How to Write Research Papers: A Step-by-Step Guide

The topic on how to write research papers is as wide-ranging as the types of knowledge that the author may choose to explore. As a student of higher learning, the choices for topics are virtually endless. The author should never let the topic he/she chose prevent him/her from presenting his/her arguments in an orderly, clear, and concise manner. When a student chooses to write a research essay, it is best to familiarize oneself with the style and format expected of that topic. Being familiar with the topic will allow the author to write in the accepted manner.

A research paper typically consists of three parts. Part One usually includes literature citations Part Two will include supporting data and Part Three will provide a meaningful analysis of that data. A complete research paper format is described in Fig. 1. The formatting generally follows these three steps:

How to Write Research Paper, Part One: What Does the Author Need to Include? First, an introduction; then the title and abstract, which summarize the full scope of the article; then the body paragraph which contain the most critical thinking, fact finding, and analysis of the article; and finally, the concluding paragraph, which presents some recommendations regarding further studies and/or additional research. Some research papers do not have a title and abstract; however, these are not research papers. In order to obtain a true research essay, the writer must provide a title and abstract that identify the specific research project, purpose, and findings(s) of the article.

How to Write Research Papers, Part Two: Who Else Should We Refer to? When writing research papers, it is extremely useful if there are other people, such as students, professors, or other professional individuals, who are involved in the same research project. When writing about research by others, the first person is usually incorrect. The other people involved should be referred to as “others” or “commentators.” This is particularly important when discussing research on social issues, social policies, or controversial issues. The writer cannot assume that the other readers understand the implications of his or her own research; after all, these are people with different backgrounds and knowledge.

How to Write Research Papers, Part Three: Appendices, Notebooks, etc. After completing the research portion of the assignment, many authors turn to additional resources to support their research or clarify any points they may have overlooked. Although it is customary to provide footnotes at the end of research papers, these notes should not be considered unnecessary or distracting. The purpose of footnotes is to provide additional information that readers might not otherwise be able to find on their own.

When writing about research related to human subjects, it is important to remember that there are two different types of research. First, observational research refers to research that was done simply to document what has already been done. Second, case study research, as its name implies, is a more specific form of research. These papers outline the research methodology, detail the findings, and end with a case study pertaining to the research topic.

How to Write Research Papers, Part Four: Final Thoughts When you are finished writing your research papers, be sure to evaluate them and compile a list of recommended readings, which will serve as a reference for future research. There is nothing worse than having to write research papers that you later find you did not fully research. Also, be sure to take the time to edit your papers for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. You might also want to review the suggested sources previously provided.

How to Write Research Papers, Part Three: Writing Results Based on Your Research As suggested in the introduction to this series, research papers must first be written using research. To do this properly, the paper should cite your sources, discuss your findings, discuss how your research came to its conclusions, and offer a conclusion. Do not forget to end your research papers with a brief and professional tone.