Ultimate Guide to Writing a Research Paper

by Joan Rand 9 min read
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Writing a research paper? This guide is the next best thing if you aren’t using a professional writing service. Today, we’ll discuss everything you may need to know on how to write a perfect research paper: from the formats to the citation guidelines. However, before starting, let’s first discover what exactly a research paper is.

What is a Research Paper?

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A research paper is any comprehensive, formally-written academic writing that follows strict guidelines. This kind of text would provide a more in-depth analysis than some general assignments. Schools, colleges, and other educational establishments generally demand it to test students’ expertise.

The main aim of a research paper is to test a writer’s knowledge and skills. Thus, the writer should consider including their unique view on the subject when dealing with it. To be effective, content must thus provide a detailed, objective analysis of the topic. For this reason, writing should be formal, using strict styles and formats. 

Educational institutions also demand specific formats for their works. MLA is arguably the most popular guideline in universities and colleges. However, the APA and the Chicago format may also be demanded by faculties. These formats provide guidelines necessary for editing sections of material. In addition, a teacher or advisor will refer to these rules when evaluating the document. So any essay following the correct format will score better grades. Henceforth, students may lose points if their writing does not follow these styles. 

Institutions also require students to use these guidelines because this optimizes data sharing. A uniform writing and reference format makes it easy to share the data. A document with a standardized style is easy to read even when shared across different networks. 

What Should Be the Length of a Research Paper? 

Wondering how long a research paper should be? We have the answer! It should typically include around four to six thousand words. However, this is not a fixed quota. In fact, a University of Konstanz investigator once wrote a thesis that was 2,654 pages long! But don’t get scared; this immense amount isn’t a must-do for everyone! In fact, the requirement for entry-level is generally around 2,000 words. 

Analytical essays tend to be longer than argumentative projects. This happens because these types of essays require more extensive research. The statistical data is also generally included to create a more elaborate report. However, the teacher/advisor is the one who will ultimately decide how long the final content should be. They usually attach the word requirements to the assignment. 

What is the Purpose of a Research Paper?

The purpose of a research paper is to provide empirical evidence to support a specific stance. Scholars use this type of document to put forward their findings. They may also use them to argue a point and make a convincing argument. Remember that interpretations made in papers may require relevant statistics to validate them.

Research Proposal vs. Paper 

Before starting writing, students should know the distinction between proposals and papers. Simply put, a proposal is the entry to the paper’s main course. Students send an outline of their topic to their advisor before they begin their work. This proposal highlights the points to be argued in the paper. It also informs the teacher about the methodology and formats the student plans to use.

How Do You Write a Research Paper 

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When writing your investigation, pay special attention to the style and content. Advisors note the formatting and the writing correctness when allocating marks. Thus, you should focus on your writing process while creating the content.

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

Before starting writing, you must understand the structure, composition, and citation requirements specified. Only after these factors are achieved can they work to develop the theme and content. Answering the question of what a research paper consists of, there exist 6 parts that should be included. These are

  1. 1. Title Page
  2. 2. Abstract
  3. 3. Introduction
  4. 4. Main Body with Argument
  5. 5. Conclusion
  6. 6. Bibliography/ Works Cited

How to Begin a Research Paper

Title Page

Wondering how to start a research paper? A title page is a way to go! As suggested by its name, the title page is the opening to the paper. This page is also the first thing a reader will encounter. Thus, it needs to make an impact. A title page must convey the theme and purpose with precision. The topic to be discussed must be highlighted using the proper formatting rules. 

The title page must also include other relevant details. For example, information like the writer’s name, coursework, module, and institution must be mentioned. Additionally, students must list the submission date right on the title page. 


Simply put, the abstract is the compressed version of the text. This section summarizes the entire writing in a few paragraphs. An abstract generally includes just the most crucial aspects of the content, like

  • The questions discussed
  • Central argument 
  • Findings of the investigation

Avoid unnecessary explanations when writing your abstract. Staying focused on the main question is the best way to write research paper. 


But what is the best way to start a research paper? With a solid introduction, of course! This portion sets the tone by initiating the narrative. A typical introduction engages directly with the question and the thesis statement. The latter is crucial as it is the central argument of the assignment. A thesis statement also presents the writer’s personal take on the research question. This part is so essential that advisors may sometimes ask the writer to present it separately from the introduction. 

Additionally, writers can also sprinkle a bit of background information into the opening. They can also include the following for optimum impact

  • Objectives of the topic
  • Personal statements
  • Relevant objective data
  • Methodology

What Should Be the Structure of the Research Paper?

Main Body

As suggested by the name, the main body is where the significant chunk of your thesis lies. All the data compiled by the writer surfaces here to form the central body of the argument. A good assignment example is studying the Grand Canyon's limestone deposits. They must refer to past geological data to gather a comprehensive analysis. However, this information cannot be presented in its raw form. Copy-pasting the data directly from the source is considered plagiarism and will surely be banned by your teacher. The central body is where you should incorporate this information. 

Writers need to include statistics and surveys that support their central argument. They will use the main body to present their findings and back their stance. As a result, this section is where readers will find the biggest chunk of information. However, not all data is collected in the same way. Depending on the project specifications and requirements, it can be either

  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative

The former is used for arts-based subjects and prioritizes the writer’s personal take. In contrast, a quantitative data collection method is typically used in the sciences. Physicists and chemists prefer this as it lets them include statistics and graphs. However, a seamless narrative flow must be maintained for both types of study. This is where understanding the art of structuring your arguments effectively can be beneficial.

How to End the Research Paper?


Though many writers undervalue it, the conclusion is an integral part of any writing. A weak closing can make the argument seem off, even if the main body is very powerful. So, when thinking about how to end a research paper, writers can follow a few tips.

  • First, it is crucial for the conclusion to engage directly with the introduction. 
  • Second, the writer must not introduce any new arguments when writing their final thoughts. By including some new information, you will make your text feel unfinished and inadequate. Instead, reinstate the main findings to emphasize the central statement. 
  • Finally, the content may also require you to include a Call to Action in conclusion. It is especially valid for scientific documents. For example, a CTA is used when there is a gap in the study that future studies can fill. Including a call to action can potentially help initiate these studies.


The bibliography is often the trickiest part of the content for students. But why is it so difficult? For example, an advisor may ask you to use an APA format. However, another professor may also guide you to use MLA or even the Chicago citation guidelines. To avoid losing marks, always clarify the formatting style with your teacher. Additionally, paper writing services are available to those who feel stuck with formatting styles.

The bibliography is also referred to as the “work cited” page. An assignment without these citations is subject to plagiarism policies. Any text that violates these policies loses its authority and authenticity. Proper citations help writers avoid this trap. These guidelines help categorize information sources in a uniform, universally recognizable standard. 

Tips for Writing a Research Paper

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Want to learn how to write an effective research paper? As stated, formats are as integral as the content in your material. Good quality content with improper formatting and citations will receive bad grades, no matter how good the body is. Thus the first tip for writing a good research paper content is to get the style right. 

Clarify the Rules Before Starting to Write

Writers should confirm the format with their advisors before starting your investigation. Doing so will help avoid confusion because the MLA and the APA guidelines have some similar rules. For example, both formats require writers to include the TOC and page numbers. But there are also some differences that make these two formats differ. 

How to Write an Academic Research Paper: Tips

Want to learn how to write a perfect paper? We’ve got your back! Aside from getting the standardization right, students can also follow these tips. 

  • The texts are typically written in font size 12pt. In most cases, the preferred font is Times New Roman for the whole text. 
  • Double spacing is mandatory. Apply it, and you will notice better visibility and, through that, comprehension of your text. 
  • Add 1-inch margins on all sides of the page, including the top, the bottom, and the two sides. 
  • Use headings and subheadings properly to break the text into comprehensible passages. 
  • If possible/specified, add illustrations, images, graphs, tables, and other visual data to your final material. 
  • Some professors may require a writer to add their last name before each page number.
  • Format the bibliography using the relevant guidelines. 
  • Finally, pay attention to links and them if specified by your guidelines. 


Writing a research paper can be challenging for you if you’re unaware of proper formatting. But with the right research paper writing tips and strategies, you will learn to create a well-formatted in-depth text. However, if you feel like you need help writing a research paper, you can ask for professional help anytime you want. It will allow you to get a proper text right within the deadlines. Not to mention getting high-quality and plagiarism-free content is also guaranteed.

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