How to Write a Research Paper: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide + Checklist – EssayWritingTips

How to Write a Research Paper: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide + Checklist

writing a research paper

Last time, we were talking about the tips for creating a powerful research question. Now we are going to discuss what should be done next; of course, next you should start conducting a research and writing a research paper. Here are a few essential steps to know exactly how to write a research paper.

Step 1. Come Up With the Research Question

I really hope that you have read my previous post on creating a perfect research question. Therefore, on this step, you should have already made a preliminary source of the literature and the relevancy of your topic, as well as developed a clear and focused research question for the further use. Once your research question is developed, we can go ahead and start working on the paper.

Step 2. Conduct a Research

Start searching for the relevant literature on the chosen topic: be sure to focus primarily on the peer-reviewed studies as they are the most credible sources that will boost your paper. Note the essential points from the studies you have found; however, also keep in mind the methodology and the possible flaws of the works you have checked. After you have completed your research process, double-check whether the literature found covers all the essential points of your future paper. If not, you can either continue your research, or look for the less credential sources (however, it would be necessary to indicate that these sources are less credible and, therefore, should be referred accordingly). 

Step 3. Write a Thesis Statement

Once you have checked all the necessary literature and built the clear picture of your research, write down your thesis statement. You can start with a few options and then choose the most appropriate one. Make sure that your thesis statement is clear and concise, and that it also fully disclose the main idea of your research question or the issue that you want to prove. I have already written on the ways to write a winning thesis statement here, so you can check this post if you don’t feel confident enough while coming up with a thesis statement.

Step 4. Create an Outline

I have written hundreds times that outline is an essential step while writing any paper, so it cannot be skipped. Yes, you will have to spend additional time on writing the content that is not included in the overall word count of your paper. However, you will then save a lot of time having a kind of a roadmap to follow. The outline itself would depend on the requirements to your research paper: it can be similar to the five-paragraph essay outline (but longer) or it can look like an outline to the solid academic work with a hypothesis, literature review, methodology, and other sections. When preparing the outline for yourself, you don’t have to write full and well-developed sentences: if you wish to save some time, just write a few words or phrases to understand further what each paragraph is going to be about.

Step 5. Write the Draft

Using the outline written before, you may now start to expand each point of it to create your first draft. While writing, make sure you stick to the structure you have previously developed and already provide the necessary arguments with the proper referencing. You may polish the format afterward; however, it is essential to indicate the sources for all the information from the very beginning. As it is a rough draft, there are few things you can polish later:

  • format
  • grammar
  • order of the arguments
  • writing style

At the same time, this draft should already have:

  • a clear structure that corresponds to your outline
  • all the arguments that you are going to use
  • references
  • general idea
  • conclusions that can be made from your research.

Avoid getting stuck on one point, thinking about the best way to describe it.  The idea of the first draft is to write all the ideas, arguments, and important points that you are going to focus on in your research paper. You can polish your paper and improve the wording later.

Step 6. Polish the Paper.

Having your draft written, you can now start from the very beginning, and re-read or re-write your text. You may start with introduction, like it’s usually done; however, you may also finish the body of your paper first. In such a case, you will have a clear picture of your research, which is essential to know while writing both an introduction and conclusion. If you complete body paragraphs before finalizing the introduction, you won’t have to return to this point again. 

Step 7. Revising the Paper.

Spend additional time and read your paper once again. Make sure your paper follows the outline written, the research itself is based on the credible arguments, and the idea of the writing is clear and logical. You can read more on how to revise the paper here. As research paper presupposes a higher level of complicity than the regular essay, you should also make sure that all the specific terms are properly described, while the research paper is easy-to-read for any audience. 

Bonus: Checklist for Writing a Research Paper

As writing a research paper is a complex process, I have developed a checklist that you can use while revising your paper. So before submitting your work, make sure that you have referred to all the points below: