How to Write a Research Paper

How to Write a Research Paper

Every student should know how to write a research paper because preparing research papers is a must for students pursuing most college and university programs. A research paper is an academic paper or a publication that is published in an academic journal with original outcomes of a research or reviews of existing study results. It can also contain new invention-

A good research paper has the following attributes:

  • It synthesizes the discoveries that have been made about a specific topic and the judgment, evaluation and interpretation of the discoveries by the author.
  • It depicts originality
  • It acknowledges the used sources
  • It depicts the author as belonging to a scholars’ community.

A guide on how to write a research paper in 10 steps

  1. Select a topic

If you have not been given a topic to write the research paper on by your instructor, start by selecting a topic that challenges and interests you. The attitude that you have towards the topic that you choose will determine your enthusiasm about the paper and the effort that you put in your research. It is important that you avoid sensational and controversial subjects that might not be scholarly- Your topic should be narrow. For instance, a topic like “Sports are good” is too broad. It can be narrowed down to “Swimming is good because it keeps humans physically fit and healthy”.

  1. Gather information

For background or general information, check out different sources including URLs, almanacs, online encyclopedias and search engines among other tools. While doing that, pay close attention to the extensions of the domain names.

Examples of such extensions include:

  • .edu- for educational institutions
  • .gov- for government
  • .org- for non-profit organizations.

Such websites are more reliable because they represent reliable institutions. However, be careful about political bias in some of the government websites. For .com websites, be selective because these are commercial websites. Also use print materials that are available in your college or university library such as vertical files, reports, atlases, journals and magazines. You can also use online libraries to gather information for your research paper. While gathering information, list down their bibliographical information. Such information includes the name of the author, publication date and place, page number, title of the publication, URLs, the date of creation and modification of web pages and the date when you access the source. Everybody who knows how to write a research paper lists down such information about sources while gathering data because this makes referencing a research paper easier.

  1. Create a thesis statement

Before writing a thesis statement for your research paper, engage in critical thinking. A thesis statement serves as a belief declaration. It should be supported or defended by the other part of the research paper. Your thesis statement should describe the main argument or viewpoint that will be expressed and supported in the paper.

Examples of research papers and their thesis statements:

Sample 1:

Topic: Contribution of the mining industry to the economy of Ghana

Thesis statement: This study aims at answering the question about the contribution of the mining industry in the economy of Ghana.

Sample 2:

Topic: Legislative process

Thesis statement: This research paper aims at advising the sponsors as well as co-sponsors of the Veteran Employment Transition Act on the best way of getting support for this bill from Congress and Senate as well as the entire American population.

Sample 3:

Topic: Schools bullying

Thesis statement: Bullying level in the U.S learning institutions, causes and effects will be look at in the first part of this paper. The second part will endorse the methods that education experts and schools should use in dealing with bullying.

A thesis statement should be disputable and an opinion that you can prove in the paper. It should not be written using a figurative, incoherent or muddled language. It should be clear and concise.

  1. Create a tentative outline

Outlining is an important part of the process of writing a research paper- It helps in organizing and reviewing the made notes before writing the paper because it acts as the plan that will guide you in writing a research paper. When you have an outline, you will avoid repeating information or including conflicting information in the research paper.

Sample outline

  1. Introduction- (Comment that will lead to the subject matter and a thesis statement)
  2. Body- Where mining is done in Ghana, mined minerals and where they are sold, what is being done to ensure that the economy benefits fully from the mining industry.
  3. Where mining occurs
  4. Places where mining is done
  5. Who does the mining
  6. What methods are used in mining
  7. Places that have unexploited minerals
  8. Why the minerals have not been exploited
  9. How can the unexploited minerals be mined
  10. Minerals mined in Ghana
  11. How are the minerals discovered
  12. Who is involved in mineral exploration
  13. Where are the minerals sold
  14. How are the minerals sold
  15. Who sell the minerals
  16. Where does the money goes after selling the minerals
  17. How does the money from the mining industry impact on the GDP growth and employment status in Ghana
  18. What is being done to ensure that the economy benefits from the mining industry fully
  19. Ensuring full control of the mining industry by the government
  20. Enacting more effective legislations, policies and reforms to control the mining industry
  21. Increasing trade relations with foreign investors
  • Conclusion
  1. An analytical summary
  2. Thesis reword
  3. Concluding statement

Writing an outline before you start writing your research paper shows that you know how to write a research paper because it enables you to always think through the topic and maintain logical organization and flow of information and ideas.

  1. Organize notes

In this step, you organize the information that you gathered on the basis of the outline. Use the available sources to verify the information and to ensure that it is accurate, up-to-date and factual. If you have opposing views that support the thesis, note them down. Analyze, sort, synthesize and digest all information so that you can present it in writing in a way that will communicate thoughts, insights, ideas and findings of the research in the most effective manner- Ensure that only relevant information goes into your research paper. Also make sure that you understand all the information that you have about the topic to make writing your research paper easier.

  1. Write the first draft

There is no standard formula for writing the first draft. Simply use the technique that you find appropriate for you. For instance, you can start by writing summaries, using quotations or paraphrases, or using different sheets of papers. Whichever formula you use, make sure that the information flows logically and that you annotate the research to make referencing the paper easier. You can also use symbols that will make finding where any information that you include in the paper came from. You can delete the symbols while editing your paper.

  1. Revise your paper

Revising your research paper before writing the final draft shows that you clearly know how to write a research paper. Some people edit the final draft only but this leads to content errors. However, when you revise the first draft you ensure that figures and facts are presented correctly in the research paper. While revising the first draft, rearrange your ideas so that they can follow the outline. If necessary, reorganize the outline as well. Nevertheless, have the purpose for writing the paper as well as the audience in mind while revising the paper.

  1. Write the final paper

Before you write the final paper, read the assignment prompt to ensure that you fully understand what you were expected to do while writing the paper. As you write the final draft, make sure that it meets the assignment’s requirements in every aspect. If there were additional tasks required of you by the instructor, add them while writing the final draft- For instance, ensure that the paper is formatted properly as per the requirements of the assignment.

  1. Include references

Your paper should include a reference list. This is a list of all sources of information that you use in writing the paper documented properly depending on the style that was specified in the assignment-

  1. Edit the final draft

A research paper that has glaring mistakes shows that you do not know how to write a research paper and this can impact on your grades. Therefore, proofread and edit your paper or seek professional editing help before submitting it for marking or publication.

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