Essay on Fundamental Principles of How to Write a Research Paper

Fundamental Principles of How to Write a Research Paper

Writing research papers is a common assignment for students in colleges and universities. In fact, you have not been to campus until you hand in a research paper for grading. It is a common tool for exploring scientific, social or technical issues in the society. If you are yet to handle your first research paper, the assignment may appear mindboggling and impractical. However, with these guidelines on how to write a research paper, you should find the task enjoyable. While the paper cannot draft itself, you will have to sit down, organize, research, and draft, for your research paper to fall into place.

A summary of what is coming up:

  • Steps of writing a research paper
  • Elements of a good research paper
  • Research paper writing rules

Spare a few minutes of your time and go through this handout. It contains everything you need to know in order to become an expert in research paper writing. Let us hit the road.

Method 1: How to Write a Research Paper

Start early. Take advantage of the time you have to do a thorough research, write flawlessly and turn in your homework before the deadline elapses.

Choose a research topic. Choosing something to write about is the first step of your assignment. In case your lecturer assigns you a topic, you have limited options. In cases where you have the freedom to decide your research topic, remember the following:

  1. Consider the scope. Avoid too narrow or too broad topics. A narrow topic will limit you while a broad topic will be so much demanding that you may run out of time.
  2. Select something you love. Go for something in your heart. It is easy to write about something you are passionate about than a working on a topic from the blues. You will find the ideas flowing and enjoy the whole process.
  3. Be original. As you gain knowledge on how to write a research paper, aspire to be original throughout the process. Choose a unique topic for your research and you will indeed stand out. Do not be carried away by what your classmates are working on. Do it your way.
  4. Seek advice. Do not be afraid to consult your professors, workmates, and classmates among others. Their thoughts will help you a great deal, even if you do not consider them as your topic. Though approaching your professor can be intimidating, they are the best resource to help you out whenever you are stuck.
  5. Feel free to change your topic. In case you start working on your topic and find challenges that make it hard to proceed, make a turn while it is early and choose a workable topic.

Once you have you have your topic, you are good to start your research.

Method 2: Conducting your research

Identify your sources. The backbone of any research is documented information. What is your source of research evidence? You can obtain information from published books, journals, web articles, newspaper publications and periodicals among other sources. Go for credible and professional sources. It is important for you to consider at least five different sources to vary your findings. Avoid relying on one or two sources.

Create a tentative outline. An outline will give you a roadmap. A good outline shows all the important elements to include in your research paper. Look at the following example of a research paper outline before we discuss more tips on how to write a research paper.

Example #1: Research Paper Outline

Paper Topic: ________________________________ Audience: __________


Give overview of the topic

Define terminologies

Use quotes

Give background information

Include counterargument paragraph


Thesis Statement- it comes at the end of the intro

State the overall focus of your paper

Outline main points


Decide on the number of points to include in your paper.

Present your main points as they appear in your thesis

Give examples, details, and explanations

Use strong evidence from sources


Main Point: ______________________________________________________


  1. ______________________________________________________________
  2. ______________________________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________________________

Main Point: _______________________________________________________


  1. ________________________________________________________________
  2. ________________________________________________________________
  3. ______________________________________________________________
  4. _____________________________________________________________


Reword your thesis __________________________________________

Briefly summarize main point _______________________________

Initiate call for action ___________________________________

End with a clincher statement ______________________________

Adapted from

From this research paper outline, the basic parts are introduction, body and conclusion. However, in a detailed research, you will find:

Elements of a research paper:

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methodology
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Conclusion
  8. References

Method 3: Gathering Research Material from credible sources

To present an outstanding research paper, consult different sources. Get your material from the following channels:

Use empirical research. These are publications within your field, which have been read and have the approval of experts in your area of specialization.

Visit the library. To master the art of how to write a research paper, you must make friendship with your university library. Although this appears to be an outdated method of finding information, libraries are always resource centers for books, journals or newspaper articles.

Search the web. This should probably be your first stopover. Online sources will give you background information on your topic. However, be cautious when using online sources. Go for trusted websites like those ending with edu, .gov, or .org.

Engage academic database– these are specialized search engines and databases, which look through peer-reviewed publications. Because of high credibility, most of these databases require subscriptions. However, you should enjoy free services through your university database.

Method 4: Read and evaluate your research documentation

Make sure you have all details for every source you use in your research. You will need this during in-text citation and formulating your reference page.

For books, books, be sure to note name of the author, title, page with the information you need, year of publication, edition, and copyright date.

For journal articles, note the following: author, title, volume, issue number, date, and page number.

For websites, capture the author, title, date of publication, web address, and date retrieved.

Read the following sample research papers and see how to format your reference pages and use of proper in text citation. These papers will give you more hints on how to write a research paper. Take a look.

  • A World View of Cultural Diversity
  • Civil Liberties
  • Current Administration’s Policies Relating to Crime

Method 5: Crafting a compelling research paper

Draft your body paragraph. Starting your research paper with the introduction can be too demanding. Start by fleshing out your ideas and revisit your intro later.

Support all your statements with well-documented evidence from your sources. Supply enough examples to back your points. This will create the difference between a research paper and an opinion piece for your local daily.

Avoid long quotes. Instead, utilize your summary and paraphrasing skills you learned in English. Read and write the points in own words. This will earn you credibility in the eyes of the readers.

Method 6: Concluding your research paper

With the evidence in the body of your research, get to the concluding paragraph, summarizing your main points and providing a sense of closure to your work.

Restate your thesis statement by rewording. Remind your audience the main argument of your research.

Say the significance of your findings, emphasizing why it was important for that person to read your work.

Close by broadening the readers’ view of the issue and relating your work with daily life.

Final Step: Spice your introduction and crown your research paper

With the body and conclusion in place, you have the entire arsenal you need to nail an appealing intro. The introduction is the reverse of your conclusion. However, avoid repeating statements word for word.

In your intro, orient the reader about the purpose of the paper, your argument, background information and thesis. Make it brief and sweet to wet the audience’s appetite.

At this point, you do not need more guideline of how to write a research paper because you already have it.

Document your paper using standard formats like APA, MLA, Chicago or Harvard among others to avoid plagiarism.

Proofread your paper to eliminate mistakes like grammar and punctuation to make your research paper flawless.

Hand in your assignment before the deadline and wait to celebrate. Make this handout your best friend and everyone will notice your abrupt improvement in research work. Success

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