How to Write a Research Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Research Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Published by on 2021-06-01 11:04:21

When a student gets an assignment to complete a research paper for the first time, the most widespread reaction is confusion. "What is a research paper?" – that’s what young people might think next.

Luckily, the good news is here. Understanding the features of various assignments will come in handy when you get one from your teacher. Here below, you will find the list and the description of all types of scientific research papers for students they might ask you to prepare, such as:

  • analytical;
  • persuasive;
  • cause and effect;
  • interpretation;
  • definition;
  • experiment.

Now, it’s time to focus. Let’s take a detailed look at those types of academic paper assignments.

What Are the Two Main Types of Research Papers?

Two types of research papers more often prepared by students are analytical and argumentative. So, let’s start our description with them. Check short explanations, memorize key facts, and be ready for real assignments as a result.


  1. Pose a question.
  2. Collect the data by other researchers on it.
  3. Make a conclusion based on that data.

Here we go. Among other types of scientific papers, an analytical one has a special place. It’s just the most common. What’s it about?

Well, the possibility to complete this assignment successfully is simpler than it might sound. First of all, you figure out a particular question that’ll be your cornerstone throughout the entire process. After you define and pose the main question, all that is required is to gather information from scientific sources by researchers and then complete an analysis of their points of view on the topic.  

The thing is, in this task, your goal is to study the conclusion and explorations made by the others and finally conclude something on your own based on their thoughts. In analytical assignments, staying unbiased is critical. There is no way for a student to demonstrate their attitude towards someone else’s opinion or the subject, no matter if it is negative or positive.

Argumentative (Persuasive) 

  1. Choose a controversial issue. 
  2. State your viewpoint and that of potential rivals. 
  3. Provide and analyze arguments by both sides.
  4. Persuade the reader your position is right. 

Persuasive or argumentative writing has a lot in common with the essay of the same kind. So, if you wrote a persuasive essay, there won’t be a problem for you to craft this type of paper as well.

Argumentative research has two focal points: those are connected to the same issue and represent two opposite sides of the coin. In other words, the topical question has controversy at its root, and the researcher’s (your) mission is to convince the reader his viewpoint is right and more suitable.

The feature is that the proofs you choose should be based on citations and findings by other researchers. And you should present the opposing side as well, of course. Facts, logic, and statistics are your best friends when completing this assignment. Emotions and empathy are not allowed in the contents as they are not scientific.

Other Types of Research Papers Explained

Now, when you know the two main types of research papers well enough, it is time to switch to more specialized assignments you might get from your prof. It’s always better to be ready for everything, isn’t it?

Besides, just like 2 types of research papers described above, those you’ll find below seem more difficult than they actually are. It only takes you one finalized assignment to understand the principle. 


  1. Analyze knowledge you got recently.
  2. Come up with a thesis based on it.
  3. Support your interpretation with proofs.

This task supposes a student to use new information he’s got after passing through some case studies. The described type of research papers is about using the available theoretical grounding along with suitable backup information to prove the statement and summary you’ve got are right. Most frequently, interpretive tasks are called to strengthen your understanding of a particularly crucial topic or concept.


  1. Choose a subject or phenomenon as a topic.
  2. Define it in details.
  3. Use facts, objective data, and arguments, but not emotions.

The definitive assignment serves to bring info, to provide a detailed definition of some phenomenon or subject. The following task is about describing unbiased proofs, arguments, and facts while avoiding mentioning any personal opinion or emotion an author might have. Contents here provide facts taken from multiple sources without analyzing them in either way.


  1. Set up a thesis.
  2. Create a list of topical questions.
  3. Ask the focus group members to answer them.
  4. Analyze statistics.
  5. Make a conclusion.

A survey is one of the best ways for students to get statistical data for their research. This kind of academic assignment requires some socialization: a survey supposes you to find respondents and ask them to answer the required questions. Then, this freshly gained data becomes the fundament of your statistical proofs and conclusions presented in your work. The info can either confirm or deny your hypothesis, both outcomes are fine.

Compare and Contrast

  1. Determine two viewpoints.
  2. Provide detailed analysis.
  3. Support one of the positions.

The compare and contrast task is again pretty similar to an essay of the same kind, but it is much more extended. Here, you provide a detailed analysis of two different points of view, stories, subjects, or authors. It is crucial to show both “rivals” in detail, compare their theses, and then stand the ground for one of those.

Cause and Effect

  1. Choose a phenomenon.
  2. Find causes.
  3. Explain and evaluate the effects.

If you are a high school or college student, this one is probably your first research paper assignment. Cause and effect is a type of research paper that focuses on two “W'' questions:

  • “Why?” – to explain a cause;
  • “What?” – to define an effect.

These tasks are frequent and especially effective in education and business. They let a researcher track and evaluate possible outcomes after some action was taken. As a result, a student’s knowledge and critical thinking receive a significant boost.  


  1. Explain goals.
  2. Describe experiments.
  3. Provide substantial data.
  4. Reveal outcomes.

Most probably, you understood the point of this task right after you read the paragraph’s heading. It focuses on a detailed description of some experiments (chemical, physical, biological, etc.) to explain the results of a research paper through the process and backup info.

How to Write a Well-Structured Research Paper: Guidelines and Recommendations

If you are a beginner, even basic things may seem difficult to you. This applies even to the most basic aspects. But how to get out of the kingdom of darkness and start writing? What is a good way to start a research report? Let's not rush. Here are the main steps for you.

Check Out All the Requirements and Nuances

You cannot assemble this puzzle correctly without instructions. Before you start the fun part, you need to detail those important requirements for your professor. The fact is that there are general aspects that are characteristic of this type of paper. But what if your professor has certain innovations or tricks for you? Then you should find out about it as soon as possible.

Choose a Topic

It might not be an option for you, but most instructors will allow you the freedom to select the research topic on your own. You don’t have to pick the boring issues everyone has already covered. Instead, choose something you are genuinely interested in, be it popular culture or online gaming. Of course, the topic should fall within the assignment parameters and be related to the class you are taking. Always consider the required length of the research paper and select a problem that you will be able to cover within its volume. Do not fall into the trap of choosing the subject too broad or too narrow for your assignment, or you risk losing points off your grade.

Develop a Thesis

Your first instinct might be to start research as soon as you select the topic. However, this decision will only waste your time. Don’t go looking for books and journals before you have formulated a thesis statement, or at least its first draft. This simple trick will save you from wasting away in the library under a mountain of useless books. A thesis will be your guiding light to help you identify usable sources quickly and painlessly. When you know what you need to look for, the search will go much faster.

We’ve covered the intricacies of writing a thesis statement before, so make use of our advice before storming the library.

Select the Sources

And here is the most important stage for you. Before you start defending your perspective, citing facts, and analyzing data, you need to collect as much information as possible. Is your assignment related to certain statistics? Are there people who have already done similar research? Here's what you need to do first:

  1. List trusted sources.
  2. Spend 30-40% of time on research and analysis.
  3. Collect as much information as possible
  4. Organize and summarize all the facts.

Not every website and article can be used in your research paper. You need to be extra picky when selecting the sources, as they will form the basis of your research, and your credibility will suffer if you choose wrong. Ideal sources should meet several requirements:

  • the information is current, not outdated by several decades;
  • there is enough information in the source to be useful;
  • the source’s credibility is supported by the peer-review process or experts;
  • the data is not promotional;
  • the source covers different sides of the problem;
  • other sources support the findings and data.

Take Notes

Reading the sources should involve copious note-taking either on paper or digital. Always identify the source of information and write down interesting facts, numbers, statistics. Copy the quotes you would like to use to strengthen your argument, otherwise, summarize and paraphrase. If you take notes on your laptop, organize them on different pages or in separate files. If you prefer pen and paper, use loose paper and arrange the records either by source or by argument. These notes will lay the groundwork for your research paper, so do not take shortcuts and pay close attention to detail.

Create an Outline

Unlike a typical five-paragraph essay, a research paper is a large piece of writing that requires a rigid structure to be logical and organized. Therefore, you should never start writing it without an outline. First, divide your paper into introduction, body, and conclusion. Then, separate different parts of the body into chapters or sections according to the data you have gathered and the arguments you wish to make. You don’t have to outline each paragraph in your informal outline. But you should be able to understand which points come where with a single glance at your notes. Even though it seems difficult, you can easily cope with the task. Just stick to the basic rules:

  1. Decide on the type of assignment and the number of paragraphs.
  2. Choose a topic from the list or come up with something original.
  3. Collect all the hyperlinks, books, and quotes you need.
  4. Gather all the information and do your research.
  5. Create your outline as required.
  6. Stick to the parallel structure.

The point is that a research paper outline is a pretty easy part of your assignment if you know the rules. No man is his craft's master the first day. Pay special attention to this part of your assignment. Practice and try to keep each point as concise as possible. Then you will have no problem getting down to the main part.

Typical College Research Paper Outline Example

Example teaches better than precept. This is the main rule that has existed for more than one millennium. You can listen to someone for hours, hoping to find out the details. But what's the point if you can take five minutes and see a simple example? All you need is a little patience.

Topic: COVID-19 and the vaccination debate
I. Intro

  1. Definition of COVID-19
  2. The rate of infection of new people in cities where the rate of the pandemic has been reduced.
  3. Figures - number of cases that have been reported in the last year. Correlation and factors of vaccination.
  1. Symptoms and course of the disease
  2. Fatality statistics and overall risks for infected people
  3. Coronavirus spread format


  1. Methods of dealing with the disease in various countries
  2. Immunization, debate and pros and cons of certain vaccines
  3. Statistics based on some regions of Europe and the USA
  1. The main symptoms of the mutated virus and the risks of complications
  2. Concomitant diseases and possible effects
  3. Death statistics from COVID-19
  1. Summary of arguments of different groups
  2. Summary based on statistics
  3. General conclusion based on statistics from American and European medical centers

As you can see, this college research paper outline format is easy enough to repeat. All you need is a little time. Reserve at least 30-60 minutes to complete all basic tasks. Remember to keep all sources and make a detailed draft. Soon learned, soon forgotten. This is why you need to structure your assignment carefully.

Top Tips on How to Do a Research Outline

Good Topic Is a Must

Knowledge, like physics, is more plaque than profit if it arrives too late. This is why you should think in advance about choosing a good topic. Think about what will be interesting for you. Can you find information quickly, or is it better to choose a simpler topic? The point is, your job is to make your paper easier for you. If you take a very broad topic, you have to search for data bit by bit for weeks. Find a simpler option, so you don't have to ask anyone, "How to write a good outline for a research paper?" You can even ask your professor for help.

Start With a Draft

Such a complex and multifaceted task cannot be written from scratch without a draft. Most likely, you will want to add, change or remove some items as you work. Start with a couple of key sentences, definitions, and basic structure. Once you complete a few paragraphs, you will see what needs to be corrected. Then you won't need to call your friends and say something like, "How to write a college level research paper?" You should be forward-thinking and anticipate this scenario.

Brainstorming Is a Must

Explore all the ideas, practice, and find good examples. Once you find a good structure of the research paper outline, you can make small changes. Then it will be easier for you to get started. There is nothing wrong with taking a task as a basis. You just need to rephrase all the points so that your paper is original.

Revision of the Original Draft

Repetition is the mother of learning! Revise what you wrote. Perhaps you should choose a more precise wording in any paragraph or supplement the list. Don't be afraid to make changes. If you meet all the deadlines, then no one will forbid you to polish every proposal. Then you don't have to write to anyone, "How to create a research paper outline?" Most likely, you will succeed. You just need to be careful.

Write a Draft

After the preparatory steps, writing a research paper seems like a piece of cake. You have your notes, an outline, and a thesis statement. These should be enough to beat your writer’s block and the fear of a blank page. With a structure in mind, you don’t even have to start at the beginning. You can write whichever section you like most first. Don’t be too hard on yourself at this stage. You should write down everything you think is pertinent to the subject of the research paper. You will edit this draft later and make it into a meticulous piece of writing of which you can be proud. Right now you need to get everything you have learned on paper before the information evaporates from your mind.

Include a Relevant Introduction

An introduction is the first step you should take towards writing a great research paper. Here you can find all the information about your thesis and the research you write about in each paragraph. This part of your assignment is critical to understanding the overall flow and building your position correctly. So let's get started.

What Is an Introduction Paragraph for a Research Paper?

To get the answer to this question, you should take a look at the title. This is the introduction that will set the tone for the task. How to write an intro paragraph for a research paper? Start with a short description of what you are going to write about. Be consistent and concise. This is always an advantage.

This is exactly what will give an understanding of your goals and motives. You can use transition words if you want to combine several sentences in meaning and emphasize the importance of your research. Everything is not as difficult as you might think. To get started, you only need three things:

Any good introduction paragraph is a mix of your creativity and ability to shorten sentences. It is a key point to success. Without this, you will not be able to get good results.

How to Introduce a Topic in a Research Paper?

Words are your key tool for success. First of all, you should try to identify those aspects that will make it possible to highlight the importance of your paper and the potential impact on society or the study of a particular topic. How to write the first sentence of a research paper? Some students start with questions or quotes. You don't have to copy someone else's ideas. You should be original.

Also, you can use a specific statement or a well-known fact. By the way, you can start with other points in your assignment. Once you finish writing the paper, you can go back to the very beginning. What should the first paragraph of a research paper contain? Write down those words and goals to complete the assignment. This is an effective tip because the first sentences are always easier to rewrite than all body paragraphs.

State Your Research Theme

Now we will move on to another important point. How to write a good introduction paragraph for a research paper? Most likely, your forehead is already covered with sweat from this question. Start with generalizations and big plans. Then you can touch on the key niche areas for your research. 

Tell about the key element. The topic is important because it is what you will be creating all the lines and paragraphs around. If you do not state your theme, then you are unlikely to achieve the best result.

Try to Be Original

Any task will be much more interesting or even educational if you use creative elements while working. How to start an introduction paragraph for a research paper? A little humor, relevant quotes, or interesting facts will suffice. Your task is to combine the requirements and nuances of your topic organically. Originality is the key to success and an essential requirement for any professor. That is why you always need to re-read what you write to eliminate weak sentences.

Explain Your Key Terms

Millions of English-speaking students often ask a question like, "How to write a good introduction to a research paper?" One tip is to explain key terms and provide a clear picture of your future research. Then you don't have to worry about any fact, link or abbreviation being misunderstood.

Size Is Important

Proportions are vital! An introduction that is too short will be incomplete and unclear. At the same time, exceeding the word limit is also not correct. Pay attention to how other students are dealing with the situation and try to learn from the positive experience.

Is It Hard to Write an Introductory Paragraph?

Sometimes students do not have enough time even for such simple tasks. Then it is better to find someone who can help you immediately. Then you don't have to ask questions like, "What should be in an introduction of a research paper?" Our company is ready to help you. We have many years of experience in performing such tasks, and we are ready to take on any topic.

You just need to specify the requirements and the deadline. We have a team of qualified experts with Masters' and Ph.D. degrees, so you have nothing to worry about. We know that the body paragraphs in a research paper consist of important theses, so we will make sure that your assignment is perfectly written.

Besides, we are always online, so you can feel free to write to us at any time. We guarantee you will be delighted with affordable prices and 24/7 customer support. Now you don't have to ask anyone, "How to make a good introduction for a research paper?" We guarantee you high grades and complete anonymity.

Work on the Consistent Conclusion 

Writing concluding paragraphs of your paper often appears to be the most time-consuming phase of writing your paper. Many students believe that this part of the essay is a simple summary of the writing and the investigations they made. However, the research paper conclusion is much more than restating the basic concepts of your academic assignment. So, how to write an effective conclusion for a research paper? Are there any win-win solutions you can put into practice for polishing your writing? Sure! In this post, we will walk you through composing a perfect finalizing paragraph and offer the most effective writing strategies you can start using immediately. 

What Goes in the Conclusion of a Research Paper? 

The conclusion is an essential essay element that might help you refocus the attention of the audience to the most striking aspects of your paper. It should go hand in hand with the arguments you’ve pointed out in your paper and the results of your research. Moreover, it is a nice place to come up with ideas for solving a particular issue and highlighting the innovative approaches to the chosen solution. 

How to write the conclusion of a research paper? It doesn’t require advanced knowledge-gathering since all your facts and points should be introduced in the essay’s body. However, you will still need to put some effort into formulating it. Simply put, it is vital to pay extra attention to your conclusion even in case you’ve created a fantastic introduction and well-designed body paragraphs. 

Most Common Types of Conclusion 

To get the answer to the query about what to include in the conclusion of a research paper, don’t forget to pick up the type of finalizing paragraph.


This is the easiest type of conclusion most young minds use to catch up on their papers. You can use it for a wide number of different academic assignments:

  • persuasive essays;
  • argumentative essays;
  • problem and solution research. 

Not every student knows that there is a type of conclusion that provides information you didn’t mention in your thesis. However, it is still considered effective because it can encourage the audience to learn more about the possible outcomes and perspectives of a chosen topic and find new directions to solve the issues that arise. 


This type of conclusion shows off a tight correlation between the research you’ve made and your viewpoints regarding the paper’s topic. If you choose it, feel free to develop your own ideas, concepts, and brainchildren. However, always pay extra attention to the type of your research paper since not all the essays allow using editorial conclusions. 

Hot Prompts on How to Write a Research Conclusion

Below you can discover a list of the freshest hints on composing a definitive conclusion shared by our expert writers:

  1. Don’t write words and phrases, like “in conclusion,” “as shown in the essay,” “in summary,” or “to sum up” to avoid redundancy.
  2. If you don’t know which type of conclusion to choose from, it is better to stick to the classical summarizing option. 
  3. Pick up only the most powerful points and examples to reflect on at the end of your research paper. 
  4. Avoid coming up with any numbers or statistics at the final stage of your writing.
  5. Synthesize all the data you’ve mentioned in the body paragraphs.
  6. Don’t repeat any information word by word. Choose a diverse formulation for deeper comprehension.  
  7. Make the audience get a feeling of closure in the final sentence. 
  8. It is better to end writing on a positive note. 

Edit the Paper

Ideally, you should find someone willing to do you a favor and edit the research paper for you. If it’s not an option, finish the work several days before the deadline and put it away for at least 24 hours. This short break will let you rest, and your brain will be able to reboot. Read the paper after a break and imagine you are reading someone else’s work. Turn into a ruthless critique and strike out any inconsistencies, illogical transitions, and rambling passages.

When the writing is up to your high standards, switch into a proofreading mode. Try reading the paper aloud or upside down to catch small mistakes and typos. Every error you correct will increase your chances of getting an A. Make sure to follow formatting requirements and add a title page, contents, and a list of references. Some professors take missing commas very seriously and might give your excellent research paper a C just because you forgot to proofread it.

Writing a research paper might seem like a lot of work, and it is, even when you divide the process into small manageable chunks. If you have no time to complete the research on your own, you can always turn to our professional writers. They will help you deal with this complicated assignment quickly and efficiently.

Once you have accomplished the assignment, you should double-check its grammar, style, and format. Mind the following tips if you doubt the quality of the paper. 


Draw not your bow till your arrow is fixed. Don't go to the professor with your paper until you have checked every paragraph. The point is that beginners are often overconfident. Your work will not be completed until you have polished the last sentence. These are the most common student problems:

  1. No transition words.
  2. Weak sentences.
  3. Chaotic data.
  4. Poor grammar and spelling.

Your assignment should look perfect. Spend about 30% of your time analyzing each line. Only then can you state with confidence the fact that you have coped with the task.

Use Facts and Examples

Many newbies ask the same question, like, "How to do a research paper ? Can I improvise or should I stick to the facts? "Such a question seems naive. You are doing research. Therefore, your task is to find reliable data, facts, and real examples that will make your words valuable. This is not an assignment format where you can improvise.

Use Side Help

Ask your friend or relative to read your paper. The point is that you can get tired of long work and searching for facts. As a result, you may miss an important aspect or misinterpret certain results. Plus, outside opinion is always good when it comes to polishing individual phrases or entire sentences.

To Conclude

There were the main types of research papers for students. From now on, you won’t feel confused after getting this kind of task from a professor. Keep in mind the features of each type, make sure you’ve got enough information, and then research paper writing will be as easy as breathing.