Writing a research paper is difficult, especially for new researchers who are not familiar with the process. Research-based writing is an academic endeavour that seeks to discuss a research problem through analysis and interpretations. It requires extensive research and supporting evidence to support the claims and opinions. Research papers follow a similar pattern of academic essays, but they are more detailed and rigorous. A research paper requires an ability to engage with the discourse critically and write in a scholarly manner. It requires a strong command of the topic and analytical skills to review the literature critically.
Writing a research paper does not mean that you have to indulge in knowledge replication. The research paper must have a unique perspective and strong reasoning that can add value to the literature. You will also have to be careful about the formatting and grammatical structure of the paper while writing as a novice writer. This article will provide you with thorough guidelines about writing a research paper and what practical steps you should take to write one.
It all starts with a question; a curious mind is inquisitive and does not accept everything at face value. Like Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher once said," An unexamined life is not worth living". Greeks were curious people who laid the foundations of modern sciences, philosophy, social sciences and arts. They had a place to assemble called agora, where they would discuss ideas and indulge in debates to find answers to the perplexing questions. Having a sense of wonder is a sign of a curious mind brimming with questions and a hunger for knowledge.
The famous Greek philosopher Socrates used to gather people and ask them questions about the origin of life, ethics, epistemology and how to live life. He used a dialectical approach that involved questioning and logical reasoning. So, research is a mindset, and one has to develop a positive attitude towards research. A good observer is a good researcher because research requires paying attention to detail. If you want to write a persuasive research paper, you must have the following to observe the natural and social phenomena. But observation is not enough. You must question everything because it will prompt you to do research and seek answers. For example:
- Why does something happen?
- How did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
Choose a Research Topic
Choosing the right topic for your research paper is the most critical step. You will have to select an appropriate topic that matches your interests and adds value to the literature. But how do you do that without availing research paper help from best writers? Well, you can take the following steps to choose a unique research topic:
Brainstorming is an effective technique to generate ideas for your research topic. Discuss with your friends and professors and generate ideas for your research topic. After the discussion, you will have a list of potential topics. The next thing is to do some research on the Internet and find relevant information for the list of topics. Research will help you gather information on the topic, and it will help you identify the existing gaps.
But you must select a topic you are familiar with, and it matches your interests. You do not want to choose a topic that you might find boring in the middle of the research. So, choose wisely and select the topic that you are passionate about. It will be easier for you to gather information because you will be interested in it. You can also read other research papers and read their recommendations section. The recommendations section in the research papers always has indications for future research, and you can get ideas for your research paper.
Narrow Down the Topic
The next step is to narrow down the chosen topic. Initially, the topic you will select will be too broad, and the research paper requires a specific topic. You can try freewriting to narrow down the scope of your research topic. Or you can use concept mapping, hierarchical or tree diagrams to identify the main ideas of the topic. It is important to have a focused topic that is researchable and manageable. Broad topics are vague and usually selected for writing a book.
But a research paper is more specific, and you will have to narrow down the scope of your topic to one or two significant aspects. You also need to consider the fact that your research topic is researchable. It means that you can find the primary and secondary evidence to strengthen your arguments. So, as a novice researcher, avoid picking up controversial topics or topics not yet developed in the literature. You will have to do some preliminary literature review to ascertain that there is sufficient secondary evidence on the chosen topic.
Do Some Research
The next step is to do some preliminary research on the chosen topic. Preliminary research will help you engage with the literature and identify the existing gaps. Identifying gaps at the initial stage is crucial because it will help you formulate your research problem. You must make notes while searching for the relevant information on the topic. Make sure that you note down the sources as well for referencing. You must use various sources, journals, books, documents, statistical data, reports, conference proceedings, articles and reliable websites. A preliminary review of sources helps your topic idea mature, and you may find contradictory evidence. It is vital to write down every idea that comes to your mind, and these ideas must be reflective. Preliminary research entails asking the following questions:
- Is there any aspect of your topic that the literature has not covered?
- Are there any interesting issues that you can investigate?
- What are the recent developments in your field of study?
Formulate a Research Problem
Formulating a research problem for your research paper is the most crucial task. A research problem is an arguable claim that is the central idea of your research. The entire research paper revolves around the research problem. After reviewing the literature, you will have a clear idea of what gaps exist in the literature and what aspects are left uncovered. Your reflective ideas in your notes will help you define your position. It is important to develop a clear stance on the topic, and the research problem must be strong, specific, and argumentative. Remember, a research paper is not an opinion because opinions are supported by further opinions.
On the other hand, a research problem is an arguable claim that you can support with evidence. Also, a research problem is not a descriptive statement because the goal of a research paper is not to describe but analyse and interpret a phenomenon. So, your research problem must have the following attributes:
- Concise and Coherent
- Not more than two sentences and make an assertive claim about a problem
- Can be supported by evidence and analysis
Research problem serves as an anchor for the entire research paper, and it gives coherence and structure to the entire paper. You can refine the research problem as you collect evidence and start writing the paper, but initially, it will guide your entire paper.
After formulating the research problem, you will have to develop the research questions. Research questions are specific, clear, and straightforward. You will collect evidence and argue in your paper to find answers to the research questions. Research questions must not diverge from the research problem, and each question should focus on the major aspects of the topic.
Make an Outline
An outline is the blueprint of your research paper that helps you stay focused and write in a coherent and logical manner. Outline means dividing the main ideas and key arguments into different sections and sub-sections. It is a rough estimate that serves as a foundational structure for your paper. Make an outline in the beginning and distribute the ideas in each section by hiring best PhD dissertation writers. An outline has the following structure:
- Background of the Study
- Aims and Objectives of the Study
- Significance of the Study
- Research Questions
- Literature Review
- Research Methodology
- Discussion and Analysis
Start Writing The First Draft
After making an outline start writing the first draft of the research paper. The first draft of the paper helps you gather momentum and break away from the writer's block. Remember that initially, the task is to put your ideas on paper, and it will not be perfect, but it will help you get started. So, the first draft of the research paper must focus on the following things:
- Start writing without worrying about the mistakes; you can correct them later.
- Focus on distributing ideas proportionately in the paragraphs and maintaining a logical sequence between them
- Developing arguments to strengthen your research problem
Research writing is not a linear process, so if you want to write the hard part of the research first, it is alright. You do not have to start with an introduction; you can write it later, or you can follow the outline. In the beginning, the ideas will be incoherent, and you might write large chunks of text at a single point in time. It is natural when we are writing in a flow, we tend to write in large chunks, but it is essential to let your ideas flow freely. You can organise them later once you are done writing.
Paragraphs are the most important parts of the research paper. They are the pillars of your paper, so it is important to write coherent paragraphs. Use the PEEL strategy to structure your paragraphs:
- P stands for the point, which means the central idea or claim of the paragraph. The paragraph's central idea is the first sentence or the topic sentence of the paragraph that links back to the research problem.
- E stands for evidence. You will have to provide reliable evidence to strengthen your point in the paragraph.
- E stands for the explanation. Providing the evidence is not enough. You will have to ensure that you explain how the evidence supports or contradicts your point.
- L stands for linking statement. The linking statement wraps up the discussion, refers back to the topic sentence, and synthesises the discussion.
Make sure that you use transition words to show the transition between the ideas. Use coordinating conjunctions to connect the ideas. The ideas must be developed in a logical manner to maintain coherence throughout the paragraphs. Moreover, keep track of the citations and use bibliography generators such as Mendeley and Zotero to provide proper citations for the evidence you used.
Write the Introduction
The introduction sets the tone of the research paper, and it provides background knowledge to the readers on the specific topic. You will have to include your research problem in the introduction section. The introduction section also states the aims and objectives of the study. Additionally, the introduction section states the research questions and significance of the research.
Write The Main Body
A literature review is the most important component of the research paper. A literature review is not a summary of the research but involves critical reflection. You will have to identify the gaps in the existing studies and justify the significance of your research problem. It requires using the sources from a comparative perspective. Use those sources as well that contradict your claims. After writing the literature review write the research methodology section. Research methodology entails specifying what methods you used to collect data. You will have to justify the chosen research methods.
Furthermore, write down the results section after collecting the results through data collection. Discussion is the part that follows the results section, and it provides an analysis of the results. You will have to do a critical analysis and state whether you were successful in answering the research questions.
Write the Conclusion and Recommendations
The last section involves writing a conclusion and recommendations. In conclusion, reiterate your research problem and summarise the overall findings of your research. You will have to wrap up the research problem and justify the significance of your research. Additionally, you will have to discuss the limitations of your study and provide recommendations for future studies.
A research paper is an analytical and systematic study that involves extensive research and analysis. The paragraphs must be structured logically, and the development of ideas should be coherent. You will have to collect data from reliable sources to strengthen your arguments. After writing the paper, make sure that you proofread the entire paper and correct the grammatical, punctuation and spelling mistakes.