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  • How to Do Research for an Excellent Essay: The Complete Guide

how can we write research essay

One of the biggest secrets to writing a good essay is the Boy Scouts’ motto: ‘be prepared’. Preparing for an essay – by conducting effective research – lays the foundations for a brilliant piece of writing, and it’s every bit as important as the actual writing part. Many students skimp on this crucial stage, or sit in the library not really sure where to start; and it shows in the quality of their essays. This just makes it easier for you to get ahead of your peers, and we’re going to show you how. In this article, we take you through what you need to do in order to conduct effective research and use your research time to best effect.

Allow enough time

First and foremost, it’s vital to allow enough time for your research. For this reason, don’t leave your essay until the last minute . If you start writing without having done adequate research, it will almost certainly show in your essay’s lack of quality. The amount of research time needed will vary according to whether you’re at Sixth Form or university, and according to how well you know the topic and what teaching you’ve had on it, but make sure you factor in more time than you think you’ll need. You may come across a concept that takes you longer to understand than you’d expected, so it’s better to allow too much time than too little.

Read the essay question and thoroughly understand it

If you don’t have a thorough understanding of what the essay question is asking you to do, you put yourself at risk of going in the wrong direction with your research. So take the question, read it several times and pull out the key things it’s asking you to do. The instructions in the question are likely to have some bearing on the nature of your research. If the question says “Compare”, for example, this will set you up for a particular kind of research, during which you’ll be looking specifically for points of comparison; if the question asks you to “Discuss”, your research focus may be more on finding different points of view and formulating your own.

Begin with a brainstorm

Start your research time by brainstorming what you already know. Doing this means that you can be clear about exactly what you’re already aware of, and you can identify the gaps in your knowledge so that you don’t end up wasting time by reading books that will tell you what you already know. This gives your research more of a direction and allows you to be more specific in your efforts to find out certain things. It’s also a gentle way of introducing yourself to the task and putting yourself in the right frame of mind for learning about the topic at hand.

Achieve a basic understanding before delving deeper

If the topic is new to you and your brainstorm has yielded few ideas, you’ll need to acquire a basic understanding of the topic before you begin delving deeper into your research. If you don’t, and you start by your research by jumping straight in at the deep end, as it were, you’ll struggle to grasp the topic. This also means that you may end up being too swayed by a certain source, as you haven’t the knowledge to question it properly. You need sufficient background knowledge to be able to take a critical approach to each of the sources you read. So, start from the very beginning. It’s ok to use Wikipedia or other online resources to give you an introduction to a topic, though bear in mind that these can’t be wholly relied upon. If you’ve covered the topic in class already, re-read the notes you made so that you can refresh your mind before you start further investigation.

Working through your reading list

If you’ve been given a reading list to work from, be organised in how you work through each of the items on it. Try to get hold of as many of the books on it as you can before you start, so that you have them all easily to hand, and can refer back to things you’ve read and compare them with other perspectives. Plan the order in which you’re going to work through them and try to allocate a specific amount of time to each of them; this ensures that you allow enough time to do each of them justice and that focus yourself on making the most of your time with each one. It’s a good idea to go for the more general resources before honing in on the finer points mentioned in more specialised literature. Think of an upside-down pyramid and how it starts off wide at the top and becomes gradually narrower; this is the sort of framework you should apply to your research.

Ask a librarian

Library computer databases can be confusing things, and can add an extra layer of stress and complexity to your research if you’re not used to using them. The librarian is there for a reason, so don’t be afraid to go and ask if you’re not sure where to find a particular book on your reading list. If you’re in need of somewhere to start, they should be able to point you in the direction of the relevant section of the library so that you can also browse for books that may yield useful information.

Use the index

If you haven’t been given specific pages to read in the books on your reading list, make use of the index (and/or table of contents) of each book to help you find relevant material. It sounds obvious, but some students don’t think to do this and battle their way through heaps of irrelevant chapters before finding something that will be useful for their essay.

Taking notes

As you work through your reading, take notes as you go along rather than hoping you’ll remember everything you’ve read. Don’t indiscriminately write down everything – only the bits that will be useful in answering the essay question you’ve been set. If you write down too much, you risk writing an essay that’s full of irrelevant material and getting lower grades as a result. Be concise, and summarise arguments in your own words when you make notes (this helps you learn it better, too, because you actually have to think about how best to summarise it). You may want to make use of small index cards to force you to be brief with what you write about each point or topic. We’ve covered effective note-taking extensively in another article, which you can read here . Note-taking is a major part of the research process, so don’t neglect it. Your notes don’t just come in useful in the short-term, for completing your essay, but they should also be helpful when it comes to revision time, so try to keep them organised.

Research every side of the argument

Never rely too heavily on one resource without referring to other possible opinions; it’s bad academic practice. You need to be able to give a balanced argument in an essay, and that means researching a range of perspectives on whatever problem you’re tackling. Keep a note of the different arguments, along with the evidence in support of or against each one, ready to be deployed into an essay structure that works logically through each one. If you see a scholar’s name cropping up again and again in what you read, it’s worth investigating more about them even if you haven’t specifically been told to do so. Context is vital in academia at any level, so influential figures are always worth knowing about.

Keep a dictionary by your side

You could completely misunderstand a point you read if you don’t know what one important word in the sentence means. For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep a dictionary by your side at all times as you conduct your research. Not only does this help you fully understand what you’re reading, but you also learn new words that you might be able to use in your forthcoming essay or a future one . Growing your vocabulary is never a waste of time!

Start formulating your own opinion

As you work through reading these different points of view, think carefully about what you’ve read and note your own response to different opinions. Get into the habit of questioning sources and make sure you’re not just repeating someone else’s opinion without challenging it. Does an opinion make sense? Does it have plenty of evidence to back it up? What are the counter-arguments, and on balance, which sways you more? Demonstrating your own intelligent thinking will set your essay apart from those of your peers, so think about these things as you conduct your research.

Be careful with web-based research

Although, as we’ve said already, it’s fine to use Wikipedia and other online resources to give you a bit of an introduction to a topic you haven’t covered before, be very careful when using the internet for researching an essay. Don’t take Wikipedia as gospel; don’t forget, anybody can edit it! We wouldn’t advise using the internet as the basis of your essay research – it’s simply not academically rigorous enough, and you don’t know how out of date a particular resource might be. Even if your Sixth Form teachers may not question where you picked up an idea you’ve discussed in your essays, it’s still not a good habit to get into and you’re unlikely to get away with it at a good university. That said, there are still reliable academic resources available via the internet; these can be found in dedicated sites that are essentially online libraries, such as JSTOR. These are likely to be a little too advanced if you’re still in Sixth Form, but you’ll almost certainly come across them once you get to university.

Look out for footnotes

In an academic publication, whether that’s a book or a journal article, footnotes are a great place to look for further ideas for publications that might yield useful information. Plenty can be hidden away in footnotes, and if a writer is disparaging or supporting the ideas of another academic, you could look up the text in question so that you can include their opinion too, and whether or not you agree with them, for extra brownie points.

Don’t save doing all your own references until last

If you’re still in Sixth Form, you might not yet be required to include academic references in your essays, but for the sake of a thorough guide to essay research that will be useful to you in the future, we’re going to include this point anyway (it will definitely come in useful when you get to university, so you may as well start thinking about it now!). As you read through various books and find points you think you’re going to want to make in your essays, make sure you note down where you found these points as you go along (author’s first and last name, the publication title, publisher, publication date and page number). When you get to university you will be expected to identify your sources very precisely, so it’s a good habit to get into. Unfortunately, many students forget to do this and then have a difficult time of going back through their essay adding footnotes and trying to remember where they found a particular point. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time and effort if you simply note down your academic references as you go along. If you are including footnotes, don’t forget to add each publication to a main bibliography, to be included at the end of your essay, at the same time.

Putting in the background work required to write a good essay can seem an arduous task at times, but it’s a fundamental step that can’t simply be skipped. The more effort you put in at this stage, the better your essay will be and the easier it will be to write. Use the tips in this article and you’ll be well on your way to an essay that impresses!

To get even more prepared for essay writing you might also want to consider attending an Oxford Summer School .

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how can we write research essay

how can we write research essay

How to Write a Research Paper: Your Top Guide

how can we write research essay

Did you know that the concept of a research paper can be traced back to the time of Aristotle in ancient Greece? In his renowned work, 'Prior Analytics,' Aristotle laid the foundation for logical reasoning and systematic investigation, setting the stage for the research papers we know today. From those ancient beginnings to the modern era, the art of writing a research paper has evolved into a captivating blend of critical thinking, meticulous analysis, and effective communication.

How to Write a Research Paper: Short Description

Whether you're a seasoned academic or a student venturing into the world of scholarly exploration, this comprehensive guide will take you on a journey through how to write a research paper. You will learn how to choose a compelling topic, conduct research, develop a solid thesis statement, structure your paper effectively, and present your findings with clarity and impact. Additionally, our essay writer will explore proven techniques for organizing your thoughts, synthesizing information and crafting a compelling argument. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the tools and knowledge to tackle the challenges of writing a research paper and producing a remarkable piece of scholarly work.

What Is a Research Paper: Understanding the Essence and Purpose

A research paper is like a well-crafted map that guides us through the labyrinth of knowledge. It is a scholarly document that explores a particular topic, delving into its depths and emerges with insights that enlighten and expand our understanding. Picture it as a detective story, with the researcher donning the hat of a relentless investigator, tirelessly gathering evidence and constructing a compelling argument. These papers find their natural habitat in academia, where students, scholars, and scientists alike employ them as vehicles for sharing their discoveries with the world. The purpose behind writing a research paper is the following:

What Is a Research Paper

  • It is a means of contributing to the existing body of knowledge. By conducting their own research and presenting new insights or discoveries, researchers add valuable information to the field they are studying.
  • Showcases the writer's ability to navigate the intricate world of research. It demonstrates their critical thinking skills, their ability to analyze data, and their capacity to draw logical conclusions based on evidence.
  • Serves as a platform for scholarly communication, allowing researchers to engage in conversations with their peers, exchange ideas, and build upon previous studies.

How Long Should a Research Paper Be: Decoding the Ideal Size

The question of how long a research paper should be is a bit like asking, 'How long is a piece of string?' The ideal size of a research paper can vary depending on various factors, such as the academic discipline, the nature of the research, and the specific guidelines provided by the institution or the journal.

In general, cheap research papers are expected to be long enough to effectively communicate the research findings and support the arguments made. However, they should also be concise and avoid unnecessary repetition or fluff. Quality and substance should always take precedence over quantity.

For most undergraduate assignments, research papers typically range from 5 to 15 pages, but this can vary depending on the course and professor's requirements. In contrast, graduate-level research papers and those intended for publication in academic journals can be significantly longer, often extending to 20, 30, or even 50 pages.

It's worth noting that some journals or conferences may have specific guidelines regarding the maximum or minimum word count for submissions. In such cases, it's crucial to adhere to the provided instructions to increase the chances of publication or acceptance.

And if you find yourself wondering how to write a good research paper, remember that you have the option to buy an essay from our reliable services!

Sample Research Paper

Before we dive into the specifics of writing a research paper, let’s explore some of its main components and how the information is structured.

how can we write research essay

How to Write a Research Paper with 10 Effortless Steps

Embarking on the quest of writing a research paper? Fear not, for we have the perfect roadmap with 10 effortless steps to guide you through this academic adventure. From selecting a captivating topic that will captivate readers to meticulously analyzing and organizing your research, we will equip you with the tools and strategies needed to craft a stellar paper.

how to write a research paper

Grasp the Task

It's astonishing how many students dive into writing a research paper without even glancing at the assignment guidelines. While this may seem obvious to some, it's important to emphasize the significance of thoroughly reviewing the guidelines before starting.

To begin, carefully read the assignment and delve into the writing prompt. Take note of any technical requirements such as length, formatting specifications (single- vs. double-spacing, indentations, etc.), and citation style. Additionally, pay attention to specific details, including whether an abstract is required or if a cover page needs to be included.

Once you have a clear understanding of the assignment, you can proceed with the standard writing process, albeit with a few additional steps, due to the unique rules of research papers. However, the fundamental essence of the writing process remains unchanged.

For instance, let's consider a hypothetical scenario where a student named Alex is assigned a research paper on climate change. Before embarking on the writing journey, Alex carefully examines the assignment guidelines. The prompt specifies that the paper should be 10-12 pages long, utilize APA formatting, and include at least 10 scholarly sources. In addition, an abstract and a cover page are required.

With these guidelines in mind, Alex now has a solid foundation to begin their research paper. They can proceed by conducting thorough research, gathering relevant information from credible sources, and organizing their findings. Following the traditional writing process of drafting, revising, and editing, Alex can refine their ideas and arguments, ensuring a coherent and well-structured paper.

By taking the time to understand how to start a research paper and follow the appropriate writing process, Alex increases their chances of producing a high-quality research paper that meets all the necessary requirements.

Select Your Topic

When contemplating how to choose research paper topics , your primary consideration should be whether they possess enough depth and substance to sustain an entire paper. It is essential to opt for a topic that offers an abundance of data and complexity, allowing for a comprehensive and insightful discussion.

While ensuring your topic meets these criteria, it is equally important to infuse a personal touch. Avoid approaching the topic selection process mechanically; instead, seek something that genuinely captivates your interest. Ideally, aim for a research paper topic that satisfies both requirements - one that provides ample content for exploration while keeping you engaged and motivated throughout the research and writing process.

Gather Preliminary Studies

The importance of initiating your research promptly cannot be overstated. A research paper, as the name suggests, relies heavily on thorough investigation and inquiry.

To refine your chosen topic and shape a strong thesis statement, it is crucial to explore existing research on your subject matter as early as possible. Conducting preliminary research serves multiple purposes: it dispels any misconceptions or preconceived notions you may have and illuminates the most effective paths and methodologies for uncovering additional valuable material.

In the process of your search, it is crucial to differentiate between primary and secondary sources. Primary sources encompass original accounts, firsthand information, or direct observations, such as published articles, survey data, or personal interviews. On the other hand, secondary sources analyze and interpret primary sources, providing critical reviews, scholarly articles, or meta-analyses.

In certain academic contexts regarding how to write an academic research paper, a literature review may be required, wherein you present a comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the existing research to validate your research objectives. However, even if a literature review is not mandatory, it is highly beneficial to compile an early list of potential sources. This proactive step enables you to establish a strong foundation of relevant literature, ensuring a comprehensive and well-supported research paper.

Craft a Thesis Statement

When learning how to write a research paper, understanding the importance of a well-crafted thesis statement is crucial. The thesis statement serves as the backbone of any successful term paper , providing a clear and concise summary of the main focus of your study. It not only acts as a guide for the reader, indicating what to expect from the rest of the paper, but it also sets the tone and direction for your entire document. Follow these three steps to create an engaging and academically sound thesis:

  • Clearly define your research topic and its purpose. Determine the main subject and specific aspect or question you'll explore. Example: Research topic - Impact of social media on adolescent mental health.
  • Analyze the subject matter and narrow down your focus by identifying key aspects or variables to explore. Example: Focus on the impact of cyberbullying.
  • Craft a clear, strong, and concise statement that presents your main argument or position. Example: 'The prevalence of cyberbullying on social media platforms significantly contributes to adverse mental health outcomes in adolescents, highlighting the urgent need for preventive measures and support systems.'

Unveil Supporting Evidence

When it comes to knowing how to write an academic research paper, it's time to roll up our sleeves and delve into the wealth of sources we have collected. Within these sources lie the gems of information that will enrich and support our paper.

As a diligent researcher, your approach involves carefully reading each source and capturing essential notes. You must stay focused on extracting only the information that directly relates to the topic. It's important to resist the temptation of including tangents or irrelevant context, no matter how captivating they may be. Remember to diligently record the page numbers, not only for future reference but also for the necessary task of citation.

In addition to highlighting significant text and jotting down notes, another effective tactic that some students find helpful is the use of bibliography cards. These practical index cards serve as repositories for key facts or direct quotations on one side while capturing crucial bibliographical details such as source citations, page numbers, and subtopic categories on the other side. Although not mandatory, bibliography cards can greatly contribute to staying organized, particularly when it's time to outline your research findings.

Frame Your Paper

An outline plays a vital role in the construction of a research paper. It serves as a concise roadmap, outlining the essential topics, arguments, and supporting evidence that will be incorporated into the paper. By organizing these elements into distinct sections with appropriate headings, an outline provides a clear overview of how the paper will be structured before you even begin writing.

Creating a well-structured outline offers numerous benefits. Notably, it enhances the efficiency of the writing process by providing a framework that guides your thoughts and ensures a logical flow of ideas. By dedicating sufficient time to develop a comprehensive outline, you can streamline the overall writing experience and produce a cohesive and well-organized research paper.

If you're interested in exploring how to write a research paper outline in more detail, our article provides a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the subject. Feel free to peruse our research paper outline to gain valuable insights and practical tips on optimizing your outlining process for academic writing.

Begin the First Draft

Once you have your research paper outline ready, it's time to dive into the writing process. This step requires considerable effort and attention, but with proper planning and organization, you can make it a smoother experience.

When it comes to writing a research paper introduction, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. To tackle this challenge, consider starting with a compelling opening sentence or anecdote that grabs the reader's attention. Then, present a concise and engaging thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument of your paper. Build upon this thesis by providing relevant background information and contextualizing the significance of your research topic. Save the intricate details and supporting evidence for the subsequent sections of your paper.

Moving on to the body of your research paper, this is where you present your research findings and analysis. To ensure clarity and coherence, consider organizing your content into logical sections or subheadings. Each section should cover a specific aspect or point related to your thesis statement. As you write each paragraph, make sure to provide sufficient evidence, examples, and explanations to support your arguments. Remember, this is the initial draft, so focus on conveying your ideas rather than striving for perfection.

Connecting your paragraphs seamlessly is crucial for maintaining a cohesive flow throughout your research paper. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that acts as a bridge between the previous and upcoming ideas. Use transition words and phrases to guide your reader from one point to another smoothly. Additionally, consider using clear and concise language to enhance readability and comprehension.

Once you have completed the body of your paper, it's time to craft a strong research paper conclusion example . Summarize your main arguments and findings, emphasizing their significance and relevance. Instead of simply restating your thesis, strive to offer a fresh perspective or insight that leaves a lasting impression on your reader. Avoid introducing new information in the conclusion; instead, focus on reinforcing the main points and leaving the reader with a sense of closure.

In the sections that follow, we will delve into how to cite a research paper . Let's explore the necessary steps and guidelines for proper citation.

Use Proper Source Citations

When starting a research paper, have you checked the assignment guidelines to determine the required formatting style? Two popular styles you might encounter are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). MLA is often used in humanities and liberal arts disciplines, while APA is preferred in social sciences and psychology. To make your life easier, you can find detailed formatting guidelines and even handy automatic citation generators not to get distracted by the differences between MLA and APA referencing. Trust us; they can save you time and effort!

But wait, there's more! In addition to those two, you may come across other formatting styles like CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style), AMA (American Medical Association), or IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). It may seem overwhelming, but each style has its own guidelines for citing different sources – from photos to websites, speeches, and even YouTube videos.

Now, we understand that citations can initially seem like a maze of rules and specific information. However, once you get the hang of them, citing sources will become second nature to you. The key is to practice and familiarize yourself with the guidelines. Before you know it, you'll be properly citing your sources without even thinking about it!

Revise and Polish

The key factor to mastering how to write a good research paper, it is crucial to dedicate time to proofreading and correcting any mistakes. To ensure a thorough review, we recommend conducting two editing sessions: one focused on addressing structural issues and another dedicated to refining word choice, grammar, and spelling.

During the structural edit, consider the following checklist to guide your revisions:

  • Is your thesis statement clear and concise, effectively conveying the main idea of your paper?
  • Does your paper exhibit a well-organized structure, with smooth transitions guiding the reader from beginning to end?
  • Do your ideas flow logically within each paragraph, presenting a coherent sequence of thoughts?
  • Have you supported your arguments with concrete details and facts, avoiding vague generalizations?
  • Do your arguments effectively support and prove your thesis statement?
  • Have you eliminated unnecessary repetition to enhance clarity and conciseness?
  • Are your sources appropriately cited, ensuring proper credit and avoiding plagiarism?

You can also explore the guidelines for how to write an essay MLA format to ensure that your citations are accurate and properly formatted.

After addressing structural concerns, shift your focus to the word choice, grammar, and spelling edit. Consider the following aspects:

  • Is your language clear, precise, and free of ambiguity?
  • Do your sentences flow smoothly and convey your ideas effectively?
  • Have you eliminated filler words and phrases that weaken the impact of your writing?
  • Have you meticulously checked for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

Consider reading your paper aloud or having someone else review it to catch any overlooked issues.

Enhance with Resources

There are various sources that can be utilized for references, including scholarly articles, books, websites, online videos, newspapers, and internet articles, among others. Each type of resource has its own format for citation. Below, you will find formats for commonly used resources.

  • Journal article: Author, A., & Author, B. (Year). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), page range. DOI.
  • Book: Author, A., & Author, B. (Year). Title of book. Publisher Name.
  • Website: Author. (Year). Title of page. Retrieved Date, from (insert website URL).
  • Journal article: Author(s). 'Title of Article.' Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, pages.
  • Book: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Date.
  • Website: Author. Name of Site. Version number, Name of organization, date of resource creation, URL. Date of access.

If you are seeking more information on how to write a research paper or need assistance with each step of the process, consider exploring the following tools:

  • JSTOR : JSTOR is a digital library containing a vast collection of academic journals, books, and primary sources. It offers comprehensive research material in various disciplines.
  • Mendeley : Mendeley is a reference management tool that helps you organize your research sources, collaborate with peers, and generate citations automatically. It also provides access to a large database of scholarly articles.
  • Grammarly : Grammarly is an online writing assistant that helps improve grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It offers suggestions for enhancing clarity and style in your research papers.
  • Tableau : Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool that enables you to create interactive charts, graphs, and dashboards. It allows you to present your research findings in a visually engaging and informative manner.
  • Overleaf : Overleaf is an online LaTeX editor that simplifies the process of writing scientific documents, including research papers, theses, and dissertations. It provides collaborative features and pre-built templates for different document types.

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When Will I Need to Write a Research Paper in College?

You'll likely come across several instances where you'll need to write research papers. Research papers are a common requirement in many courses, especially those in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. They serve a purpose beyond mere formality, as they provide professors with a means to gauge your comprehension of a specific subject, your prowess in critical analysis, and your aptitude for conducting meticulous research. Consequently, it becomes crucial to equip yourself with the knowledge of how to write an academic research paper.

Where Can I Find Ideas for Research Paper Topics?

Here are a few places where you can find inspiration for research paper topics:

  • Course Materials : Review your textbooks, lecture notes, and assigned readings. Look for interesting concepts, debates, or unanswered questions that pique your curiosity. You can delve deeper into these areas to develop a research topic.
  • Current Events : Stay updated with the latest news and developments in your field of interest. News articles, journals, and online platforms can provide you with real-world issues or emerging trends that can serve as excellent research topics.
  • Academic Journals and Publications : Explore reputable academic journals and publications related to your field. Reading scholarly articles can expose you to ongoing research, gaps in knowledge, or new perspectives, which can inspire research ideas.
  • Brainstorming : Set aside dedicated time for brainstorming. Write down any topic that comes to mind, even if it seems unrelated or unrefined initially. Freely explore different angles and themes, and gradually refine your ideas into more focused research topics.
  • Consult with Professors or Experts : Reach out to your professors or experts in the field and discuss potential research topics with them. They can provide guidance, suggest relevant areas of study, or offer insights based on their expertise.
  • Online Research Databases : Utilize online research databases, such as JSTOR, Google Scholar, or PubMed, to search for keywords related to your subject. These databases contain a vast array of academic articles and studies that can stimulate ideas for research topics.
  • Social Media and Online Communities : Engage with online communities, forums, or social media groups related to your field. Participating in discussions or observing conversations can help you identify popular or controversial topics worth exploring.

In conclusion, with these effective steps and techniques, you can confidently write a research paper. Dive into research, organize your thoughts, support your arguments, revise diligently, and embrace improvement. Let your ideas flow and create papers that make a meaningful impact in your field.

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Writing a Research Paper

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The pages in this section provide detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

The Research Paper

There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, students will find that they can achieve great things through their research and writing.

The pages in this section cover the following topic areas related to the process of writing a research paper:

  • Genre - This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic - This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses themselves.
  • Identifying an Audience - This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin - This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.
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How to Write a Research Paper

Last Updated: January 31, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Chris Hadley, PhD . Chris Hadley, PhD is part of the wikiHow team and works on content strategy and data and analytics. Chris Hadley earned his PhD in Cognitive Psychology from UCLA in 2006. Chris' academic research has been published in numerous scientific journals. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 4,157,801 times.

Whether you’re in a history, literature, or science class, you’ll probably have to write a research paper at some point. It may seem daunting when you’re just starting out, but staying organized and budgeting your time can make the process a breeze. Research your topic, find reliable sources, and come up with a working thesis. Then create an outline and start drafting your paper. Be sure to leave plenty of time to make revisions, as editing is essential if you want to hand in your best work!

Sample Research Papers and Outlines

how can we write research essay

Researching Your Topic

Step 1 Focus your research on a narrow topic.

  • For instance, you might start with a general subject, like British decorative arts. Then, as you read, you home in on transferware and pottery. Ultimately, you focus on 1 potter in the 1780s who invented a way to mass-produce patterned tableware.

Tip: If you need to analyze a piece of literature, your task is to pull the work apart into literary elements and explain how the author uses those parts to make their point.

Step 2 Search for credible sources online and at a library.

  • Authoritative, credible sources include scholarly articles (especially those other authors reference), government websites, scientific studies, and reputable news bureaus. Additionally, check your sources' dates, and make sure the information you gather is up to date.
  • Evaluate how other scholars have approached your topic. Identify authoritative sources or works that are accepted as the most important accounts of the subject matter. Additionally, look for debates among scholars, and ask yourself who presents the strongest evidence for their case. [3] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • You’ll most likely need to include a bibliography or works cited page, so keep your sources organized. List your sources, format them according to your assigned style guide (such as MLA or Chicago ), and write 2 or 3 summary sentences below each one. [4] X Research source

Step 3 Come up with a preliminary thesis.

  • Imagine you’re a lawyer in a trial and are presenting a case to a jury. Think of your readers as the jurors; your opening statement is your thesis and you’ll present evidence to the jury to make your case.
  • A thesis should be specific rather than vague, such as: “Josiah Spode’s improved formula for bone china enabled the mass production of transfer-printed wares, which expanded the global market for British pottery.”

Drafting Your Essay

Step 1 Create an outline...

  • Your outline is your paper’s skeleton. After making the outline, all you’ll need to do is fill in the details.
  • For easy reference, include your sources where they fit into your outline, like this: III. Spode vs. Wedgewood on Mass Production A. Spode: Perfected chemical formula with aims for fast production and distribution (Travis, 2002, 43) B. Wedgewood: Courted high-priced luxury market; lower emphasis on mass production (Himmelweit, 2001, 71) C. Therefore: Wedgewood, unlike Spode, delayed the expansion of the pottery market.

Step 2 Present your thesis...

  • For instance, your opening line could be, “Overlooked in the present, manufacturers of British pottery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries played crucial roles in England’s Industrial Revolution.”
  • After presenting your thesis, lay out your evidence, like this: “An examination of Spode’s innovative production and distribution techniques will demonstrate the importance of his contributions to the industry and Industrial Revolution at large.”

Tip: Some people prefer to write the introduction first and use it to structure the rest of the paper. However, others like to write the body, then fill in the introduction. Do whichever seems natural to you. If you write the intro first, keep in mind you can tweak it later to reflect your finished paper’s layout.

Step 3 Build your argument in the body paragraphs.

  • After setting the context, you'd include a section on Josiah Spode’s company and what he did to make pottery easier to manufacture and distribute.
  • Next, discuss how targeting middle class consumers increased demand and expanded the pottery industry globally.
  • Then, you could explain how Spode differed from competitors like Wedgewood, who continued to court aristocratic consumers instead of expanding the market to the middle class.
  • The right number of sections or paragraphs depends on your assignment. In general, shoot for 3 to 5, but check your prompt for your assigned length.

Step 4 Address a counterargument to strengthen your case.

  • If you bring up a counterargument, make sure it’s a strong claim that’s worth entertaining instead of ones that's weak and easily dismissed.
  • Suppose, for instance, you’re arguing for the benefits of adding fluoride to toothpaste and city water. You could bring up a study that suggested fluoride produced harmful health effects, then explain how its testing methods were flawed.

Step 5 Summarize your argument...

  • Sum up your argument, but don’t simply rewrite your introduction using slightly different wording. To make your conclusion more memorable, you could also connect your thesis to a broader topic or theme to make it more relatable to your reader.
  • For example, if you’ve discussed the role of nationalism in World War I, you could conclude by mentioning nationalism’s reemergence in contemporary foreign affairs.

Revising Your Paper

Step 1 Ensure your paper...

  • This is also a great opportunity to make sure your paper fulfills the parameters of the assignment and answers the prompt!
  • It’s a good idea to put your essay aside for a few hours (or overnight, if you have time). That way, you can start editing it with fresh eyes.

Tip: Try to give yourself at least 2 or 3 days to revise your paper. It may be tempting to simply give your paper a quick read and use the spell-checker to make edits. However, revising your paper properly is more in-depth.

Step 2 Cut out unnecessary words and other fluff.

  • The passive voice, such as “The door was opened by me,” feels hesitant and wordy. On the other hand, the active voice, or “I opened the door,” feels strong and concise.
  • Each word in your paper should do a specific job. Try to avoid including extra words just to fill up blank space on a page or sound fancy.
  • For instance, “The author uses pathos to appeal to readers’ emotions” is better than “The author utilizes pathos to make an appeal to the emotional core of those who read the passage.”

Step 3 Proofread

  • Read your essay out loud to help ensure you catch every error. As you read, check for flow as well and, if necessary, tweak any spots that sound awkward. [14] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 4 Ask a friend, relative, or teacher to read your work before you submit it.

  • It’s wise to get feedback from one person who’s familiar with your topic and another who’s not. The person who knows about the topic can help ensure you’ve nailed all the details. The person who’s unfamiliar with the topic can help make sure your writing is clear and easy to understand.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Remember that your topic and thesis should be as specific as possible. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • Researching, outlining, drafting, and revising are all important steps, so do your best to budget your time wisely. Try to avoid waiting until the last minute to write your paper. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1

how can we write research essay

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Get Started With a Research Project

  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/planresearchpaper/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/evaluating-print-sources/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/conducting_research/research_overview/index.html
  • ↑ https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/writing/graduate-writing-lab/writing-through-graduate-school/working-sources
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-5-putting-the-pieces-together-with-a-thesis-statement/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/index.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/essay-structure
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/counterarguments
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/formandstyle/writing/scholarlyvoice/activepassive
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/index.html

About This Article

Chris Hadley, PhD

To write a research paper, start by researching your topic at the library, online, or using an academic database. As you conduct your research and take notes, zero in on a specific topic that you want to write about and create a 1-2 sentence thesis to state the focus of your paper. Then, create an outline that includes an introduction, 3 to 5 body paragraphs to present your arguments, and a conclusion to sum up your main points. Once you have your paper's structure organized, draft your paragraphs, focusing on 1 argument per paragraph. Use the information you found through your research to back up your claims and prove your thesis statement. Finally, proofread and revise your content until it's polished and ready to submit. For more information on researching and citing sources, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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  • A Research Guide
  • Research Paper Guide

How to Write a Research Paper

  • STEP 1. How to start research topic?
  • STEP 2. Find information
  • STEP 3. Make your thesis statement
  • STEP 4. Make research paper outline
  • STEP 5. Oganize your notes
  • STEP 6. Literature review

STEP 7. The research question(s)

Step 8. research methodology.

  • STEP 9. Writing the results, analysis, discussion, and conclusion

STEP 10. The process of writing a research paper

  • STEP 11. Write your first draft
  • Checklist One
  • Checklist Two
  • STEP 13. Tools for research paper help
  • STEP 14. Some words of encouragement

When an average student hears about writing a research paper, apprehension and anxiety always arise. Contrary to popular belief, it’s easier than writing an average college assignment. Essentially, what is a research paper in basic terms? It is a type of academic writing that must follow instructions to the letter and adhere to certain standards. Since writing a research paper is based on the original research already done by another person, your task involves analysis, processing, and interpretation of research outcomes. Since it’s a time-consuming process, it’s only natural to feel stressed without clear knowledge regarding where to start. If you write a research paper for the first time, things can become even more difficult. As students need to learn more about research paper structure peculiarities, they often write hastily and skip through all the essential elements that make research papers accurate.

This helpful guide will provide advice and assistance as you navigate the challenges of research paper writing. The article on how to write a research paper will include all the recommended steps that must be followed to earn the best grades. We shall also provide helpful tips and 14 steps to help you choose a good topic, write without stress and collect all the necessary information. It is precisely what helps to start up research work and achieve success. You will also learn more about citation basics and free online tools that can help you check certain things and achieve clarity in your tone and the writing flow as you write. Read on to learn how to compose an A+ research paper!

STEP 1. How to start research and find a good topic?

The most challenging part is knowing how to start a research paper by narrowing things down. You must start by choosing a subject that interests and motivates you the most. Your motivation and general attitude will always differ when you feel inspired by the research problem. It will also help determine things you might already know regarding the subject. Stay focused on keeping your content narrowed down. If you are talking about social conflicts, specify what types of problems it represents by talking about location and the sample group. When unsure, always talk to your academic advisor and seek topic approval first to ensure you are on the right track. It will always help you to avoid confusion in the future!

Finding a suitable topic problem or how to make your paper stand out!

When you have several research topics that inspire you, focus on those you know better and think about subjects that can be supported with solid argumentative evidence. Invest your time in a preliminary study of the subject and pay attention to detail because it will help you to see the shortcomings and advantages of choosing a particular subject. Once you can achieve this goal for your paper, you will also meet most grading rubric requirements. As you choose your research paper writing topic, try to determine research questions early, as it will help you to see how to work with the methods section, analysis, and discussion, among other vital elements. Make sure you look at similar research paper topics by checking what else is available online.

This type of exploration is always essential because you must make your research paper stand out from the rest by offering something unique. You must do relevant explorations to see what other authors have done so you do not repeat the same work. Outline the objectives you wish to follow and develop the thesis or a hypothesis for your future work. Ask yourself what kind of work has already been done as you focus on your chosen topic. Ask yourself whether some bits and pieces have yet to be explored. This way, you can shed some light on a subject and provide a new research method that has yet to be explored. Moreover, it will help you to publish your work in the future and present it at various academic venues! When your professor sees that you have done your homework correctly, it will become a cornerstone in your academic career!

Narrowing things down!

The most common mistake most college students make is taking a narrow approach when starting with research work. The trick here is to narrow things down and focus on the vital information you have obtained. Consider the statistical data, literature reviews, and facts supporting your main arguments. It means you do not have to choose all the available information and write it down in your work. Such an approach will only make your paper sound generic and take the research part away. Think about choosing another method by focusing on elements that interest you the most! Seek the value in every sentence and add your author’s voice as you process information and present something of your vision. It will also help to explain why your research paper is important as you talk about the significance of your work.

STEP 2. Finding credible sources of information

One of the first elements of proper research work is finding the information required for an outline. Consider finding relevant general information online by visiting libraries or university resources. You may also use search engines and approach online resources such as Britannica . Still, try to implement Google Scholar as well by checking relevant publications. It will be a good starting point to consider! Ensure you look at the domain extensions representing educational institutions, the .edu or .org domains (non-profit organizations). Likewise, you can locate accurate and verified information at .gov extension websites. Just remember that there may be a certain political bias, depending on the government.

Be careful with commercial .com websites as you write research papers. Many such websites can be excellent for research purposes, yet many tend to contain poor quality or advertisements that may make them less relevant. You can look at Network Solutions websites to learn more about what extensions this or that type stand for. Quality sources are not easy to find, so you must learn how to evaluate websites critically and eliminate those sources that are not peer-reviewed. If you are looking for sources in print or seek digital books for your academic paper, consider checking the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) library.

Conduct preliminary research based on a chosen subject!

When you are visiting a library online to write a research paper or considering visiting one in person, make sure to check the following as you write and take notes:

  • Almanacs, atlases, and scientific catalogs;
  • Government publications, guides, and reports;
  • Vertical files;
  • Encyclopedias and Dictionaries;
  • Magazines and Newspapers;
  • Yellow Pages.

Speaking of online resources, you can safely consider web-based information as long as you can check the original or consider multimedia sources in audio and/or video format:

  • Online reference materials at SIRS, ProQuest, or eLibrary;
  • Indexing is done for periodicals and newspapers (onlinenewspapers.com);
  • Newspapers and scientific magazines;
  • Answers.com;
  • International Public Libraries;
  • Wall Street Executive Library;
  • Online Encyclopedias like Britannica or Canadian Encyclopedia;
  • Google Scholar.

Remember to check public and university libraries, read business press releases related to your subject, or check governmental agencies as you write. You can also talk to people by hosting interviews for the primary sources. Always document your sources, and do not use anything without a solid reason. When collecting your research paper writing resources, take notes of all the citing and/or bibliographical information. It must include the author’s name, full title, place of publication, information about the publisher, publication date, and page numbers. Include the URL, DOI, or ISBN, depending on the publication’s type and the paper type you must write. As a rule, information not providing sufficient bibliographical data is virtually useless for citation purposes. If you are unsure of some source, it’s better to avoid it.

You are always able to buy custom research paper from our premium partner CustomWriting?

STEP 3. Make your thesis statement clear

A thesis statement is the heart of every research paper because they deliver the main thesis or an assumption that is made. As a rule, the thesis must be created when you work on your paper’s outline. While some research papers may not require a thesis, the list of objectives must be presented in any case to help your target audience understand what they might expect. A thesis is the main idea of your research and a central point that should be outlined after your introduction part. The arguments must be clear and related to your chosen subject and topic.

In most cases, a thesis statement should present one sentence only. You can approach it as a declaration of your vision and the message that you wish to deliver. This is how you defend your point!

Developing a thesis statement before you do all the rest is recommended. A thesis usually appears at the end of your introduction paragraph and can be placed in italics. Starting with your thesis statement when you already have certain arguments written down is not recommended, as it will require post-adjustment work. Likewise, your thesis statement must be supported by the evidence and literature sources you have obtained. Take your time to analyze available materials and come up with a clearly formulated statement for your research paper. It will help you to develop your ideas further as you move to the body parts of your research.

Do your best to avoid generic or vague statements and always focus on the subject and keywords included in your main subject. Your paper should inspire the audience and reflect the main idea presented in your introduction. Remember to avoid placing citations in the same paragraph with your thesis. It is precisely where your unique ideas and vision must be offered instead!

Your thesis statement should achieve the following as you write:

  • Outline and explain how you approach a particular research subject.
  • Address the research questions you have been given to write a research paper.
  • Explain what to expect from your research work.
  • Present various claims and set up a dispute.

Your thesis statement should be valid and possible to achieve. It is recommended to share it with your academic advisor as you may receive brief revision comments and address all the weak points. If it’s impossible, proofread it aloud and check if it can be supported.

Here is a list of questions to consider as you write a scientific paper:

  • Does my thesis address the main problem of my research paper?
  • Can I support my thesis with sufficient evidence?
  • Does my thesis provide interesting and inspiring data?
  • Is my statement clear and precise to present academic value?
  • Can my thesis position be disputed and challenged? As a rule, the answer should be “yes”.

Remember that changing your thesis’s wording is possible as you work on your assignment. It will help you shape better ideas and increase your precision. Speaking of helpful research paper tips based on writing a powerful paper, you should focus on the credibility of your writing by checking things twice. Your strong and clear thesis shows that you have done your homework correctly and know the subject well!

STEP 4. Creating a research paper outline

Let’s continue with the basic research paper outline template that can be used further for research paper writing purposes. Here is the research paper outline format with universal elements:


a) Provide a brief overview of a problem or issue you plan to research. Include your main assumption or an argument outlined in your thesis statement.

b) Include a justification of your research work. It is basically a reason why your readers should care and follow your research paper. Also known as the study importance, you must write it clearly and explain why your subject is meaningful.

c) Write down a brief outline of the paper’s range and the planned methods you will use to approach your issue or problem.


a) Provide a background history of a problem.

b) How does your issue impact society and/or the academic environment?

c) Critical factors related to your research problem.

d) Possible solutions that will be explored in your paper.


a) A list of theories and concepts (textbooks, journal articles, or other relevant publications.

i. Offer a description of how these theories help to explain your problem and represent a solution.

ii. How were these concepts of theories explained by others?

iii. Describe how these theories help to explain your research problem.

b) Empirical research literature (mostly journal articles)

i. Provide an overview of relevant empirical studies based on chronology.

ii. Offer a summary of the methodology.

iii. Talk about major findings.

iv. What were the limitations you faced?

c) Talk about what has been discovered in a literature review

i. Talk about concepts and definitions you plan to use based on other authors.

ii. Describe all the unique concepts you have faced.

iii. Describe what method fits your research best and based on what reading(s).

a. Offer specific research questions that you address.

b. Describe your research method and data collection processes.

c. Justify your method’s rationale and explain why you have chosen it.


a. Write down your major findings.

b. Write about statistical information and facts to explain your research outcomes.

c. Discuss and write about the relevance of findings based on prior studies.

d. Was there anything unusual or not-so-common? Write about unusual discoveries.

e. The discovered limitations of your study as you wrote a research paper.


a. Provide a brief overview of the issue examined and outline major findings.

b. Remind your readers (briefly) about the goals of your study and write down your accomplishments.

c. Offer recommendations and talk about how other researchers can benefit from your findings.

Depending on the type of research you have to write, you can write a scientific paper with an outline that can be formal or informal. The authors use an informal outline to narrow down and organize their ideas. You can revise, add, edit, or remove certain bits mentioned in your paper without keeping it strictly focused. You can use it as a writer who wants to keep on track.

Now, things are totally different when you are asked to present a formal outline and research paper. A formal outline always uses a clear structure by following numbers, letters, and logic. Every paper heading is essential here, along with sub-headings that must be grouped exactly as they appear in your research paper. The capital Roman numerals are usually used for coordination purposes.

An example of an outline to help you write a research paper:

Paper Title: Open Scouting Movement in Flanders, Belgium. An Analysis of Scouting Branches

a. Importance of Open Scouting Movement in Belgium.

b. Define the major differences between Open Scouting and the National Scouting Movement.

c. A brief history of Open Scouting in Belgium.

d. Examination of statistical data to determine the involvement of scouting branches.

e) Justification of the study’s importance.


a. Analysis of popular theories in youth movements in Belgium: Chiro, KSA, and Vrije-school movements.

b. Review of youth studies done based on local coverage and accessibility.

c. Gaps and areas that lack coverage and discussion in literature and the media.


a. Visiting Open Scouting branches in person.

b. Behavior codes across branches to compare the rules.

c. Data collection methods: staff surveys and group interviews.


a. Differences and similarities of scouting branches review.

b. Analysis of practical differences of Open Scouting in Belgium (write a research paper based on observations).

c. Outcomes of surveys.

d. Usefulness and accuracy of relevant methods (write research paper points related to your methodology).

e. Limitations of the implemented methods.


a. Main points mastered by the research.

b. The importance of Open Scouting in practice.

c. Further recommendations for parents, educators, and camp leaders.

As you do a research paper, it is recommended to narrow things down and keep your outline to the point based on what data you have obtained for your paper. When you have an outline, you can avoid being vague and keep your structure relevant to a certain logic. When you have a good outline and write a research paper correctly, it is essential to write an excellent one. Remember to follow our templates and that an outline should include an introduction, body content, and a conclusion.

Writing an introduction and other elements for your research paper structure

  • INTRODUCTION: This is where you have to introduce your research problem and include a clear thesis. Ask yourself about the main reason why you are researching something and outline it here. Explain how you plan to approach an issue in your research paper. Depending on the research type, you can focus on the facts, review relevant literature, or offer an analysis of a problem. This is also where you must explain all the major points mentioned in your paper and why they matter!
  • BODY CONTENT: Present your strongest to weakest arguments by supporting your thesis statement. This section is also divided into several parts. It will always depend on your academic discipline, requirements issued by your professors, subject, and many other things. To write a good research paper, your body parts usually contain elements like a literature review, methodology or methods section, analysis, research outcomes (results), sample analysis, and a discussion section.
  • A CONCLUSION: This is where you must state your thesis and research question in simpler terms. Do not introduce any new ideas. Try your best to summarize existing arguments. Explain why you came up with a specific conclusion. Your paper must represent at least 15% of the final part. Explain again why your research matters and how the results can be replicated or used for future research.

STEP 5. Organize your notes

Keeping your notes organized is essential as you have to ensure that every vital point has been mentioned as it is presented in your outline. As you write a research paper, evaluate your research data critically and check for accuracy. If some information has not been updated in a while and has missing citation data, it’s always better to skip it as you work on your paper. If some beliefs or views oppose your main thesis, write a research essay section that mentions them in a counter-arguments paragraph. It is one of the most important stages to consider when writing a research paper. It is where you must sort, analyze, and evaluate your available data. It will help you to learn new things and determine the main purpose of your objectives. Think about eliminating less important aspects as you take notes of your ideas, thoughts, concepts, and research findings.

As you write a research paper, avoid information that is not relevant to your research issue! Do not include facts that cannot be supported by a clear piece of evidence or a direct citation. At the same time, using only up to three citations per 300 words is recommended to avoid possible plagiarism risks. As you write a research paper, use paraphrasing instead whenever possible! If an idea is not yours, always provide a reference and document it accurately. When you sort and classify your notes as you make a research paper stand out, do your best to provide detailed bibliographic data for each citation before you create a References or Works Cited page. As you work on the notes, you have prepared to write a research paper, use different outline codes or colors to mark the types of sources, depending if they are in print or online, related to the first, second, third argument, and so on.

STEP 6. A literature review or learning of available resources

This part basically stands for knowing what data is available out there. It is precisely where you have to do all the research work and a reason why it differs from most other assignment types you might encounter as a college or university student. The purpose here is not simply to list all the information available on a particular subject but to contribute something based on your vision and thoughts. One of the ways to do that is to go through the literature review process and narrow things down as you look for background information related to a particular subject. As you start with a literature review for your paper, you automatically determine what is already known about an issue you plan to explore. A comprehensive literature review for a professional research paper will help you save time and discover what aspects of a subject have yet to be reviewed. Likewise, you will know what has been done before.

  • Internet research based on keywords. It’s one of the easiest methods to start with as you look for information online and use specific keywords that reflect your chosen topic. You can consider the information available on various websites or general publications. Most students who write research papers will turn to academic research and scientific databases. Finding peer-reviewed sources and sorting out unnecessary social media websites or blogs is safe. Remember that places like PubMed or ScienceDirect are more trustworthy for an academic research paper than a post on Twitter, even though the latter may represent a primary source.
  • Checking prior research on the topic. The next step worth taking is exploring all the prior work that other researchers have done. You can visit official organizations that work in the field of your research. This way, you can collect statistical information and see what they have found before and what information has been made available. Focus on whether research work is funded publicly or done privately. If the research is affiliated with a certain company, consider checking things twice for possible bias, especially if your paper must be neutral. Always check for credibility and try to locate information about the author(s)
  • Visiting the university library. As a rule, if you are enrolled in Automotive Industry at MIT, you will have access to unique materials at the local library. The chances are high that your academic advisor may already provide you with a recommended or even obligatory reading list. As you brainstorm various steps in writing a research paper, take your time to research what’s available at the university or college library. Turn to research databases and look through the online index by entering keywords related to your paper. Most of them will have available citation info to save you valuable time.
  • Using academic sources. These include peer-reviewed journals that you can access either in print or online. As a rule, such publications receive the highest level of credibility from most professors and should be considered first. It is partially because of the unbiased review and cross-linked publications. If you are dealing with a citation from someone who knows the subject well, you will increase the credibility of your research paper. Likewise, if your research paper becomes published or you present it publicly, you increase your chances of being cited and quoted by others in the chosen scientific field.

Once you complete a detailed literature review and are ready to pursue the next steps to write a research paper, you will receive sufficient background information to understand your subject’s peculiarities. Much of this work will help you shape your research paper thesis much better because you will automatically address numerous objectives and know all the limitations and research gaps. You will learn what must be done to keep the research accessible and clear based on the chosen topic.

Before moving to the Methodology section, exploring the answers that address your research objectives is crucial. Most importantly, you must keep your research paper data within the scope and timeframe of the issue. When dealing with scientific research, you must keep information clear to a certain point. It must be possible to replicate and measure your actions. Whether using quantitative or qualitative methods (or both), it should be trustworthy and possible to replicate.

Always consider what methods to use and what sources to put forward, depending on your subject. If you are talking about the violence of video games and their effect on teenagers, the best solution to write such a paper would be to use surveys or other methods in your research paper guidelines to determine your sampling method and avoid bias. Likewise, you may use various means and technical tools to receive answers to your research questions , depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

It’s one of the most challenging steps to consider as you have to choose a particular research method based on your research paper subject, the type of research, and the sources you have obtained. Here are the most popular research methods that you may consider:

  • Focus group. It can be a suitable method if the author’s goal is to obtain information from a small group of people. It might be a safe choice for your research paper if you cannot invest time and funds. It usually comes to asking questions and taking notes as you determine a limited sample group. While it can be convenient, findings from a focus group method might not fit those cases where you need to be more careful with a selection. It means that you must avoid it for legal or medical studies. After all, as you write a research paper based on that, a fellow researcher can make a limited conclusion regarding the findings because of the limited sampling approach.
  • Survey. It’s another popular method that can be used for a large sample group where participants are chosen randomly. Such a method is often recommended when dealing with peer-reviewed research sources. When writing a scientific paper, remember that most paper surveys you can write down also have weaknesses since participants may not provide honest opinions or politically correct answers. Numerous factors also influence them, so a certain bias is always possible.
  • Field experiments . These are also helpful when you wish to experience information in practice and explore a certain community. The methods used here include field analysis, lab experiments, direct observation, participant control, case study replication, and many non-conventional methods that researchers can use to address their research objectives. The same is true for the technical equipment tools you can use to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.
  • A word on replication: It must be noted that writing down the methods section for your research paper must be precise and accurate. Other researchers should be able to replicate your method and come up with the same findings and outcomes. Replication is critical in the research process, as your results must be valid!


STEP 9. Addressing a research paper’s results, analysis, discussion, and conclusion sections

Once you finish the data collection and methods section for your research assignment, it’s high time to move to the results part of your paper and do analysis work. You must use this space as a researcher when dealing with results, analysis, discussion, and conclusion. The main purpose is to interpret your findings and explain what you could achieve. You can compare your research paper results to prior findings and discuss potential limitations and implications for other researchers.

  • Results . Start this section by discussing the findings you could obtain from your research work. Address what research paper questions have been addressed. If you created a series of hypothesis statements or made certain educated guesses in your research paper, state if they have been supported or rejected. It will help if you include tables, graphs, statistical data, and other visual elements to help your readers understand the results.
  • Analysis. As a researcher and analyst, you must interpret and explain your findings based on the thesis statement. You have to state whether your research is significant and showcase if your findings support (or reject) prior research findings. Remember to provide a piece of evidence for every fact that you have obtained. Talking in context, explain by comparing and contrasting the facts. It’s also necessary to explain how your findings hold up against other findings conducted by researchers in your field.
  • Discussion . Once done with the analytical part, this section should outline and discuss your findings in an accessible way. Remember to mention your research work’s main benefits and limitations. Focus on transparency and allow your readers to determine the weaknesses and specifics of your research. Speaking of tips for writing a research paper analysis part, try to be self-critical but do not overdo it! This part must not introduce any new ideas as you write but help future researchers come up with new methods and try out other things to address the shortcomings of your study.
  • Conclusion . This section allows you to summarize and state your thesis again, with a brief overview of the research findings. A conclusion should discuss the main points, starting with the main research questions, the list of methods you have used, the results, and your findings. A research paper’s conclusion should be sufficient to understand the type of work done. Imagine that a reader has no time to read the entire paper and include all the important bits in your conclusion. The key is to write and help everyone understand your content well by reading the conclusion alone!

We are finally ready to write it all down, which will be easier since we already have all the necessary information. As you write a paper for college, the most important thing is to keep the flow and remember to look into your outline. Your research paper must be structured per every section mentioned in your grading rubric and the outline (if you have one!). Consider starting with an introduction and thinking about starting with the background information bit to present your thesis statement. As you proceed with your writing, a thesis statement should be the last sentence of the introduction part that will help to proceed with the further sections.

Remember the importance of having an outline? If you have been listening and creating one, supporting your thesis with relevant arguments and organizing your content from strong to weak will be easier. Just follow your writing with the sections already mentioned in your outline! Using topic sentences at the beginning that instantly explain your research and include bullet point structures to guide your readers will be helpful. It also helps to narrow things down and outline the most important ideas and/or facts. A good paper outline will also help you work in chunks and save time, as you only have to grasp some research work simultaneously. It is recommended to allocate at least 2-3 hours to write a research paper to ensure you do not exhaust yourself by spending more as you deal with a lengthy research paper!

A good research paper can be finished, so taking one step at a time for each section will help you see what is left and what is already done. Do your best to avoid procrastination! Meanwhile, as you create a research paper, do not try to reach perfection, as it’s barely possible! Keep yourself disciplined and have a writing schedule, as it will help you to overcome the usual writer’s block issue. It is the best way to meet your deadline and stay on topic! See below for the essential 9 steps that are worth knowing:

research paper

STEP 11. The importance of writing your first draft

It must start with the first aspect of your research paper outline. It means that background information and the relevance of your topic must come first. Make sure to include all your notes and avoid citations unless it’s statistical information that you need to explain the importance of your research. Try to summarize the available information and alternate between paraphrasing and direct quotes as you write a research paper to decrease plagiarism risks. An ideal scenario would be introducing an issue and continuing with the direct quote, followed by your analysis. Alternatively, writing a science research paper can use various techniques that fit you, like summaries, quotes, tables, or comparisons. Since it’s your first draft, do not spend too much time editing things yet!

Once you are ready with the first draft, remember that it does not have to be perfect because it is not meant for submission. As a rule, most students go through at least three different revisions until they submit the final paper version. Always follow your thesis statement to guarantee that you do not touch upon other subjects. If you have an opportunity, ask a good friend or even a professional researcher to listen to your draft and help you identify the weaknesses or entire passages to change and improve. It has to be accessible and easy to understand. Always give your first draft enough time, and remember to take a break from your paper and get outside before you get back to it and continue with the revision.

STEP 12. Editing your paper

We are finally at the stage where it is necessary to review the research paper draft and ensure that everything is correct, adheres to the writing standards, and follows existing instructions and/or grading rubrics. To simplify things for any research project, we have created several checklists for you. These include helpful tips and tricks for writing research papers well. They allow you to save time and impress even the most demanding professors.

The main purpose of reviewing your work is to check your paper for any content and logical mistakes. Double-check all the facts and figures. Check your outline and arrange or rearrange ideas based on your notes. You must keep things logical and clear as you edit your paper for repetitions but remember to include all the necessary bibliography and additional notes when and if necessary.

First checklist for writing an excellent paper:

  • Is my thesis statement clear and concise for the audience?
  • Is the outline followed? Has anything been missed?
  • Are arguments presented from strong to weak in a logical way?
  • Are all in-text citations corresponding with the Bibliography page?
  • Is the thesis supported with strong statements?
  • Are intentions and methodology parts clear as to research objectives?

Note: Remember the importance of editing your paper for grammar and spelling mistakes. You can use a dictionary to check spelling and consult a thesaurus if necessary. MS Word and Google Docs allow you to check your spelling for typos and punctuation issues. Take your time to correct the mistakes and proofread your content aloud to ensure it is accessible. If possible, have another person proofread and check your paper, as you may have missed certain weak points. It’s only natural as you write a research paper and edit it repeatedly!

Second checklist for writing:

  • Does every body’s paragraph start with a relevant topic sentence?
  • Are my arguments supported with evidence and practical examples?
  • Have run-on or odd sentences been eliminated?
  • Have repetition issues been removed?
  • Is the length of sentences normal?
  • Is there an easy flow of ideas?
  • Has the content been checked for grammar and spelling?
  • Are citations accurate and in the correct citation style?
  • Is my research paper unbiased and objective?
  • Does the paper provide a strong sense of completion?

Note: It is recommended to use “cannot” instead of “can’t” as you write a research paper, as well as “do not” instead of “don’t”. A research paper must be written in the third person unless specified otherwise.

Keeping your writing in style

If you wish to improve your English composition skills, check out “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk for an example of a classic book that addresses style issues in writing. The book’s contents focus on the main grammar rules, elementary principles of composition, useful words and expressions that are usually misused, and important reminders. The book teaches how to revise and rewrite the odd parts. It helps to learn how to avoid all the fancy words. See details of the book by checking The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. , which is partially available online free of charge.

Correct citation and formatting issues

As you might already know, every research paper is written in an academic style like APA , MLA , Chicago , or Harvard. Students majoring in Healthcare will likely use AMA (American Medical Association) citation style. It will depend on your discipline or the style specified in your grading rubric. The most common styles are APA and MLA. The research paper styles that are uncommon are Harvard, Chicago Manual of Style, APSA (American Political Science Association), and the IEEE, which stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. You can check style guides before you check your formatting aspect.

  • APA (American Psychological Association) style is mostly used for social sciences subjects. Make sure to check your grading rubric and university templates for more information.
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style is the most common for Liberal Arts and Humanities. The most recent is MLA 8th Handbook style. Remember to check information on parenthetical citations in MLA to ensure that your research paper follows all the rules. If you are new to this style, check relevant examples for printed books, online sources, etc.

STEP 13. Tools for research paper writing help and accuracy

Once you are done with the editing part and review your draft more than once, it’s time to apply another evaluation method, also known as copy-editing. Thanks to AI-based tools, copy editing is now a more expensive and demanding task. Of course, it will work differently than professional editing because you should still check all the false corrections. Still, since it’s possible free of charge, there is little to complain about when you can write a research paper correctly. You can easily find These types of tools online:

  • Grammar checkers. They mostly correct issues like grammar, spelling, typos, and punctuation. It will also address lexical issues, a saving grace for most ESL learners. Remember that poor grammar may seriously ruin your paper, so check grammar checkers and enable them in Google Docs and MS Word.
  • Plagiarism checkers . It provides excellent help because you can scan your paper for similarities and balance direct citations and paraphrasing. It does not take more than five minutes to check things, so do yourself a favor and check one of the free or commercial ones. As a researcher, remember to cite your paper completely and give credit where it’s due.
  • Citation generators. These are helpful for cases when you cannot find ready-made citation information. When you compose your Works Cited or Bibliography pages, you must double-check the accuracy of citations with all the spaces, punctuation, and indents. The most common research paper styles such tools support are APA, Harvard citations, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, and more. Free research paper tools also make it possible to convert your sources from one style to another automatically. It is helpful when you have found a complete citation in Chicago but need it in MLA or Vancouver.
  • Title page generators. These are useful when brainstorming ideas for a good and inspiring title. After all, a title is what your professor will see first as you submit your paper. Many college students feel challenged as they work with all the indents and ideas, title case problems, and other formatting issues. Title generators help with this problem and will follow the relevant style.

Note: if you plan to get your research paper ready for publishing, read the eligibility rules twice and submit it for peer review. It is also necessary when you plan to attend a scientific conference. As a researcher, you must read and follow all the editorial guidelines before you submit a publication. If you fail to follow the guidelines, you may get rejected even if your paper is an excellent example of academic research.

STEP 14. Final words of encouragement

As we have reached the end of our guide to writing a research paper in 14 easy steps, we sincerely hope that you do not see it as a daunting and frustrating task any longer. Follow every section of our guide and take one step at a time to make things easier. The most important is choosing an inspiring topic you know well, as it’s already half of the task done. Take your time and research the subject that motivates you the most, as it will help you develop a message that makes a difference.

Once again, always pay attention to the literature review part and online research! It will help you to learn what subjects are popular and which need more effort and additional research. It always helps to narrow things down and find something you know well to occupy a research niche. If you want to contribute something special, consider choosing something not widely researched. Once you are set on a topic for your research paper, think of a strong thesis statement and create an outline. It will help you see the entire picture and clearly understand what steps to take and in what order. It will eventually lead you to an excellent research paper!

If you face any challenges or feel lost when writing a research paper, our trained writers and editors are always ready to help you 24/7!

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11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons to research writing projects.
  • Outline the steps of the research writing process.

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What have scientists learned about the possibility of life on Mars? What roles did women play in the American Revolution? How does the human brain create, store, and retrieve memories? Who invented the game of football, and how has it changed over the years?

You may know the answers to these questions off the top of your head. If you are like most people, however, you find answers to tough questions like these by searching the Internet, visiting the library, or asking others for information. To put it simply, you perform research.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, a paralegal, or a parent, you probably perform research in your everyday life. When your boss, your instructor, or a family member asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you locate relevant information, analyze your findings, and share your results. Locating, analyzing, and sharing information are key steps in the research process, and in this chapter, you will learn more about each step. By developing your research writing skills, you will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.

Reasons for Research

When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. In other words, you want to answer a question that you (and other people) have about the world. This is one of the most basic reasons for performing research.

But the research process does not end when you have solved your mystery. Imagine what would happen if a detective collected enough evidence to solve a criminal case, but she never shared her solution with the authorities. Presenting what you have learned from research can be just as important as performing the research. Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular—and effective—presentation forms is the research paper . A research paper presents an original thesis, or purpose statement, about a topic and develops that thesis with information gathered from a variety of sources.

If you are curious about the possibility of life on Mars, for example, you might choose to research the topic. What will you do, though, when your research is complete? You will need a way to put your thoughts together in a logical, coherent manner. You may want to use the facts you have learned to create a narrative or to support an argument. And you may want to show the results of your research to your friends, your teachers, or even the editors of magazines and journals. Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world.

Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver? Did you search for a way to remove gum from the bottom of your shoe? In your paragraph, explain what you wanted to research, how you performed the research, and what you learned as a result.

Research Writing and the Academic Paper

No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic career. For example, a student in an art history course might write a research paper about an artist’s work. Similarly, a student in a psychology course might write a research paper about current findings in childhood development.

Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a long paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity to explore a topic that is particularly interesting to you. The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.

Research Writing at Work

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are developing a new product, studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field of employment, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings. And because effective communication is essential to any company, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.

Writing at Work

Take a few minutes to think about each of the following careers. How might each of these professionals use researching and research writing skills on the job?

  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Small business owner
  • Information technology professional
  • Freelance magazine writer

A medical laboratory technician or information technology professional might do research to learn about the latest technological developments in either of these fields. A small business owner might conduct research to learn about the latest trends in his or her industry. A freelance magazine writer may need to research a given topic to write an informed, up-to-date article.

Think about the job of your dreams. How might you use research writing skills to perform that job? Create a list of ways in which strong researching, organizing, writing, and critical thinking skills could help you succeed at your dream job. How might these skills help you obtain that job?

Steps of the Research Writing Process

How does a research paper grow from a folder of brainstormed notes to a polished final draft? No two projects are identical, but most projects follow a series of six basic steps.

These are the steps in the research writing process:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Plan and schedule time to research and write.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research and ideas.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. For now, though, we will take a brief look at what each step involves.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

As you may recall from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , to narrow the focus of your topic, you may try freewriting exercises, such as brainstorming. You may also need to ask a specific research question —a broad, open-ended question that will guide your research—as well as propose a possible answer, or a working thesis . You may use your research question and your working thesis to create a research proposal . In a research proposal, you present your main research question, any related subquestions you plan to explore, and your working thesis.

Step 2: Planning and Scheduling

Before you start researching your topic, take time to plan your researching and writing schedule. Research projects can take days, weeks, or even months to complete. Creating a schedule is a good way to ensure that you do not end up being overwhelmed by all the work you have to do as the deadline approaches.

During this step of the process, it is also a good idea to plan the resources and organizational tools you will use to keep yourself on track throughout the project. Flowcharts, calendars, and checklists can all help you stick to your schedule. See Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , Section 11.2 “Steps in Developing a Research Proposal” for an example of a research schedule.

Step 3: Conducting Research

When going about your research, you will likely use a variety of sources—anything from books and periodicals to video presentations and in-person interviews.

Your sources will include both primary sources and secondary sources . Primary sources provide firsthand information or raw data. For example, surveys, in-person interviews, and historical documents are primary sources. Secondary sources, such as biographies, literary reviews, or magazine articles, include some analysis or interpretation of the information presented. As you conduct research, you will take detailed, careful notes about your discoveries. You will also evaluate the reliability of each source you find.

Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer’s Ideas

When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper. You may decide to adjust your thesis or conduct additional research to ensure that your thesis is well supported.

Remember, your working thesis is not set in stone. You can and should change your working thesis throughout the research writing process if the evidence you find does not support your original thesis. Never try to force evidence to fit your argument. For example, your working thesis is “Mars cannot support life-forms.” Yet, a week into researching your topic, you find an article in the New York Times detailing new findings of bacteria under the Martian surface. Instead of trying to argue that bacteria are not life forms, you might instead alter your thesis to “Mars cannot support complex life-forms.”

Step 5: Drafting Your Paper

Now you are ready to combine your research findings with your critical analysis of the results in a rough draft. You will incorporate source materials into your paper and discuss each source thoughtfully in relation to your thesis or purpose statement.

When you cite your reference sources, it is important to pay close attention to standard conventions for citing sources in order to avoid plagiarism , or the practice of using someone else’s words without acknowledging the source. Later in this chapter, you will learn how to incorporate sources in your paper and avoid some of the most common pitfalls of attributing information.

Step 6: Revising and Editing Your Paper

In the final step of the research writing process, you will revise and polish your paper. You might reorganize your paper’s structure or revise for unity and cohesion, ensuring that each element in your paper flows into the next logically and naturally. You will also make sure that your paper uses an appropriate and consistent tone.

Once you feel confident in the strength of your writing, you will edit your paper for proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and formatting. When you complete this final step, you will have transformed a simple idea or question into a thoroughly researched and well-written paper you can be proud of!

Review the steps of the research writing process. Then answer the questions on your own sheet of paper.

  • In which steps of the research writing process are you allowed to change your thesis?
  • In step 2, which types of information should you include in your project schedule?
  • What might happen if you eliminated step 4 from the research writing process?

Key Takeaways

  • People undertake research projects throughout their academic and professional careers in order to answer specific questions, share their findings with others, increase their understanding of challenging topics, and strengthen their researching, writing, and analytical skills.
  • The research writing process generally comprises six steps: choosing a topic, scheduling and planning time for research and writing, conducting research, organizing research and ideas, drafting a paper, and revising and editing the paper.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • Academic Writing Style
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
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  • The C.A.R.S. Model
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  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
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  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
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  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

Academic writing refers to a style of expression that researchers use to define the intellectual boundaries of their disciplines and specific areas of expertise. Characteristics of academic writing include a formal tone, use of the third-person rather than first-person perspective (usually), a clear focus on the research problem under investigation, and precise word choice. Like specialist languages adopted in other professions, such as, law or medicine, academic writing is designed to convey agreed meaning about complex ideas or concepts within a community of scholarly experts and practitioners.

Academic Writing. Writing Center. Colorado Technical College; Hartley, James. Academic Writing and Publishing: A Practical Guide . New York: Routledge, 2008; Ezza, El-Sadig Y. and Touria Drid. T eaching Academic Writing as a Discipline-Specific Skill in Higher Education . Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2020.

Importance of Good Academic Writing

The accepted form of academic writing in the social sciences can vary considerable depending on the methodological framework and the intended audience. However, most college-level research papers require careful attention to the following stylistic elements:

I.  The Big Picture Unlike creative or journalistic writing, the overall structure of academic writing is formal and logical. It must be cohesive and possess a logically organized flow of ideas; this means that the various parts are connected to form a unified whole. There should be narrative links between sentences and paragraphs so that the reader is able to follow your argument. The introduction should include a description of how the rest of the paper is organized and all sources are properly cited throughout the paper.

II.  Tone The overall tone refers to the attitude conveyed in a piece of writing. Throughout your paper, it is important that you present the arguments of others fairly and with an appropriate narrative tone. When presenting a position or argument that you disagree with, describe this argument accurately and without loaded or biased language. In academic writing, the author is expected to investigate the research problem from an authoritative point of view. You should, therefore, state the strengths of your arguments confidently, using language that is neutral, not confrontational or dismissive.

III.  Diction Diction refers to the choice of words you use. Awareness of the words you use is important because words that have almost the same denotation [dictionary definition] can have very different connotations [implied meanings]. This is particularly true in academic writing because words and terminology can evolve a nuanced meaning that describes a particular idea, concept, or phenomenon derived from the epistemological culture of that discipline [e.g., the concept of rational choice in political science]. Therefore, use concrete words [not general] that convey a specific meaning. If this cannot be done without confusing the reader, then you need to explain what you mean within the context of how that word or phrase is used within a discipline.

IV.  Language The investigation of research problems in the social sciences is often complex and multi- dimensional . Therefore, it is important that you use unambiguous language. Well-structured paragraphs and clear topic sentences enable a reader to follow your line of thinking without difficulty. Your language should be concise, formal, and express precisely what you want it to mean. Do not use vague expressions that are not specific or precise enough for the reader to derive exact meaning ["they," "we," "people," "the organization," etc.], abbreviations like 'i.e.'  ["in other words"], 'e.g.' ["for example"], or 'a.k.a.' ["also known as"], and the use of unspecific determinate words ["super," "very," "incredible," "huge," etc.].

V.  Punctuation Scholars rely on precise words and language to establish the narrative tone of their work and, therefore, punctuation marks are used very deliberately. For example, exclamation points are rarely used to express a heightened tone because it can come across as unsophisticated or over-excited. Dashes should be limited to the insertion of an explanatory comment in a sentence, while hyphens should be limited to connecting prefixes to words [e.g., multi-disciplinary] or when forming compound phrases [e.g., commander-in-chief]. Finally, understand that semi-colons represent a pause that is longer than a comma, but shorter than a period in a sentence. In general, there are four grammatical uses of semi-colons: when a second clause expands or explains the first clause; to describe a sequence of actions or different aspects of the same topic; placed before clauses which begin with "nevertheless", "therefore", "even so," and "for instance”; and, to mark off a series of phrases or clauses which contain commas. If you are not confident about when to use semi-colons [and most of the time, they are not required for proper punctuation], rewrite using shorter sentences or revise the paragraph.

VI.  Academic Conventions Citing sources in the body of your paper and providing a list of references as either footnotes or endnotes is a key feature of academic writing. It is essential to always acknowledge the source of any ideas, research findings, data, paraphrased, or quoted text that you have used in your paper as a defense against allegations of plagiarism. Even more important, the scholarly convention of citing sources allow readers to identify the resources you used in writing your paper so they can independently verify and assess the quality of findings and conclusions based on your review of the literature. Examples of other academic conventions to follow include the appropriate use of headings and subheadings, properly spelling out acronyms when first used in the text, avoiding slang or colloquial language, avoiding emotive language or unsupported declarative statements, avoiding contractions [e.g., isn't], and using first person and second person pronouns only when necessary.

VII.  Evidence-Based Reasoning Assignments often ask you to express your own point of view about the research problem. However, what is valued in academic writing is that statements are based on evidence-based reasoning. This refers to possessing a clear understanding of the pertinent body of knowledge and academic debates that exist within, and often external to, your discipline concerning the topic. You need to support your arguments with evidence from scholarly [i.e., academic or peer-reviewed] sources. It should be an objective stance presented as a logical argument; the quality of the evidence you cite will determine the strength of your argument. The objective is to convince the reader of the validity of your thoughts through a well-documented, coherent, and logically structured piece of writing. This is particularly important when proposing solutions to problems or delineating recommended courses of action.

VIII.  Thesis-Driven Academic writing is “thesis-driven,” meaning that the starting point is a particular perspective, idea, or position applied to the chosen topic of investigation, such as, establishing, proving, or disproving solutions to the questions applied to investigating the research problem. Note that a problem statement without the research questions does not qualify as academic writing because simply identifying the research problem does not establish for the reader how you will contribute to solving the problem, what aspects you believe are most critical, or suggest a method for gathering information or data to better understand the problem.

IX.  Complexity and Higher-Order Thinking Academic writing addresses complex issues that require higher-order thinking skills applied to understanding the research problem [e.g., critical, reflective, logical, and creative thinking as opposed to, for example, descriptive or prescriptive thinking]. Higher-order thinking skills include cognitive processes that are used to comprehend, solve problems, and express concepts or that describe abstract ideas that cannot be easily acted out, pointed to, or shown with images. Think of your writing this way: One of the most important attributes of a good teacher is the ability to explain complexity in a way that is understandable and relatable to the topic being presented during class. This is also one of the main functions of academic writing--examining and explaining the significance of complex ideas as clearly as possible.  As a writer, you must adopt the role of a good teacher by summarizing complex information into a well-organized synthesis of ideas, concepts, and recommendations that contribute to a better understanding of the research problem.

Academic Writing. Writing Center. Colorado Technical College; Hartley, James. Academic Writing and Publishing: A Practical Guide . New York: Routledge, 2008; Murray, Rowena  and Sarah Moore. The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach . New York: Open University Press, 2006; Johnson, Roy. Improve Your Writing Skills . Manchester, UK: Clifton Press, 1995; Nygaard, Lynn P. Writing for Scholars: A Practical Guide to Making Sense and Being Heard . Second edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2015; Silvia, Paul J. How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007; Style, Diction, Tone, and Voice. Writing Center, Wheaton College; Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Strategies for...

Understanding Academic Writing and Its Jargon

The very definition of research jargon is language specific to a particular community of practitioner-researchers . Therefore, in modern university life, jargon represents the specific language and meaning assigned to words and phrases specific to a discipline or area of study. For example, the idea of being rational may hold the same general meaning in both political science and psychology, but its application to understanding and explaining phenomena within the research domain of a each discipline may have subtle differences based upon how scholars in that discipline apply the concept to the theories and practice of their work.

Given this, it is important that specialist terminology [i.e., jargon] must be used accurately and applied under the appropriate conditions . Subject-specific dictionaries are the best places to confirm the meaning of terms within the context of a specific discipline. These can be found by either searching in the USC Libraries catalog by entering the disciplinary and the word dictionary [e.g., sociology and dictionary] or using a database such as Credo Reference [a curated collection of subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, guides from highly regarded publishers] . It is appropriate for you to use specialist language within your field of study, but you should avoid using such language when writing for non-academic or general audiences.

Problems with Opaque Writing

A common criticism of scholars is that they can utilize needlessly complex syntax or overly expansive vocabulary that is impenetrable or not well-defined. When writing, avoid problems associated with opaque writing by keeping in mind the following:

1.   Excessive use of specialized terminology . Yes, it is appropriate for you to use specialist language and a formal style of expression in academic writing, but it does not mean using "big words" just for the sake of doing so. Overuse of complex or obscure words or writing complicated sentence constructions gives readers the impression that your paper is more about style than substance; it leads the reader to question if you really know what you are talking about. Focus on creating clear, concise, and elegant prose that minimizes reliance on specialized terminology.

2.   Inappropriate use of specialized terminology . Because you are dealing with concepts, research, and data within your discipline, you need to use the technical language appropriate to that area of study. However, nothing will undermine the validity of your study quicker than the inappropriate application of a term or concept. Avoid using terms whose meaning you are unsure of--do not just guess or assume! Consult the meaning of terms in specialized, discipline-specific dictionaries by searching the USC Libraries catalog or the Credo Reference database [see above].

Additional Problems to Avoid

In addition to understanding the use of specialized language, there are other aspects of academic writing in the social sciences that you should be aware of. These problems include:

  • Personal nouns . Excessive use of personal nouns [e.g., I, me, you, us] may lead the reader to believe the study was overly subjective. These words can be interpreted as being used only to avoid presenting empirical evidence about the research problem. Limit the use of personal nouns to descriptions of things you actually did [e.g., "I interviewed ten teachers about classroom management techniques..."]. Note that personal nouns are generally found in the discussion section of a paper because this is where you as the author/researcher interpret and describe your work.
  • Directives . Avoid directives that demand the reader to "do this" or "do that." Directives should be framed as evidence-based recommendations or goals leading to specific outcomes. Note that an exception to this can be found in various forms of action research that involve evidence-based advocacy for social justice or transformative change. Within this area of the social sciences, authors may offer directives for action in a declarative tone of urgency.
  • Informal, conversational tone using slang and idioms . Academic writing relies on excellent grammar and precise word structure. Your narrative should not include regional dialects or slang terms because they can be open to interpretation. Your writing should be direct and concise using standard English.
  • Wordiness. Focus on being concise, straightforward, and developing a narrative that does not have confusing language . By doing so, you  help eliminate the possibility of the reader misinterpreting the design and purpose of your study.
  • Vague expressions (e.g., "they," "we," "people," "the company," "that area," etc.). Being concise in your writing also includes avoiding vague references to persons, places, or things. While proofreading your paper, be sure to look for and edit any vague or imprecise statements that lack context or specificity.
  • Numbered lists and bulleted items . The use of bulleted items or lists should be used only if the narrative dictates a need for clarity. For example, it is fine to state, "The four main problems with hedge funds are:" and then list them as 1, 2, 3, 4. However, in academic writing, this must then be followed by detailed explanation and analysis of each item. Given this, the question you should ask yourself while proofreading is: why begin with a list in the first place rather than just starting with systematic analysis of each item arranged in separate paragraphs? Also, be careful using numbers because they can imply a ranked order of priority or importance. If none exists, use bullets and avoid checkmarks or other symbols.
  • Descriptive writing . Describing a research problem is an important means of contextualizing a study. In fact, some description or background information may be needed because you can not assume the reader knows the key aspects of the topic. However, the content of your paper should focus on methodology, the analysis and interpretation of findings, and their implications as they apply to the research problem rather than background information and descriptions of tangential issues.
  • Personal experience. Drawing upon personal experience [e.g., traveling abroad; caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease] can be an effective way of introducing the research problem or engaging your readers in understanding its significance. Use personal experience only as an example, though, because academic writing relies on evidence-based research. To do otherwise is simply story-telling.

NOTE:   Rules concerning excellent grammar and precise word structure do not apply when quoting someone.  A quote should be inserted in the text of your paper exactly as it was stated. If the quote is especially vague or hard to understand, consider paraphrasing it or using a different quote to convey the same meaning. Consider inserting the term "sic" in brackets after the quoted text to indicate that the quotation has been transcribed exactly as found in the original source, but the source had grammar, spelling, or other errors. The adverb sic informs the reader that the errors are not yours.

Academic Writing. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Academic Writing Style. First-Year Seminar Handbook. Mercer University; Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Cornell University; College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Murray, Rowena  and Sarah Moore. The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach . New York: Open University Press, 2006; Johnson, Eileen S. “Action Research.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education . Edited by George W. Noblit and Joseph R. Neikirk. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020); Oppenheimer, Daniel M. "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly." Applied Cognitive Psychology 20 (2006): 139-156; Ezza, El-Sadig Y. and Touria Drid. T eaching Academic Writing as a Discipline-Specific Skill in Higher Education . Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2020; Pernawan, Ari. Common Flaws in Students' Research Proposals. English Education Department. Yogyakarta State University; Style. College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Invention: Five Qualities of Good Writing. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012; What Is an Academic Paper? Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.

Structure and Writing Style

I. Improving Academic Writing

To improve your academic writing skills, you should focus your efforts on three key areas: 1.   Clear Writing . The act of thinking about precedes the process of writing about. Good writers spend sufficient time distilling information and reviewing major points from the literature they have reviewed before creating their work. Writing detailed outlines can help you clearly organize your thoughts. Effective academic writing begins with solid planning, so manage your time carefully. 2.  Excellent Grammar . Needless to say, English grammar can be difficult and complex; even the best scholars take many years before they have a command of the major points of good grammar. Take the time to learn the major and minor points of good grammar. Spend time practicing writing and seek detailed feedback from professors. Take advantage of the Writing Center on campus if you need help. Proper punctuation and good proofreading skills can significantly improve academic writing [see sub-tab for proofreading you paper ].

Refer to these three basic resources to help your grammar and writing skills:

  • A good writing reference book, such as, Strunk and White’s book, The Elements of Style or the St. Martin's Handbook ;
  • A college-level dictionary, such as, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary ;
  • The latest edition of Roget's Thesaurus in Dictionary Form .

3.  Consistent Stylistic Approach . Whether your professor expresses a preference to use MLA, APA or the Chicago Manual of Style or not, choose one style manual and stick to it. Each of these style manuals provide rules on how to write out numbers, references, citations, footnotes, and lists. Consistent adherence to a style of writing helps with the narrative flow of your paper and improves its readability. Note that some disciplines require a particular style [e.g., education uses APA] so as you write more papers within your major, your familiarity with it will improve.

II. Evaluating Quality of Writing

A useful approach for evaluating the quality of your academic writing is to consider the following issues from the perspective of the reader. While proofreading your final draft, critically assess the following elements in your writing.

  • It is shaped around one clear research problem, and it explains what that problem is from the outset.
  • Your paper tells the reader why the problem is important and why people should know about it.
  • You have accurately and thoroughly informed the reader what has already been published about this problem or others related to it and noted important gaps in the research.
  • You have provided evidence to support your argument that the reader finds convincing.
  • The paper includes a description of how and why particular evidence was collected and analyzed, and why specific theoretical arguments or concepts were used.
  • The paper is made up of paragraphs, each containing only one controlling idea.
  • You indicate how each section of the paper addresses the research problem.
  • You have considered counter-arguments or counter-examples where they are relevant.
  • Arguments, evidence, and their significance have been presented in the conclusion.
  • Limitations of your research have been explained as evidence of the potential need for further study.
  • The narrative flows in a clear, accurate, and well-organized way.

Boscoloa, Pietro, Barbara Arféb, and Mara Quarisaa. “Improving the Quality of Students' Academic Writing: An Intervention Study.” Studies in Higher Education 32 (August 2007): 419-438; Academic Writing. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Academic Writing Style. First-Year Seminar Handbook. Mercer University; Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Cornell University; Candlin, Christopher. Academic Writing Step-By-Step: A Research-based Approach . Bristol, CT: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2016; College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Style . College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Invention: Five Qualities of Good Writing. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012; What Is an Academic Paper? Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.

Writing Tip

Considering the Passive Voice in Academic Writing

In the English language, we are able to construct sentences in the following way: 1.  "The policies of Congress caused the economic crisis." 2.  "The economic crisis was caused by the policies of Congress."

The decision about which sentence to use is governed by whether you want to focus on “Congress” and what they did, or on “the economic crisis” and what caused it. This choice in focus is achieved with the use of either the active or the passive voice. When you want your readers to focus on the "doer" of an action, you can make the "doer"' the subject of the sentence and use the active form of the verb. When you want readers to focus on the person, place, or thing affected by the action, or the action itself, you can make the effect or the action the subject of the sentence by using the passive form of the verb.

Often in academic writing, scholars don't want to focus on who is doing an action, but on who is receiving or experiencing the consequences of that action. The passive voice is useful in academic writing because it allows writers to highlight the most important participants or events within sentences by placing them at the beginning of the sentence.

Use the passive voice when:

  • You want to focus on the person, place, or thing affected by the action, or the action itself;
  • It is not important who or what did the action;
  • You want to be impersonal or more formal.

Form the passive voice by:

  • Turning the object of the active sentence into the subject of the passive sentence.
  • Changing the verb to a passive form by adding the appropriate form of the verb "to be" and the past participle of the main verb.

NOTE: Consult with your professor about using the passive voice before submitting your research paper. Some strongly discourage its use!

Active and Passive Voice. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Diefenbach, Paul. Future of Digital Media Syllabus. Drexel University; Passive Voice. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.  

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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How to Start an Essay: 7 Tips for a Knockout Essay Introduction

Lindsay Kramer

Sometimes, the most difficult part of writing an essay is getting started. You might have an outline already and know what you want to write, but struggle to find the right words to get it going. Don’t worry; you aren’t the first person to grapple with starting an essay, and you certainly won’t be the last. 

Writing an essay isn’t the same as writing a book. Or writing a poem. Or writing a scientific research paper. Essay writing is a unique process that involves clear sequencing, backing up your positions with quality sources, and engaging language. But it’s also got one important thing in common with every other type of writing: You need to hook your reader’s attention within the first few sentences. 

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Intriguing ways to start an essay

There are many different ways to write an essay introduction. Each has its benefits and potential drawbacks, and each is best suited for certain kinds of essays . Although these essay introductions use different rhetorical devices and prime the reader in different ways, they all achieve the same goal: hooking the reader and enticing them to keep reading.

To “hook” a reader simply means to capture their attention and make them want to continue reading your work. An essay introduction that successfully hooks readers in one essay won’t necessarily hook readers in another essay, which is why it’s so important for you to understand why different types of essay openings are effective. 

Take a look at these common ways to start an essay:

Share a shocking or amusing fact

One way to start your essay is with a shocking, unexpected, or amusing fact about the topic you’re covering. This grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read further, expecting explanation, context, and/or elaboration on the fact you presented. 

Check out these essay introduction examples that use relevant, engaging facts to capture the reader’s attention:

“More than half of Iceland’s population believe that elves exist or that they possibly can exist. Although this might sound strange to foreigners, many of us have similar beliefs that would sound just as strange to those outside our cultures.”

“Undergraduate students involved in federal work-study programs earn an average of just $1,794 per year. That’s just slightly more than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in our city.”

Relevance is key here. Make sure the fact you choose directly relates to the topic you’re covering in your essay. Otherwise, it will feel random, confusing, or at best, shoehorned into the essay. In any case, it will undermine your essay as a whole by making it seem like you don’t have a full grasp on your topic. 

If you’re writing an expository or persuasive essay , including a shocking or amusing fact in your introduction can be a great way to pique your reader’s curiosity. The fact you present can be one that supports the position you argue in the essay or it can be part of the body of data your expository essay explains. 

Ask a question

By asking a question in your essay opening, you’re directly inviting the reader to interact with your work. They don’t get to be a passive consumer; they’re now part of the conversation. This can be a very engaging way to start an essay. 

Take a look at these examples of essay openings that use questions to hook readers:

“How many times have you been late to class because you couldn’t find parking? You’re not alone—our campus is in desperate need of a new parking deck.”

“How frequently do you shop at fast fashion retailers? These retailers include H&M, Zara, Uniqlo and other brands that specialize in inexpensive clothing meant for short-term use.” 

Asking a question is an effective choice for a persuasive essay because it asks the reader to insert themselves into the topic or even pick a side. While it can also work in other kinds of essays, it really shines in any essay that directly addresses the reader and puts them in a position to reflect on what you’re asking. 

Dramatize a scene

Another effective way to write an essay introduction is to dramatize a scene related to your essay. Generally, this approach is best used with creative essays, like personal statements and literary essays. Here are a few examples of essay introductions that immerse readers in the action through dramatized scenes:

“The rain pounded against the roof, loudly drowning out any conversations we attempted to have. I’d promised them I’d play the latest song I wrote for guitar, but Mother Earth prevented any concert from happening that night.”

“Imagine you’ve just gotten off an airplane. You’re hot, you’re tired, you’re uncomfortable, and suddenly, you’re under arrest.”

Beyond creative essays, this kind of opening can work when you’re using emotional appeal to underscore your position in a persuasive essay. It’s also a great tool for a dramatic essay, and could be just the first of multiple dramatized scenes throughout the piece. 

Kick it off with a quote

When you’re wondering how to write an essay introduction, remember that you can always borrow wisdom from other writers. This is a powerful way to kick off any kind of essay. Take a look at these examples:

“‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ —William Faulkner. In his novel Requiem for a Nun , our changing perspective of the past is a primary theme.”

“‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ —Nelson Mandela. Before I joined the military, boot camp seemed impossible. But now, it’s done.”

Just as in choosing a fact or statistic to open your essay, any quote you choose needs to be relevant to your essay’s topic . If your reader has to perform a web search for your quote to figure out how it relates to the rest of your essay, it’s not relevant enough to use. Go with another quote that your text can easily explain. 

State your thesis directly

The most straightforward kind of essay introduction is one where you simply state your thesis. Take a look at these examples:

“Fraternity culture is dangerous and contrary to campus values. Banning it is in the campus community’s best interest.”

“We can’t afford to ignore the evidence any longer; we need climate action now.”

How to write an essay introduction

Pick the right tone for your essay.

You probably shouldn’t use a funny quote to start a persuasive essay on a serious subject. Similarly, a statistic that can evoke strong emotions in the reader might not be the right choice for an expository essay because it could potentially be construed as your attempt to argue for a certain viewpoint, rather than state facts. 

Read your essay’s first paragraph aloud and listen to your writing’s tone. Does the opening line’s tone match the rest of the paragraph, or is there a noticeable tone shift from the first line or two to the rest? In many cases, you can hear whether your tone is appropriate for your essay. Beyond listening for the right tone, use Grammarly’s tone detector to ensure that your essay introduction—as well as the rest of your essay—maintains the right tone for the subject you’re covering.   

When you’re stuck, work backwards

Starting an essay can be difficult. If you find yourself so caught up on how to write an essay introduction that you’re staring at a blank screen as the clock ticks closer to your deadline, skip the introduction and move onto your essay’s body paragraphs . Once you have some text on the page, it can be easier to go back and write an introduction that leads into that content. 

You may even want to start from the very end of your essay. If you know where your essay is going, but not necessarily how it will get there, write your conclusion first. Then, write the paragraph that comes right before your conclusion. Next, write the paragraph before that, working your way backwards until you’re in your introduction paragraph. By then, writing an effective essay introduction should be easy because you already have the content you need to introduce. 

Polish your essays until they shine

Got a draft of a great essay? Awesome! But don’t hit “submit” just yet—you’re only halfway to the finish line. Make sure you’re always submitting your best work by using Grammarly to catch misspelled words, grammar mistakes, and places where you can swap in different words to improve your writing’s clarity. 

how can we write research essay

Research Paper Guide

Research Paper Example

Nova A.

Research Paper Example - APA and MLA Format

12 min read

Published on: Nov 27, 2017

Last updated on: Oct 25, 2023

Research Paper Example

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Do you spend time staring at the screen and thinking about how to approach a monstrous  research paper ?

If yes, you are not alone.

Research papers are no less than a curse for high school and college students.

It takes time, effort, and expertise to craft a striking research paper.

Every other person craves to master the magic of producing impressive research papers.

Continue with the guide to investigate the mysterious nature of different types of research through examples.

Research Paper Example for Different Formats

An academic paper doesn't have to be boring. You can use an anecdote, a provocative question, or a quote to begin the introduction.

Learning from introductions written in professional college papers is the best strategy.

Have a look at the expertise of the writer in the following example.

Social Media and Social Media Marketing: A Literature Review

APA Research Paper Example

While writing research papers, you must pay attention to the required format.

Follow the example when the instructor mentions the  APA format .

Effects of Food Deprivation of Concentration and Preserverance

Research Paper Example APA 7th Edition

Research Paper Example MLA

Once you are done with APA format, let’s practice the art of writing quality MLA papers.

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We have provided you with a top-notch research paper example in  MLA format  here.

Research Paper Example Chicago

Chicago style  is not very common, but it is important to learn. Few institutions require this style for research papers, but it is essential to learn. The content and citations in the research paper are formatted like this example.

Chicago Research Paper Sample

Research Paper Example Harvard

To learn how a research paper is written using the  Harvard citation style , carefully examine this example. Note the structure of the cover page and other pages.

Harvard Research Paper Sample

Examples for Different Research Paper Parts

A research paper has different parts. Each part is important for the overall success of the paper. Chapters in a research paper must be written correctly, using a certain format and structure.

The following are examples of how different sections of the research paper can be written.

Example of Research Proposal

What is the first step to starting a research paper?

Submitting the research proposal!

It involves several sections that take a toll on beginners.

Here is a detailed guide to help you  write a research proposal .

Are you a beginner or do you lack experience? Don’t worry.

The following example of a research paper is the perfect place to get started.

View Research Proposal Example Here

Research Paper Example Abstract

After submitting the research proposal, prepare to write a seasoned  abstract  section.

The abstract delivers the bigger picture by revealing the purpose of the research.

A common mistake students make is writing it the same way a summary is written.

It is not merely a summary but an analysis of the whole research project. Still confused?

Read the abstract mentioned in the following research to get a better idea.

Affirmative Action: What Do We Know? - Abstract Example

Literature Review Research Paper Example

What if a novice person reads your research paper?

He will never understand the critical elements involved in the research paper.

To enlighten him, focus on the  literature review  section. This section offers an extensive analysis of the past research conducted on the paper topics.

It is relatively easier than other sections of the paper.

Take a closer look at the paper below to find out.

Methods Section of Research Paper Example

While writing research papers, excellent papers focus a great deal on the methodology.

Yes, the research sample and methodology define the fate of the papers.

Are you facing trouble going through the methodology section?

Relax and let comprehensive sample research papers clear your doubts.

View Methods Section of Research Paper Here

Research Paper Conclusion Example

The conclusion leaves the last impression on the reader.

“Who cares for the last impression? It’s always the first.”

Don’t be fooled!

The conclusion sets the tone of the whole research paper properly.

A key list of elements must be present in conclusion to make it crisp and remarkable.

The Conclusion: Your Paper's Final Impression

View the sample paper and identify the points you thought were never a part of the conclusion.


Get Quick AI Research Help!

Research Paper Examples for Different Fields

Research papers can be about any subject that needs a detailed study. The following examples show how research papers are written for different subjects.

History Research Paper Sample

Many Faces of Generalisimo Fransisco Franco

Sociology Research Paper Sample

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Science Fair Research Paper Sample

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Psychology Research Paper Sample

The Effects of Food Deprivation on Concentration and Preserverance

Art History Research Paper Sample

European Art History: A Primer

Scientific Research Paper Example

We have discussed several elements of research papers through examples.

Research Proposal!

Introduction in Research Paper!

Read on to move towards advanced versions of information.

Scientific research paper

Let's have a look at the template and an example to elaborate on concepts.

It includes:

  • Introduction
  • Related Work
  • Research Methodology
  • Experiments
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusion & Future Work
  • Acknowledgment

The name itself sounds terrifying to many students. Make no mistake; it sure is dangerous when touched without practice.

Students become afraid and hence aspire to locate an outstanding essay paper writer to get their papers done.

Detailed, high-quality, and credible sources and samples are a must to be shared here.

Science Fair Paper Format

Example of Methodology in Research Paper

The words methodology, procedure, and approach are the same. They indicate the approach pursued by the researcher while conducting research to accomplish the goal through research.

The methodology is the bloodline of the research paper.

A practical or assumed procedure is used to conduct the methodology.

The Effects of Immediate Feedback Devices in High School Chemistry Classes

See the way the researcher has shared participants and limits in the methodology section of the example.

Research Paper Example for Different Levels

The process of writing a research paper is based on a set of steps. The process will seem daunting if you are unaware of the basic steps. Start writing your research paper by taking the following steps:

  • Choose a Topic
  • Create a thesis statement
  • Do in-depth research for the research study
  • Create an outline

You will find writing a research paper much easier once you have a plan.

No matter which level you are writing at, your research paper needs to be well structured.

Research Paper Example Outline

Before you plan on writing a well-researched paper, make a rough draft.

Brainstorm again and again!

Pour all of your ideas into the basket of the outline.

What will it include?

A standard is not set but follow the  research paper outline  example below:

View Research Paper Outline Example Here

This example outlines the following elements:

  • Thesis Statement
  • Methodology

Utilize this standard of outline in your research papers to polish your paper. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you write a research paper according to this format.

Good Research Paper Examples for Students

Theoretically, good research paper examples will meet the objectives of the research.

Always remember! The first goal of the research paper is to explain ideas, goals, and theory as clearly as water.

Yes, leave no room for confusion of any sort.

Fiscal Research Center - Action Plan

Qualitative Research Paper Example

Research Paper Example Introduction

How to Write a Research Paper Example?

Research Paper Example for High School

When the professor reads such a professional research paper, he will be delighted.

High scores!

Grant of funds for the project!

Appreciation in Class!

You'll surely be highly rewarded.

Research Paper Conclusion

“Who cares for the last impression? It's always the first.”

Don't be fooled!

A key list of elements must be present in the conclusion to make it crisp and remarkable.

Critical Research Paper

To write a research paper remarkably, include the following ingredients in it:

  • Justification of the Experimental Design
  • Analysis of Results
  • Validation of the Study

How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper

Theoretical Framework Examples

The theoretical framework is the key to establish credibility in research papers.

Read the purpose of the theoretical framework before following it in the research paper.

The researcher offers a guide through a theoretical framework.

  • Philosophical view
  • Conceptual Analysis
  • Benefits of the Research

An in-depth analysis of theoretical framework examples research paper is underlined in the sample below.

View Theoretical Framework Example Here

Now that you have explored the research paper examples, you can start working on your research project. Hopefully, these examples will help you understand the writing process for a research paper.

If you're facing challenges with your writing requirements, think about hiring an online custom paper writing service .

MyPerfectWords.com is your trusted solution for obtaining a custom research paper and assisting students with their unique writing needs.

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Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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The Morningside Review

The Land Acknowledgement at Columbia University Performance and/or Activism?

Article sidebar, main article content.

Colonial history shapes my college experience. I reside in a building named after the man credited for developing the US legal system, at a top private university named after the first conqueror of indigenous lives, on land named after a merchant from another land: John Jay’s building, Christopher Columbus’ university, and Amerigo Vespucci's land, respectively. These narratives shape my everyday dialogues at Columbia University, which has profited from colonialism for years while ignoring indigenous lives. However, if you look with an observant eye, beneath the brush, a foot above the ground, you will notice the university statement “IN HONOR OF THE LENAPE PEOPLE” that reads:

The Lenape lived here before and during the colonization of the Americas. This plaque recognizes these indigenous people of Manhattan, their displacement, dispossession, and continued presence. It stands as a reminder to reflect on our past as we contemplate our way forward.

Every time I leave my dorm, I pass this plaque and almost always forget its existence. Given its placement on the ground, my peers and I rarely notice it. How telling.

The placement and writing on the plaque leave so much unsaid and ignored about colonial atrocities and their current effects, functioning in tension with indigenous social justice. Columbia installed the plaque in 2016, after three years of petitioning from the university’s Native American Council to have a land acknowledgment, gaining over 1,000 electronic signatures on Change.org (“Columbia University: Acknowledge Lenape Territory”). After the approval, the then-current President of the Native American Council Julian Brave NoiseCat announced that "[t]here is a lot of work yet to be done" (Woo). Despite the rich indigenous history of lands governed by the US, as of 2020, “1 in 3 Native Americans are living in poverty, with a median income of $23,000” a year (Redbird). These systemic conditions present barriers to education for many indigenous communities as well. Does this plaque empower the historically oppressed or contribute to systemic issues by merely attempting to place Columbia as a seemingly progressive, politically-correct institution? As an elite institute with “a mission to advance diversity,” how can we resolve the rhetoric of the plaque (Bollinger)?

To some, these acknowledgments are a step in the right direction. Publicly, the plaque meant much for the local indigenous community. “A prayer of thanks [was led] by SilverCloud, an [NYC-based] intertribal Native American singing group” (Woo). Also, the Native American Council “Co-Political Chair Tristan Stidham explains that "It's nice to see that native peoples and their history are being acknowledged by the administration" (Holmes). When one considers the pride that the plaque brings to the indigenous student community, it recognizes the efforts put into the fight for justice. Rather than simply bashing the university for needing to make more social justice progress (as NoiseCat touches on earlier), the plaque’s installment encourages empowerment and solidarity around the social justice outcome.

Similarly, David Hollinger’s 2006 essay “From Solidarity to Identity” calls on us to look past identity values and unite in solidarity to promote change in the United States. He portrays “solidarity” as “the problem of the twenty-first century,” elucidating the issue of how to qualify support like the plaque within the realms of actual or artificial “solidarity” (Hollinger 23). Hollinger defines “solidarity” as “an experience of willed affiliation” that “is more performative than community” (Hollinger 24). 1 Since the process to unite people to advocate for the plaque was by personal will on Change.org , Hollinger allows us to perceive the plaque as an act in solidarity, rather than an act of virtue signaling that further embeds systemic issues. Solidarity can function as positive societal change when understanding that it must “be addressed differently depending on the specific constitutional and cultural circumstances on which it arises” (Hollinger 30). When understanding the deep systemic imbalances in the university, one can view the plaque as an object of solidarity towards reform, expressing optimism towards the performance of installing the plaque. Hollinger’s argument, however, is not very critical of performative actions that do not directly challenge systems of oppression, which allows the observer to become critical of his “willed affiliation” within a context of activism.

In tension with Hollinger’s perspective, Saidiya Hartman’s 2019 essay “The Plot of Her Undoing”—which discusses how power structures continually hurt women of color and other oppressed peoples—offers an account of marginalization that resonates with the plaque. She specifically uses examples that draw the reader to critically view power structures and forms of solidarity. She elaborates that “[t]he plot of her undoing begins with . . . a short account of the destruction of the Indies” (Hartman 3). Like this “short account” which further embeds systemic issues, the shortness of the three sentences on the plaque does little to create real, positive change; there is so little said about the pain of millions of indigenous peoples and their continued marginalization. The text cannot equate to the lives affected, so it functions in tension with its purpose to improve social justice. Similarly, “[t]he plot of her undoing begins with a man in his study writing a tome about the Americas, the species, the fauna, the races” (Hartman 1). In keeping with Hartman’s imagery, the plaque sticks out almost like an informative marker with the scientific name and range of a local plant; it is missable. The plaque draws many similarities with the idea that the university is not fully addressing systemic issues faced by indigenous peoples. Hartman elaborates that the harm begins “with a treaty ceasing all hostilities,” implying that statements of peace do not help but rather further embed the systemic issues at hand (3). Implied colonialism and oppression are present even on the plaque itself. The statement ends with an imprint of the university name and its “King’s Crown” logo which have hegemonic undertones. On the Change.org website that the Native American Council used to gain support in 2013, the organization points out that “Using the name ‘Columbia’ and King’s Crown imagery, the University already implicitly acknowledges the fact that the school has prospered because of a colonial legacy that entailed the persecution and removal of the original owners of this land—the Lenni Lenape people” (“Columbia University: Acknowledge Lenape Territory”). With Hartman’s elaboration, these calls for justice from the university without systemic changes allow us to perceive the plaque as merely a harmful attempt to place the university along with its partner American institutions in a position that displays social justice without acting on it, critiquing the entire situation.

However, Hartman’s institutional affiliation as a Columbia professor ingrains her within a system that has profited off of colonialism, despite her activism. However, she uses her Columbia platform to strengthen her work. To make progress, such colonial systems seem impossible to escape, as we all are living within its fruition. This feeling that we cannot escape the remnants of colonialism leaves interpretive room for the reader to relate injustices to Hartman’s text that occurred after its 2019 publication. Her writerly choices in the essay facilitate this. Rather than using a specific event, Hartman often chooses to use broad terms such as “an executive order,” “the rule of law,” and “a man who looks presidential” to describe policies that begin “the plot of her undoing” (3, 5). Hartman encourages the reader to view flawed policies given the context of their present. For a Columbia affiliate in 2022, that might be President Bollinger’s policies, including the installation of the plaque, which leads the reader to question if and how the plaque represents empowerment and solidarity.

Between Hartman’s critical view of actions from hegemonic structures and Hollinger’s positive solidarity-building atmosphere, the plaque sets itself somewhere in between the two perspectives, allowing a step forward with a critique of the current atmosphere. Hartman and Hollinger's beliefs on larger American systems and communities not helping to end systemic issues connect with their acknowledgment of imperfections and delays. Hollinger reiterates that “we cannot count on the rest of the population” but rather that we can only count on proactive allies who demonstrate solidarity through their action (23). A thousand signatures led the core charge for the plaque, which took lots of solidarity, yet 1,000 is only about 10% of the undergraduate students at Columbia; the signers’ “willed affiliation” contributed to their steps forward, and the actions took much time and effort (Hollinger 24). Accordingly, when discussing potential solutions to solving systemic issues, Hartman outlines that “[t]he undoing of the plot . . . advances at a snail’s pace,” like the three-year journey to attain the plaque (5). These perspectives point to the idea that current American structures will not support a radical shift towards social justice but rather shift gradually with the actions of those who care in solidarity. There will never be a perfect response; noticing the inequities that become more apparent with the plaque’s installation process encourages further justice.

The gradual advancement of social justice also echoes structural capitalism in the United States (which is a product of colonialism), as this system embeds many injustices. The plaque, accordingly, allows observers to critique the capitalistic systems of the United States and private educational institutions like Columbia. For many, the plaque serves as a reminder of the work that American institutions should do in the future. The university historically runs on a capitalist model with its roots shaped by colonialism, and “capitalism has little respect for any affiliations that it cannot turn to its own purposes” (Hollinger 25). Hartman similarly alludes to capitalist ventures which harm the oppressed, like “[bills] of sale . . . financial [transactions,] and exchanges” (1,3). Hollinger and Hartman both imply that the system has slowed down the process towards growth; this point allows us to view the university’s systemic structure as a powerful inhibitor of the growth of historically oppressed communities. Yet, it is the slow breakdown of the structure, starting with the plaque’s acknowledgment, that allows others to begin their journey to bring social justice.

Perhaps we can view Columbia’s actions with the plaque as a move of solidarity, however, not directly from the university, but rather from the adapting reactions of the community on a path towards justice. We see an example of imperfect American solidarity that strengthens future indigenous activism but does little tangible social justice with its placement. To philosopher Michael Waltzer, “America is still a radically unfinished society, and for now, at least, it makes sense to say that this unfinishedness is one of its distinctive features” (614). Waltzer highlights in his 1990 essay “What Does It Mean to Be an ‘American’?*” that this imperfection drives American progression through its collisions of diverse cultures. The United States has “appropriated the adjective ‘American,’” displaying the idea that much of our sentiment on what the country represents is fabricated and complicated by competing interests (Waltzer 591). By acknowledging the appropriation of its name, our country is transforming. Similar to Hartman’s paradoxical employment at the institution, there is no “aim [for] a finished or fully coherent Americanism” (Waltzer 614). When placed in a context of social justice disparities, there is no way for us to completely create a just world; there is always disparity. Rather, we have to utilize these experiences to overcome injustices. The plaque, for instance, reminds me of conversations with my Navajo peer who does indigenous research with Columbia. She makes me more aware of the current benefits and research advocacy that the university provides to historically oppressed groups, albeit colonial structures persist with Columbus’ name on her emails, publications, and media with the university, as does the Columbia logo on the plaque. Like Hartman, she undertakes her advocacy work in an environment in tension with her movement; she too embraces the imperfect American solidarity. Perhaps, one can view the plaque as a step in the right direction, not necessarily because of the university’s system, but rather because it allows a critical view of the university’s decision about the plaque, inspiring them to promote real productive change to break the structural imbalances in the United States.

In the larger context, what is happening at Columbia University, a privileged university committed to empowering diversity in education, represents a mere window into the oppression that is burrowed into other American institutions, especially other private universities which do not have the resources, leadership, and activism to promote change. Along with lower college enrollment rates, Native American graduation rates at four-year institutions remain at 41%, lower than the national average of 63% (“Factsheets”). Yet, just as I have become inspired to write this essay, the plaque facilitates questioning and advocacy vital for social justice. Understanding the absence of systemic changes from the university functioning critically with the presence of a plaque allows scholarly thinkers to further critique societal imbalances and the structures that perpetuate them to promote change.

  • Performative implies positive impact in this expression. The negative connotations around the phrase “performative activism” were not as prevalent in 2006 and were likely not considered.


Bollinger, Lee. “Diversity Mission Statement.” Diversity Mission Statement | Office of the Provost , https://provost.columbia.edu/content/diversity-mission-statement.

“Columbia University: Acknowledge Lenape Territory.” Change.org , Native American Council, 2013, https://www.change.org/p/columbia-university-acknowledge-lenape-territory.

“Factsheets.” PNPI , 17 Nov. 2021, https://pnpi.org/native-american-students/.

Hartman, Saidiya. “The Plot of Her Undoing.” Notes on Feminisms , vol. 2, pp. 2-6.

“History.” History | Columbia University in the City of New York , https://www.columbia.edu/content/history.

Hollinger, David A. “From Identity to Solidarity.” Daedalus , vol. 135, no. 4, 2006, pp. 23–31. https://doi.org/10.1162/daed.2006.135.4.23.

Holmes, Aaron. “University to Install Plaque Recognizing Indigenous Peoples - Columbia Spectator.” Columbia Daily Spectator , 13 Aug. 2016, https://www.columbiaspectator.com/news/2016/09/13/university-install-plaque-recognizing-indigenous-peoples/. 

“Plaque History.” Indigenous Representation at Columbia University , http://composingdigitalmedia.org/f17_dmtp/web/cai/plaque_history.html.

Redbird, Beth. “What Drives Native American Poverty?” What Drives Native American Poverty?: Institute for Policy Research - Northwestern University , 24 Feb. 2020. https://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/news/2020/redbird-what-drives-native-american-poverty.html. 

“Virtue Signaling.” Cambridge Dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/virtue-signalling.

Waltzer, Michael. “What Does It Mean to Be an ‘American’?” Social Research , vol. 57, 1990, pp. 591–614.

Woo, Ethan. “Plaque Commemorating Lenape People Unveiled after Three Years of Advocacy - Columbia Spectator.” Columbia Daily Spectator , 14 Nov. 2016, https://www.columbiaspectator.com/news/2016/10/11/plaque-commemorating-lenape-people-unveiled-after-three-years-advocacy/.

Harrison Gerson, '25CC


Harrison Gerson studies Sustainable Devleopment in Columbia College and is from Rockland County, NY. He is passionate about centering environmental justice in sustainability. Harrison is a Laidlaw Research Scholar, Senior Kraft Global Fellow, and Global Thought Scholar and serves as Co-President of the Student Union for Sustainable Development. Harrison enjoys dance, learning languages, and mapping.

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Turnitin's AI writing detection available now

Turnitin launches AI detection to help educators identify when AI writing tools such as ChatGPT have been used in students’ submissions.

how can we write research essay

Academic integrity in the age of AI writing

Over the years, academic integrity has been both supported and tested by technology. Today, educators are facing a new frontier with AI writing and ChatGPT.

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We’d like to share some insight on how our AI detection model deals with false positives and what constitutes a false positive.

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Helping solve the AI writing puzzle one piece at a time

AI-generated writing has transformed every aspect of our lives, including the classroom. However, identifying AI writing in students’ submissions is just one piece in the broader, complex, ever-evolving AI writing puzzle.

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As AI text generators like ChatGPT quickly evolve, our educator resources will, too. Curated and created by our team of veteran educators, our resources help educators meet these new challenges. They are built for professional learning and outline steps educators can take immediately to guide students in maintaining academic integrity when faced with AI writing tools.

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A guide to help educators determine which resource is more applicable to their instructional situation: the AI misuse checklist or the AI misuse rubric.

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A guide sharing strategies educators can consider to help when confronted with a false positive.

how can we write research essay

A guide sharing strategies students can consider to help when confronted with a false positive.

The Turnitin Educator Network is a space to meet, discuss and share best practices on academic integrity in the age of AI.

Learn more about AI writing in our blog

Written by experts in the field, educators, and Turnitin professionals, our blog offers resources and thought leadership in support of students, instructors, and administrators. Dive into articles on a variety of important topics, including academic integrity, assessment, and instruction in a world with artificial intelligence.

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Discover the secrets of mastering AI for simple tasks with the best writing AI practices. Unlock new levels of efficiency and creativity.

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Students come to our classrooms with an awareness of AI writing tools. While many students comprehend that AI writing can be misused, it’s important to define the difference between proper and improper use of tools like ChatGPT. Having a discussion about learning and the ways in which ChatGPT can help or inhibit the ways in which students absorb information can highlight the intersection of AI writing tools and academic integrity.

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Cheat GPT? Turnitin CEO Chris Caren weighs in on combating A.I. plagiarism | CNBC Squawk Box

Since the inception of AI-generated writing, educators and institutions are learning how to navigate it in the classroom. Turnitin’s CEO Chris Caren joins ‘Squawk Box’ to discuss how it is being used in the classroom and how educators can identify AI writing in student submissions.

how can we write research essay

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Schools Ban ChatGPT amid Fears of Artificial-Intelligence-Assisted Cheating

U.S. educators are debating the merits and risks of a new, free artificial intelligence tool called ChatGPT, which students are using to write passable high school essays. So far, there isn’t a reliable way to catch cheating. Matt Dibble has the story.

how can we write research essay

Some U.S. schools banning AI technology while others embrace it | NBC Nightly News

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence program, can write college-level essays in seconds. While some school districts are banning it due to cheating concerns, NBC News’ Jacob Ward has details on why some teachers are embracing the technology.

how can we write research essay


Artificial intelligence, it seems, is taking over the world. At least that's what alarmists would have you believe . The line between fact and fiction continues to blur, and recognizing what is real versus what some bot concocted grows increasingly difficult with each passing week.

THE Journal

In this episode of THE Journal Insider podcast, host and THEJournal.com editor Kristal Kuykendall welcomes two former teachers who have been working on AI writing tools at Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection software used by thousands of K–12 schools and institutions of higher education.

Fast Company

ChatGPT, an AI-powered “large language” model, is poised to change the way high school English teachers do their jobs. With the ability to understand and respond to natural language, ChatGPT is a valuable tool for educators looking to provide personalized instruction and feedback to their students.

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Meet us in person to discuss ai writing detection.

We are attending larger and smaller events to ensure we’ll have the opportunity to discuss academic integrity in the age of AI writing with you in person. Here’s a list of events that Turnitin has already participated in, or will be participating in this year. Looking forward to seeing you there!

MBO Digitaal Conferentie, September 21-22, Ulft, Netherlands World Academic Summit, 26-28 September 2023, Sydney, Australia Campus Innovation, September 27-29, Hamburg, Germany tawiab 2023: Tagung wissenschaftliche Abschlussarbeiten und Hochschulschriften-Repositorien, September 28, Vienna, Austria ACO-TEC 2023, September 28-29, Vienna, Austria Digital Universities: MENA, 9-11 October, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, 9-12 October 2023, Chicago, USA

EDUtech Europe, October 10-12, Amsterdam, Netherlands Digital Universities: Europe, 23-25 October 2023, Barcelona, Spain THE Campus Live US, 8-9 November 2023, Los Angeles, USA SURF Onderwijsdagen, November 14-15, Den Bosch, Netherlands NCTE, 16-19 November 2023, Columbus, OH, USA THE Campus Live UK, 22-23 November 2023, UK Online Educa Berlin 2023 (OEB), November 22-24, Berlin, Germany

Let’s innovate together

how can we write research essay


  1. 5 steps to writing a research paper an easy guide by Alex Dwsn

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  2. Research essay how to write

    how can we write research essay

  3. The best ways to Write an Essay

    how can we write research essay

  4. 005 Help Me Write Research Paper How To Begin Writing Essay Example Mla

    how can we write research essay

  5. how to write good an essay?

    how can we write research essay

  6. How to Write a Research Paper in 11 Steps

    how can we write research essay


  1. Choosing A Research Topic

  2. How to write a research paper

  3. How to write Research Article

  4. How can we write lab report

  5. Academic Phrases That Can Help You in Writing Research Papers, Essays, Thesis Writing etc

  6. Secret To Writing A Research Paper


  1. How to Write a Research Essay (with Pictures)

    1 Choose a topic. If you are lucky enough to be able to choose your research topic, pick one that interests you. The last thing you want is to end up spending hours learning and writing about a subject in which you have zero interest. You will find the whole process much more enjoyable if you actually care about what you are doing. [1]

  2. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    Step 1: Introduce your topic Step 2: Describe the background Step 3: Establish your research problem Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper Research paper introduction examples Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction Step 1: Introduce your topic

  3. How to Write a Research Paper

    Develop a thesis statement Create a research paper outline Write a first draft of the research paper Write the introduction Write a compelling body of text Write the conclusion The second draft The revision process Research paper checklist Free lecture slides Understand the assignment

  4. How to Do Research for an Excellent Essay: The Complete Guide

    How to Do Research for an Excellent Essay: The Complete Guide One of the biggest secrets to writing a good essay is the Boy Scouts' motto: 'be prepared'. Preparing for an essay - by conducting effective research - lays the foundations for a brilliant piece of writing, and it's every bit as important as the actual writing part.

  5. The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Research Paper

    1 Understand the assignment For some of you this goes without saying, but you might be surprised at how many students start a research paper without even reading the assignment guidelines. So your first step should be to review the assignment and carefully read the writing prompt.

  6. How to Write a Research Paper: Your Top Guide

    To Sum Up. In conclusion, with these effective steps and techniques, you can confidently write a research paper. Dive into research, organize your thoughts, support your arguments, revise diligently, and embrace improvement. Let your ideas flow and create papers that make a meaningful impact in your field.

  7. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 1: Choose your topic Step 2: Identify a problem Step 3: Formulate research questions Step 4: Create a research design Step 5: Write a research proposal Other interesting articles Step 1: Choose your topic First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad.

  8. Writing a Research Paper

    Upload your paper & get a free Expert Check Get a real writing expert to proofread your paper before you turn it in Check my paper Using paper checkers responsibly The pages in this section cover the following topic areas related to the process of writing a research paper:

  9. How to Write a Research Paper

    1 Focus your research on a narrow topic. As you conduct research, try to make your paper's subject more and more narrow. You can't defend an argument about a super broad subject. However, the more refined your topic, the easier it'll be to pose a clear argument and defend it with well-researched evidence.

  10. How to Write a Research Paper

    As soon as you find a source you deem credible, copy down all the information available about it. The title of the source, its publisher, its author, the credentials of the publisher and author ...

  11. Essay and dissertation writing skills

    Structuring your essay. The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument (s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made.

  12. 13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

    Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch. Use double-spaced text throughout your paper. Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point). Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section.

  13. How to Write a Research Paper

    a) Provide a brief overview of a problem or issue you plan to research. Include your main assumption or an argument outlined in your thesis statement. b) Include a justification of your research work. It is basically a reason why your readers should care and follow your research paper.

  14. 11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing

    Writing a research paper is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on research, and share your newfound knowledge with the world. Exercise 1 Write a paragraph about a time when you used research in your everyday life. Did you look for the cheapest way to travel from Houston to Denver?

  15. 20 Ways to Improve Your Research Paper

    Here, we provide 20 useful tips to improve your research paper before submission. 1. Choose a specific and accurate title (and subtitles) This is a very important part of your manuscript and can affect readership. People often choose what to read based on first impressions. Make sure your title doesn't put people off.

  16. How to Write a Research Proposal

    How to Write a Research Proposal Lindsay Kramer Updated on May 10, 2023 Students Once you're in college and really getting into academic writing, you may not recognize all the kinds of assignments you're asked to complete.

  17. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    The essay writing process consists of three main stages: Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.

  18. Academic Writing Style

    Spend time practicing writing and seek detailed feedback from professors. Take advantage of the Writing Center on campus if you need help. Proper punctuation and good proofreading skills can significantly improve academic writing [see sub-tab for proofreading you paper]. Refer to these three basic resources to help your grammar and writing skills:

  19. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction

    Generally speaking, a good research paper introduction includes these parts: 1 Thesis statement. 2 Background context. 3 Niche (research gap) 4 Relevance (how the paper fills that gap) 5 Rationale and motivation. First, a thesis statement is a single sentence that summarizes the main topic of your paper.

  20. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Introduction Literature review Research design Reference list While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take. Table of contents Research proposal purpose

  21. How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper: Steps and

    Steps to Developing a Thesis Statement What makes a strong thesis statement? Examples of Weak and Strong Thesis Statements What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement comprises one or two declarative sentences that summarize the main point of a paper or a piece of writing such as an essay.

  22. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons: It gives your writing direction and focus. It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point. Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

  23. How to Start an Essay: 7 Tips for a Knockout Essay Introduction

    Intriguing ways to start an essay. There are many different ways to write an essay introduction. Each has its benefits and potential drawbacks, and each is best suited for certain kinds of essays.Although these essay introductions use different rhetorical devices and prime the reader in different ways, they all achieve the same goal: hooking the reader and enticing them to keep reading.

  24. 20+ Research Paper Example

    12 min read Published on: Nov 27, 2017 Last updated on: Oct 25, 2023 Research Paper Example for Different Formats Examples for Different Research Paper Parts Research Paper Examples for Different Fields Research Paper Example for Different Levels Theoretical Framework Examples

  25. How to write about research in college applications

    Additional Info (up to 650 words) Supplemental Essays (approx. 100-500 words) University of California Personal Insight Questions (PIQs) (350 words) Narrative or Montage Personal Statement (650 words) Some schools: Interviews. Some schools: Research submission. Some schools: Letters of rec from a research supervisor.

  26. The Land Acknowledgement at Columbia University

    Students in University Writing (UW) put a lot of effort and passion into the four essays they write over the course of the semester. They read sophisticated essays and deeply consider the authors' ideas, pound out a first essay draft full of ideas of their own, revise it several times, workshop it with their peers, and finally, turn in a ...

  27. iThenticate 2.0: Advancing research integrity with AI writing detection

    Conclusion: Advance research integrity with AI writing detection. Turnitin's updated infrastructure has given us the power to deliver features and functionality to iThenticate 2.0 at speed. Offering a solution to the sudden introduction of generative AI has been our top priority for 2023, and we are thrilled to bring AI writing detection to ...

  28. AI Writing Detection

    THE Journal. In this episode of THE Journal Insider podcast, host and THEJournal.com editor Kristal Kuykendall welcomes two former teachers who have been working on AI writing tools at Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection software used by thousands of K-12 schools and institutions of higher education.