How to write a research paper

How to write a research paper and Format

research paper writing

How to write a research paper and Format

If you are a college or university student, you will possibly have to write at least a research paper before you graduate. Writing an impeccable research paper is not a walk in the park. It is even difficult if you have not written it before.

Research papers are complicated and time-consuming to write and the important part is that they make a large part of the student’s final grade at the end of their academic year. With this in mind, writing a good research paper is inevitable especially if you are looking to dive into your future career with top grades.

If you are not sure where to start when writing your research paper, read on to learn about how to write a good research paper and format.

How to write a Good Research Paper

Writing a research paper can be quite challenging, but with proper guidance and little practice, you can write a compelling paper. Here are some of the steps that can help you write a compelling paper.

  • Get Familiar with Your Research Paper

This sounds quite obvious, but it is vital to understand what your professor wants before you start writing. Many students often skip this step and eventually get surprised why they receive poor grades on their papers that they worked hard on. Often, the main reasons stem from the fact that they didn’t read the instructions and understand what is required of their research topic.

So, you must take ample time to go through your research instructions and requirements. Check everything that your professor has provided you with and carefully read the grading rubric, prompts, and any material that is provided to you. You can highlight what is important and take notes for an easy understanding of what you are expected to write about and how you will be graded on it. You can get clarification from your professor before you pick your research topic. This way, you can be certain you are on the right trajectory.

  • Pick a Topic

Now that you understand what is expected of your research paper, it is time to settle on the topic you will write about. Deciding on the topic of your research paper can be daunting, but you don’t have to get too much worried that you can get off track. Simply decide on a topic that interests you the most or one that you are passionate about.

Equally, a controversial topic can be ideal as it offers you the opportunity to objectively explain different positions or even defend and argument if the topic is about that. You don’t have to force on writing about a certain topic because you may have trouble using the specific guidelines provided or even find difficulties in getting the right resources. The topic doesn’t have to be perfect but one that you can comfortably research ad write about.

  • Read and Research

Once you have decided on a topic, you can now jump into what you have been waiting for – read and research! Research is a fairly flexible exercise and different students read and research their topic in different ways. However, what is important is to stay focused.

When researching for the topic, remember that things:

You don’t have to read in full of every material that is relevant to your research topic. You can’t. Just skim through the materials and identify the key points and arguments without having to read word to word.

Note down all the reliable resources that you can utilize when writing your research paper. Dig up all the information and data that will be useful in writing your research paper while backing the information with correct sources. Google search for relevant journals and articles to find reliable relevant information about your topic.

Don’t ignore any information but probe all the information and pick what fits in your research paper and leave out what doesn’t. But, you can only do this after thorough reading and researching. Be sure to understand the various viewpoints and schools of thought on your research topic. You can do this by reading a variety of articles, books, or journals that provide an overview of the topic while incorporating the different viewpoints. Also, get an expert who can explain the topic extensively.

  • Organize Your Research

Now that you got all the information you need to write your research paper, it is time to organize it. Get all the resources for your research paper in some sort of bibliography to make the writing process of your research paper easier. It can be in digital form where you just link up the resources or in printed form. With the resources within reach, you can proceed to write your research paper while you link up the resources where appropriate.

  • Create a Thesis

With everything that is set from the topic, research, and organization of the research, you are certainly ready to articulate your argument, assertion, or opinion in writing. Regardless, your paper will need a catchy thesis to put forward for your readers as to what you are trying to prove or explain.

Be sure to come up with a strong specific and definitive thesis statement that will guide you through writing your paper and be awarded good grades for your efforts. Show your professor or tutor your thesis statement and ask them if they think the thesis is powerful enough to build on your research paper.

  • Create an Outline

The structure of an outline of a research paper is similar regardless of whether you are writing a business, art, or scientific paper. You can check out these sample research papers and see the outline they take. The following are the primary components of an outline:

  • Introduction: This is one of the most important parts of any great research paper. Even though it comes first in your research paper, the introduction is often written last. The main purpose of the introduction part is to capture the attention of the reader by presenting the reader with the topic while hooking the reader to the entire paper with a powerful thesis statement.
  • Body: This section forms the heart of the research paper. It includes fact-rich sub-sections and paragraphs that allow you to build upon the thesis statement by presenting data and facts to back your argument. The body section not only elaborates on your thesis but also provides insights into the literature review, research questions and rationale, methods used to conduct the research, the results, and discussions. You can use graphs and (or) table to illustrate your findings and data that is vital to your research paper.
  • Conclusion: Typically, the conclusion section provides a summary of the main points in your research paper. It doesn’t provide any new information. As such, make a summary by mentioning the key points you addressed in the introduction and body. Be sure to reiterate the thesis statement and mention any areas of concentration for future researches.
  • Write

Finally, it is time to now put everything concerning your research topic down on paper. You may feel that you could have started early but there is no better time than this. The work you have done will greatly help you create a powerful clear and interesting research paper.

As you write, don’t concentrate to be a perfectionist, just get simple words that are grammatically correct to make your case. Make original ideas of your own to help you avoid plagiarism. Make sure you cite your work and give credit to the author whose data, facts, and quotes you use.

  • Proofread and Edit

Once you finish writing your research paper, you must take time before you start to proofread and editing your work before you submit it for grading. Start by editing for content by checking the structure, organization, wording, and the length of the paper in general. Make sure that there are no grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, or sentence structure issues. Your research paper should flow seamlessly from one section to section and from paragraph to paragraph. You can give your paper to a friend or classmate to check through and ensure the paper is flawless.

How to Format a Research Paper

How to write a research paper and Format

How to write a research paper and Format

Getting top grades does not only mean that your research paper is well-written and all the relevant resources are appropriately cited. It means that your paper is well formatted as required by your professor. Do you know how to format your research paper? If no is your answer, check out how to properly format your research papers!

Formatting a Research Paper

  1. Paper

Use a clean, good quality 8 1/2″ x 11″ white paper. One side only!


  1. Margins

Leave the margins of your research paper 1″ (2.5 cm) all-round and on each page you write. An exception should be made for page numbers.


  1. Title Page

Even though a title page is not essential for a research paper, your professor might request it to be included. Follow the guidelines provided by your professor or those of your university faculty. If you don’t have to write a title page, then consider starting 1″ from the top of the first page of your research.

  1. Numbering Pages and Paragraphs

Research papers require numbering the pages consecutively throughout the document in the upper right-hand corner, flush against the right-hand margin, and 1/2″ from the top. The MLA Handbook, for instance, recommends that you write your last name before the page number. On page 5 of your research paper, for example, your top right-hand corner should be numbered as John 5.

All page numbers ought to be written in Arabic numerals without adding any fancy decoration. No period should come after the page number or should it be underlined, asterisked, parenthesized, or proceeded with “Page”, “P”, or “Pg”.

  1. Spacing Between Lines

It doesn’t matter whether your research paper is handwritten or typed for printing purposes, the whole document should be double-spaced between lines along with 1″ margin on all sides.

  1. Spacing Between Words

It is recommended that you leave one space between words and one space after commas, colon, or semi-colon. No spacing is required after a punctuation mark. Traditionally, two spaces are required at the end of sentences whether it ends with a period, question mark, or an exclamation mark. Even though it is not wrong to leave two spaces after a full stop, today it is acceptable to leave only one space after the punctuation mark.

  1. Indentation

If your research paper is handwritten, remember to double-space all the lines and start each paragraph with an indentation of 1″ from the left margin. If you are using a typewriter or word processor on your computer, indent 5 spaces or 1/2″ at the beginning of every paragraph. For quotations, indent should be 1″ or 10 spaces from the left margin.

If you are not indenting, start each paragraph flush to the left margin and double-space between lines while quadruple-space between paragraphs. If you are not indenting the paragraphs it may not be easy to differentiate between paragraphs, therefore, quadruple-space.

  1. Right Justify and Automatic Hyphens

It is not recommended to right justify the whole document or is it recommended to automatically format hyphens if you are using a word processor to type your research paper. You can either right or left justify your document while manually type in the hyphens where needed. Left justification is preferred as it doesn’t leave large spaces between words.

  1. Titles of Books, Magazines, Newspapers, or Journals

When using titles of books, plays, novels, and other full-length works within the text of your research paper, the titles should be underlined. For example Shakespeare’s Theatre.

The title of shorter works such as journals, newspaper magazines, and chapters of books or essays, the titles should be put in quotation marks. For example; “Giving back to the Earth: Western Helps Make a Difference in India.”

  1. Table of Content

A short research paper doesn’t require a table of contents. However, a length one may need a table of contents showing the page numbers where each section begins.

Final Thought

A good topic, extensive research, thoughtful organization, and presentation as well as attention to details in your final edit are the key to the successful writing of a compelling research paper. Proper formatting of the paper will ensure your research work is presented in a neat way that portrays professionalism that is required in academic writing.

Good luck with your research paper writing!

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