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How to Write a Research Paper [Steps & Examples]

July 8, 2024
2.4K Views

As a student, you are often required to complete numerous academic tasks, which can demand a lot of extra effort. Writing a research paper is one of these tasks. If researching for the topic isn't challenging enough, writing it down in a specific format adds another layer of difficulty. Having gone through this myself, I want to help you have a smoother journey in writing your research paper. I'll guide you through everything you need to know about writing a research paper, including how to write a research paper and all the necessary factors you need to consider while writing one.

How to Write a Research Paper

Order for Preparation of your research paper

Before beginning your research paper, start planning how you will organize your paper. Follow the specific order I have laid out to ensure you assemble everything correctly, cover all necessary components, and write more effectively. This method will help you avoid missing important elements and improve the overall quality of your paper.

  • Figures and Tables

Assemble all necessary visual aids to support your data and findings. Ensure they are labeled correctly and referenced appropriately in your text.

  • Methods

Detail the procedures and techniques used in your research. This section should be thorough enough to allow others to replicate your study.

  • Results

Summarize the findings of your research without interpretation. Use figures and tables to illustrate your data clearly.

  • Discussion

Interpret the results, discussing their implications and how they relate to your research question. Address any limitations and suggest areas for future research.

  • Conclusion

Summarize the key points of your research, restating the significance of your findings and their broader impact.

  • Introduction

Introduce the topic, provide background information, and state the research problem or hypothesis. Explain the purpose and scope of your study.

  • Abstract

Write a concise summary of your research, including the objective, methods, results, and conclusion. Keep it brief and to the point.

  • Title

Create a clear and informative title that accurately reflects the content and focus of your research paper.

  • Keywords

Identify key terms related to your research that will help others find your paper in searches.

  • Acknowledgements

Thank those who contributed to your research, including funding sources, advisors, and any other significant supporters.

  • References

Compile a complete list of all sources cited in your paper, formatted according to the required citation style. Ensure every reference is accurate and complete.

Research Paper Outline

Types of Research Papers

There are multiple types of research papers, each with distinct characteristics, purposes, and structures. Knowing which type of research paper is required for your assignment is crucial, as each demands different preparation and writing strategies. Here, we will delve into three prominent types: argumentative, analytical, and compare and contrast papers. We will discuss their characteristics, suitability, and provide detailed examples to illustrate their application.

A.Argumentative Papers

Characteristics:

An argumentative or persuasive paper is designed to present a balanced view of a controversial issue, but ultimately aims to persuade the reader to adopt the writer's perspective. The key characteristics of this type of paper include:

  • Purpose: The primary goal is to convince the reader to support a particular stance on an issue. This is achieved by presenting arguments, evidence, and refuting opposing viewpoints.

  • Structure: Typically structured into an introduction, a presentation of both sides of the issue, a refutation of the opposing arguments, and a conclusion that reinforces the writer’s position.

  • Tone: While the tone should be logical and factual, it should not be overly emotional. Arguments must be supported with solid evidence, such as statistics, expert opinions, and factual data.

Suitability:

Argumentative papers are suitable for topics that have clear, opposing viewpoints. They are often used in debates, policy discussions, and essays aimed at influencing public opinion or academic discourse.

Examples:

  • Topic: "Should governments implement universal basic income?"

  • Pro Side: Universal basic income provides financial security, reduces poverty, and can lead to a more equitable society.

  • Con Side: It could discourage work, lead to higher government expenditure, and might not be a sustainable long-term solution.

  • Argument: After presenting both sides, the paper would argue that the benefits of reducing poverty and financial insecurity outweigh the potential drawbacks, using evidence from various studies and real-world examples.

Writing Tips:

  • Clearly articulate your position on the issue from the beginning.

  • Present balanced arguments by including credible sources that support both sides.

  • Refute counterarguments effectively with logical reasoning and evidence.

  • Maintain a factual and logical tone, avoiding excessive emotional appeals.

B.Analytical Papers

Characteristics:

An analytical research paper is focused on breaking down a topic into its core components, examining various perspectives, and drawing conclusions based on this analysis. The main characteristics include:

  • Purpose: To pose a research question, collect data from various sources, analyze different viewpoints, and synthesize the information to arrive at a personal conclusion.

  • Structure: Includes an introduction with a clear research question, a literature review that summarizes existing research, a detailed analysis, and a conclusion that summarizes findings.

  • Tone: Objective and neutral, avoiding personal bias or opinion. The focus is on data and logical analysis.

Suitability:

Analytical research papers are ideal for topics that require detailed examination and evaluation of various aspects. They are common in disciplines such as social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences, where deep analysis of existing research is crucial.

Examples:

  • Topic: "The impact of social media on mental health."

  • Research Question: How does social media usage affect mental well-being among teenagers?

  • Analysis: Examine studies that show both positive (e.g., social support) and negative (e.g., anxiety and depression) impacts of social media. Analyze the methodologies and findings of these studies.

  • Conclusion: Based on the analysis, conclude whether the overall impact is more beneficial or harmful, remaining neutral and presenting evidence without personal bias.

Writing Tips:

  • Maintain an objective and neutral tone throughout the paper.

  • Synthesize information from multiple sources, ensuring a comprehensive analysis.

  • Develop a clear thesis based on the findings from your analysis.

  • Avoid inserting personal opinions or biases.

C.Compare and Contrast Papers

Characteristics:

Compare and contrast papers are used to analyze the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. The key characteristics include:

  • Purpose: To identify and examine the similarities and differences between two or more subjects, providing a comprehensive understanding of their relationship.

  • Structure: Can be organized in two ways:

  • Point-by-Point: Each paragraph covers a specific point of comparison or contrast.

  • Subject-by-Subject: Each subject is discussed separately, followed by a comparison or contrast.

  • Tone: Informative and balanced, aiming to provide a thorough and unbiased comparison.

Suitability:

Compare and contrast papers are suitable for topics where it is important to understand the distinctions and similarities between elements. They are commonly used in literature, history, and various comparative studies.

Examples:

  • Topic: "Compare and contrast the leadership styles of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X."

  • Comparison Points: Philosophies (non-violence vs. militant activism), methods (peaceful protests vs. more radical approaches), and impacts on the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Analysis: Describe each leader's philosophy and method, then analyze how these influenced their effectiveness and legacy.

  • Conclusion: Summarize the key similarities and differences, and discuss how both leaders contributed uniquely to the movement.

Writing Tips:

  • Provide equal and balanced coverage to each subject.

  • Use clear criteria for comparison, ensuring logical and coherent analysis.

  • Highlight both similarities and differences, ensuring a nuanced understanding of the subjects.

  • Maintain an informative tone, focusing on objective analysis rather than personal preference.

How to Write A Research Paper [Higher Efficiency & Better Results]

  • Conduct Preliminary Research

Before we get started with the research, it's important to gather relevant information related to it. This process, also known as the primary research method, helps researchers gain preliminary knowledge about the topic and identify research gaps. Whenever I begin researching a topic, I usually utilize Google and Google Scholar. Another excellent resource for conducting primary research is campus libraries, as they provide a wealth of great articles that can assist with your research.

Now, let's see how WPS Office and AIPal can be great research partners:

Let's say that I have some PDFs which I have gathered from different sources. With WPS Office, these PDFs can be directly uploaded not just to extract key points but also to interact with the PDF with special help from WPS AI.

Step 1: Let's open the PDF article or research paper that we have downloaded on WPS Office.

Step 2: Now, click on the WPS AI widget at the top right corner of the screen.

WPS AI Widget

Step 3: This will open the WPS PDF AI pane on the right side of the screen. Click on "Upload".

Upload PDF to WPS PDF

Step 4: Once the upload is complete, WPS PDF AI will return with the key points from the PDF article, which can then be copied to a fresh new document on WPS Writer.

PDF Insights with the help of WPS PDF AI

Step 5: To interact further with the document, click on the "Inquiry" tab to talk with WPS AI and get more information on the contents of the PDF.

More insights using WPS AI

Research is incomplete without a Google search, but what exactly should you search for? AIPal can help you with these answers. AIPal is a Chrome extension that can help researchers make their Google searches and interactions with Chrome more effective and efficient. If you haven't installed AIPal on Chrome yet, go ahead and download the extension; it's completely free to use:

Step 1: Let's search for a term on Google related to our research.

Step 2: An AIPal widget will appear right next to the Google search bar, click on it.

AIPal widget on Google Search

Step 3: Upon clicking it, an AIPal window will pop up. In this window, you will find a more refined answer for your searched term, along with links most relevant to your search, providing a more refined search experience.

AIPal refined search

WPS AI can also be used to extract more information with the help of WPS Writer.

Step 1: We might have some information saved in a Word document, either from lectures or during preliminary research. We can use WPS AI within Writer to gain more insights.

Step 2: Select the entire text you want to summarize or understand better.

Step 3: Once the text is selected, a hover menu will appear. Click on the "WPS AI" icon in this menu.

WPS AI icon in WPS Writer hover menu

Step 4: From the list of options, click on "Explain" to understand the content more deeply, or click on "Summarize" to shorten the paragraph.

WPS AI Writer options

Step 5: The results will be displayed in a small WPS AI window.

WPS AI Writer results

  • Develop the Thesis statement

To develop a strong thesis statement, start by formulating a central question your paper will address. For example, if your topic is about the impact of social media on mental health, your thesis statement might be:

"Social media use has a detrimental effect on mental health by increasing anxiety, depression, and loneliness among teenagers."

This statement is concise, contentious, and sets the stage for your research. With WPS AI, you can use the "Improve" feature to refine your thesis statement, ensuring it is clear, coherent, and impactful.

Improve Thesis Statement with WPS AI

  • Write the First draft

Begin your first draft by focusing on maintaining forward momentum and clearly organizing your thoughts. Follow your outline as a guide, but be flexible if new ideas emerge. Here's a brief outline to get you started:

First Draft

Using WPS AI’s "Make Longer" feature, you can quickly elaborate key ideas and points of your studies and articles into a descriptive format to include in your draft, saving time and ensuring clarity.

WPS AI Make Longer option

  • Compose Introduction, Body and Conclusion paragraphs

When writing a research paper, it’s essential to transform your key points into detailed, descriptive paragraphs. WPS AI can help you streamline this process by enhancing your key points, ensuring each section of your paper is well-developed and coherent. Here’s how you can use WPS AI to compose your introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs:

Let's return to the draft and start composing our introduction. The introduction should provide the background of the research paper and introduce readers to what the research paper will explore.

If your introduction feels too brief or lacks depth, use WPS AI’s "Make Longer" feature to expand on key points, adding necessary details and enhancing the overall narrative.

Make Introduction longer with the help of WPS AI

Once the introduction is completed, the next step is to start writing the body paragraphs and the conclusion of our research paper. Remember, the body paragraphs will incorporate everything about your research: methodologies, challenges, results, and takeaways.

If this paragraph is too lengthy or repetitive, WPS AI’s "Make Shorter" feature can help you condense it without losing essential information.

Shorten your content

  • Write the Second Draft

In the second draft, refine your arguments, ensure logical flow, and check for clarity. Focus on eliminating any unnecessary information, ensuring each paragraph supports your thesis statement, and improving transitions between ideas. Incorporate feedback from peers or advisors, and ensure all citations are accurate and properly formatted. The second draft should be more polished and coherent, presenting your research in a clear and compelling manner.

WPS AI’s "Improve Writing" feature can be particularly useful here to enhance the overall quality and readability of your paper.

Improve your writing with WPS AI

WPS Spellcheck can assist you in correcting spelling and grammatical errors, ensuring your paper is polished and professional. This tool helps you avoid common mistakes and enhances the readability of your paper, making a significant difference in the overall quality.

WPS AI Spell Check

Bonus Tips: How to Get Inspiration for your Research Paper- WPS AI

WPS Office is a phenomenal office suite that students find to be a major blessing. Not only is it a free office suite equipped with advanced features that make it competitive in the market, but it also includes a powerful AI that automates and enhances many tasks, including writing a research paper. In addition to improving readability with its AI Proofreader tool, WPS AI offers two features, "Insight" and "Inquiry", that can help you gather information and inspiration for your research paper:

WPS AI

  • Insight Feature:

The Insight feature provides deep insights and information on various topics and fields. It analyzes literature to extract key viewpoints, trends, and research directions. For instance, if you're writing a research paper on the impact of social media on mental health, you can use the Insight feature to gather a comprehensive overview of the latest studies, key arguments, and emerging trends in this field. This helps you build a solid foundation for your paper and ensure you are covering all relevant aspects.

  • Inquiry Feature:

The Inquiry feature allows you to ask specific questions related to your research topic. This helps you gather necessary background information and refine your research focus effectively. For example, if you need detailed information on how social media usage affects teenagers' self-esteem, you can use the Inquiry feature to ask targeted questions and receive relevant answers based on the latest research.

FAQs about writing a research paper

1. Can Any Source Be Used for Academic Research?

No, it's essential to use credible and relevant sources. Here is why:

  • Developing a Strong Argument: Your research paper relies on evidence to substantiate its claims. Using unreliable sources can undermine your argument and harm the credibility of your paper.

  • Avoiding Inaccurate Information: The internet is abundant with data, but not all sources can be considered reliable. Credible sources guarantee accuracy.

2. How can I avoid plagiarism?

To avoid plagiarism, follow these steps:

  • Keep Records of Your Sources: Maintain a record of all the sources you use while researching. This helps you remember where you found specific ideas or phrases and ensures proper attribution.

  • Quote and Paraphrase Correctly: When writing a paper, use quotation marks for exact words from a source and cite them properly. When paraphrasing, restate the idea in your own words and include a citation to acknowledge the original source.

  • Utilize a Plagiarism Checker: Use a plagiarism detection tool before submitting your paper. This will help identify unintentional plagiarism, ensuring your paper is original and properly referenced.

3. How can I cite sources properly?

Adhere to the citation style guide (e.g., APA, MLA) specified by your instructor or journal. Properly citing all sources both within the text and in the bibliography or references section is essential for maintaining academic integrity and providing clear credit to the original authors. This practice also helps readers locate and verify the sources you've used in your research.

4. How long should a research paper be?

The length of a research paper depends on its topic and specific requirements. Generally, research papers vary between 4,000 to 6,000 words, with shorter papers around 2,000 words and longer ones exceeding 10,000 words. Adhering to the length requirements provided for academic assignments is essential. More intricate subjects or extensive research often require more thorough explanations, which can impact the overall length of the paper.

Write Your Research Paper with the Comfort of Using WPS Office

Writing a research paper involves managing numerous complicated tasks, such as ensuring the correct formatting, not missing any crucial information, and having all your data ready. The process of how to write a research paper is inherently challenging. However, if you are a student using WPS Office, the task becomes significantly simpler. WPS Office, especially with the introduction of WPS AI, provides all the resources you need to write the perfect research paper. Download WPS Office today and discover how it can transform your research paper writing experience for the better.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.