If you’re a curious person who always wants to everything about anything, then you’ll love writing research papers. As a writer who constantly works on different forms of content and different niches, I spend most of my time researching. In fact, that’s my favorite part of the entire process. I love that feeling I get when I research, learn more, find what I need, and use it to create unique content. As you’ve already figured by its name, a research paper requires a lot of curiosity and “detective work” as I like to call it. You can easily picture yourself as a detective (or even a journalist) who’s working on same big case or story.
Writing research paper for the very first time can be overwhelming, you’re nervous because you don’t want to make mistakes. Or maybe you’ve already worked on this type of paper before, but you want to know how to improve. I am going to help writing papers you out, regardless of your experience, by providing useful info and tips for writing a high-quality work. Let’s see how to write introduction and outline for a research paper (it’s easier than you think).
Research paper introduction
Research papers usually discuss serious topic or ideas, or the ones that are subjected to numerous debates. A writer i.e. you, has to a thorough research, find out as much as possible and combine previous and current research data on the topic. The paper should, also, include conflicting ideas or attitudes.
Let’s say your research paper is about global warming, besides info (previous and current studies and such) about this topic, it’s useful to write about two opposing views or mention that some people believe it is a hoax. That way, you are covering both sides of the issue and show how unbiased you are.
The research paper does not deal with writer’s opinion, it is not your job to write what you think about the subject and support your claim with evidence. Instead, it deals with facts!
You have probably dealt with this problem before – you want to start writing, but you can’t think of anything, ideas vanished entirely, and you don’t know how to formulate the introduction. That is a common concern, even among those who believe that introductions aren’t important in the first place.
The high-quality paper is the one wherein all parts, from the introduction to a conclusion, are well-structured. There are no “less important” parts of the text. So, how to create an introduction for a research paper?
Elements of the introduction
In order to create a bulletproof introduction, you should stick to the basic formula that consists of the following:
- Hook – the very beginning of your introduction, which is why it should be interesting in order to grab a reader’s attention. This is, basically, where readers already make the very first impression of your work and as you know, first impressions are everything. The hook for a research paper is typically longer than in a basic essay. The typical research paper is longer than some essay, which is why it needs a longer intro. To create the hook, you can use anecdotes, statistics, questions, quotes, anything you see fit for your topic.
- Research question – in most cases you’ll get the research question i.e. what exactly to research and create your paper about, but in other instances, you’ll have to do it on your own. Generally, research question should be concise, on the point, and inform the reader what to expect throughout your work.
- Thesis statement – it accounts for the last sentence or two of the introduction. The thesis statement in a research paper is equally important to those in ordinary essays. Not only they provide additional information to the reader, but also help you stay focused and avoid straying away from your topic. The thesis statement is, actually, an answer to the research question, so make sure it’s a good, constructive one.
Example: The history of medieval times in Europe and the Middle East was primarily characterized by armed conflict between Christians and Muslims. Christians called these conflicts the Crusades because they were fighting under the sign of the cross to save the holy lands of the Bible from being desecrated by non-Christians. However, the true reason for fighting for these lands was less than holy. What was the real reason behind Crusades? The underlying cause for Crusades was mainly a desire for economic gain that prompted the Christian leaders to send soldiers to fight in the Holy Land and efforts from the Church to, still, remain the biggest and undisputable authority.
Purple – hook
Blue – research question
Red – thesis statement
Whenever having to write a research introduction, keep in mind the diagram you see below.
Tips for introduction
Here are some useful things to consider when writing a research paper introduction:
- Although introductions of research papers can be somewhat longer than in regular essays, you should still try to keep it short. Don’t drag the introduction and take up half of a page or something. Rambling, lengthy introductions will quickly lose your reader’s interest. Plus, they are a sign of an unorganized thought
- Introduction isn’t a summarized version of the entire paper, it briefly introduces your work
- Never choose a thesis statement you can’t support with evidence
- Based on your research, include points or subtopics that you will delve into in the body of the paper
- Subtopics should be associated with the main subject and work to strengthen the importance and value of your thesis statement
- When writing the first draft, you can save the introduction for last (if you find it easier that way). By the time you finish the body and conclusion, you’ll get inspired and know what to include in the introductory part of your paper.
- Take a notebook and write down different ideas to make an interesting, yet professional introduction. Separate good ideas from the bad ones, think of your research question and thesis statement. Now, connect those ideas with sentences
- Be precise, your introductions should be precise and specific and discuss only the idea you’ve researched and plan to elaborate further, don’t stray away from the topic and write about stuff that you won’t even mention in the body.
Research paper outline
Now that you know how to start your research paper, you’re probably wondering how to keep going. Be sure that you have found a worthy research paper topic before passing to the next level. Just like with essays, the outline is everything. It’s a formula you use to write about any topic and still get a well-structured paper that your professor will love.
The general outline for research paper consists of the following:
- Introduction (explained above)
- Body – the central part of the paper and includes context or general information about the subject, existing arguments, detailed research. Here you can also include your argument, but only if a professor specifies it when sending out assignments. As mentioned above, research papers are usually concerned with facts, not opinions
- Conclusion – summary of main points, why the subject matters
Example: Here’s how the general outline would look if were writing about Shakespeare:
- Body – Shakespeare’s early life, marriage, works, later years
- Early life, family, marriage to Anne Hathaway, references to his marriage in poems he wrote
- Shakespeare’s works: tragedies, comedies, histories, sonnets, other poems
- Later years: last two plays, retired to Stratford, death, burial, epitaph on this tombstone
It is important to bear in mind that every new idea, in this case, an aspect of Shakespeare’s life and work, requires a separate paragraph.
To simplify, use the following diagram when you have to work on a research paper.
The purpose of a research paper outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before the writing process commences. Since I’ve already shown how to write the introduction, it’s time to give a few pointers for the body and conclusion of your work. So, here we go:
- Assume that your reader isn’t familiar with the topic and start with basic info first. Imagine you’re reading a paper for a five-year-old. Give background, historical context, etc. You don’t have to go into the tiniest details, mentioning something useful, memorable will do the trick too
- It’s useful to research and include opinions of other, respected historical figures about your topic. For example, what other authors had to say about Shakespeare
- Don’t forget about conflicting views e.g. some people didn’t like Shakespeare and thought he was a fraud, it’s useful to mention that as well. Regardless of the topic, there are always pro- and anti- opinions, mention both sides
- Only include information you can support with reliable and trustworthy evidence. Don’t use Wikipedia, blogs and such, go for journals, books, respected websites, it all depends on the topic of course
- Give credit where credit is due, don’t forget to cite your sources
- The overall tone of your paper should be formal, don’t be scared to demonstrate your vast vocabulary skills
- Avoid wordiness, sentences should be concise. Every word you use should only contribute to the overall meaning of a sentence. Don’t use “fluff” just meet the word count
- When writing conclusions, briefly mention the most important arguments or research, explain the importance of the subject and what we can learn from it.
Writing a research paper may seem like a mission impossible if you’ve never had the opportunity to work on such an assignment. But, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Always make sure you follow an outline and you’ll stay on the right track. Picture yourself as a detective or journalist who’s in the search for the truth. Why don’t you try writing your own paper about Shakespeare, now? Good luck!
How to Start a Research Paper
At least once during the student years every high school or college student has to complete a research paper. Unlike an essay, it can become a real challenge, as it requires not only personal thoughts on the subject but clear information, backed with credible sources and a logical structure. That is probably one of the main reasons why students want to know how to write a research paper.
Unfortunately, there are no classes, which would teach students the main aspects of completing academic assignments, so you will need to be very careful, while conducting the task on your own, as your paper will reflect your knowledge and an ability to analyze a huge volume of information.
Before learning how to start a research paper, it is better to find out the main tips and advices in order to eliminate the most common mistakes:
- Choose proper research paper topics. Make sure other students don’t choose the same subject and always try to stay original. You may ask your professor for help if you are not sure what to write about. Remember, the best way to provide an interesting and catchy paper is to be genuinely involved into the topic;
- Devote enough time to the research. The main goal of the whole assignment is to show your professor how well you can gather and analyze data, so it is always important to spend time at the library and surfing the web to find the best examples, important details and interesting quotes to back your ideas;
- Follow the structure. Unlike essays or reviews, you need to follow the structure of the paper accurately. Download a research paper example online, as it may greatly help you to build a proper structure;
- Use lively language. Despite the fact that it is an academic task and requires a scientific approach, you should try to make the language more vivid and dilute the paper with examples and other details, which will grab interest of the audience.
APA Research Paper Example
APA Research Paper Format
Research Paper Examples
Research Paper Outline Template
Research Paper Samples
Sample APA Research Paper
There are also a few common mistakes, which may greatly lower your overall scores and cause you a few sleepless nights, so you need to be very careful trying to avoid them by all possible means:
- Absence of credible sources. A big mistake is to copy information online without checking its relevance. Use only academic sources, like books, scientific articles and so on;
- Providing a sample research paper instead of original work;
- Wrong formatting. There are usually clear guidelines about what formatting style to use. Your professor may ask you to use apa or mla format research paper style, so pay careful attention to all the requirements.
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Research Paper Examples and Samples
When writing a research paper most students decide to use all the possible means to simplify the assignment and save some time and nerves. That is why they download a research paper outline template or a sample to follow the structure and tailor their own works according to a proper style.
Such examples may greatly contribute to the result and help the student to provide a proper assignment without any additional investments of time and money. However, you need to make sure that you download a sample only at a reputable website, which checks every paper properly. In such a way, you will protect yourself and won’t simply copy someone else’s mistakes.
Research Paper Outline and Format
It is impossible to write a such a task without creating drafts and outlines. That is why you need to pay careful attention to the research paper outline, as it will greatly simplify your future work and make the process of creating an assignment much simpler. The outline may greatly differ depending on your professor’s requirements, so you should first obtain all the guidelines. However, there are a few common rules and a regular structure of a research paper has the following pattern: introduction (thesis statement), body with arguments and conclusions.
If you want your paper to contain all the necessary information, have a clear structure and grab attention of the audience, you will need to follow a clear structure and provide all the necessary details to make sure your paper will be taken seriously. A proper structure consists of such elements, as:
- Title and authors. Use keywords and mark the main aspects of your topic;
- Abstract and table of contents. Help the reader understand the main goals of your research and provide him with relevant information on the structure of your work;
- Methodology, which was used throughout your research;
- Conclusions. Make sure you have marked the key points and goals to convey your ideas to the audience;
- Appendices with charts and images to back your information.
Research paper is quite a challenging task to complete but following a clear and proper structure will help you avoid all possible mistakes and will teach you how to gather and analyze information in a simple and fast way.