Guide on How to Write a Research Paper For College Students
At some point in your studies whether in high school, college, or graduate school, you are tasked with writing a research paper. This can be an online assignment project, college research paper, online exam, or as a section of an application essay. In short, research paper writing is an key skill to have.
Like most students, completing such a task may become difficult for you. But don’t worry, because, in this guide, we seek to teach you how to write grade winning research papers from start to the end.
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is formal writing that describes the findings of the research, and conclusions are drawn.
The research therefore intends to inform action, prove a theory, and contribute to developing knowledge in the area of study.
While it’s a no-brainer why research is important, many people find it hard to come up with great research papers.
It may be technicalities involved, or they are preoccupied with other tasks.
The mentally-drained student sometimes does it for the grade, or at the workplace may do it to secure job tenure or promotion.
But for those who like to learn, research is not only an imperative but a need.
How to write a research paper step by step
Research paper is the assignment that will provide you with the opportunity to thoroughly examine a particular issue. It should include all important aspects of writing an academic term paper from A to Z.
Research papers are usually written in a formal style as they are not only intended for scientific reading, but also have to be presented at notable conferences and events.
The basic structure of such an essay includes: introduction, main body (with distinct separate introductory paragraphs), abstract, conclusion, bibliography and reference list.
If your instructor has announced that you need to write a research paper, then we offer you the following advice on how to complete a research paper without effectively:
Understand the requirements
The first step in academic writing is to read and understand the requirements. Failure to read the instructions the number one reason why many students score poorly when it comes to paper writing assignments. Before you even think about anything, you need to understand:
- What kind of paper you are required to write,
- How long should the paper be,
- What is required of you,
- What level of writing does your instructor requires,
- What is the level of research required,
- Is the topic for the research paper gives?
Once you establish answers to above questions, it is time to go to the next step of selecting a good topic for your paper if you are not provided with one.
Choose a great research paper topic
If a topic has not been assigned to you yet, you need to choose a good topic for your research paper. Here are a few ways on how you can come up with a research topic for your writing assignment:
Come up with a broad topic and narrow down to a topic that interests you. For example you start with a topic like Cancer, write down all the possible research areas and narrow down to find a topic like: Older men are more susceptible to prostrate cancer than younger men. This is just an example which you can still narrow down for a more specific topic.
Once you identify a great topic, you need to perform a preliminary research with the aim of identifying all literature and research that has been published on the on the selected topic.
Make note of all published work and research materials as you will use it while writing a literature review.
Browse a list of research paper topics to find a good topic for your college research paper assignment.
Carry out Research
When conducting research, it is important to take careful and concise notes. When taking notes, make sure to write down the name of the author, the title of the article, and the page number where you found the information.
It is also helpful to write a brief summary of what you read as well as any quotes that you want to use in your paper.
Taking careful and concise notes will save you time when you are writing your paper as you will already have all the information that you need.
Developing a Thesis Statement
The third step in writing a research paper is developing a thesis statement. This is a brief sentence that tells the reader what your paper will be about.
For example, if you’re writing a research paper about the history of the American Revolution, your thesis statement might be anything along the lines of “The British tried to suppress freedom and liberty in the colonies by forcing them into war.”
Once you’ve developed your thesis statement, you can move on to finding evidence to support it.
Determining Supporting Evidence
Once you have your thesis statement, it’s time to start finding evidence to support it. There are many different places you can look for evidence, but make sure that your sources are credible! Some good places to look for evidence are books, scholarly articles, and primary sources.
Once you’ve found some good sources, it’s time to start taking notes.
When taking notes, be sure to write down not only the main points of each source, but also where you found the information and any other important details.
These details will come in handy when you’re creating your bibliography later on.
Writing a Research Paper Outline
After you’ve gathered all your evidence and taken good notes on each source, it’s time to start organizing your thoughts into an outline.
An outline is just a tool to help keep your thoughts organized as you write your paper.
Your outline doesn’t have to be overly detailed; just provide enough detail that you’ll be able to easily remember what each section of your paper is about when you start writing.
Begin by brainstorming all of the main points you want to make in your paper.
Then, organize those points into an order that makes sense logically and chronologically.
Here is an example outline for an example research question:
- Introduction to the topic/background information.
- Thesis statement
II. How the Internet Makes Information More Readily Available
- Search engines
- Social media
III. How the Internet Fosters a Global Community of Users
- Online forums/message boards
- Video chat/virtual reality
IV. How Exposing People to Diverse Perspectives Can Help Close the Critical Thinking Gap
- Political discourse
Creating Your First Draft
Now that you have all your evidence organized in an outline, it’s time to start writing your first draft! This is where things get fun – finally, you get to start putting all your hard work into words!
As you’re writing, keep referring back to your outline and source notes so that you don’t forget any important points or details.
Also, don’t worry if your first draft isn’t perfect; that’s what editing and proofreading are for!
Editing and Proofreading Your Paper
Once you’ve finished writing your first draft, it’s time for some polishing.
Read through your paper carefully and fix any typos or grammatical errors.
Next, see if there are any points that you could elaborate on or any evidence that could be better supported.
Finally, ask someone else to read through your paper and give their feedback; another set of eyes can always catch things that you missed!
Citing Your Sources Correctly.
Once your paper is polished and ready for submission, there’s just one more thing left to do: cite your sources!
Citing sources not only shows that you did your research, but it also allows readers to find out more about the topic if they’re interested. Be sure to format your citations correctly according to the required citation style.
Depending on which style guide you’re using (MLA, APA., etc.), the format of your citations will vary slightly.
When in doubt, always consult a style guide or ask a teacher or librarian for help!
Formatting Your Paper
Double check that your paper meets all the requirements for format and length set forth by your instructor.
Nothing is worse than having all that hard work go to waste because your paper didn’t meet formatting guidelines!
Now simply print out your final copy and hand it in – congratulations, you’ve just written a great research paper!
Research papers are usually written based on scientific experiments designed to validate certain hypothesis, provide new discoveries or conduct other types of research. There are many similar types of essays, papers and reports that students can be assigned to write during the course of their studies. However most professors require them to use a standard format so that all students have equal opportunities to receive high grades without putting in too much effort into their content.
Research paper writing is not that hard with the proper preparation and good knowledge about the topic you intend to cover in your text. Remember that you will have more time to proofread your work once you put it together as longer texts are harder for writers to go back through while making corrections.
Remember also that there is a big difference between academic writing and creative projects written outside school. Research papers must adhere strictly to specific formatting guidelines and the use of extensive citations. However, other types of essays can be written in a much more liberal manner providing readers with useful information while avoiding all formalities.
How to Start a Research Paper
Give your paper an exciting intro that makes your reader want to discover more. Otherwise, if your paper has poor introduction, you might find yourself loosing a lot of marks irrespective the quality of your body paragraphs.
The start should be clear – see an example of how to write a research paper introduction.
Make sure the reader understands your research paper topic and what to expect.
Follow the following steps while starting your research paper.
- Have a catchy and descriptive title.
- State your purpose; actually, this is the research problem.
- Give some background information.
- Suggest a solution to the problem.
- Make sure you create an outline before you start writing.
Create Research Paper Outline
A research paper can be classified into several parts, and writing it entails different steps. A research paper outline or an essay outline is supposed to act as your guide while writing your academic paper.
A research paper outline should follow the structure below:
Research Paper Structure
A research paper aims to communicate several items.
- What are you researching?
- What is the aim of your research?
- Your competence in handling the task
Therefore, structure your research proposal appropriately to answer these questions. It consists of;
- Aim of your research
- Research methods.
- Timelines and cost implications.
Sections of a research paper
Here are all the parts of a research paper well explained:
Formulating a title can be tasking, but not if you think about your paper and plan your essay before the actual writing.
Set your mind on what you will be writing about, align your thoughts, and compile them into a few words that make your title. The title should be a few words that describe the main idea in your paper.
Writing a title can come at the end of your essay. In that case, it allows you to improve on your initial title and settle on a great title at the end. All the same, you can have the title before writing your research paper, and this helps you to stick to that particular topic. Keep refining the title so that it can fit the content of your academic paper.
Writing the Abstract
A research paper abstract is a summary, approximately 300 words, consisting of the research problem and methods used on research and analysis. It enables you to elaborate on each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper.
There are different types of abstracts you can include in your paper. They are:
- Critical Abstract – Besides describing the main aspects of your essay, a critical abstract evaluates a paper and often compares it with other works. It reveals all the shortcomings in your paper.
- Descriptive Abstract – A descriptive abstract tells the reader more about what you have written in the paper. It incorporates the main ideas found in the essay.
- Informative Abstract – Most abstracts fall under this category. An informative abstract does not contain information found in the rest of your essay. However, it provides information on the discursive topic that would interest the reader. In most cases, it contains some background research.
- A Highlight Abstract – A highlight abstract gives the reader a preview of what is discussed in the essay. It captures interesting sections in the essay. Such abstracts aim to lure the reader into dipping into more.
The background info provides an overview of the research topic. Please give a brief explanation of what the topic is and why you choose it. Also, state the relevance of your research.
Writing a Research Paper Literature review
When writing a research paper, report the findings of other authors relating to your topic. Literature reviews provide an overview of your sources to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study.
The purpose of a research paper literature review is;
- Reveals any gaps that exist in the literature.
- Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
- States the methodologies used in carrying out research
- Explains the research question.
Writing Research Paper Methodology
Include a description of the techniques you used to gather information during your research. The mallows readers to evaluate the readability of your paper and identify how credible your sources are.
- Observation – Entails gathering information that can be seen by the human eye, which is relevant to your discussion topic.
- Surveys and experimentation.
- Conducting interviews
- Case study and literature research
The methods you use to gather information vary depending on your research subject.
Report on the findings of your research, and describe the type of data you.
Data collected from research can be presented in several methods.
- Use of tables,
- Listed points on theoretical findings
- Use of graphs, bar charts, pie graphs, histograms, and line graphs.
How you present the data depends on the type of data you have. Data collected for a research paper include;
- Image or pictorial data – Such data can be collected from electronic sources such as flash disks. Pictorial data be very useful for your essay. They provide real evidence.
- Numerical Data – Come in the form of digits and should add significant value to your paper.
- Textual Data – Obtained from books, reports, or any other material. It is well-formatted and neat.
Research Paper Discussion
Comprises of the analysis of the obtained results and conclusions drawn from them. It provides an explanation of various concepts, theories, frameworks, and methods used.
There are several discussions that you should integrate into your essay. They include:
- Suggesting advancements in the research
- Explanation of your results
- Examination of the data and findings obtained from your research
Research Paper Conclusion
Dedicate this part to your reader. Invite them to look into the research on their own. Restate the thesis of your research. Show the relevance of your essay by relating it to the current day occurrences.
A research paper conclusion is an important section because it should be the final part of your paper that makes a statement about what you found out in your research.
Here are some steps to writing a conclusion for your paper or research project:
- Make sure your last paragraph sums up everything you’ve written throughout the rest of the paper, and it is not just something slapped on at the end as an afterthought. This is because readers will often read over this last bit first to see if they’re interested in continuing with the rest. In fact, sometimes entire papers are judged based purely on these conclusions! So don’t leave anything out here; make sure every detail is covered, and tell readers how you feel about this information now that you’re done researching this subject.
- Remember that a conclusion is not where you literally state “this is the conclusion of my paper”. That’s the whole purpose of this section! Don’t be afraid to use words like “finally”, “at last”, or even something as subtle as starting your sentence with the word “Finally” to get your point across here. In fact, try writing out a variety of different conclusions and see which one seems best (the stronger ones will seem more fitting than the weaker ones).
- Make sure you restate all of your main arguments and points in this last paragraph so that readers don’t forget what they just read about! It’s really easy for them to look over this final paragraph without paying too much attention to it, so this is your last chance to make sure they actually remembered what you talked about through the whole paper.
- Try to end your research paper on a positive note if possible, or at least bring balance to an otherwise negative one. If a reader feels good after reading something sad or depressing, then chances are they’ll remember how you made them feel for a long time (and by association, will remember your name and what you wrote).
- Make sure you begin this final paragraph with a good transition. You might want to try using a term like “Finally…” or “In conclusion…” as your lead in here.
Reference page, also referred to as the bibliography, is a citation of materials you gathered information. Do not leave out this part to avoid plagiarism. Whether your are writing an MLA format paper or APA format paper, you need to cite every source you have used while writing your paper.
How to End a Research Paper
When concluding your research paper, you can consider the steps below:
- Restate the research topic and the research problem. Be keen not to be repetitive. Use different words to describe these elements.
- Summarize the main points of your research. The conclusion is a brief overview of the points, particularly those that you want to emphasize.
- Show the significance of your research. Use the results obtained to emphasize the significance of the research carried out. State the impact of your topic relating it to the current day happenings.
- Conclude your thoughts. All stated and done, finalize your thoughts by giving a call of action for the reader.
Once you have completed your proposal, take the time to proofread. You should make sure all the information you have cited is accurate. Correct spelling and punctuation are also essential.
Tips for Writing a Research Paper for College
- Follow the instructions given by the institution or the supervisor. Stick to your assignment topic. When you go out of topic, the essay becomes irrelevant.
- Draft the paper before writing the final copy that you will submit. A draft allows you to make mistakes. Later you can read through the draft and correct any mistakes.
- Write your paper to suit your audience. What you write in your paper depends on the audience you target. For example, what’s written to college students may not appeal to businesses.
- Introduce your proposal in an interesting formal way to invite the reader to read the rest of the paper.
- Have a clear title. Let your title speak for your essay. The reader should pull what your essay describes after reading the title.
- Show that your research is viable. Show the relevance of your essay, and how it applies to the modern-day.
- Use simple language avoiding grammar mistakes and typing errors.
Common Mistakes Students Make When Writing Research Papers.
- Poor organization and structure.
- Fail to cite references. It makes your work unbelievable.
- Use of too much vocabulary and jargon.
- Make the research paper too long or too short.
- Inadequate research on the topic.
- Too many spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
- Use of the wrong verb tense.
- Adding too much irrelevant information in your essay, making your paper lose meaning.
Characteristics of a well written research paper
While many try to put together engaging pieces of work on tight deadlines using online homework writing services such as tutlance, very few succeed to do so. If a student fails to complete their research paper in time, he/she has to either write it from scratch or face academic penalties.
A well-written research paper is vital for the success of any university student and helps earn strong grades and recognition among peers. It is said that first impression is often the best impression, which means that if you write a research paper well, from content to design and layout to language use – it will make a great first impact on your readers.
A well-written research paper should follow these guidelines:
- The topic statement must be clear and concise. It should give a general idea to your readers about what you have written in the paper. If you write a topic statement that is too broad, it will not be possible for your readers to understand its purpose and meaning easily.
- Your research paper needs a research question or central idea on which the entire work would revolve around. A good research paper should answer this question or explore the central idea.
- It must be original. Your research paper should give a new insight into an existing problem or at least create an entirely new perspective on the subject matter that your readers have not come across before.
- A well-written research paper should use correct language and strong vocabulary without using clichés and common phrases.
- It should be easy to understand and follow the flow of your work without losing interest midway through it. Cramming too much information into a paper is one of the biggest mistakes that many novice writers make – which makes it hard for their readers to follow them and understand what they are trying to say. A well-written research paper is direct and to the point. It has a clear flow and easy to follow language without having readers struggle hard to understand it.
- A well-written research paper should have a consistent tone and voice throughout the work with no leaps from one style of writing to another – which makes it difficult for any reader to understand what has been written.
- It should be formatted appropriately and have an attractive design layout to make it easy on the eyes of your readers to follow.
- A well-written research paper must be proofread by a professional proofreader before being submitted to your professor for review and grading. This step is extremely vital as a small error in your work will cost you a big grading point loss.
- A well-written research paper should also be accompanied by an acknowledgements page and references in the correct format. These two components are essential to make a strong academic impact on it readers.
- Above all, your research paper must be allowed to carry a lot of visual interest for your readers to keep their interest level high throughout the reading process, which is why a research paper should be accompanied by relevant images and diagrams that explain the central idea in detail.
Resources to write a research paper for college:
- Boston college libraries
- Research paper handout – Sierra college
- Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts
- Steps in research process – North Hennepin Community College
One of the best ways to write a well-written research paper is to assign it to one of our professional research paper writers at Tutlance homework market to write it for you. Our writers are professional, experienced and highly skilled in research paper writing so they can help you achieve better grades with our effective academic assistance. You can either opt for any of our custom research paper writing services carried out by our academic experts or ask us to assign a writer who is your best fit based on his/her qualifications and experience.
Indeed, writing research papers is a critical part of your studies. Research encourages learners to explore possibilities, understand underlying issues, and expound and disclose truths, half-truths, and fabricated ones.
So, when you make your next research paper, observe the tricks you have learned in this “how to write a research paper” guide.
But if your hands are full or the whole exercise is still troubling you, you can seek help from our platform of professional research paper writers.
Related research paper guides
- How to Conduct Research for a Research Paper
- What are Research Findings?
- Research paper examples
- Discussion section of a research paper
- Types of research papers
- What is an appendix in a paper?
- How to write preface for project report
- Parts of a research paper
- Research Analysis Paper: How to Analyze a Research Article
- Data analysis section of a research paper
- How To Write a Research Proposal – Topics, Template, Format, Examples
- research paper title page
- Research Paper Format
- Exploratory data analysis research paper
- Content analysis
- How to write a school shooting research paper, outline examples
- How to write hypothesis in a research paper
- How to write a meta analysis research paper
- How to Write a Research Paper Abstract + Example
- Research paper conclusion
- Research paper introduction paragraph
- How to write a research paper outline, examples, & template
- Literature review in research paper
- How to write the results section of a research paper + examples
- How to write the methods section of a research paper
- Research paper on mass shootings in america
- How to write a thesis statement for a research paper
- Hook for research paper