Skip Nav

How to start a research paper: Step-by-Step Guide

7 Steps On How To Begin A Research Paper Easily

❶By setting up this story at the beginning, you'd be able to return to it periodically over the course of your paper to illustrate points and to re-assert your thesis statement. They'll be a lot fancier than your paper needs to be, but they can give you a sense of that subject's conventions.




One of the biggest hang-ups many students have is getting started. Finding a topic and doing the research may be half the battle, but putting words to paper or starting an introduction often proves to be an intimidating task. If done correctly, an introduction is a simple and effective way to write the entire paper quickly. Conduct your research thoroughly. One problem students run into when starting a research paper introduction is failing to properly research the topic.

Research doesn't involve just gathering sources. It also involves reading and mentally digesting the source material. Some students have difficultly with the introduction because they don't understand the topic. Create a map or outline of your paper. You must understand the direction your paper is going before you can properly write the introduction.

By creating an outline, you highlight the important elements that your paper will explore, which makes writing the introduction easier than if you just dive right into it without a sense of direction or purpose. By definition, an introduction introduces the paper topic. Your intent should be to summarize the extent of your research in one or two paragraphs, without necessarily giving away the ending.

Write multiple rough drafts of your opening paragraph. The object is simply to group ideas in logically related groups. You may revise this mind map or outline at any time; it is much easier to reorganize a paper by crossing out or adding sections to a mind map or outline than it is to laboriously start over with the writing itself. Focus and craftsmanship Write a well defined, focused, three- to five-point thesis statement, but be prepared to revise it later if necessary.

Take your time crafting this statement into one or two sentences, for it will control the direction and development of your entire paper. Facts and examples Now begin your heavy-duty research. Try the internet, electronic databases, reference books, newspaper articles, and books for a balance of sources. For each source, write down on an index card or on a separate page of your notebook the publication information you will need for your works cited MLA or bibliography APA page.

Write important points, details, and examples, always distinguishing between direct quotes and paraphrasing. As you read, remember that an expert opinion is more valid than a general opinion, and for some topics in science and history, for example , more recent research may be more valuable than older research. Avoid relying too heavily on internet sources, which vary widely in quality and authority and sometimes even disappear before you can complete your paper.

Never copy-and-paste from internet sources directly into any actual draft of your paper. For more information on plagiarism, obtain from the Butte College Student Services office a copy of the college's policy on plagiarism, or attend the Critical Skills Plagiarism Workshop given each semester. Matching mind map and thesis After you have read deeply and gathered plenty of information, expand or revise your working mind map or outline by adding information, explanations, and examples.

Aim for balance in developing each of your main points they should be spelled out in your thesis statement. Return to the library for additional information if it is needed to evenly develop these points, or revise your thesis statement to better reflect what you have learned or the direction your paper seems to have taken.

Beginning in the middle Write the body of the paper, starting with the thesis statement and omitting for now the introduction unless you already know exactly how to begin, but few writers do.

Use supporting detail to logically and systematically validate your thesis statement. For now, omit the conclusion also. Organization and attribution Read, revise, and make sure that your ideas are clearly organized and that they support your thesis statement.

Every single paragraph should have a single topic that is derived from the thesis statement. If any paragraph does not, take it out, or revise your thesis if you think it is warranted.

Remember the Rule of 3, i. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point.

Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Organize all the information you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data. Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that the information is factual, up-to-date, and correct.

Opposing views should also be noted if they help to support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper. Here you will analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is the real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place.

You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

Do not include any information that is not relevant to your topic, and do not include information that you do not understand. Make sure the information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of the question. Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately. As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page.

Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e. This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline.

Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e. Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e. If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e.

Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again. Delete the symbol once editing is completed. Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind. Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly.

Is my thesis statement concise and clear? Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence? Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing? Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments? Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed. Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability.

Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed. Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence? Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples? Any run-on or unfinished sentences?


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Writing a research paper is a challenge for many high school and college students. One of the biggest hang-ups many students have is getting started. Finding a topic and doing the research may be half the battle, but putting words to paper or starting an introduction often proves to be an intimidating task.

Privacy FAQs

Starting a research paper won’t be so difficult if you have chosen the right topic – if you are interested in and inspired by the chosen topic, this will help you write .

About Our Ads

Now when you know the definition it’s time to know how to start a research paper. Research paper writing begins with a writing assignment the instructor gives you. A research paper uses primary sources to support a thesis statement. You should do an independent analysis of the topic and describes the findings. The way you start your research paper matters.

Cookie Info

This method eases the reader into the substance of your paper by providing a memorable and relevant story or a quotation from a well-known person or work. Pick something that is engaging in its own right, but that also creates a connection to your research paper's central thesis. Take the first step: Make sure to start right away and begin collecting your resources. Several weeks may seem like plenty of time to complete a research paper, but time can slip away leaving you with a week (or less) to finish.