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How to Start a Research Paper

How to Start a Research Paper

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. Furthermore, one will have to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the subject and evaluate them accordingly.


Table Of Contents


A research paper uses primary sources and data to support a thesis statement. Despite the level of your education or the chosen field of research, you will need to follow simple rules to spark your first words. This multi-step process includes:

  • selecting a topic;
  • formulating a thesis statement;
  • conducting research using up to date sources.

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Deciding On Topic

Choose the Best One

After filtering out various options, come up with the most suitable topic for the paper and begin researching. Sometimes, you may be forced to adjust your topic in the process of writing. This is a common occurrence so do not let it concern you.

How to Choose a Topic Quickly

You will probably bounce around from one topic to another until you finally decide on one. To choose a topic quickly, your best option is to select one that you are well versed in. Using the background knowledge you have will save you time so you can focus more on the writing process and less on the brainstorming.

Read the Assignment

It does not matter whether you are writing a research paper assigned by your high school teacher or college professor. Moreover, your paper will definitely have guidelines and requirements which will make the entire process much easier.

Find the Golden Center

Let’s imagine that you are writing about steroids and their effects. Surely, you can cover this theme in 200 pages, but if your assignment is to write a 10-page research paper, you will need to be more specific. Narrow down and focus on more specific questions. For example: Which steroids have the biggest side effects? Which components cause side effects? What are the side effects? How can sportsman avoid side effects?

In case if you don't know how to choose an appropriate topic, read our latest post about how to choose an interesting research paper topic.

Researching + Analyzing

Find primary and secondary sources

Depending on your theme, you will need to collect information to support your claims. If your paper is on a history topic, you will need to find primary sources like old documents, encyclopedias, old war footage, etc. to support your thesis statement. If your topic is about science, you may need to conduct an experiment and base your paper on the obtained findings. Otherwise, you can find information using labs, encyclopedias and other sources.

Don’t forget to take notes

While you are busy conducting research or analyzing an experiment, don’t forget to take notes. Taking thorough notes keeps your mind involved in your activity. It will help you create paper outline later on and will save you time overall.

Check the reliability of your sources

Research and confirm the validity of the author and sources so you can be sure that they are credible.

TIPS:
Answer these questions to avoid careless mistakes.

  • Am I sure that all my quotations, paraphrases, and summaries are accurate?
  • Am I sure that my references are accurate?
  • Is my documentation in the proper form that my instructor assigned?

Writing Process

Draft an Outline

The best thing about an outline is that it helps you organize your thoughts before beginning the writing process. Moreover, when your outline is done, it becomes much easier to identify what needs to come first.

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Create the Thesis

  • Make sure your thesis is clear
  • Remember, the thesis is your argument. Make sure it sounds assertive.
  • Write two-three versions of your thesis and choose the best one
  • Share your thesis with a neutral person to get a straightforward outcome
  • Discuss your thesis with others; sometimes people have good ideas
  • It should appear in your introduction and be restated in conclusion

Tips for creating a thesis statement

Introductory Sentence

Start your introductory sentence broad and work your way into a topic.

  • Don’t make your subject look too boring
  • Make sure that your statement relates to your thesis
  • Make sure that everyone can understand your statement if you don’t want to be criticized from the very beginning.

Explain the Terminology

If you want to avoid any misunderstandings from your audience, the first thing you should do is lay out any specific/unusual words. Attempt to avoid using obscure terms so your reader won’t be confused.

What is convenient and what is not

You can start with an analytical statement or with a true story in almost all cases, but for example, if you are writing about photosynthesis in a plant cell, telling a story would be inconvenient.

Research Paper Title Page

MLA Title Page

Here how to format your MLA title page:

  • This page is double spaced and the letters are centered.
  • Type the name of your university or college.
  • Skip to about one-third of the page and type your research paper title, include a subtitle if you have.
  • Skip several lines down and type your name, your course name and number, your instructor name and your paper’s due date.

Learn How to Cite a Research Paper Using MLA Format.

APA Title Page

Place the running head in your page’s header:

  • Use label “Running head:” then your shortened title (IN UPPERCASE LETTERS), align left
  • Place the page number in this same header, but align right, begin with page number 1
  • This header should be 1 inch from the top. Some teachers say 1/2 inch is okay too.
  • Place your paper’s title in the upper half of the page, centered, capitalize the first letter of important words in your title.
  • Place your University’s name below your name, double-spaced.

Learn How to Cite a Research Paper.

Writing the First Draft

Moving forward, you should consistently support the thesis with information collected during your research. Keep in mind that, before editing, you need to create a complete rough draft.

Check the Grammar

Spending hours writing endlessly may lead to poor results. This could be things such as grammar mistakes, misinterpretation of the facts, spelling mistakes, and an overall lack of eloquence in the text.

TIPS:

  • Avoid homonyms such as lie (to recline)/lie (to tell a falsehood), mean (average)/mean (not nice), kind (type)/kind (caring), etc.
  • Introduce direct quotations, spaces and punctuation properly
  • Don’t forget to find and correct punctuation and sentence errors, especially regarding commas, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences
  • Introduce direct quotations spaces and punctuations properly

Avoid Plagiarism

If you use another person’s opinions or ideas, make sure to give them credit. Consult your professor about what style should you use. MLA format and APA format styles are the common ones, but they may use a different method of citation.

Almost Done

Print out your draft and check it with a pen or pencil. Read it out loud, and when you hear how it sounds, you might notice unsuitable words or sentences. These things will ease your life and help to find little mistakes easier.

Go and get your A+!

Now after you have done all this hard work, you can go and submit your paper. Just don't miss the deadline!

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