How to Write an Effective Research Paper

If you are a student who has been assigned the task to write research papers, you might find this article very helpful. It explains how to go about writing an effective paper by breaking it down into step-by-step instructions that are easier to understand.

Step 1 - Pick your Topic

The topic or subject of your research paper is very important. It must be something you are interested in and one that is relevant to your course. If you pick a topic on which you have no interest, chances are high that the research will be boring for you and as a result, the finished work will also be boring or might not meet all of the academic requirements which were set for you by your tutor. For example, if the essay topic is on a subject that does not interest a student or a current event or a news story that has been covered recently, it will be very difficult for him/her to write about it.

Step 2 - Find out What's Already Been Said about Your Topic

It is important that you do not write your paper on something that has already been written about extensively. You need to find out what is already known or has been said about your topic by looking at reference books, journals and other published material. This will enable you to focus on new ideas, fresh information or additional clarification of established facts based on evidence that can be stated as facts.

Step 3 - Do the Research and Find Out What's Been Said About Your Topic

Once you have decided on a topic and determined what is already known about it, the next step is to do research and look for material that has been written by other scholars, authors or experts in your area of study. This will help you to find out what is known about your topic and whether or not there are disagreements in the conclusions or in the ideas presented in them. Also, you will be able to decide how many sources of information will be required for your research paper and at what level (for example, secondary/tertiary).

Step 4 - Create an Outline

Outlining is the process of preparing a detailed plan or framework for your research paper. The best way to proceed would be to create an outline first, and then go about researching and writing the content. An outline gives you a clear idea of how to present your information and what sections will be included in it and which parts will form the main body of the paper. It also helps you to ensure that there are no gaps or missing links in your work and makes it easier for you to follow through with all the steps required to complete it.

Step 5 - Write Your Introduction Right at the Beginning

As soon as you start writing, sit down and write your introduction first. This might take you a few hours or even more if it is longer than usual. The introduction should include the thesis statement which you have already determined before beginning research on your topic. It should also contain a brief background of the problem being discussed, some history if necessary and any existing theories that are relevant to your work.

Step 6 - Write the Body of Your Essay

The body section of your research paper should be written in an organized and sequential fashion. It might include: evidence (references), analysis (of existing theories, concepts and ideas) and implications or possible applications for future. For example, if you are writing a research paper on how to strengthen the relationship between a mother and a child, you might have to do tests or experiments to come up with your results. In the body of the paper, you need to explain what was done in those tests as well as why it was done that way and not otherwise. You will also have to discuss the findings from these tests, which might include statistical data.

Step 7 - Write Your Conclusion

The conclusion usually summarizes the main points of your work in simpler form. Just like the introduction, it should also mention your thesis statement and contain a recapitulation of what has been said earlier in your paper. It will help to bring together all the ideas discussed in the body section and answer any specific questions raised in the reader's mind. The conclusion is usually written last after you complete your paper, but some writers like to write it first before doing anything else.

Step 8 - Edit and Fine tune Your Work

Check for any spelling or grammatical errors while proofreading your work. You will have to read through your paper time and again to find and correct errors because it is much easier for a reader to understand your thoughts if they are free from spelling mistakes or improper punctuation. Take out all the unnecessary sentences and paragraphs, as well as those parts which do not contribute to the main body of your work. Create a logical flow in the ideas presented in your paper by linking them in a logical sequence and make the formatting of your paper consistent throughout. This will make it easier for readers to follow what you are trying to say and add to the overall quality of your work.

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Research Paper FAQs

What is a research paper?

A research paper is an in-depth, systematic, and objective study of a particular topic or question that has been conducted by the writer. It can be either descriptive or analytical depending on the type of information provided by the writer regarding their subject.

Are there different types of research papers?

There are many different types of research papers, including literary analysis essays, creative essays, narrative essays, comparison/contrast essays, and persuasive essays.

What is the difference between a descriptive paper and an analytical paper?

A descriptive essay tells what happened in the story or event that took place without passing any judgments on it while an analytical paper offers critical opinions regarding what happened in their chosen story or event.

What is an MLA format research paper?

The MLA (Modern Language Association) style of formatting is typically used for writing papers and citing sources within the liberal arts and humanities. It is normally set up as a hanging indent where the second and subsequent lines are indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, a system generally referred to as a "hanging indent." The reader first encounters the name of the author and the page number, with the title placed under.

What type of information is needed in an APA format research paper?

An American Psychological Association style research paper requires six elements: an abstract, an introduction, a literature review (optional), a method section, results and discussion sections, and a reference page.

How do you format an MLA research paper?

Formatting an MLA research paper requires the writer to place their name, the name of their instructor, the title of the assignment, and the date on top of each page in the upper right-hand corner. The reader should see a running head, which is simply a shortened version of the paper's title.

What is a research paper for?

A research paper is used to provide current and relevant information on a topic of interest. It can also be used for testing the writer's ability to gather and analyze information, their capacity for critical thinking, and their knowledge in a specific area.

How long should a research paper be?

Although there are no set rules when it comes to writing a research paper, most instructors would require at least eight to twelve pages for an undergrad.

What are the steps in writing a research paper?

The steps involved in writing a research paper include choosing a topic, conducting background research on that topic, developing a thesis or argument about that topic, establishing main points and sub points to support the thesis or argument, organizing the paper, writing the draft, and proofreading.

What is a thesis statement in a research paper?

A thesis statement provides an argument about the topic of the research paper and must be debatable (speakable either for or against). It should not restate what is already obvious from the information presented in it; instead, it should present a new argument or idea about the topic in question.

How do you begin a research paper?

Begin a research paper by creating a strong thesis statement that offers a fresh perspective or idea about the topic. You can also begin by explaining to the reader why they should be interested in your topic and how you will prove its significance throughout your paper.

What is an abstract in a research paper?

An abstract is a brief summary of what the research paper is about, why it is important, and how the writer plans to bring this topic to life throughout the course of their paper.

What does a thesis statement do?

A thesis statement formulates an argument that holds true based on what you have found in your research; it should be debatable (speakable for or against) and not just restate what is already obvious from the information presented in it.

What does an introduction do?

An introduction must tell the reader why they should be interested in your topic and how you plan to prove its significance throughout the course of your paper. It also sets up your thesis statement and context for readers so they understand where and when events took place.

What is an introduction in a research paper?

An introduction provides the context for readers so they can understand where and when events took place. It also sets up your thesis statement by explaining why readers should be interested in your topic and what you plan to prove about it throughout the course of your paper.

How do you write a conclusion in a research paper?


A conclusion should restate what you have proven about your topic, how it will affect the world, and why it is important to remember. It can also include a personal reflection on what you have learned throughout the course of your research.