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How to Write a Research Essay

February 14, 2018 Types of essays
How to Write a Research Essay

There is no doubt that a research essay is one of the most challenging writing assignments out there. A research essay is essentially an academic piece where a student, after conducting extensive preparation and research, presents the data on a subject in an organized manner.

Table Of Contents

This type of writing is a very common assignment given by professors to see how a student can research, analyze, and present heaps of information in a specific format. Students are likely to encounter research papers in most university classes. Such tasks are issued as a final project to demonstrate a beyond mastery expertise in an area of study.


Read The Instructions

The importance of reading instructions can not be overstated. Ignoring the criteria is the most common pitfall for students. Always make sure you understand the assignment and do not be shy to talk to your tutor if you need help.

  • Read the instructions and criteria twice
  • Take special note of the requested style guide: e.g. MLA, Harvard, APA
  • Ask your tutor any questions you might have about what is required

The quality of your writing may be superb. However, if you fail to present the information in a properly organized fashion - expect low marks!

Research Essay Topics

Finding a topic that will sustain your interest while doing research can be quite challenging. To make the paper writing process less tedious, many choose topics that have relevance to their life and career.

Perhaps someone interested in biochemistry will use the opportunity to learn more about Darwin, or perhaps a fan of cinema will find it fascinating to delve into how film noir has shaped the conventions of Hollywood for several generations. The amount of good research essay topics out there is inexhaustible. With the right motivation, you can find one that fascinates you to the extent that writing a research paper will actually become fun.

Here are some good research paper topics to help you get creative:

  • The pros and cons of homeschooling.
  • Does the internet make children smarter?
  • How the use of tobacco affects the human body.
  • The influence of online social networks.
  • Should children wear school uniforms?
  • Alcohol’s implication on violence and crime.
  • Medical research implications on animal rights.
  • Does the internet need to be censored?
  • Comparing cyber-bullying to face-to-face.
  • Does the LGBT community need special rights for protection?
  • The effect of the first moon landing on culture.

Perform Your Research

Performing research may be tricky because various subjects have little to none reliable information available. One must dig deeper to find good academic sources, study them thoroughly, and take lots of notes in the process.

Contradicting information is another factor. You may stumble upon authors who disagree with each other. It is useful to learn how to dissect sources for biased opinions and misinformation. Does the writer study the subject from a neutral perspective, or does his work simply fulfill someone else’s agenda?

Having a variety of sources when presenting information is crucial to your success. Accessing different types of sources is quite significant as well.

Sources to use when writing a Research Essay

Primary Sources

There are two main types of sources you will find when performing your research - primary and secondary. Primary sources are those first hand, legal documents describing the object of study in vivid detail. Those are usually quite hard to find, but they have the most accurate and well-supported information.

Primary sources include things such as manuscripts, archives, films, speeches, books, journals, letters, etc. They may include various statistics conducted by authors who have studied your topic of interest extensively. Therefore, primary sources are your best choice for a research paper.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are the easiest to find, but also could be quite unreliable. Secondary sources are reviews, analysis, and interpretations of the subject based on primary sources. You have to be very careful when looking over internet blogs or YouTube videos. Most good secondary sources have direct references to their primary sources. The writer makes their work as transparent as possible, making it easier for you to validate their credibility.

Usage of Research Tools

Highlighting most important information is an underrated must have skill when working digitally. Using a highlighter and sticky notes when working with hard copy materials is neglected as well. All of the tools above will save hours of unnecessary work and help you refer to something quickly.

Use a highlighter and sticky notes to save hours of unnecessary work and help you organize your sources.

Record Data

Recording data isn’t a complicated process, however, how you record data will determine how fast you can access it when writing your paper. Academic research can occupy hundreds of pages and include a dozen of different sources.

You can classify your sources efficiently by:

  • Year of Publication
  • Author
  • Relevance to the subject (sources with most relevant information)

Research Essay Outline

A paper outline is a crucial preparatory step for essay writing. It serves as a means of organizing sources and arguments into body paragraphs, placing them in a specific order.

It is essential to organize the outline properly, as it will be a constant point of reference throughout the writing process.


  • A hook: A sentence that will foster the reader’s curiosity is an ideal start for a good introduction.
  • Thesis: state the objective of the essay in a few words as clearly as possible.
  • Scope: Briefly explain the scope of the research and outline the progression of your argument.

Body Paragraphs

Focus the writing on the argument of the essay drawing from referred texts. Each paragraph should present a separate/different point.

First Point

  • A topic sentence which introduces the idea.
  • Elaborating on the idea, in contrast to/ in support of a referred text.
  • Conclude the concept, linking it to the next idea.

Second Point

  • A topic sentence which introduces an idea, linking it with the previous one.
  • Elaborating on the idea, in contrast to / in support of a referred text.
  • Conclude the concept and link it to the next idea.

Third Point

  • Same as the two previous body paragraphs.
  • Leave the best argument for last.


  • Contextualize the work you have referenced in relation to your topic.
  • Refer to each of your main ideas.


  • Transition smoothly into the conclusion.
  • Conclude with final impressions, thoughts, suggestions, ideas.

Writing a Rough Draft

After you have established essay outline, you may begin writing the rough draft. Try to make it as broad as possible, including lots of information, detail and description. Later revision stages will have you to narrow down your writing to the most important info. DO NOT worry about your sentence flow or grammar. You will take care of that when polishing the draft. Your aim at the moment is to create a rough draft filled with lots of information.

Editing The Rough Draft

Now that the draft is complete, it's it time to clean it up. Read through it a couple times and take out information you find irrelevant to your thesis. If it doesn’t support your thesis - it doesn’t need to be in the essay.

Adjusting Sentence Flow

Check each sentence for clarity. The essay must be coherent and flow seamlessly. Presenting fact after fact without clear transitions may confuse the reader as it is hard to see a logical connection while being bombarded with info.

Improving Word Choice

Fancy word choice and synonyms won’t impress your professors as much as you may think. Research papers aim to familiarize a reader with the subject at hand. Therefore it is not a place to demonstrate intelligence and writing abilities. Research papers need to be as concise and clear as possible. That being said, simple adjectives such as “good”, “nice”, and “great” are overused and best avoided. Proofread the paper and make notes on your word choice - it will help you with the overall delivery of your ideas.

Fixing Grammar

No one wants to see grammar errors in a research essay. Proofread the work to identify problematic areas. Additionally, there are third-party services you may use to help fix up your grammar. If you don’t know where to go - our paper writing service provides all kinds of help with essays, including fixing grammar.

Peer Review

It is always a great idea to show your paper to a friend or a relative. Have them review your work and give you notes on any problems or flaws. Ask them if the paper was clear, concise, and easy to read. Apply any recommended feedback, and your paper is one step closer to being submitted.


Neither teachers nor professors will accept your work without a bibliography. Citing your sources is a must in all academic writing. It demonstrates the credibility of your work as well as showing that you are giving credit to people who have provided you with this information.

To simplify your task, record the links and origins of hard copy sources as you discover them. This way you won’t have to come back and search for them when completing your bibliography process. Use either MLA style citation format to record every source used at the end of the paper.

Do not forget to cite quotes or excerpts from books within the text itself.

Advice From Our Professional Team

Learning to write a good research essay is vital for your future career. The prewriting stages of essay writing are the most important contributors to the overall quality of your paper. My advice for you is to spend a lot of time picking a great topic that you will genuinely enjoy writing about. Spend a lot of time in your prewriting phase. As the article states, select a topic that is not too broad but also not too narrow. After you’ve chosen a topic and done your research, the actual paper is a breath of fresh air. You will already be an expert at what you’re writing about, and your content will be targeted toward a particular and exciting area. Remember this: if you sound passionate while writing, a reader is going to enjoy what you’ve written. On the other hand, if you hate what you’re writing about, then your reader will sense that and hate what they’re reading your paper just as much as you hated writing it. So choose wisely and outline carefully!

Prof. Logan, from EssayPro

Need Writing Assistance?

Writing a research essay is one of the most daunting and time-consuming tasks that a student deals with. Not only that, but they must also understand proper structuring and content management. This is one of those things that comes with experience. Luckily EssayPro, the top essay writing service on the web, has trained essay writers that know the ins and outs of research assignments! As former college graduates that hold Bachelor degrees, they have dealt with the struggle of finding and organizing information. If you just do not have the will or the time to write one of these essays, hire our qualified essay writer who will take care of the task for you! Not only that but the grade you shall receive will leave you speechless!

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