Five Steps to Craft an Effective Research Paper


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The article provided courtesy of Isabelle Foster, an essayist, professional journalist, and copywriter passionate about a wide variety of disciplines and topics. Isabelle devotes most of her free time to traveling, reading, and volunteering. Currently, she works as a tutor and freelance writer at PapersOwl, an online academic writing service.

Research is creating new knowledge. Do you know who said that? Neil Armstrong, the first human being ever to set foot on a world outside the Earth’s confines. And you know what made that achievement possible? What enabled that historic feat of human ingenuity? Research! Research is the basis for every new invention, every new discovery, and every new scientific development that bring people one step closer to the next stage of evolution. So, who are we to ignore doing research in college? Though writing research paper is often perceived as a sophisticated form of torture by many students, in fact, it promoted learners’ intellectual development and helps to hone crucial skills. Research paper is also required to communicate important information to your teacher, other students, or fellow scientists. So, it’s high time you stopped dreading research papers and learned how to make this process more enjoyable. Below are five simple steps to follow to put together a strong, elegant, and coherent research paper.

Choose a Topic and Narrow It Down

First things first, pick a topic that interests you and narrow it down. Usually, your teacher will ask you to write a paper on a specific subject. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, they can give you a choice. If the later is the case, do choose a topic you’re passionate about or at least the one that holds interest for you. If you feel excited to research the topic, you’ll stop thinking of your paper as some dreary activity and learn easily. Picking a topic you don’t care about just for the sake of impressing your tutor is the first step to ultimate failure.

Once you decide on the subject, be sure to narrow down. Move from a broad concept to a more focused and specific topic. Focusing on a single even, concept, or phenomenon will enable you to structure your paper properly and provide a valuable insight into the area previously unexplored.

Research Thoroughly

Research leads to the creation of knowledge, and knowledge leads to great things. But it’s necessary to approach this process with great care. To think that you know something is worse than not knowing it at all. There’s only one thing that can help you acquire and retain the knowledge you need for your paper. And that is research. There are tons of materials available on the Internet, so one single browsing session will likely yield you more than enough information to get you started. If the topic you selected is very narrow, you might also want to check out your local library or consult with your instructor to figure out what direction to head in.

You’re also bound to find quotes from other authors, while researching your topic. It’s a good idea to pick two or three to support arguments that your agree with or refute an erroneous opinion. But if you do, always reference the original author.

Create an Organized Outline

Your research is likely to leave you with plenty of ideas swarming in your mind. This is well and good. But it’s important to put it all in the right order and create a proper outline for your future paper.

The outline should include the key points or concepts you want to highlight in your writing. Create a short intro about the background to the problem discussed, mention at least three main ideas (arguments) that will constitute your body paragraph later, and finish with an effective closing sentence. Don’t create a long and complicated outline, as it will create confusion later on. You also might want to tailor the outline as you go along.

Writing Process

With a coherent outline at hand developing your draft will be much easier. First off, create an effective and relevant title, if you still haven’t done it. Overly long-winged titles will confuse your audience.

To flesh out your paper, refer to you outline containing all necessary chapters and sections for your draft. Begin with an effective hook to capture your reader’s’ attention. Define the key concepts and terms, provide background for your issue, and conclude with an arguable and clear thesis statement.

Start each of your body paragraphs with a topic sentence informing your readers of the main idea that’s going to be discussed in this paragraph. Then, provide explanation, evidence, examples. Also, comment on the strengths and limitations of evidence presented. Finally, wrap up with a link sentence summarizing the main idea of your paragraph and encouraging your audience to continue reading.


All the witting is done. Time to relax, right? Wrong. Your text might be written, but it is still far from being ready to hand in. Proofreading might be the last step of the process, but it’s certainly one of the most important. Read through the text one, twice, or even three times. Check for grammar, syntactical, punctuation, and stylistic errors. Make sure your research paper flows well and grammatically sound. Consider cutting extra words that make for lazy and awkward reading. Your final draft should be clean, legible, and comprehensive. Your grade depends on it. So, take care to edit and proofread thoroughly to hand in the flawless paper.