8 Steps on How to Write a Successful Research Paper

How to Write a Research Paper

Research papers analyze a specific angle to a perspective and argues it out using facts. As the writer, you need to familiarize yourself with the topic to avoid going out of topic. Often, a research paper gives you the freedom to pick a topic you are familiar with. It is easier to write about a subject you are passionate about, as you will not have much struggles writing about it.


The following steps will help you write an effective research paper that will earn you good grades:

  1. Organize Your Ideas/ Select a Topic

Before writing your research, your brain may have tons of ideas. The essence of organizing your ideas is to filter out the best that will help you develop your essay. Out of the junk of ideas, select one that will be your topic for research.  It will give you a clear focus as it acts as your paper’s primary foundation. If your ideas are well organized, it will save you a lot of time you could spend on revisions. Therefore, do not ignore this step!

  1. Begin Your Research

Now that you have selected your research topic, the next step is to find enough supporting material for the actual writing process. Find credible sources that will help you write your paragraphs. You may skim through different articles, to evaluate the ones that will help you support your argument. Use the sources to examine the different angles that you may give to your research.


Use Google and school libraries to access academic databases with credible sources. You may consult Wikipedia to gain a general idea of your research topic but do not cite it. Wikipedia is not an acceptable source of information as it is easily edited. You may also access books online that supports your topic in depth. Finally, sort the information gotten according to relevance.

  1. Create an Outline

Now that you have selected your most viable idea, you need to develop an outline that will help you in the writing process. An outline contains the main ideas as your subheadings, to help you shape your paper’s structure. Find information that supports each thought, which you will expand in the writing process.


Irrespective of the type of research you are writing, your outline must adhere to the standard paper structure consisting of introduction, body and conclusion. Also, you may develop your thesis statement at this point, to preview your supporting points that you will include in the paper. It carries the main ideas from where your whole paper will flow. However, your paper structure may vary, depending on the specific guidelines provided.

An outline keeps your focus narrow and relevant, without including unnecessary details.

  1. Introduction

Your introduction should contain an attention grabber that gives the readers a hint into the research topic. It could be a provocative question, an anecdote or a fact to make your paper’s angle interesting. Next, you need to give a little background information that expands on your selected approach. Explain the goals you aim to achieve through your writing. Conclude the introduction with a strong thesis statement, which you already developed at the outline.

  1. Body Paragraphs

Your body paragraphs should follow each other according to your outline. Each paragraph should provide information that supports your main idea. To help you stick to the main idea, present the idea first followed by the supporting argument. The third point should be even stronger and finally end the paragraph by a convincing conclusion.


Integrate other scholarly articles into your discussion to make it stronger. For example, you may include statistics, figures and facts as they contain a sense of authority. Ensure you analyze, summarize and evaluate the information you get from those sources, to make it relevant to your current discussion. Include in-text citations for all the information you borrow from scholarly sources, to avoid plagiarism.


Avoid generalization because it weakens your overall argument.

  1. Conclusion

A conclusion is basically a wrap up of your paper. it summarizes the important details you discussed in your research by restating them. In complex research papers such as dissertations, you may provide recommendations for future research and limitations you encountered during the current research.


Your conclusion may also discuss the significance of your research. You may generalize information, as you have already explained in detail in your paragraphs.

  1. Create a Bibliography

A bibliography list contains all the sources where you got your research information in one place. It appears on the last page of your research paper. It should be in alphabetical order of the author’s surname and should follow the citation format required in the instructions. Sources without author’s names such as encyclopedias are alphabetized using their title. Mostly, research papers use APA format.


Bibliography should include the author’s name, publisher and date of publication for each source. Double-check your bibliography to ensure that everything is in order.

  1. Proofread and Revise

Research papers are quite complex and sometimes during the writing process, some errors may occur. Proofreading helps you to identify all those errors. Ensure you submit an error free paper as it helps to communicate properly and boost your grade as well.


By proofreading your paper, you ensure it has a logical flow, coherence, detailed discussion and an effective conclusion. Revise sentences that lacks coherence or poor word choice, punctuation or spelling. You may also use editing tools to help you achieve a flawless paper.


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