How to Start a Research Paper - 7 Easy Steps
If you're a college student, you'll definitely have to write at least one research paper before graduating. Undoubtedly, writing a research paper can be a challenging task if you have never done it before.
However, with a little practice and effort, you can understand how this kind of academic work is done and will be successful in starting your research process.
Such papers also represent a significant portion of the overall grade of a student in every class. Thus, specific techniques need to be followed to get your research paper off the ground.
You can learn how to start a research paper and complete it successfully by following a few simple steps. This guide will provide you with everything you need to get started and write a strong research paper.
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is a research-based project that students get in their final year. It is considered as a requirement to complete the academic degree.
This type of research work is usually based on a student’s original research on the chosen topic.
Here, a writer analyzes a perspective by presenting his own interpretation. Similarly, it also involves a detailed survey of a field of knowledge to find the best possible data.
Students need to be diligent and careful while working on such a high level of research work. Similarly, it also requires exceptional research and writing skills, along with a unique topic to write a good research paper.
How to Start a Research Paper?
To start a research paper, follow the simple steps below.
Read the Guidelines to Start Early
It is important to read and understand the guidelines properly before starting any assignment. This step will assist in shaping your research paper.
Many students make the mistake of just reading the topic and starting with it. As a result, they miss the essential guidelines mentioned by the instructor.
Thus, an ideal way is to read the topic and go through the guidelines thoroughly. Also, make notes of the crucial elements such as:
- Paper format
- Number of sources required
- Font type and size
- Word limit
- Page spacing
Understanding these will help in starting the paper early and complete it on time.
Most college professors recommend getting started with your paper the day it is assigned. The more time and effort you will put into it, the better your grades will be.
Brainstorm to Choose a Research Paper Topic
The next step is to brainstorm possible ideas to choose a suitable topic for your research paper.
Some professors prefer to assign research topics to the students. Thus, if you have already given the topic, then half of your work is done. If not, then you must find a unique and interesting topic first.
Keep your field of study in mind and make a detailed mind map while choosing a topic. Brainstorm and write down all the ideas that come in your mind. Moreover, narrow down the research question according to the length of your paper.
We know that finding good research paper topics is hard and time-consuming. However, you can do it by conducting online research and discussing potential suggestions with your teacher.
Conduct Research and Find Relevant Material
Once you have found a perfect topic for your paper, begin with the research part. Start conducting thorough research as early as you can.
Look for credible sources to find relevant information. These sources may include the internet, electronic databases, books, and newspaper articles. Remember, an expert opinion is more valuable than a general opinion.
However, make sure not to add the sources that are older than five years. It is because outdated studies have the details and material that are no longer valid. Instead, go for recent, updated, and new research data to compose and compile your research.
Also, avoid to copy and paste the data directly from the internet as it may cause the risk of plagiarism. Note down the information like author, title, and publication date to include in your reference list at the end.
Starting A Research Paper Outline
It is important to organize all the researched sources manually in your writing journal. No matter what, there is nothing more effective than the old pen and paper method.
Start it by mentioning the key points and ideas that you want to add in the paper. It may also include research questions and the methods that work the best for you.
The main aim of developing a research paper outline is to organize the information logically. You can revise it anytime by adding relevant sections to it.
Create A Strong Thesis Statement
Creating a thesis statement is another crucial step to start a research paper essay. It is quite beneficial as it gives a proper structure to your research and helps you stay focused.
Moreover, a well-defined and focused statement of three to five sentences also describes the main argument. Thus, conduct proper research and take enough time to write a thesis statement. As it will control the overall direction and development of your paper.
Similarly, you need to follow the writing process carefully if you want to get good results.
Start from the Main Body
Starting the first draft is really difficult, and students spend a lot of time on it. Thus, it is better to start the writing process from the main body of your research paper.
It is because explaining the main ideas clearly in the body paragraphs will give proper direction. Also, start each paragraph with a topic sentence and stick to a single idea in a paragraph.
Similarly, writing the body before the intro paragraph will also help support the thesis statement throughout the paper.
How to Start a Research Paper Introduction
Always start the research paper introduction paragraph with a hook sentence. It may include:
- An interesting fact
- Unique background information
- An anecdote
- A quote from a famous author
The introduction is the first and most important part of a research paper. Thus, the starting point should be compelling enough to hook and engage the reader to read the entire paper.
How to Start a Research Paper with a Quote?
It is a popular way to start a research paper with a quote. Just find a famous quotation that fits your purpose and is good enough to be used at the beginning. Moreover, it should be clear and specific.
To start a research paper with a quote, follow the given tips.
- Avoid the frequently used or common quotation.
- Explain how the quotation connects to your main point.
- Select a quote that your audience can connect to.
- Make sure that the chosen quote matches the tone of your paper.
- Also, acknowledge the source while quoting.
Have a look at some good introduction paragraph examples given below.
Regarding survival rates for gladiators, Johnstone states: “Gladiator shows were hardly the bloodbaths we see in modern films and TV programs. If there were five fights in a day, on average only one would end in death.”
This shows that the risk of death may have been low enough to entice free men to become gladiators.
Karl Marx, the writer of the pamphlet ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ proclaims, “Communism abolishes all eternal truths…instead of constituting them on a new basis” (Marx 81). In other words, communism throws out all beliefs, not only ones that counter the ideas of communism.’
Marx’s insistence on “abolishment” reflects the greater implication that communism not only represents a change in a political system or a belief but also negates all previously accepted aspects of life.
This would require a radical change of heart for all people. Marx’s call for abolishing truths requires too much change in people’s lives; his ideas are not ideal for changing society.
“The best definition of man is a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, 1864). Seems like human nature has always remained constant. What if Dostoyevsky had the chance to witness the abundance in our societies as compared to the one he lived in and regardless of this abundance, so much unhappiness and so many ungrateful people?
How to Start a Research Paper About a Person?
Starting a paper about a person might focus on telling a story chronologically.
It includes the following elements.
- Present the full name of the person.
- A person’s lifetime synopsis.
- Discuss work history.
- Explain why this person is relevant to the reader.
- Cultural, social, or economic changes that the person was involved in.
- Challenges that he faced.
Discussing a personality by addressing these elements makes the paper more captivating.
Check out the examples for better understanding.
Jared Padalecki is an actor who hails from San Antonio, TX. Born in 1982, he made his acting debut in 1999 in a movie titled ‘A Little Inside.’ He had a memorable role in ‘Gilmore Girls’, but his most popular work has been on the long-running television show ‘Supernatural’.
This research paper is about Joseph Gardiner who is a freelance copywriter. He specializes in writing for financial technology startups. Moreover, this creative individual has expertise in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Similarly, he writes a fantastic copy that converts.
This research paper aims to write about a project manager, Patricia Jefferson. She has several years of project management experience. Her main research areas are specifically in managing large, long-term construction projects for multifamily residences.
How to Start a Research Paper Conclusion
Start your research paper conclusion by restating the thesis statement and the research question. Moreover, instead of adding any new information, it should focus on emphasizing the main ideas.
A strong conclusion is equally important, just like an introductory paragraph. It is necessary for an overall effect and is considered the last chance to impress the readers. Explain the significant points and the outcome of the research briefly.
Revise and Make the Changes
After completing your final draft, revise it carefully. Make sure that all the ideas you have added are relevant to your chosen research topic and question. Similarly, adding authentic sources will also prove the credibility of your research work.
Take enough time to proofread and edit your last draft. Here is a checklist to ensure that you don’t miss out on any important aspect of your paper.
- Is the thesis statement clear and to the point?
- Is the paper well-organized from beginning to end with smooth transitions?
- Do your arguments prove the thesis?
- Have you properly cited the sources?
- Did you avoid repetition?
- Have you checked for grammar, punctuation, correct word choice, and sentence structure?
Apart from this, you can also ask your friends or family to proofread your paper. Though they are not professional editors, their suggestions will really make a difference. Lastly, look for the correct citation style and format to create an organized work cited list.
Check out the below document to get a clear understanding.
How to Start a Research Paper APA (PDF)
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