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How to Start a Research Paper

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It is your first time working on a research essay. You have been staring at the instructions for so long that your eyes start to feel dizzy. The elephant in the room - you have no clue how to start a research paper. Writing is a skill that only a few individuals have truly mastered. However, that does not imply you too cannot do so. With practice and passion, anyone can gain the expertise.

Writing a research paper is not as complicated as many students might think. It is quite easy as long as students follow set rules for writing such. Learning how to start a research paper is a critical aspect, this article offers a guide on how to do so. It is the first step towards writing an excellent research paper.

Here is a list of guidelines that will help you know how you can begin writing your paper:

Writing a Research Paper Requires Getting Organized

Organization is a critical part of accomplishing any task. It entails listing activities in order of priority. It is an effective method setting milestones. Writing a research paper is not any different. Getting organized is necessary for students to write a high quality paper.

Getting organized will involve the following activities:

  • Students must thoroughly peruse the research essay instructions ensuring that they have an understanding of the requirements.

  • Setting timelines, for example, time to conduct research, work on the research paper outline, complete the first draft and submit the final document among others.

  • Identifying the resources. These are resources that will aid in writing the paper.

It is at this stage that the student gets to explore the various topics that the research paper can focus. A chance to brainstorm on what ideas you intend the article to communicate to readers. It is all about planning which involves time management, a skill that learners need not just for research writing but also in other academic subjects.

What Topic Will Your Research Essay Cover?

What topic will the research essay cover? It is a question that every student must ask themselves before settling on a specific topic. Importantly, the subject one selects must relate to the research paper instructions. You can only know how to do a research paper correctly when you have thoroughly understood the topic.

How to Select a Topic

  • Choose an area that you feel enthusiastic about. Although the essay may come with a specific question, you can use an approach that interests you to write up. Without having some enthusiasm, you will end up writing a boring research paper that nobody will want to read.

  • Choose a field with sufficient information. The student should be capable of collecting all the data necessary for the research essay to be complete. Considering, you do not want to get stuck halfway doing the paper because of lack of information, chose a topic with an abundance of it.

  • Be specific with the topic. Avoid being broad on the subject you select as it will create a lot of ambiguity.

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Do Some Extensive Research

It will be futile to start writing a research paper without first doing some extensive reading. That is because you will get stuck while writing for lack of enough information.

One of the top tips on how to write a research paper is conducting sufficient research such that your article does not lack information. Find all the relevant material on the topic including the examples.

The literature you collect is a critical part of the research paper, therefore, taking notes while doing so is a must. The sources you consult must be reliable to support the facts and examples that you refer to in your paper. In case you do not get all the information required, you can always consult your supervisor or professor for more data.

Part of knowing how to write a good research paper is mastering how to reference the materials you consult. It is a crucial skill as you do not want to have plagiarized content. Therefore, while researching as you take notes, ensure that you quote sources. Scholars must familiarize themselves with the various citation styles, that is;

  • MLA

  • APA

  • Turabian / Chicago

Formulate Your Research Paper Thesis

There is no way to start a research paper without first establishing the thesis statement. It is virtually impossible to do so because the thesis defines the direction and development of the research essay — the map that guides how one presents information in the research paper.

Students have to learn how to develop an accurate thesis statement. One way of doing so is going through a research paper example. They make an excellent source of practice. Knowing how to write a thesis statement is a skill that every student needs, therefore making practice an inevitable activity.

Although there is no problem in adjusting the thesis as one proceeds with writing the research paper, it is best to take time in choosing one. Scholars are advised to jot down several facts before identifying the ones that will make the thesis statement. How does one know whether their thesis is appropriately written?

A well-written thesis statement will have the following characteristics:

  • It will be precise

  • Simple to understand

  • Addresses the issues presented in the content. The thesis must relate to the content.

  • It is focused

  • It is short. A line or 2 is enough, or no more than a paragraph.

The thesis will help create the research paper outline and also helps the author stay within the objectives. It is easy to drift away when writing and the thesis enables you to keep within paper boundaries.

Create Your Research Paper Outline

After you have completed researching all the relevant literature, the next stage is to organize all the main points and create the paper outline. Remember the short notes you took while reviewing materials. They are the ones that will help you identify the main points and come up with a suitable research paper outline.

If you are uncertain of how to organize your points looking at a research paper example in the same field will help. Note that the outline is the framework or mind map that allows an author to create content.

Organize Your Notes

Before you get into writing, it is advisable to organize all your notes ensuring all your ideas support the thesis statement. It is a chance to brainstorm on the flow and organization of the research essay. Organizing notes will help create the outline and which must match the thesis.

Looking at a research paper example is an excellent guide on how you can organize your ideas. While organizing your notes, ensure that any idea that is not yours cites the source.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

When students are learning how to do a research paper, among the key things they will learn is the importance of a well-written introduction. In writing, without capturing the readers' interest, chances are nobody will bother reading your paper. Therefore, as you start writing your research paper open with a captivating paragraph. One that will keep the audience glued to your essay. No matter how good the body and conclusion might be if the introduction is off, no one will bother reading the remaining content.

Check out a research paper example to assist you to master how to write a precise but captivating introduction.


Knowing how to write a research paper is an essential skill that all scholars require. It is a challenge because the majority of students will shy away from writing. They consider it to be a difficult task. However, with some practice, this perception changes. The first step towards knowing how to write a good research paper begins with having a solid idea of how to start writing.

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