A Beginners Guide To Research Papers: 8 Steps You Should Follow

First, you have to select a specific topic, find credible information about it, formulate a thesis, create an outline, and then start writing

Research papers are important pieces of scientific literature that are created on specific topics. Learning how to write a proper research paper is a very important part of student academics.

It is important because the information of these papers have to be credible so that other people can learn from it or even cite it. Falsified or fake information is not tolerated in research papers and is rejected immediately.

If you are a college student then you are very much aware of how important these papers are.

In this article, we are going to walk you through 8 steps on how to write a research paper.

Step 1. Narrow Down A Topic

A lot of people select a broad topic and find it difficult to complete after writing it halfway.

It will be great to select a topic that you are passionate, and know about, but that is not always the case. 

If you are instructed to write by your teachers, follow those guidelines properly, and narrow your topic down to a specific point. You can also use the help of automatic summarization to narrow down search results and get specific information about your topic.

It is best to be as specific as you can and check if it meets your teacher’s guidelines.

Step 2. Clearly Define Your Task

Usually, there is one primary objective and a few secondary ones in a paper. But all of them are linked and lead to the goal of your finished paper.

First, figure out the questions or the statement you would want to answer or present in your paper.

Remember, the questions may not lead to an answer proven by facts but it must lead to something thought-provoking and useful for people to know about.

Be very clear about the questions you want to answer in your research paper.

Step 3. Research Extensively

Now it is time to sit back and research the subject you have decided to write about. Just like selecting the topic, find out specific papers that relate to your topic.

Sometimes collecting information can be overwhelming that is why you need to allocate a long time to this part. If your information is accurate then you don’t need to invest much time in the other parts of your project. 

However, you will have to follow credible sources and remember that Wikipedia is not credible since it is an open-source platform.

Step 4. Find Credible Sources

For starters, the information that you will be quoting or citing must be peer-reviewed. It has to be a published paper with its author’s name included. Whenever a research paper is published it is reviewed for authenticity.

You can find published papers by searching in Google Scholars, Oxford Academic, Microsoft Academic.

You can also find authentic and credible information from Books, government websites (the ones that have .gov at the end), educational websites (ones with .edu), research organizations, journals online libraries, and academic databases.

Newspaper articles have a lot of information but it is discouraged to take data from news articles. However, popular papers like The Washington Post are credible. 

Step 5. Organize The Information

In step 4 you will be skimming through information and just be downloading papers to properly go through them later on because that is the right way.

After you have found all your sources, it is time to organize them. In this part, you will again be deleting some files because they might just be repeated information, and you will have to decide on the final papers that you would want to refer to.

Step 6. Formulate An Argument Or Thesis

Your paper must represent your thoughts on a subject. It may be an opinion or an argument but it has to be something that has not been previously stated.

Your thesis must have a clear viewpoint. Let us say you are writing about the reduction of the crime rate in a city. Now there can be a few different reasons as to why crime may have reduced.

Maybe the people are out of poverty, maybe law enforcement has strengthened or maybe education has created a moral impact. You have to be specific and present strong arguments about your viewpoint.

Presenting a strong thesis and research is important in your undergrad academics.

Step 7. Create The Outline Of Your Paper

Your outline will help you organize your information better. Preparing it will help you write your paper faster as well. First, make a list of all the sections your paper needs to cover.

Most papers follow the IMRAD format which consists-

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results and
  • Discussion

Next, write down the main facts, points, or arguments that should be covered under each section. 

1. Introduction

Your introduction must contain-

  • Importance of your research
  • The goals or objectives of your paper
  • An overview of your research
  • A literature review

2. Methods

In the methods section, talk about the scope of your methods and analysis and describe each major method you used.

3. Results

The results section is all about reporting the results for each method used. Mention whether or not you were able to achieve your goals.

4. Discussion

You need to focus on how your results are significant and how they contribute to existing research.

And finally, you must summarize the objectives of the paper, list your major findings, share their implications, and mention the scopes of research on the same topic.

Step 8. Write, Edit & Submit

You have a topic, you have the information to back up your thesis, you have an amazing outline. All you need to do is focus and start writing.

Try to study the tone of the writings in your collected papers. You do not need to copy it but try to maintain that formal writing style. Also, try not to look back and forth for the information.

Go through it a few times and then jot down from memory.

Finish each paragraph and edit. Some people leave editing for last but research papers can become long. It will be best to just edit as you write. Once you are done, re-read it and then submit!


Writing your first research can be overwhelming since there are plenty of formats you need to maintain. But take your time and follow these 8 steps to successfully finish your paper on time.

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