an outline when you’re working on a research paper.

Outlines basically do all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to writing. They keep you organized and on track. Even if you feel tempted to just jump in and brain-dump, resist. You’ll thank me later.

Here’s how to structure an outline:

outline example

You’ll notice it’s fairly concise, and it has three major parts: the introduction , the body , and the conclusion . Also notice that I haven’t bothered to organize my research too much.

I’ve just dumped all the relevant citations under the headings I think they’ll end up under, so I can put in my quotes from my research document later as they fit into the overall text.

Let’s get a little more in-depth with this:

The Introduction

The introduction is made up of two main parts: the thesis and the introduction to the supporting points. This is where you essentially tell your reader exactly what sort of wild ride they’re in for if they read on.

It’s all about preparing your reader’s mind to start thinking about your argument or question before you even really get started.

Present your thesis and your supporting points clearly and concisely. It should be no longer than a paragraph or two. Keep it simple and easy to read.

Body Paragraphs

Okay, now that you’ve made your point, it’s time to prove it. This is where your body paragraphs come in. The length of this is entirely dependent on the criteria set by your professor, so keep that in mind.

However, as a rule, you should have at least three supporting points to help defend, prove, or explain your thesis. Put your weakest point first, and your strongest point last.

This doesn’t need a lot of outlining. Basically, take your introduction outline and copy it over. Your conclusion should be about a paragraph long, and it should summarize your main points and restate your thesis.

There’s also another key component to this outline example that I haven’t touched on yet:

Research and Annotations

Some people like to write first, and annotate later. Personally, I like to get my quotes and annotations in right at the start of the writing process.

I find the rest of the paper goes more smoothly, and it’s easier to ensure that I’ve compiled enough support for my claim. That way, I don’t go through all the work of writing the paper, only to discover that my thesis doesn’t actually hold any water!

As a general rule, it’s good to have at least 3-5 sources for every supporting point. Whenever you make a claim in your paper, you should support it with evidence.

Some professors are laxer on this, and some are more stringent. Make sure you understand your assignment requirements really, really, really well. You don’t want to get marked down for missing the correct number of sources!

At this stage, you should also be sure of what sort of format your professor is looking for (APA, MLA, etc.) , as this will save you a lot of headache later.

When I was in college, some professors wanted in-text parenthetical citations whenever I made a claim or used my research at all. Others only wanted citations at the end of a paragraph. And others didn’t mind in-text citations at all, so long as you had a bibliography at the end of your entire paper.

So, go through your outline and start inserting your quotes and citations now. Count them up. If you need more, then add them. If you think you have enough (read: your claims are so supported that even Voldemort himself couldn’t scare them), then move on to the next step:

5. Write the First Draft

Time to type this thing up. If you created a strong enough outline, this should be a breeze. Most of it should already be written for you. All you have to do at this point is fill it in. You’ve successfully avoided the initial blank-screen panic .

Don’t worry too much about grammar or prose quality at this point. It’s the rough draft, and it’s not supposed to see the light of day.

I find it helpful to highlight direct quotes, summaries, paraphrases, and claims as I put them in. This helps me ensure that I never forget to cite any of them.

So, do what you’ve gotta do . Go to a studious place or create one , put on an awesome playlist, close your social media apps, and get the work done.

Once you’ve gotten the gist of your paper down, the real work begins:

6. Revise Your Draft

Okay, now that you’ve word-vomited everywhere in a semi-organized fashion, it’s time to start building this thing into a cohesive paper. If you took the time to outline properly, then this part shouldn’t be too difficult.

Every paper has two editing stages:the developmental edit , and the line edit.

The developmental edit (the first one, at least) is for your eyes only. This is the part where you take a long, hard look at your paper and ask yourself, “Does this make sense, and does it accomplish what I want it to accomplish?” If it does, then great. If it doesn’t, then how can you rearrange or change it so that it does?

Here are a few good questions to ask yourself at this stage:

  • Is the paper well-organized, and does it have a logical flow of thought from paragraph to paragraph?
  • Does your thesis hold up to the three criteria listed earlier? Is it well supported by your research and arguments?
  • Have you checked that all your sources are properly cited?
  • How repetitive is the paper? Can you get rid of superlative points or language to tighten up your argument?

Once you’ve run the paper through this process at least once, it’s time for the line edit . This is the part where you check for punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors.

It helps to let your paper sit overnight, and then read it out loud to yourself, or the cat, or have a friend read it. Often, our brains know what we “meant” to say, and it’s difficult for us to catch small grammatical or spelling errors.

Here are a couple more final questions to ask yourself before you call it a day:

  • Have you avoided filler words , adverbs , and passive voice as much as possible?
  • Have you checked for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Spell-checker software is pretty adept these days, but it still isn’t perfect.

If you need help editing your paper, and your regular software just isn’t cutting it, Grammarly is a good app for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Chrome that goes above and beyond your run-of-the-mill spell-checker. It looks for things like sentence structure and length, as well as accidental plagiarism and passive tense.

7. Organize Your Sources

The paper’s written, but it’s not over. You’ve still got to create the very last page: the “works cited” or bibliography page.

Now, this page works a little differently depending on what style your professor has asked you to use, and it can get pretty confusing, as different types of sources are formatted completely differently.

The most important thing to ensure here is that every single source, whether big or small, is on this page before you turn your paper in. If you forget to cite something, or don’t cite it properly, you run the risk of plagiarism.

I got through college by using a couple of different tools to format it for me. Here are some absolute life-savers:

  • EasyBib – I literally used this tool all throughout college to format my citations for me, it does all the heavy lifting for you, and it’s free .
  • Microsoft Word – I honestly never touched Microsoft Word throughout my college years, but it actually has a tool that will create citations and bibliographies for you, so it’s worth using if you have it on your computer.

Onwards: One Step at a Time

I leave you with this parting advice:

Once you understand the method, research papers really aren’t as difficult as they seem. Sure, there’s a lot to do, but don’t be daunted. Just take it step by step, piece by piece, and give yourself plenty of time. Take frequent breaks, stay organized, and never, ever, ever forget to cite your sources. You can do this!

Looking for tools to make the writing process easier? Check out our list of the best writing apps .

Image Credits: featured

Get science-backed answers as you write with Paperpal's Research feature

How Paperpal is Enhancing Academic Productivity and Accelerating Research in China

How Paperpal is Enhancing Academic Productivity and Accelerating Research in China

Paperpal , by Editage, has emerged as a trusted AI academic writing assistant for more than 800,000 authors worldwide, supporting them from the ideation stage all the way to submission readiness for journals. It blends over 21 years of STM experience with cutting-edge AI technology to provide comprehensive writing, language editing, and submission readiness support that boosts their chances of successful publication.  

Students and researchers from China’s top universities, government organizations, and research institutions are using Paperpal to enhance their writing and submit their work for publication in leading academic publications. In this case study, we delve into how Paperpal is transforming the writing process for academics in China, ensuring high-quality writing, saving hours of time for research, and enhancing their overall productivity . 

Table of Contents

  • Challenges in Writing for Academics in China  
  • Enter Paperpal: Your One Stop for Excellence in Academic Writing 
  • Growth in Number of Paperpal Users in China 
  • Hours of Time Saved to Increase Productivity 
  • Adoption by Students at Top Institutions in China 
  • Powering Research Excellence and Innovation 
  •  Winning the Trust of Chinese Researchers 

Challenges in Writing for Academics in China

Academic writing comes with its unique set of challenges, particularly for non-native English speaking researchers. A PLOS survey showed that as compared to native English speakers, those with low English proficiency take as much as 91% more time to read English language papers and 51% more time to write a paper in English. 1 This was supported by another study on English academic writing in China, which revealed that while Chinese academics were often clear on what and how to write, almost half of them wrote in Chinese first and then translated it into English. 2

Chinese researchers also find it difficult to access efficient proofreading and accurate translation support. They typically wait for busy peers and seniors for help in reviewing their  work or are forced to rely on professional services that cost them time and money. These time-consuming and often expensive processes may cause delays in research publication and reduced academic productivity. While there are many AI tools available today, very few are tailored to understand and enhance the academic writing process in particular. This is where Paperpal emerges as a reliable writing partner for Chinese researchers. With its comprehensive feature suite that provides human precision at machine speed, it helps Chinese academics write confidently and deliver high-quality English writing. 

Paperpal: The All-in-One Writing Assistant for Academic Success

Enter Paperpal: Your One Stop for Excellence in Academic Writing

Paperpal , the all-in-one AI academic writing assistant, has been used and loved by more than 13,800 students, professors, and medical professionals in China. From Paperpal’s extensive suite of checks and generative AI features, Chinese students and researchers found real-time language checks, precise academic translation, paraphrasing assistance, academic tone support, and research article outline features to be the most useful among many other features to assist you in your writing journey . With these features, Paperpal has enabled academics in China to overcome linguistic hurdles in the writing process, polish their writing quality, and increase productivity.  

Top 5 Paperpal Features Used by Chinese Researchers

Paperpal Impact: Accelerating Academic Excellence and Boosting Productivity

Committed to providing researchers in China with a more streamlined academic writing experience, Paperpal has introduced a number of features and capabilities, which has transformed the path to academic success for Chinese researchers. 

Growth in Number of Paperpal Users in China

Fueled by a user-friendly website that provides all relevant details in Chinese and localized payment options, Paperpal has seen a steady rise in the number of users from China from July 2022 to April 2024. Academics in China have created more than 29,000 documents on Paperpal, using it to translate and improve their content within a matter of minutes.  

More Chinese Researchers are Using Paperpal

In addition, Chinese researchers also uploaded 26,527 manuscripts to Paperpal Preflight and benefitted from the customized submission readiness checks before submitting to reputed journals; this accounts for an impressive 24.6% of total uploads globally .  

Hours of Time Saved to Increase Productivity

Academics in China have used Paperpal’s language correction to enhance over 43 million words. This could have effectively saved them more than one million minutes in proofreading time*, considering that experts can proofread approximately 2,500 words per hour.  

Paperpal Delights Chinese Researchers with Improved Quality & Productivity

In addition to using Paperpal for improved language, Chinese researchers have also used it to instantly translate over 700,000 words. This could have saved them more than 67,000 hours of translation time*, considering experts can translate 2,000 words per day. No wonder that our Translation feature received a 100% positive rating for its fast, accurate, and clear translations, that is, ALL the users from China who rated this feature found it useful and gave it a thumbs up . 

Paperpal Saves Time for Chinese Researchers with Fast, Accurate Translations

* These are only preliminary estimations based on the real-time processed volumes by Paperpal and the assumption of an average human proofreading/translation speed.  

Adoption by Students at Top Institutions in China

Paperpal has seen high registrations and paid users among Chinese students from six top universities in China, as per the 2024 Times Higher Education China University Rankings. 3 These include the country’s most prominent institutions, such as: 

  • Tsinghua University 
  • Peking University 
  • Fudan University 
  • Zhejiang University 
  • University of Science and Technology China 
  • Nanjing University 

Powering Research Excellence and Innovation

Apart from the top Chinese universities, Paperpal has also won the trust of research professionals from government organizations and leading institutions , including:  

  • 301 Hospital, the largest comprehensive military hospital in China 
  • Shengjjng Hospital of China 
  • Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute 
  • Biotech Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd., one of the top pharma companies in the country. 

Paperpal is a trusted tool for researchers looking to publish in reputed scientific publishers. Chinese researchers, especially in the field of medicine, found Paperpal Preflight’s pre-submission checks especially useful to polish and submit their work to prestigious publishers , which include the following: 

  • Wolters Kluwer  
  • IOP Publishing 
  • Karger 
  • Wiley 
  • Taylor & Franics 
  • Emerald 
  • American Association for Cancer Research 
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology 
  • Cambridge University Press 
  • American Academy of Pediatrics 

Winning the Trust of Chinese Researchers

As the number of Chinese students, researchers, and professionals using Paperpal increases, so does the trust that it receives. In fact, Paperpal has an outstanding Net Promotor Score of 75, especially for its AI translation and academic writing enhancements, which reflects high satisfaction levels and strong recommendations from Chinese academics .

Paperpal is the Preferred AI Writing Tool for Chinese Researchers

Paperpal is continually developing and adding new AI features to transform the academic writing journey, and we take pride in earning the love and trust of our users. Read what two of our users from China have to say about Paperpal’s ease of use, accuracy, and effectiveness: 

Mr. Ye, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, said, “The language editing feature works well, easily identifying grammatical problems and categorizing errors to give a basis for revision. The Rewrite feature has some weight reduction effect. I was very impressed and have recommended it to students who are still writing their first SCI.”   

Liu Lu, PhD at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said, “Paperpal is a writing tool with strong academic attributes, translating and transcribing terms accurately, and then juxtaposing the language editing and synonym replacement features to bring up the depth and richness of the manuscript. Those who write papers will feel like they found treasure.”

Paperpal is transforming the tedious process of academic writing for Chinese students and researchers, empowering them to write better, faster, and in an ethical manner. By automating necessary checks and simplifying each step in the writing journey, Paperpal is helping to save researchers’ time while enabling them to write high-quality content and improve their productivity. This, in turn, helps researchers focus on their research, fueling academic excellence and moving them closer to publishing success. Paperpal also brings major benefits for universities, organizations, and publishers, helping them nurture an environment of excellence and growth that enables them to contribute to and further advance science. 

It’s time to experience the advantage Paperpal brings to your academic writing. Start writing with Paperpal for free now or write to [email protected] for more details, and we’ll be happy to help!


  • Amano T, Ramírez-Castañeda V, Berdejo-Espinola V, Borokini I, Chowdhury S, Golivets M, et al. (2023) The manifold costs of being a non-native English speaker in science. PLoS Biol 21(7): e3002184.   
  • Liu, M. Problems and Solutions in Response to Postgraduates’ English Academic Writing – A Case of SWPU. Journal of Education and Educational Research . ISSN: 2957-9465 | Vol. 3, No. 3, 2023 
  • Best universities in China 2024, Times Higher Education University Rankings. Available online at

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster.  

Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed.  

Experience the future of academic writing – Sign up to Paperpal and start writing for free!  

Related Reads:

  • The Do’s & Don’ts of Using Generative AI Tools Ethically in Academia
  • Addressing Your Queries on AI Ethics, Plagiarism, and AI Detection
  • Paperpal Copilot is Live: Experience The Generative AI Tool Academics Can Trust
  • Grammarly Review: Features, Pricing, and Free Alternatives  

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