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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 1. Getting Started

  • 1. Getting Started
  • 2. Topic Ideas
  • 3. Thesis Statement & Outline
  • 4. Appropriate Sources
  • 5. Search Techniques
  • 6. Taking Notes & Documenting Sources
  • 7. Evaluating Sources
  • 8. Citations & Plagiarism
  • 9. Writing Your Research Paper


Let's Get Started

We are here to help.

Writing research papers is an important part of your college learning experience, training you to research and write effectively. However, if you don't know how to start, writing a research paper can be a daunting task. Don't worry! We will guide you through the process. The sections in this step-by-step guide allow you to learn at your own pace. Revisit the information as much as you need. Let's get started!

What Is a Research Paper?

A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your investigation and argument on a focused topic based on the information you gathered. It demonstrates not only your understanding of available information from experts in the area of your research, but also your evaluation and insight on the subject matter through an orderly and logical presentation of your argument.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Research Paper?

Make sure you know the requirements of your specific assignment. But in general, a good research paper will have the following qualities:

  • A strong and focused thesis statement
  • Logically organized a rguments and main points
  • Each main point is supported by persuasive facts and examples
  • Opposing viewpoints are included and rebutted, showing why the author's argument is more valid
  • The paper shows the author's understanding of the topic and the material being used
  • The work is original, not plagiarized 
  • Every source is correctly documented and credited in a recognized citation style
  • The paper is written in clear language in a style suitable for college research

Need help with your research paper?  A librarian can help guide you through the process of research.

Here are ways to contact a librarian:

  • Email the library at [email protected]
  • Find the librarian best suited for your subject area
  • Use our 24/7 chat service (use the chat box on the right)

Ebooks on Writing

Looking for a really detailed guide?  Try these ebooks:

Cover Art

Research Paper Process

Following the research process will help you with your paper.

Select a Topic 

Find Background Information

Formulate a Thesis Statement

Create an Outline

Locate and Retrieve Materials

Evaluate Information

Write the Paper

Review Paper and Citations

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How to Write a Research Paper? A Beginners Guide with Useful Academic Phrases

This blog explains how to write a research paper and provides writing ideas in the form of academic phrases. Before starting to write your research paper, it is essential to spend some time understanding the research paper format required for your field. Different fields use different research paper formats. It is a good idea to start with the research paper outline with various headings, subheadings, fonts, references, and placeholders for the content. Once you have the research paper format and outline, then it can be considered to be your first draft, and you can start to work on it and improve it gradually.

In the following sections, we cover all the main headings you will need to include when writing a research paper. The research paper format illustrated in this document is a standard basic format that is applicable to most academic research papers. This document is intended for beginners who are looking for guidance to write their first research paper. However, this can be used as a refresher or teaching resource by researchers and academics who have published several research papers. Some useful academic phrases for writing each section is given at the end of each section. We also recommend you to refer to our other blogs on  academic writing tools ,   academic writing resources , and  academic phrase-bank , which are relevant to the topic discussed in this blog. 

1. Introduction

guide on how to write a research project

The introduction section of the research paper should start with a brief outline of the research domain or topic and end with the justification for researching this domain. The research paper outline for the introduction section of the paper should touch upon the themes shown in the above figure. Suppose your research paper is about a specific technique, method, or approach. In that case, you can start the introduction with a couple of lines, clearly explaining what it is and its application domain. This section should contain information about the timelines of various events about the research topic and how it has progressed over time. This may include things like recent advancements in the field and future predictions. It is vital to provide the audience with general facts about the topic that is widely known and relevant to the paper’s content. Make sure you backup the known facts with adequate references. Some useful academic phrases for writing this section is given below, and more academic phrases for introduction section can be accessed here.

  • About research
  • Importance of topic
  • Timelines & recent advancements
  • Future predictions
  • Generally accepted facts

2. Problem Definition

guide on how to write a research project

The problem definition can be a part of the introduction section or the subsequent paragraph that follows the introduction. The research paper format for this section typically includes themes shown in the above figure. Here is where you define the problem and provide an overview of current solutions. You must explain why the existing solutions are inadequate and also outline various difficulties and challenges associated with the problem. You can briefly explain what your solution is and how you propose to tackle the problem.

  • Problem definition
  • Current solutions
  • Your solution

3. Literature Review

guide on how to write a research project

The literature review should provide adequate background information about your research topic. The literature review should touch upon the themes shown in the above figure. This section should explain the state-of-the-art methods and highlight other important seminal and pioneering works. It is good to cite a few survey papers that review and summarize all the significant findings in the area. This is an excellent place to discuss controversial studies and other debated issues surrounding the topic. The references should cover studies published at different periods and include the most recent studies relevant to your work. If your research is inspired by the findings or statements made in an existing paper, then add a few statements explaining how this has influenced your research into this topic. Some useful academic phrases for writing this section is given below, and more literature review academic phrases can be accessed here .

  • Seminal & pioneering works
  • Well studied topic
  • Debated and controversial issues
  • Drawbacks of previous studies
  • Drawing inspiration from literature

4. Research Gap

guide on how to write a research project

The research gap should follow the literature review. This is where you explain the lack of adequate research about your chosen topic and make a case for the need for more research. You can point to references in the literature review section and explain why the existing evidence or work is inadequate. You can point to drawbacks and shortcomings of existing methods and also flaws in the previous studies. This is an excellent place to formulate your research question and create your niche. The research paper format for this section typically includes themes shown in the above figure.

  • Limited previous studies
  • Research question

5. Your Work

guide on how to write a research project

After establishing the research gap, the next step is to elaborate on your work and how you intend to execute them. You can link to the research gap by adding a statement about your motivation to undertake this work. You have to define your aims and objectives here. If your work is hypothesis-driven, then you have to define the hypothesis underpinning your work here. You can elaborate on the study design, reference previous work by you on this topic, and explain how you intend to build upon your previous findings. You can add a brief statement stating how you expect the research outcomes to benefit the research domain. You can finish with an outline of the rest of the paper by providing a breakdown of the sections.

  • Aims, objectives and hypothesis
  • Study design

6. Materials and Methods

guide on how to write a research project

The materials and methods section should be dedicated to elaborating the technical details of your method or approach. The details provided in this section should be adequate for other researchers to reproduce your method and results. You have to detail your method implementation and execution along with necessary equations, figures, and tables. This is an excellent place to explain the origins of the method and any supporting information available in the literature to back up using this method. You should also explain how the method was validated by providing details of any pilot studies or pointing to previously published papers. If your method deals with measurements, it is imperative to provide information pertaining to the experimental setup, measurement procedure, and parameters. The research paper outline should touch upon the themes shown in the above figure. Some useful academic phrases for writing this section is given below, and more materials & methods academic phrases can be accessed here .

  • Experimental setup
  • Using previously published methods
  • Validation of methods
  • Advantages of the chosen methods

7. Data Collection

guide on how to write a research project

If your research is data-driven, you should have a section dedicated to data collection and analysis procedures. This can be a part of the materials and methods section if appropriate. Here is where you explain the recruitment procedure, sample size, consenting procedure, inclusion and exclusion criteria. Suppose your study is questionnaire or interview-based. This section should elaborate the details of the interview procedure, description of the task, questionnaire design etc. It is also essential to explain the steps taken to keep the data secure and maintain participant confidentiality. The research paper format for this section typically includes themes shown in the above figure.

  • About the study population
  • Consent and ethical approval
  • Questionnaires and interviews

guide on how to write a research project

The results section summarizes the outcome of your research. In this section you must try to illustrate your data by means of plots and tables. You must also include the details of statistical tests and p-values to justify significance. You can provide your interpretation of you results by listing your key findings and explaining whether it was expected or unexpected, positive or negative, inconclusive or concrete. You can draw comparisons to previous relevant works and explain if your results are in agreement or disagreement with previous findings. You can also explain any challenging aspects of data analysis and how you overcame it. Some useful academic phrases for writing this section is given below, and more academic phrases for writing the results section can be accessed here .

  • Key findings
  • Positive & negative findings
  • Unexpected and inconclusive findings
  • Agreements and disagreements with previous work

9. Discussion

guide on how to write a research project

The discussion section is one of the most important sections of the research paper. This section should summarize your paper’s overall results and provide an honest and unbiased assessment of your work. It is vital that you don’t add any new details about your method or approach in this section. This is an excellent place to highlight the strengths of your work and the implications of your findings. You must also explain your work’s limitations and shortcomings and explain how further research will be beneficial to address the outstanding issues. Some useful academic phrases for writing this section is given below, and more academic phrases for writing the discussion section can be accessed here .

  • Implications of your findings
  • Your contributions
  • Novelty of your work
  • Limitations
  • Future work

10. Acknowledgements

guide on how to write a research project

Acknowledgements should go before references in your research paper. Here is where you thank your friends, colleagues and supervisors for their help. You can thank funders and mention the details of the research grants that provided financial support for your research here. Some useful academic phrases for writing this section is given below, and more academic phrases for writing the acknowledgements section can be accessed here .

  • Thanking people
  • Acknowledging financial support

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guide on how to write a research project

Writing a Research Paper

This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper.

Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide.

Discovering, Narrowing, and Focusing a Researchable Topic

  • Try to find a topic that truly interests you
  • Try writing your way to a topic
  • Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
  • Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved

Finding, Selecting, and Reading Sources

You will need to look at the following types of sources:

  • library catalog, periodical indexes, bibliographies, suggestions from your instructor
  • primary vs. secondary sources
  • journals, books, other documents

Grouping, Sequencing, and Documenting Information

The following systems will help keep you organized:

  • a system for noting sources on bibliography cards
  • a system for organizing material according to its relative importance
  • a system for taking notes

Writing an Outline and a Prospectus for Yourself

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the topic?
  • Why is it significant?
  • What background material is relevant?
  • What is my thesis or purpose statement?
  • What organizational plan will best support my purpose?

Writing the Introduction

In the introduction you will need to do the following things:

  • present relevant background or contextual material
  • define terms or concepts when necessary
  • explain the focus of the paper and your specific purpose
  • reveal your plan of organization

Writing the Body

  • Use your outline and prospectus as flexible guides
  • Build your essay around points you want to make (i.e., don’t let your sources organize your paper)
  • Integrate your sources into your discussion
  • Summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it
  • Move up and down the “ladder of abstraction” from generalization to varying levels of detail back to generalization

Writing the Conclusion

  • If the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to add your points up, to explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction.
  • Perhaps suggest what about this topic needs further research.

Revising the Final Draft

  • Check overall organization : logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion.
  • Paragraph level concerns : topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.
  • Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling.
  • Documentation: consistent use of one system, citation of all material not considered common knowledge, appropriate use of endnotes or footnotes, accuracy of list of works cited.

guide on how to write a research project

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How to Write a Research Paper: Complete Guide & Writing Tips

how to write a research paper

Table of contents


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A research paper is a written work that presents the results of an investigation or study on a particular topic. The purpose of a research paper is to offer new knowledge to the field and provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the subject. It should have a clear thesis statement, a well-structured outline, and use reliable sources. The paper should also demonstrate critical thinking and in-depth analysis of the research question.

Creating a research paper requires significant effort and time, but it can also be a rewarding experience that leverages your critical thinking and writing skills.  In this article, you'll find a breakdown of the research paper writing process into manageable tasks. It begins with a clear explanation of what a research paper is and its significance. The guide also provides step-by-step instructions on how to write a research paper, including tips on conducting research, organizing your ideas, and crafting a flawless work. If you still will be struggling with your work, consider hiring research paper writers online to assist you. They can help you conduct research, organize your ideas, and develop a polished final product. Take advantage of their expertise and experience to achieve academic success. 

What Is a Research Paper: Definition

A research paper is a type of document that requires students to investigate a specific topic, analyze sources, and interpret the findings. The aim is to bring together various facts, evidence, and views regarding a question in your field of study and present your assessment, arguments and understanding of them logically and orderly. 

Research Paper Definition

Note that research papers are different from other types of scholarly tasks such as an academic essay . A research paper aims to contribute new knowledge to a specific field and requires extensive research, sources, and a formal structure. On the other hand, an essay presents an argument or viewpoint, is usually shorter, and may not require sources or a strict structure. Research Paper vs Academic Essay

What Makes a Good Research Paper?

A good research paper is not just about presenting information. Its main goal is to  introduce research findings in a way that is both engaging and informative. Below are characteristics of a well-written research paper:

  • A clear and concise thesis statement is present and serves as the foundation of the key arguments and analysis.
  • Writing is well-organized, with major points and revelations presented in a logical and coherent manner.
  • Solid facts and evidence support each central claim.
  • A deep understanding of the subject matter and studies is shown while writing a research paper.
  • The work is original and contains no signs of plagiarism.
  • Correct citation format is followed in every source reference.
  • Language used in the paper is clear, precise, and appropriate for scientific works.

How Long Should a Research Paper Be?

On average, a research paper length ranges between 4000-6000 words which is around 8-50 pages excluding references, abstracts, figures, or tables. Nevertheless, short works may necessitate 2000 words while longer ones may require up to 8000 words or more, based on their difficulty. In particular, complex subjects focusing on multiple research questions may require extended papers. Other factors such as school level, an assignment’s discipline, scope, and instructions affect a research paper word count. Remember to stick to your task guidelines strictly as you write a research paper. Seek more information from your instructor in cases where the instructions are unclear about the size aspect.

How to Write a Research Paper Step-By-Step

Composing a professional piece is not something that you can do in a few hours. If you do not know how to write a good research paper, this guide will take you through a series of steps, beginning with a thorough consideration of the instructions and ending with examples:

How to Write a Research Paper

As you progress through these stages, you'll acquire valuable knowledge on how to write an academic research paper. This will enable you to handle the entire process with ease in future assignments. Keep in mind that the goal is to present your findings as clearly as possible. To achieve success in creating your study, follow the steps outlined below.

1. Carefully Read Instructions

The first step to writing a research paper is getting familiar with your instructions. Achieving success in your project demands careful attention and analysis of all the given guidelines. This approach guarantees exceptional outcomes. To ensure that your research paper meets the required standards, it is essential to:

  • Examine an assignment. Spend adequate time reading all your research paper guidelines. If something is unclear or you are in doubt, ask your professor for clarification.
  • Understand its purpose. You must be certain about your task’s objective. In other words, what is the purpose of research paper writing? Is it to persuade, inform, or analyze?
  • Pay attention to specific details. Identify your assignment’s topic, its length, formatting and citation style, information about the process of writing a research paper, deadline, delivery method, number and type of sources, and any other special details.
  • Keep key points in mind. Now that you know what is required, list all your important points and mark each one of them as done when writing.

Remember that StudyCrumb also offers paper writers for hire who can do all the hard work for you.

2. Come Up With a Topic

Once you have understood the instructions, the next step is to determine what to write in a research paper. Depending on the guidelines provided, you may be given a specific topic to research or required to choose one yourself.  If you are tasked with selecting a topic, there are several ways to generate ideas, including:

  • Brainstorming
  • Discussing with your instructor or classmates
  • Engaging in freewriting exercises to identify relevant subjects
  • Reviewing other studies for undercovered topics.

Regardless of how you choose your topic, it is crucial to ensure that it meets the following criteria:

  • Is relevant to an academic research paper length Longer works may require a slightly broad topic such as “ Climate Change Effect on Agriculture ”, while shorter ones need narrower themes such as “ Climate Change Impact on Wheat Production .”
  • Is interesting Selecting something interesting increases your eagerness to investigate and simplifies your work when interpreting sources.
  • Can be analyzed rather than summarized Focus on a debatable theme that can be viewed from different angles.
  • Has adequate previous exploration Finding a topic with many research papers makes it easy to find and evaluate information.

Besides, make sure that your preferred theme meets the assignment criteria, is original, and is specific. For example, “ Cold War Chronology ” is too broad and not specific compared to “ Significant Technological Inventions during the Cold War .”

3. Carry Out Initial Research

Now that you have a topic, conducting a preliminary investigation when you write your research paper is important. This step is crucial in discovering the availability of information on the issue, understanding your target audience, and establishing the background of your work. To achieve this, you need to read several articles or books in your field related to your topic, as you continue to learn on how to do a research paper. But before getting your sources, you must develop a good search strategy. Therefore, start by listing several keywords related to your subject. Then, find reliable databases such as JSTOR , EBSCO etc. and type in the phrases you identified one by one to commence your search. The results from your exploration will show a wide range of articles. However, research writing requires selecting credible sources. Thus, ensure that you choose scholarly documents only. As the initial inquiry progresses, find relevant texts for a literature review . Assess them by thinking about their importance to your topic, accessibility, and relevance. Additionally, look out for prominent authors, try to identify the perspectives of studies, and determine if you can understand the presented facts. As you pick sources for a research paper, take notes about their arguments. Seek college papers help ? Contact our academic writers and get comprehensive writing assistance with any topic.

4. Construct a Thesis Statement

After conducting preliminary research and gathering data , it's important to craft a thesis statement that captures the main idea of your research paper. This statement will serve as the focal point of your analysis, and it helps to organize your thoughts and arguments effectively. Typically placed in the introduction, your thesis statement prepares your readers for the insights you'll present in the rest of the paper. To create a good thesis, ensure that it is in a statement form, not a question. This is essential because it must express your perspective. Also, don’t exaggerate an opinion. For example, don’t say, “ AI is wonderful ” or “ AI is terrible ”. Rather, you should state that “ AI does more good than harm ” or vice versa and give reasons.  While writing an academic research paper, it's crucial that you directly address the topic you intend to discuss in your thesis statement. This involves clearly defining and categorizing the information you've gathered to support your argument. Look at the following example:

The Amazon Rain Forest can be saved by Restricting Tourism, Boycotting Products made by Companies Depleting its Resources, and Educating Masses regarding the need to Preserve it.

This statement is good because it provides the main arguments and focuses your study by identifying and demonstrating the reasons for taking that particular position. However, something like “ Is it possible to Save the Amazon Rain Forest? ” is catchy but does not state an opinion, offer reasons, or provide a direction for an investigation.  Note that developing an effective thesis is an essential skill that contributes to your knowledge about how to properly write a research paper. Read this resource if you need more details on how to write a thesis statement for a research paper .

5. Build an Outline

One of the crucial steps to writing a research paper is creating an outline. This is vital because it streamlines your work, highlights detailed information for each paragraph and identifies the elements to be included in each section. Besides, it acts as a visual map of your research paper. The structure usually encompasses a thesis statement, basic ideas that will be mentioned in each paragraph, and supporting thoughts under each major theme.  But how do you write a research paper outline? Start with your thesis before listing and dividing the subjects to be discussed into major categories and sub-categories. Include sources under each topic. Remember that your sketch must reflect the selected arrangement of your project. Check this research paper outline template to get a better idea on how to properly organize your work.

6. Write the First Research Paper Draft

After completing an outline, you can start to write your research paper first draft. Keep in mind that you can revise or proofread it later. Thus, at this point, don’t be concerned too much with issues such as punctuation, editing, grammar or spelling. Rather, focus on your work’s content based on your outline. In particular, expand the template’s ideas with the information you collected during your initial exploration and elaborate on them.  The best way to write a research paper is to organize your project into three sections including an introduction, body, and conclusion. This enables you to put together different pieces into a coherent work.


To write an effective research paper you need to compose a decent introductory section. A research paper introduction should include a thesis, a summary of the main ideas, and a hook to engage the reader. To achieve this, you must first grab your audience's attention, provide relevant background information, explain the importance of your work, and present a clear thesis statement.  To decide what information to include, use the "what", "why", and "how" questions. Start by identifying the topic and providing context and key concepts. You can also highlight the controversial or critical nature of the topic or your novel insights.  Next, explain how your paper is organized and preview the topics to be discussed. By the end of the introduction, your readers should have a clear understanding of what a research paper is written about.

When it comes to writing a research paper, the body paragraphs are where you will discuss your main points and how they relate to one another. As a rule of thumb, this section is divided into several subsections, each covering a specific aspect of your research question. This approach enables you to organize your arguments and evidence in a clear and logical manner. Here is how you can effectively develop each paragraph when you write a research paper:

  • Start with a clear topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph.
  • Include reliable sources to provide evidence that backs up your argument. Make sure these sources come from reputable books or journals for accuracy and credibility.
  • Keep each paragraph focused on one main idea by avoiding any extra information not directly related to your argument.
  • Include graphs, tables and figures to support your ideas. However, avoid stuffing your text with too many distracting elements. The best way out is to show additional images in the appendix of a paper .
  • Utilize transition words such as "furthermore," "in addition," or "similarly" to show how ideas connect throughout your paper.
  • End each body paragraph with a conclusion statement that restates the main ideas and how they relate to your overall argument.

Following these steps in each body paragraph will ensure that you have effectively supported your research paper's argument, helping it to be as successful as possible. With strong evidence and well-structured paragraphs, you can make sure your research paper stands out from the crowd.

When concluding a research paper, it's important to consider your audience and the desired results you want readers to achieve. Simply restating your thesis and summarizing key arguments will result in a weak ending that fails to guide readers toward considering the implications of your topic. To ensure a strong conclusion for your research paper, keep the following in mind:

  • Provide future direction. Now that you have convinced the audience to accept your argument, what do you think will occur or should be done in the future?
  • Offer specific recommendations. At this point, your readers understand that the issue you explored is important. What should they do next or what can be done next?
  • Place your study problem in a broader context. Once you have proven the relevance of your topic, what other essential themes should be considered?

As you continue learning about how to write a conclusion for a research paper , note that it should not provide new information. Besides, it should not be too long or too short. Specifically, cover the aforementioned points adequately to help your readers understand your work’s argument and how you have addressed the thesis. Additionally, avoid phrases such as “In conclusion” at the beginning of this section. Feel free to use our Summarizing Tool to wrap up information you have provided in the main body. 

7. Cite Sources as You Write a Research Paper

Citing sources is a crucial step in writing a research paper, as it allows you to acknowledge information obtained from external sources. By referencing the sources you've used, you demonstrate to your readers which concepts support your arguments, where your ideas come from, and which ideas are your own. Proper citation is essential because it's a key skill in the research process, and it enhances your credibility as a scholar by showing that you've used reputable sources to back up your statements. On the other hand, improper citation can harm your integrity by misrepresenting others' ideas as your own, which is plagiarism. Academic dishonesty can result in project paper rejection or dismissal from your institution. It's important to check for plagiarism to ensure the authenticity of your research paper. Thus, to ensure your academic reliability, avoid:

  • Heavily depending on outside sources.
  • Summarizing or paraphrasing others’ ideas too much.
  • Incorrectly documenting articles.

The basic requirement regarding citation is that you should cite any specific information from outside sources.  You can use one of the following formats for citing in essays:

Remember that each style has specific rules regarding referencing sources within the document and at the end of research papers. So, ensure you understand the layout to use and its requirements.

8. Write the Second Draft of Your Research Paper

You started with a first draft, which means that your writing should have improved by now. Do not stop because the process for writing a research paper is not over yet. You need to prepare a second draft of your project. For this part, compare your current piece with the initial draft and ensure you are on the right path in terms of addressing your thesis and task instructions. You must also consider your audience and identify any points requiring more information or evidence. Another essential point on how to write a great research paper is removing arguments that lack adequate support and include new ideas that are relevant to the topic. Besides, check all the sections and make sure they are well-organized. You can rearrange your arguments to make your text flow smoothly and logically.

9. Revise and Edit

Writing a good research paper necessitates going over your work to improve it. Start with looking at various sections of your project such as an introduction, body, and conclusion and assess whether they convey your perspective correctly.  It is also essential to ensure that your research paper is correct concerning aspects such as punctuation, sentence construction, grammar, spelling, and word choice among others.  Remember that there is a difference between revising and proofreading. In particular, when doing a revision, the focus is usually on altering elements such as paper structure and arrangement of points. Nonetheless, proofreading entails polishing the text in terms of grammar aspects. Therefore, it is important to modify the document first before refining its semantics.  Generally, attend to the following rules:

  • Double-check to be sure that your work conforms to research papers guidelines.
  • Look out for incomplete or vague arguments and offer more clarification or explanation.
  • Consider whether you forgot transitions between paragraphs, offered examples without explanations, or overlooked links between segments. Make corrections accordingly.

Tips on Writing a Research Paper

Now that you know how to create a research paper, completing your project successfully should not be a difficult task. Since the procedure of writing a research paper is not easy to most students, knowing the research paper writing tips that should be considered during the actual writing is essential. Therefore, to ensure that the task is less challenging for you, follow the following extra tips for writing a research paper and get high grades:

  • Use index cards when analyzing studies. This allows you to keep track of all your thoughts, sources, and ideas.
  • Question/thesis statement. Ensure it is stated clearly and is specific. Avoid being too broad or vague. Also, make sure that it is addressed or answered properly by the end of your work.
  • Structure. Follow a proper and consistent format. Make sure you understand what each page requires and where to place it.
  • Language. Eliminate any grammatical or language issues as this enhances the quality of a research paper.

You may also need a useful guide on how to write a research proposal for your paper. We have such a blog with all the necessary steps.

Research Paper Checklist

If you are crafting your project from scratch, begin by going through the aforementioned steps to gain insights into the research paper process. However, if you are done with your work, you should be ready to submit it. But is it all set for delivery? To be sure, you should double check everything and make sure that your research paper writing has covered all elements. Consider this checklist:

  • checkbox My work complies with all the formal assignment requirements.
  • checkbox I picked an appropriate topic based on the instructions.
  • checkbox I have included reliable and credible studies.
  • checkbox My work contains an arguable, clear, and specific thesis statement.
  • checkbox I have organized my research paper logically and in an easy-to-understand structure.
  • checkbox I cited the information I obtained from others.
  • checkbox I have revised and proofread my work to eliminate errors and improve its quality.
  • checkbox I used a proper format.
  • checkbox My work is ready for delivery.

Bottom Line on Research Paper Writing

This article has presented valuable information about how to write a research paper. The entire process has been described comprehensively covering every important detail that guides you in developing your project. By now you should understand what is research paper writing. As seen from the aforementioned definition, it is a crucial piece of work that requires you to investigate, analyze, and interpret studies about an issue. We hope that by reading this guide for the research paper, you will be able to grasp the essential concepts. However, if some ideas are unclear, you can go through the blog again to see what a research paper looks like.


If you don't have any spare time or have other important things to do, we’ve got a quick and affordable solution for you. Contact StudyCrumb and buy research papers cheap from professionals. Simply provide your instructions, and our experts will write a top-quality research paper matching your needs.

FAQ About Writing a Research Paper

1. what is the purpose of a research paper.

The main purpose of a research paper is to engage other studies, draw on the opinions of experts about a specific topic, and offer a unique and thoughtful view of the problem being investigated. Accomplishing this necessitates spending an adequate amount of time examining, assessing, and interpreting sources before presenting the analysis results.

2. How to organize a research paper?

A completed research paper is generally organized into three major sections including an introduction section, a body segment, and a conclusion part. Each main part may include subheadings to ensure a logical structure and smooth flow of ideas. The body is the longest of the three and includes the bulk of your work supported with evidence from other studies.

3. What is the difference between a research paper and an essay?

The main difference is that a research paper is usually longer and offers arguments to prove a thesis or analyze a topic. It relies on information from other sources to back up points in an attempt to conduct a primary investigation about a particular phenomenon. An essay, on the other hand, looks shorter, has a focused objective, provides an answer to a particular issue, is based on the author’s experiences and thoughts, and mostly involves individual opinions on a specific subject. It also covers content that is already published in other studies and lacks original inquiry.


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