How To Start A Research Paper: 6 Steps

Starting is always the most difficult part of any assignment. A research paper is an assignment type that requires thorough analysis. No matter what its length is, all the research papers have the same structure. This article is for you if you can’t start writing your research paper. Below we provide detailed instructions on creating an outstanding research paper. It can be applied to any discipline and paper length.

Here is our step-by-step guide on starting a research paper properly. Save your time and effort. Let’s get started!

A Research Paper: Definition

A research paper is an assignment type in which the author independently investigates the topic and presents the results of his research. Moreover, the author needs to single out and analyze the strong and weak points of the topic.

Step 1. Get Acquainted With the Guidelines

Usually, a professor provides basic recommendations or even prompts for writing a research paper. This step makes the process easier and gives you a starting point. Knowing the guidelines will model your research paper, and you won’t spend extra time correcting it. Students may also find useful sources in the academic community.  The guidelines may include:

  • Paper length;
  • Sources to be used;
  • Topics to choose from (or at least one general topic);
  • Deadline.

If you know the deadline, you can make a schedule to finish your research paper on time.

Step 2. Select a Topic

This is a decisive and challenging step. Here are our recommendations for choosing the most suitable one.

Start Early

As a rule, students hesitate and bounce from one topic to another. We recommend getting started on the same day the research paper is assigned. Procrastination won’t improve the paper quality.

Select What You Like

You need to be interested in the topic you write a research paper on. If you really want to know more about it, it will be much easier to investigate. Except for this, we recommend taking into account the following criteria:

  • the topic should limit your research area;
  • the research subject should be feasible.

Narrow Down

Make sure your topic is not too wide. Mind the page number requirements of your research paper. The suitable topics for a 10-page paper and a dissertation on over 100 pages are absolutely different. The sign your topic is too broad is the use of too general terms.

After you specified your topic, get approval from your advisor or professor. Keep in mind that you may modify the topic after the research step. Maybe, other aspects of the topic will seem more engaging during the investigation.

Step 3. Find Information About the Topic

Successful research requires facts from reliable sources. If you can’t find these by just googling, you may utilize special academic search engines like Google Scholar or Microsoft Academic. Another way is asking your professor, turning to government or university websites. But if you have a lot of difficulties in finding sources, maybe you should change your research topic. A research paper can’t be successful if there is not enough evidence.

Step 4. A Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a crucial element of research. In a nutshell, it is a brief statement that involves the main message of your research. It should be like an answer to the question of your research. The thesis statement is not a question. In a thesis statement, you need to restate the question and answer it.

For Example

If your question is: How can we reduce plastic consumption?

The thesis statement should be:

In this paper, I will argue that recycling and the use of ecologic materials instead of plastic can significantly reduce plastic consumption.

Here is what to consider for writing a good thesis statement:

  • It should have support from facts and examples;
  • It should be precise, but involve enough information so that the reader could understand what the paper deals with;
  • Provide general information about the topic;
  • It should show the importance of the investigated problem;
  • It shouldn’t declare anything as absolutely right or wrong.

Step 5. Make an Outline

After writing a thesis, the outline is the next step. It defines the structure of your research and prevents many mistakes. It aims to help the reader find the necessary information. A well-organized outline will demonstrate your knowledge of the topic and standards of academic writing. An outline should continue the thesis statement and present different aspects of it.

Tips on Writing a Great Outline

  • Imagine that it is a list of questions you are going to answer;
  • It should include several sections;
  • Include quotes that are the most important in your research.

And here are the main principles of an excellent outline:

  • Division: Subdivide the information into a few small parts. Each part needs at least two subheadlines.
  • Equality: Each element should be equally important for the research. This principle pertains to both headings and subheadings.
  • Subordination: Headings should be broad, and subheadings should be narrow.
  • Parallel structure: If a heading begins with a verb, the related subheadings should also start with a verb.

Your advisor may adjust your outline. Pay attention to the outline templates if they are provided.

Step 6. Write an Introduction

This is a step most students are afraid of. But if you prepare a good thesis statement and an outline, it is not so difficult. Now you need to draw the reader’s attention to your paper. Here are our 5 pieces of advice on writing a research paper intro:

  1. Start with general information and narrow it down;
  2. Include the investigations of modern scientists you rely on in your paper;
  3. In the beginning, add an interesting quotation or statistical data that reflect your topic;
  4. The last sentence should be your thesis that sums up your research paper in one sentence;
  5. Make sure it supports your thesis statement.

Present Your Topic

The topic is the basis of any assignment you write. It is a general rule to start an introduction paragraph outlining your research paper topic. You may also add some related problems. Explain the state of things in the beginning. There may be some terms the reader won’t be able to understand. Either explain them or replace them with simpler words.

Provide the Scientific Background

The topic you are investigating is familiar to you but not to your readers. Make sure the introduction includes exhaustive information about your topic. Don’t leave any unanswered questions. Imagine that you are your reader. Make sure your introduction has enough context support for your research topic. Giving too much context is also undesirable. The reader will feel bored with reading your intro. A perfect introduction should engage in reading the whole research paper.

Highlight the Significance of Your Research

Proving your research is important is a crucial part of your introduction. This will demonstrate your excellent analytical and writing skills. Sort the information to present the most significant ideas in your research paper. The final part of your research is to explain the importance of your research to the area of study, the world, and the readers. When the author can relate to the idea, it guarantees that your argument is persuasive and has positive results.

Introduction Paragraph Example

Here is our example of a good introduction paragraph for a research paper.

Social media has become an integrated part of our everyday life. There are over 3.8 billion social media users in the world. It presents so many opportunities and prospects that most users are excited about it. However, not all people realize the negative consequences it can cause. Social media has many advantages, but people can also suffer from using it, which makes increasing awareness of social media’s negative impact essential.

Summing Up

Getting started with an assignment is not an easy task for most students. Some of them can’t decide what to deal with first. We hope our instruction gave insight into writing a great research paper without spending too much time and effort on it. If you still hesitate whether you can cope with an assignment by yourself, you can find expert help on our website.

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