Writing Your Research Paper

A very common source of anxiety in college is the research paper. This academic assignment is considered a major project, possibly taking up 25 to 50% of your course grade. This paper also takes a long time to make, which is why it is imperative to get things right at the very beginning so you can finish it by the deadline.

If you are expecting to tackle a research paper soon, continue reading for tips on how to write it.

1. Do some initial investigative research

The usual students wait until the professor asks them to start thinking of a good research topic, but the wise students begin their initial investigation even before they sign up for the class. If you know that your subject next semester will have a research paper, do some reading NOW. The more familiar you are with an issue, the more confident you will feel about choosing it as your topic.

2. Select what you like

After doing some initial research, make sure you choose the topic you like, not what you think the teacher will like. Some students pick very challenging issues to research, thinking the professor will be impressed. While it may be okay if you can finish it, chances are you will struggle greatly if you are not interested in what you are studying.

3. Consult a lot of resources

Professors expect you to consult a lot of resources. These include online articles and journals, as well as books and possibly even informative videos. A good rule of thumb is to have 3 to 5 sources per argument in your paper.

4. Take notes right away

As you begin reading the resources for your paper, take notes right away on an index card, notebook, or computer. This saves time as you can quickly refer to your notes rather than browse through the article again to find what you are looking for.

5. Manage your time well

Unfortunately, your other teachers will NOT stop giving you projects just because you have a research paper. This means you must schedule when you will read and write. If not, you will find yourself running out of time, which is a big reason why students get very low scores in their research.

6. Make an outline

If you don’t like to write, it is best to make an outline before writing. This outline will contain the key points of your paper, such as the main arguments and important examples to point out. Once created, you just need to refer to your outline as you write.

7. Study a sample paper

To help them with their formatting, wise students often scan sample research to see how others made their paper. If your library has papers from past students, it can help to see how the various sections are written.

8. Take time to edit your paper

It is very sad to have great research but a paper filled with typos. Before submission, ensure you have had your paper proofread or at least run it through a grammar checking application.


As a major requirement, you need to be wise when tackling your research paper. So consider the tips above to help you in this tough but rewarding assignment.