How to write a research paper
Welcome to our in-depth guide on how to write a research paper.
Whether you’re a student writing your first research paper or a seasoned researcher trying to improve your skills, this guide will provide essential insights and practical examples into the writing process.
So, let’s get started and learn how to master the art of research paper writing!
Understand the research process
Defining the research question
What is a research question?Research question is literally the question that your research paper needs to answer. A well-written research question is concise, clear, and focused.
Research question example
“What are the effects of social media usage on teenagers’ mental health?”
This is a good research question because it is specific, relevant, measurable, and has practical implications.
Here are some quick tips for finding the perfect research question.
Handling the literature review
An excerpt from a literature review
Example: You might have reviewed research on your topic and arrived at a conclusion that:
....“The literature reveals a growing body of evidence highlighting the correlation between excessive social media use and increased anxiety and depression among adolescents.”
Create a thesis statement
The thesis statement presents the main argument or claim you will investigate – it is the heart of your research paper! It serves as a road map for readers, directing them as to what to expect from your paper.
Thesis statement checklist
So now let’s have a look at bad and good thesis statement examples.
Example of a weak thesis statement
As you see, this thesis statement above is pretty short and vague, lacking your main argument. It’s also too general. Now, look at the following example to see a great one.
Example of a strong thesis statement
Conduct your research
Now that you’ve defined your research topic and thesis statement, it’s time for an extensive research. If you didn’t have a clear thesis statement, you may create it after this step.
There are two types of research sources: primary and secondary.
When doing a research, You can use these websites to access peer-reviewed academic articles and research papers.
Decide if a source is credible
Once you find sources to base your research paper on, it is critical to evaluate the credibility of sources in order to assure the reliability of your research.
Example of a credible source
A peer-reviewed article published in a reputable scientific journal.
✅ Author: Dr. John Smith, a renowned psychologist with expertise in adolescent mental health.
✅ Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of XYZ.
✅ Credibility: The article was reviewed by experts in the field before publication, ensuring its reliability.
Example of a unreliable source
A personal blog post on social media and mental health by an anonymous author.
❌ Author: No identifiable credentials or expertise in the subject.
❌ Affiliation:No affiliation with any reputable institution.
❌ Credibility: The lack of author credentials and the absence of peer review raises doubts about the source’s reliability.
Organize findings and create an outline
So now that you have all of this information, what do you do with it? This step is all about organizing and creating a well-structured outline.
So you’ve seen the key points of creating an outline, let’s see an extensive example below.
Research paper outline example
- The role of social media in promoting idealized and unrealistic lifestyles.
- Psychological implications of constant comparisons with others on social media.
- Effects of “fear of missing out” (FOMO) on teenagers’ mental health and well-being.
- The relationship between social media addiction and symptoms of depression.
- Identifying the underlying factors contributing to anxiety and depression related to social media.
- Coping Strategies and Support Systems
- Promoting digital well-being: Strategies for responsible and balanced social media usage.
- The role of parents, educators, and mental health professionals in supporting teenagers.
- Identifying supportive resources and platforms to combat cyberbullying and unrealistic social comparisons.
- Recap of the main points about the negative impact of excessive social media usage on teenagers’ mental health.
- Emphasize the importance of awareness and responsible social media habits for safeguarding mental well-being.
- Call to action for fostering a positive and supportive online environment for teenagers.
Write an introduction
Introduction is the first paragraph of your research paper, and it broadly covers up to 10-15% of your overall paper. Since it’s the first paragraph, there’re many things to pay attention. A great research paper introduction:
Research paper introduction example
Develop body paragraphs
Topic sentences and main points
Topic sentences are essential while writing the body paragraphs of your research paper since they guide the reader through the important points and arguments. Let’s look at an example of a topic sentence and its significance in more detail.
Topic sentence example
....(body paragraph continues)
Why is this example a strong topic sentence?
Supporting evidence and citations
Supporting evidence and citation example
....(body paragraph starts)
....(body paragraph continues)
Why is this a great example?
Now let’s have a look at a great body paragraph example.
Research paper body paragraph example
Write a conclusion
Now, let’s look at how to end your work with a bang. The conclusion, like the introduction, makes a lasting effect on your readers. Pay attention to following:
Research paper conclusion example
Final tips for success
These final tips include critical areas that might significantly improve the quality of your work.
Time management and planning
Effective time management is essential for writing research papers.
Seeking feedback and revision
Inviting others to review your work provides new views and useful ideas.
Celebrating your accomplishment
Completing a research paper is a great accomplishment that reflects your commitment and intellectual development. Take a minute to appreciate your efforts and the knowledge you’ve gained. Celebrate your accomplishment by rewarding yourself, sharing your findings with peers, or reflecting on your progress as a researcher.
By incorporating these final tips into your research paper process, you will not only improve the quality of your work but also develop essential skills that will serve you well beyond academia. Remember that research paper writing is a constant learning and improvement process, and each paper you write contributes to your development as a researcher.
Frequently asked questions
What is the first step of writing a research paper?
The first step is to choose a clear and focused research topic. Choose a topic that interests you and matches the requirements of your assignment. Conduct preliminary research to ensure that there is enough material and that the topic is neither too broad nor narrow.
How do I find credible sources for my research paper?
Use academic databases, libraries, and reputable online platforms such as Google Scholar, PubMed, JSTOR, and Project MUSE to find credible sources. Look for peer-reviewed publications, books by well-known authors, and authoritative websites. Sources should be evaluated based on their author’s credentials, publication date, and relevance to your topic.
How can I organize my research paper effectively?
Create a clear outline for your paper to organize it more easily. Divide it into sections such as the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each part should serve a specific purpose, and the flow of your arguments should be guided by your thesis statement.