7 Steps to Write a Research Paper in 2021
(Newscko) ─ Research Paper is one of the most dreaded assignments in our academic life. Writing a good research paper can be overwhelming for students. Despite its challenging nature, we have cracked the puzzle of creating a killer paper.
This article will walk you through a 7 step framework to write a strong research paper. We believe that our framework and your little practice can help you craft an effective research paper.
Topics covered in this article:
- What is a Research Paper?
- Step 1: Understand the ask
- Step 2: Pick a research topic
- Step 3: Preliminary research
- Step 4: Develop a thesis
- Step 5: Create an outline
- Step 6: Write and edit
- Step 7: Run through your checklist
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is a type of academic writing that demonstrates a student’s learning. It is a research-based essay that tests your subject matter expertise.
In other words, a research paper represents your view via analysis, interpretation, evaluation and arguments. It consists of your independent research in interviews, web research, journals, books or even market research.
You must not confuse a research paper with a research proposal. While a proposal is more into copywriting that creates a compelling case to create a research project. In contrast, a research paper is more like thesis writing.
Large professional engagements need a research proposal to convince the audience to undertake a research paper. So, a paper follows the proposal.
The overall format of a research paper is consistent all over the world. However, based on your academic institute or professors, minor nuances must be tailored to their expectations. For example, citation style varies from one university to another. Three popular citation styles are MLA, APA and Chicago style.
Step 1: Understand the ask
This is one of the most crucial steps in the research writing process. Understanding the ask means getting familiar with your assignment. Though it sounds pretty obvious, many students end up re-writing their work.
Before starting with a research paper, you must understand why you are writing it. You must read your assignments comprehensively and:
- Clarify any doubts regarding the subject, given assumptions or the primary goal.
- Make a note of timelines, word count, formatting and submission process.
- Constantly refer back to evaluation criteria like section weightage and grading style.
Step 2: Pick a research topic
The idea generation step is the 2nd step and can make or break your entire paper.
For example, a famous or well-known topic might not be the right fit for you. As you might not have in-depth knowledge or interest. On the other hand, a paper you are familiar with will eventually become less effort to create.
Choosing a research topic depends on personal preference. Some students find casual brainstorming among fellow students to be effective. But, you may also find web research as the go-to strategy to find inspiration.
The idea is to start with a broad subject area and then narrow it down. Along the process, you move towards a niche topic that is original and specific to the ask —as in Step 1.
Step 3: Preliminary research
In the 3rd step of our framework, we ask you to explore a variety of sources like books, journals, news, and web research. You must stay focused and use the Skim and Scan technique. It helps to read a lot of content quickly without straying too much from our main topic.
Also, validating the ideas is essential. Find polarizing content by asking few fundamental questions on your research topic. And dig deep to ensure the efficacy of your research points.
A critical part of this step is organization. Research is a never-ending job and can become overwhelming if not done right. You must organize your researches into separate categories. This makes it easy to refer back to the time of actual writing. Bookmarking, digital bibliography or simple post-its are a few of the techniques that make the research efficient.
Step 4: Develop a thesis
This is a statement that sits at the heart of your research paper. All your activities revolve around a thesis statement, as it establishes the purpose and objective.
You must note that a thesis statement is not a question but an argument you will prove.
Best theses were not written on a single go. But, they evolve as you proceed in your journey of research. Although your initial version of the thesis statement serves as a guide, it can continuously be revised to make a stronger statement.
Don’t be vague, but crisp, clear and concise. Make string statements if you have to, and then support them in the following sections of your paper.
Step 5: Create an outline
This step is to help you organize your thoughts into structured content. An outline helps create a story and communicate effectively with your reader.
While creating an outline, always try to have a linkage with sections that come before and after. And, the best part is there is no hard rule to create an outline.
The most basic outline can be introduction, body and conclusion. If you want to extend it a bit, the outline will be — intro, body (pros & cons), body (your stand), and conclusion. As you can see, what goes in between depends on the type of content you are writing.
Step 6: Write and edit
This step is the actual writing of your research paper. If you have followed the previous steps diligently, this step won’t overwhelm you.
Remember that initially, you are going to write your draft and try not to be a perfectionist. It’s ok to have grammar mistakes, too much usage of common words or even missing punctuations!
We strongly advise you to keep moving forward, refer to your research notes and follow your outline. Take care of plagiarism, cite sources, quote the authors, and Proofread refer to credible and authoritative resources.
Finally, re-read your work and look for ways to make it better. Proofread diligently, remove mistakes, improve word usages and most important is to make it simple. It is always best to proofread your 2nd or 3rd draft with a fresh mind (the next day) or take the help of your friends or family.
Here’s a list of tools that are free to use and helpful for research paper writing.
- Plagiarism: Copyscape
- Grammar: Grammarly
- Readability: Hemingway Editor
- Authoritative Sources: Google Scholar, Google Books, Microsoft Academic, WorldWideScience, Science.gov, Wolfram Alpha and many more
- Collaboration: Trello
- Social Network: Mendeley
Step 7: Run through your checklist
Before you submit the paper, it is always wise to run through a final checklist. This is to ensure that you are not missing any important aspects. We have tried curating a list of activities for you to modify and use.
- Followed the instructions
- The paper has a clear outline starting with an introduction and ending with a conclusion.
- Clear and focused arguments that support my thesis
- The body is logically organized, creating a flow and engage the reader
- Writing is simple, readable, and free from grammar mistakes, diverse word usage and plagiarism free.
- Only authentic and credible sources are used for research
- Paper has a uniform style of citation or referencing.
- Proof-read at least a couple of times
- Submitted within timelines.