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How to start a research paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Proper outline

❶If so, make the necessary adjustments.

What Is an Introduction Paragraph for Research Paper?

How to Write a Research Paper Introduction?
Lay the foundation
7 Steps On How To Begin A Research Paper Easily

Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic. BODY — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point.

Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Organize all the information you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data. Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that the information is factual, up-to-date, and correct.

Opposing views should also be noted if they help to support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper. Here you will analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is the real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place.

You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

Do not include any information that is not relevant to your topic, and do not include information that you do not understand. Make sure the information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of the question. Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately. As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page. Devise your own method to organize your notes.

One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e. This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline. Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay.

Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e. Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e. If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e.

Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again.

Delete the symbol once editing is completed. Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline.

Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind. Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly. Is my thesis statement concise and clear?

Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence? Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing?

Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments? Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed.

Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed.

Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence? Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples? Any run-on or unfinished sentences? Any unnecessary or repetitious words? Varying lengths of sentences? Does one paragraph or idea flow smoothly into the next? Any spelling or grammatical errors?

Quotes accurate in source, spelling, and punctuation? Are all my citations accurate and in correct format? Did I avoid using contractions?

Did I use third person as much as possible? Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective? Did I leave a sense of completion for my reader s at the end of the paper? For an excellent source on English composition, check out this classic book by William Strunk, Jr. Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more.

The Elements of Style was first published in There is also a particular formatting style you must follow. There are several formatting styles typically used. APA American Psychological Association style is mostly used to cite sources within the field of social sciences. Instead of providing individual recommendations for each publishing format printed, online, e-books etc.

You should necessarily ask your instuctor which formatting style is required for your paper and format it accordingly before submitting. All formal reports or essays should be typewritten and printed, preferably on a good quality printer. Read the assignment sheet again to be sure that you understand fully what is expected of you, and that your essay meets the requirements as specified by your teacher.

Know how your essay will be evaluated. Proofread final paper carefully for spelling, punctuation, missing or duplicated words. Consult Google Scholar or do a quick web search to see what the major trends are. So you decide to focus — broadly — on the social origins of the American Revolution. Narrow down your subject, if possible. Papers that are really short — 1 to 2 pages — will need a narrower question than a dissertation spanning hundreds of pages. What social group or groups will you focus on in order to address the social origins of the American Revolution?

Break down the "social" into categories — women, racial minorities, farmers, city-dwellers, writers, travelers, businessmen, or children. There are numerous different angles you can take. Try to formulate a question based on your narrowed field such as: What role did farmers play in the origins of the American Revolution? These are potential answers to your research question. Use what you know about the topic to surmise possible answers to your question.

Farmers directly participated in public riots against British officers. Farmers refused to sell their crops to British contingents. Farmers refused to quarter British soldiers in their homes. Farmers refused to pay taxes on their goods. It is a good idea to start with several hypothetical thesis statements. Make sure your thesis is explicit.

Your thesis statement is the key to your entire paper. The quartering of British soldiers in the homes of poor farmers caused them to protest British taxes and to attack British troops. This is a single sentence thesis statement that addresses both why the farmers chose to revolt and how they did so. Discuss your working thesis statement with others. Be sure to ask others to evaluate your thesis statement before you begin your research process.

This is a fail-safe. Show your thesis statement to your professor. This would save you time in the long run. Primary sources can be found in a variety of locations. Some are reprinted in primary source collections. Others can only be accessed in archives or libraries. National Archives and Records Administration to get the necessary documents. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the volume of research, see if your library has appointments with a research librarian. Librarians stay up to date with current trends in scholarship and can help guide your search.

Take notes on a computer or using note cards. Create a note sheet of quotations that you may want to use in your research paper. It is better to gather more than you need at this point, since you will need evidence from reputable sources to support your thesis. Do some research about the author, so that you can establish their credibility. Were your documents created by somebody with an obvious bias? Are your documents original or were they reproduced after the fact?

Is the document complete? Blogs and other non-authoritative web sources are usually inappropriate for a research paper. Organize them so they flow from one to the next. For our imaginary project, it would be best to put your notes on quartered British troops before notes on farmer's revolutionary actions.

Since our argument is that quartered troops angered farmers into action, we need to discuss them in that order. Does it cause you to rethink your original hypothesis? Or does your research further clarify your original thesis statement? If so, make the necessary adjustments. Quartered British troops consumed large quantities of food while housed with poor farmers. As such, farmers played a significant role in the origins of the American Revolution.

An outline is a great place to organize your thoughts before you sit down to write. It is also a great place to figure out what needs to come first. Once you have a general idea of the trajectory of your paper, you'll be able to introduce it more efficiently.

Start with your thesis at the beginning, then break it down into sections that back up your argument. Write questions like "Why is this research important? You can also write a prose outline, instead of a question-based outline. Place headers that are the subjects of each paragraph or section of your research paper.

Add quotes and other notes in bullets below the subject. You can begin your composition directly from a prose-based outline. Be sure to gather bibliographic information as you go. Start with a factual statement about your subject. Some people like to start broad and work their way into a research topic.

This reaches those people who want to know the broad appeal of your work. If you're writing a paper on the importance of comics, you could assert the importance of comic books since the s. If you want to discuss the role of farmers in the American Revolution, you can make a blanket statement about the complex causes of the revolutionary movement. This is how most people begin their research papers. They don't want to make their subject seem too obscure, so they write about larger points before jumping head first into their topic.

And make sure that everyone can agree with your broad statement. You don't want to have your readership criticizing your argument from the beginning. You need to build a certain degree of trust. By all means, avoid the "Throughout history" or "In modern society" types of opening lines.

These are so overused that they have become hackneyed, and they will damage your credibility as a writer before your reader has looked at another word. Review what else has been written on your topic. One of the best ways to begin a paper is to tell your audience what else exists. If you are writing on the role of farmers during the American Revolution, begin by discussing those works that directly or tangentially discuss the subject.

Then explain how your work adds to the conversation or does something differently. This will answer that nagging question in your readers' minds - why do I need to read this research paper?


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Finding a topic and doing the research may be half the battle, but putting words to paper or starting an introduction often proves to be an intimidating task. If done correctly, an introduction is a simple and effective way to write the entire paper quickly.

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Create a research paper outline. Having the previous stage done, start drafting. During this stage try to plan out the main ideas of the work. The research paper outline prevents mistakes that may be made. By and large, it wouldn’t hurt .

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Five Different Ways to Start an Introduction for a Research Paper If you've ever read a research paper that had you head-bobbing after the first sentence, then you know how important the introductory paragraph is. How to Start a Research Paper. Jul 19, Types of Academic Writing. Before we begin writing our research paper, let's take a look at the definition. A research paper is a type of writing in which the author does an independent analysis of the topic and describes the findings from that investigation. Start your introductory sentence.

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Dec 18,  · Copy the quote into your paper. Make sure you mention who said or wrote the quote originally; no plagiarism please! Start with the quote and lead into your analysis with how the two connect. Analyze your quote for a second. Think of the main words in the quote to draw the connection to your paper. You do not need a long quote %(2). How to write a strong introduction into a research paper? up vote 61 down vote favorite. How does one write a strong (good) introduction into a research paper? Some introductions make me really curious about the rest of the paper while others do not. Although it is relatively easy to say which introductions are good and which are not, I.