Research and research paper through different might sound common to some of us. However, writing a research paper demands more than most people view it. Someone may not understand where to start in writing a research paper. If someone faces a challenge at the beginning, it’s obvious that the rest will be a messy write-up.
How to Start (and Complete) a Research Paper
Do you think writing only meant for a special group of individuals? The answer is NO. Anyone can learn how to write a research paper and do it successfully for any level of education. If you don’t know how to start a research paper, it’s good to understand that writing research is a process. It involves several steps to come up with flawless work. Below are the steps to guide you to begin your research paper with minimum hassle:
- Reading the research guidelines.
- Choosing the research topic.
- Get the research facts and examples.
- Create a research outline/mind map.
- Come up with your thesis statement.
- Match your research outline with the thesis you have.
- Drafting your research paper.
- Write the introduction and conclusions.
- Add citations.
- Revise your work.
- Proofread your work.
Having seen a summary of the steps of starting a research paper, it will be good if we look deeper into each of them.
1. Reading and Understanding the Research Guidelines.
Every institution or even specific professors will always give a guideline for any research work to the students. It’s these guidelines that give you a starting point for your research work and facilitates the research process.
Whenever someone says that he/she completed a research paper, it means that they were able to accomplish the tasks highlighted by the institution or the professor. Reading and understanding the research task is always the first step of writing any research paper.
Before you start writing your paper, you should carefully read the research guidelines and ensure you understand them. If you find anything confusing, get clarification from the professor or any other research supervisor. You should also identify the formatting required, submission method, length specifications, and the submission deadline. Of course, you are supposed to meet all these requirements in your research paper.
It’s also wise to list the key points before you start writing and then cross one by one as you continue writing the paper. Crossing the point means that you have met the said requirement.
Again, you need to be strict on your timeframe. Remember, it must be within the deadline given by the institution. You need to be realistic in your activity scheduling and give yourself adequate time to research, write, and edit your work.
2. Choosing the Research Topic.
This is one of the most vital steps to start writing your research paper. It should come immediately you understand the research requirements. Choosing the topic might seem to be an obvious thing but research requires you to come up with the right topic. This has proved to challenge learners for many years but it’ not all that tough. You only need to be clear on a few issues. Your research topic is vital because it sets the study’s tone.
To come up with an excellent research topic, you need to consider several factors. These include:
- Presence of existing literature on the particular topic.
- The topic’s relevance to the student’s career path.
- Availability of past studies related to your topic.
- Methodology practicability.
- Ease of gathering the required research data.
These factors lead us to the four key items that you need to address when coming up with a research topic:
a) Area of Study.
In any research, the area of study is mainly influenced by two main factors. The first is the student’s career path while the second one is the relevance of the study to the particular career. The topic you choose to study should require the knowledge you have gained across the years of study.
I tend to believe that someone will best research an area of interest. Choosing a research paper topic that is within your field of study motivates you to research without losing interest. Many successful studies take at least six months and could take up to a year or more. This is why you need a topic that will keep your attention.
You also need to take some time and determine an issue relating to the chosen area for the research/dissertation/thesis project. If you want to get real issues, you can consult the people who work within your field of study. Getting someone to highlight the key issues in any field helps you as the researcher to come up with the research problem and the objectives.
c) The Methodology.
You shouldn’t start working on a research paper before you look at the practicability of the research methodology. It is important in determining the research method you’re going to apply. It’s necessary to figure out how you intend to proceed with the entire study including data collection.
There are different strategies for conducting a research project. That’s why you need to refer to study objectives to determine the appropriate strategy. As the researcher, you should settle for a feasible process of data collection. Again, ensure that the data you collect using such methods is viable and applicable to your study.
Complete research should have a literature review to support the thesis you present. It’s always best to study areas that have readily available literature. This could be past publications, other researches, books, or academic journals. The internet could be a resourceful place to find these materials in softcopy. The only thing you must keep in mind is that you are required to show the gaps in the literature you present. These gaps should be forming part of your research basis. Your study should come up with answers to fill the gaps you raise in the previous works relating to your study area.
Sometimes, it is good to include a case study in the topic to make it more effective. A case study makes your topic more specific making it easier for you to explore the major aspect you pointed in the beginning. A broad topic reduces the significance of the study.
A perfect research topic must be interesting and should get your professor’s approval before you begin writing your research paper.
3. Getting Research Facts and Examples.
Though equally important, this part is a bit complicated than the rest. You need to get reliable information before drafting a successful statement for your thesis or dissertation. In case you don’t find the facts necessary for your research, ask for assistance from your supervisor.
When gathering information on your research topic, you should have a notebook to write what you feel is necessary. Reading a general article on your study topic is the best way to start getting facts about it. You can get the article from an encyclopedia or any other reputable source.
The notebook should help you to record the article and/or book titles, the content author, and any other relevant publication information. Also, note the page numbers where to find the information you want to use from every source.
All information whether quoted or paraphrased should be credited to its sources when used in the main research paper. Failure to so will result in plagiarism and you will fail in your research project.
4.Create a Research Outline.
Once you are contented with your topic and the supervisor approves it, you now got all the reasons to smile! It’s very easy to mess at this point because you have millions of ideas running on your mind. The best thing is to write a clear outline of your research work.
But, what is an outline in research work? It’s a road map of the whole research paper. We can call it an organization of a researcher’s thoughts, ideas, or the points he/she wants to make. Some word processing packages offer standardized research outline structures.
Professional researchers start their outlines by putting down their main points. The most popular method of writing an outline is where you use Roman numerals for major topics and lower case alphabets for minor topics. You can also choose to use lower-level numbers numerals (1, 2, 3…) for sub-topics. If this is done the right way, you will realize that all major points will have supportive sub-points.
Why Use a Research Outline.
After writing an outline for your research paper, ensure to follow its structure in your entire project. The consistency helps to see your points put in a logical and flawless order. With a complete outline, you are only required to fill in the gaps between them and connect different ideas to come up with an amazing research paper. The outline makes it easy to review your work and confirm the inclusion of all intended information. An outline is great so that you have your ideas flowing smoothly throughout your research paper.
5.Come Up With Your Thesis Statement.
Most professors will be very keen on this section of your research paper and will use it to determine the grade to award you. It’s a part that can make you fail or pass your research class. Don’t forget to get your professor’s approval before proceeding with the actual thesis.
The thesis statement could be a single sentence or could go to a page length. It all depends on the subject you are to tackle and the supervisors’ requirements. This statement serves as the preface of a research paper. It has to be insightful and interesting to motivate the reader to continue reading your research paper.
Your thesis statement should be clear on your point of interest in the study. For example, if you want to study European bailouts, the readers need to understand whether you will focus on the banking crisis, the euro, or the bond market.