How to Write a Research Paper

Learn all the crucial steps of how to write a research paper and make your writing more impactful.

By:   LJ Ross, Published on: 2024-01-12, Last Updated: 12-01-24

Reviewed by: Allison Hott

Table of Contents


Starting a research paper might seem difficult, but if you break it into easy steps, it becomes simpler! First, make sure you understand what the teacher wants you to do for the assignment. We will look forward to explain points including:

  1. Know your assignment and set a schedule
  2. Find a Relevant Topic and Question for Writing
  3. Start Initial Research to Gather Information
  4. Draft a Complete Outline
  5. Write your First Draft for Research Paper
  6. Write Final Draft After Meeting the all Requirements
  7. Revise and Make a Final Draft
  8. Get Feedback for your Created Draft
  9. Finalize Your Paper
  10. Proofread Your Final Draft

So let’s learn how to write a research paper and develop your own steps to write in a better way.

How to Write a Research Paper: Step by Step Guide

There are various steps that you must follow to write a research paper and some of them are:

Step 1. Know Your Assignment and Set a Schedule

First, it's crucial to understand what your teacher or professor wants from your research paper. You can ask them if you have any questions. Make sure you know:

  • How long your paper should be (how many pages or words).
  • The type of citation your teacher prefers.
  • How many sources you should use (like websites, books, or articles).
  • If there are different due dates for different parts of the paper.
  • Any special formatting requirements, like footnotes or headings.

After that, set up a schedule. You have to decide when you'll do each part of your research and writing, day by day and week by week.

Step 2. Find a Relevant Topic and Question for Writing

Now, it's time to pick a topic for your research paper. Here's what you should think about:

  • Make sure your topic is suitable. 
  • It's a good suggestion to ask your teacher for approval. Also, try to narrow down your topic to be very specific.
  • Try to make your topic as specific as you can.
  • Choose something that would also be interesting for others.
  • Think about a question related to your topic and try to explain it in more clear words.

For example, if your topic is all about explaining equality, then your question could be, "Do women still get paid less than men for the same work?" This question will become your thesis statement.

Step 3. Start Initial Research to Gather Information

The next step is to start initial research of your main topic to get insightful and informative data. Here are some easy steps that will help you in gathering data:

  • Use different sources like the internet, books, journals, videos, and interviews.
  • Make sure you set aside enough time for research; it's an important part of your paper.
  • Keep track of all the information you gather, including the source details like the title, date, author, and page numbers you used.
  • Try to rephrase the information in your own words when you take notes to avoid copying from others. If you do use someone else's exact words, be sure to mention that it's a direct quote and make a note of it.
  • Look for information that supports your thesis or answers your question.

These first steps will set you on the right track for your research paper. Stay tuned for the next part, where we'll dive deeper into the process.

Step 4. Draft a Complete Outline

Once you've gathered all your research materials, it's time to organize your thoughts with an outline. An outline helps you structure your paper. Here's how to create one:

  • Start with an introduction that includes your thesis statement.
  • Organize your main points into sections or paragraphs.
  • For each section, add supporting details that back up your main point.
  • Finish with a conclusion that wraps up your paper.

Make sure each section contains roughly the same amount of information. With a well-structured outline, you can write your paper smoothly, using the information you've gathered.

Step 5. Write your First Draft for Research Paper

Now comes the exciting part, writing your first draft. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Write in your own voice and keep sharing your conclusions and thoughts along with the researched information.
  • Always cite your sources, even in the draft.
  • Keep your information well-organized to make your paper easy to understand.

After you've finished your draft, don't forget to proofread it. You can ask a friend for feedback or visit the Writing Center for assistance.

Step 6. Write Final Draft After Meeting the all Requirements

Once you've revised your initial drafts, it's time to create the final version. Your final draft should have minimal errors, a clear structure, and the correct formatting. Before submitting your paper, ensure you have the following elements:

  • A cover page with your course details, paper title, and your name.
  • The final, revised copy of your paper, including all necessary formatting (like footnotes, page numbers, and citations).
  • A works cited page that lists the sources you used in your paper.

By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to writing a successful research paper. Stay tuned for the next part, where we'll delve deeper into the writing process. You're making great progress!

Step 7. Revise and Make a Final Draft

Your initial draft is just the beginning. The real magic happens during the revision process. Here's what you should do:

  • Read through your paper critically. Check for clarity, coherence, and organization.
  • Edit for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.
  • Make sure your ideas flow logically from one point to the next.
  • Ensure all your sources are properly cited, both in the text and in your bibliography.

Step 8. Get Feedback for your Created Draft

It's a great idea to share your paper with others for feedback. Here's how:

  • Ask a classmate, friend, or family member to read your paper and provide their thoughts.
  • Visit the Writing Center or reach out to your teacher for guidance.
  • Consider the feedback you receive and make necessary revisions.

Step 9. Finalize Your Paper

Now that you've made revisions and received feedback, it's time to create the final version of your research paper. Pay attention to these details:

  • Check the formatting requirements your teacher specified (font, margins, spacing, etc.).
  • Ensure your paper is well-organized with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Check the complete summary and the main title has been discussed clearly.
  • Review your citations to guarantee they follow the preferred style guide (such as APA, MLA, or Chicago).

Additional Source: You can use an online text summarizer to create meaningful, clear and message oriented summaries for your topic at free of cost. 

Step 10. Proofread Your Final Draft

Before submitting your paper, take one last look to catch any remaining errors. You want your final draft to be polished and error-free. Like check grammar errors, spelling mistakes and plagiarism in content.

Now it's Your Turn

In this comprehensive 10-step guide, we have explored the entire research paper writing process - from understanding assignments to submitting polished final drafts. By breaking down the complex project into achievable stages, you can tackle each component without getting overwhelmed.

From choosing strong topics and questions to organizing effective outlines for drafting, revising through feedback, final proofing, and more, employing this systematic methodology will make you feel empowered to produce high-quality work.

After following these best practices for in-depth research and writing refined papers, you will gain valuable skills to apply towards future academic and professional success. By dedicating time to each step, you can write with confidence and pride.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start writing a research paper?

To begin a research paper, select a specific topic and develop an organized outline based on thorough research.

What are the 5 parts of a research paper?

The five main parts of a research paper are:

  • Introduction: Introduces the topic and sets the research question.
  • Literature Review: Reviews existing literature related to the topic.
  • Methodology: Describes the methods used for research.
  • Results: Presents the findings of the research.
  • Discussion: Analyzes and interprets the results.

What is the format for a research paper?

A research paper typically follows this format: Title Page, Abstract, Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion, and References. Each section has specific guidelines and purposes.

Can I write a research paper in 5 hours?

Writing a research paper in 5 hours is challenging but can be done with a focused topic and efficient organization. It requires quick research and concise writing.

What is the difference between a research paper and a research report?

A research paper involves presenting original research and analysis, typically for academic purposes. In contrast, a research report summarizes existing information on a topic, often used in professional or business contexts.