How to Write a Research Paper like a Pro

This guide will provide all the information you need to write a great research paper for your college or university course.

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Writing an excellent research paper is not an easy task. Many important activities and steps are involved in this type of writing project, making it critical to know the procedure before you begin.

1. Choose a Good Research Topic

The first step in writing an impressive research paper that will earn you a top grade is to choose the right topic. In most cases, your tutor or professor will provide you with a set of areas for you to potentially focus on, but you will still need to narrow them down before you can start writing. For instance, if you are writing a research paper for a history class and the professor requires you to write on World War I, you should choose a particular topic that relates to the stated topic.

The Long-Term Impact of World War I on Global Politics.

When choosing a particular topic, keep in mind the following three things. First, check the course objectives and learning outcomes for your module to ensure that the chosen topic fits your studies. Second, try to find a topic that is important or interesting to you. For example, consider the specific topics in your course that you enjoyed and want to explore further. Selecting a problem that you find relevant or compelling will make writing your research paper more exciting and fun. Lastly, ensure that the topic you choose is not too narrow or too broad. In the first case, you might struggle to find resources for your paper and to meet the word-count requirements. In the second case, it will be difficult for you to ensure the depth of analysis required for a research paper.

2. Find Information

Once you have decided on a specific topic, it is time to begin your research by finding secondary sources. Depending on your tutor’s requirements, the following types of resources might be useful:

  • Books or e-books
  • Research articles
  • Official documents and government publications
  • News articles
  • Conference proceedings
  • PDF documents found online
  • Websites and web pages

Make sure to read the instructions from your tutor carefully to avoid using resources that do not fit the required criteria. For example, some tutors have strict rules against using online materials, and thus students must rely on books and scholarly articles published in periodicals. In addition, note that you might want to avoid some types of resources even if they are allowed by your tutor. These include Wikipedia, blogs, YouTube videos, and websites that lack credibility. Information contained in these sources might be incorrect or outdated, affecting the strength of your literature review.

Some sources, such as news articles and web pages, can be easily found using popular search engines. However, to find research articles and other scholarly publications, you will need to access academic databases or your institution’s library website. Some examples of databases where you can find peer-reviewed research articles include Science Direct, Taylor & Francis, Emerald Insight, and Springer. You might also find Google Scholar helpful as it searches for articles published in all kinds of databases.

3. Make Your Thesis Statement

After collecting and reading through the secondary sources, you need to write a thesis statement. This statement is the backbone of your research paper, defining the purpose and goal of your research while establishing a clear focus for the paper. You can refer to your thesis statement throughout writing the first draft to ensure that all parts of your paper are relevant as well as achieving more clarity.

Examples of thesis statements for a research paper:

  • This paper aims to determine the influence of World War I on global politics, thus showing its historical significance. (History)
  • This research will seek to outline the relationship between various types of obesity treatments and weight-loss consistency in order to explore the effectiveness of different options. (Health and Medicine)
  • The present paper will look at the evidence supporting the use of a transformational leadership style for improving employee motivation and performance. (Business)

4. Make a Research Paper Outline

The outline will represent the core structure of your research paper, which will help to improve the organization and coherency of your writing. Research papers normally include at least these six components:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

Each part of your research paper should be connected to the thesis statement that you will include in the paper. This is essential to avoid drifting off the topic and losing marks. Therefore, your introduction presents the issue and your thesis statement. The literature review establishes the background for your research, and the methodology section describes how you intend to achieve the goals of the study. In the Results and Discussion sections, you outline the outcomes of your research and interpret them. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the key points from the paper and provides suggestions for future research on the topic.

5. Organize Your Notes

Whether you are concluding a study or analyzing the literature, it is essential to keep track of your findings. Organized notes make it easier for you to write the first draft as well as any future revisions. You have several choices for structuring your notes:

  • By section. Add notes to relevant parts of your outline to ensure that you remember to include them.
  • By topic. Create groups with similar ideas found in different sources to show your understanding of all aspects of the topic.
  • By author. This might be useful if you are looking at how ideas about a specific concept have developed over time.

Whichever organization style you choose, make sure that you reference your notes correctly. This is important to guarantee avoiding plagiarism, and it will make the process of adding references to the final paper much faster.

6. Write Your First Draft

Building on the ideas from your notes, you can now start writing your first draft. If most of your notes are from secondary sources, you can add your own interpretations and thoughts to complete the paper. Pay particular attention to the structure of your work and the logical flow of ideas as these are prerequisites for a high-quality research paper. Depending on the type of research that you are producing, it might be useful to include diagrams, tables, and graphs as you present your findings. After your first draft is complete, read through it and make notes regarding possible revision. You can also ask your tutor or a friend to read through your first draft and provide some comments.

7. Revise Your Outline and Draft

Once you have checked through the first draft of your paper and received comments about areas that require improvement, you can revise your draft and the outline. The components of the revision process will be specific to your paper, but may include:

  • Finding more sources to create a comprehensive literature review
  • Elaborating on the methodology by detailing the procedures for data collection and analysis
  • Using more tools for data analysis to improve the reliability of results
  • Defining and noting the limitations of your research in a relevant section of the paper
  • Looking at how the studied concept is applied in other countries
  • Clarifying the goals of the research or the main hypotheses
  • Showing how the hypotheses were found to be true or false

8. Type Your Final Paper

The third draft of the paper will usually be your final draft. Whereas the first revision is intended to improve the scope and depth of your research, the second revision should consider the presentation, structure, and grammar. At this stage, it is critical to take into account whether your paper:

  • Studies the topic in depth and provides a sufficient amount of information
  • Is properly structured in accordance with your institution’s requirements
  • Includes references to all of the sources used
  • Follows precisely the specific referencing format required by your tutor or institution
  • Is written in a clear and concise manner with no irrelevant comments
  • Has no grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, or expressions not conducive to academic writing

If your work fulfills all of these criteria, congratulations! You have just completed an excellent research paper that will earn you a high grade. If any more adjustments are needed, then you should continue working on your draft to make sure that it is perfect before submitting it.

Hopefully, the tips provided in this guide will help you to improve your writing and impress your tutor!

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