How to Write a Research Paper

Academics are easy until you have to put all of your knowledge to the test. Some students freeze when they have to talk in front of the class, and others will freeze when they take a major test despite having studied all of the material thoroughly.

But there is one area of academics that makes most students suffer from a major anxiety attack: research papers.

Students are often entering their research paper with little-to-no experience in writing research papers, and they will have to deal with a lot of unanswered questions. What is the teacher looking for in the paper?

It’s often a mystery, but today we’re going to cover how to write a research paper that is actually effective.

What’s the Point of a Research Paper?

Research papers are meant as a way for your professor to determine how much knowledge that the student has gained in a subject. Your paper often comes after the persuasive piece which is meant to convince the audience that a topic is valid.

When trying to demonstrate your knowledge in an academic area, you’ll want to make sure that you start with research.

Yup, you need to do a lot of research on the topic even if it’s meant to simply gather facts and statistics.

How Much Research is Enough?

One of the biggest issues students have is that they do not spend enough time on the research process. The research process is the absolute most important part of the paper, but a lot of students will focus on their writing more than anything else.

Research must be done until the student has:

  • A thorough understanding of a topic
  • Information to be able to formulate ideas on the topic
  • Enough information to develop their thesis statement

You need to be able to discuss your topic as an authority, and this will be the time when you know that you’ve confidently researched your topic sufficiently.

Research should be done through multiple mediums, including:

  • Newspapers
  • Books
  • Industry journals
  • Government publications

Local libraries will often have enough information available for you to use, or you can do some of your research from home. The Internet has made it easy to confidently research topics, but you need to be able to verify the sources.

Google Scholar is a great place to start, and will have ample information to start.

Making Sense of All of Your Material

You’re an authority in the field now, so it’s time to start making sense of all of the information that you have amassed. You want to start brainstorming and jotting down your ideas which you’ll then organize into something that makes sense.

The research paper starts with an introductory paragraph, but what’s more important is what comes after this paragraph: a thesis statement.

Many experts recommend writing the thesis statement when you start to organize your research. This will allow you to better outline your topic.

You’ll now have to decide what type of research paper you’re writing. Most papers will fall into one of the following types:

  1. Analytical
  2. Argumentative
  3. Expository

Once you’ve determined the type of paper you’re going to present, you’ll need to outline all of your thoughts. This will include all of the main points that will support the thesis statement. Use these main points as headings in your paper.

A very difficult thing for people to do is remove any information that isn’t going to strengthen the argument. There may be very interesting information that you want to tell the audience, but you need to check for relevancy and if this information strengthens your argument at all.

If the argument isn’t strengthened, then the information doesn’t have a place in your paper.

The next part of the process is writing the actual paper. You have all of your information and knowledge available, but now it’s time to put everything that you’ve learned down on paper. This will include:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • Body
  • Conclusion

But you’ve just started. There’s a need to edit and revise your paper multiple times. You want the paper to read well, and this means revising the paper and removing sentences or paragraphs that don’t add to your argument. Reword sentences and phrases, and pay close attention to your grammar, too.