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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper in 7 Steps
What comes next after you're done with your research? Publishing the results in a journal of course! We tell you how to present your work in the best way possible.
This post is part of a series, which serves to provide hands-on information and resources for authors and editors.
Things have gotten busy in scholarly publishing: These days, a new article gets published in the 50,000 most important peer-reviewed journals every few seconds, while each one takes on average 40 minutes to read. Hundreds of thousands of papers reach the desks of editors and reviewers worldwide each year and 50% of all submissions end up rejected at some stage.
In a nutshell: there is a lot of competition, and the people who decide upon the fate of your manuscript are short on time and overworked. But there are ways to make their lives a little easier and improve your own chances of getting your work published!
Well, it may seem obvious, but before submitting an academic paper, always make sure that it is an excellent reflection of the research you have done and that you present it in the most professional way possible. Incomplete or poorly presented manuscripts can create a great deal of frustration and annoyance for editors who probably won’t even bother wasting the time of the reviewers!
This post will discuss 7 steps to the successful publication of your research paper:
- Check whether your research is publication-ready
- Choose an article type
- Choose a journal
- Construct your paper
- Decide the order of authors
- Check and double-check
- Submit your paper
1. Check Whether Your Research Is Publication-Ready
Should you publish your research at all?
If your work holds academic value – of course – a well-written scholarly article could open doors to your research community. However, if you are not yet sure, whether your research is ready for publication, here are some key questions to ask yourself depending on your field of expertise:
- Have you done or found something new and interesting? Something unique?
- Is the work directly related to a current hot topic?
- Have you checked the latest results or research in the field?
- Have you provided solutions to any difficult problems?
- Have the findings been verified?
- Have the appropriate controls been performed if required?
- Are your findings comprehensive?
If the answers to all relevant questions are “yes”, you need to prepare a good, strong manuscript. Remember, a research paper is only useful if it is clearly understood, reproducible and if it is read and used .
2. Choose An Article Type
The first step is to determine which type of paper is most appropriate for your work and what you want to achieve. The following list contains the most important, usually peer-reviewed article types in the natural sciences:
Full original research papers disseminate completed research findings. On average this type of paper is 8-10 pages long, contains five figures, and 25-30 references. Full original research papers are an important part of the process when developing your career.
Review papers present a critical synthesis of a specific research topic. These papers are usually much longer than original papers and will contain numerous references. More often than not, they will be commissioned by journal editors. Reviews present an excellent way to solidify your research career.
Letters, Rapid or Short Communications are often published for the quick and early communication of significant and original advances. They are much shorter than full articles and usually limited in length by the journal. Journals specifically dedicated to short communications or letters are also published in some fields. In these the authors can present short preliminary findings before developing a full-length paper.
3. Choose a Journal
Are you looking for the right place to publish your paper? Find out here whether a De Gruyter journal might be the right fit.
Submit to journals that you already read, that you have a good feel for. If you do so, you will have a better appreciation of both its culture and the requirements of the editors and reviewers.
Other factors to consider are:
- The specific subject area
- The aims and scope of the journal
- The type of manuscript you have written
- The significance of your work
- The reputation of the journal
- The reputation of the editors within the community
- The editorial/review and production speeds of the journal
- The community served by the journal
- The coverage and distribution
- The accessibility ( open access vs. closed access)
4. Construct Your Paper
Each element of a paper has its purpose, so you should make these sections easy to index and search.
Don’t forget that requirements can differ highly per publication, so always make sure to apply a journal’s specific instructions – or guide – for authors to your manuscript, even to the first draft (text layout, paper citation, nomenclature, figures and table, etc.) It will save you time, and the editor’s.
Also, even in these days of Internet-based publishing, space is still at a premium, so be as concise as possible. As a good journalist would say: “Never use three words when one will do!”
Let’s look at the typical structure of a full research paper, but bear in mind certain subject disciplines may have their own specific requirements so check the instructions for authors on the journal’s home page.
4.1 The Title
It’s important to use the title to tell the reader what your paper is all about! You want to attract their attention, a bit like a newspaper headline does. Be specific and to the point. Keep it informative and concise, and avoid jargon and abbreviations (unless they are universally recognized like DNA, for example).
4.2 The Abstract
This could be termed as the “advertisement” for your article. Make it interesting and easily understood without the reader having to read the whole article. Be accurate and specific, and keep it as brief and concise as possible. Some journals (particularly in the medical fields) will ask you to structure the abstract in distinct, labeled sections, which makes it even more accessible.
A clear abstract will influence whether or not your work is considered and whether an editor should invest more time on it or send it for review.
Keywords are used by abstracting and indexing services, such as PubMed and Web of Science. They are the labels of your manuscript, which make it “searchable” online by other researchers.
Include words or phrases (usually 4-8) that are closely related to your topic but not “too niche” for anyone to find them. Make sure to only use established abbreviations. Think about what scientific terms and its variations your potential readers are likely to use and search for. You can also do a test run of your selected keywords in one of the common academic search engines. Do similar articles to your own appear? Yes? Then that’s a good sign.
This first part of the main text should introduce the problem, as well as any existing solutions you are aware of and the main limitations. Also, state what you hope to achieve with your research.
Do not confuse the introduction with the results, discussion or conclusion.
Every research article should include a detailed Methods section (also referred to as “Materials and Methods”) to provide the reader with enough information to be able to judge whether the study is valid and reproducible.
Include detailed information so that a knowledgeable reader can reproduce the experiment. However, use references and supplementary materials to indicate previously published procedures.
In this section, you will present the essential or primary results of your study. To display them in a comprehensible way, you should use subheadings as well as illustrations such as figures, graphs, tables and photos, as appropriate.
Here you should tell your readers what the results mean .
Do state how the results relate to the study’s aims and hypotheses and how the findings relate to those of other studies. Explain all possible interpretations of your findings and the study’s limitations.
Do not make “grand statements” that are not supported by the data. Also, do not introduce any new results or terms. Moreover, do not ignore work that conflicts or disagrees with your findings. Instead …
Be brave! Address conflicting study results and convince the reader you are the one who is correct.
Your conclusion isn’t just a summary of what you’ve already written. It should take your paper one step further and answer any unresolved questions.
Sum up what you have shown in your study and indicate possible applications and extensions. The main question your conclusion should answer is: What do my results mean for the research field and my community?
4.9 Acknowledgments and Ethical Statements
It is extremely important to acknowledge anyone who has helped you with your paper, including researchers who supplied materials or reagents (e.g. vectors or antibodies); and anyone who helped with the writing or English, or offered critical comments about the content.
Learn more about academic integrity in our blog post “Scholarly Publication Ethics: 4 Common Mistakes You Want To Avoid” .
Remember to state why people have been acknowledged and ask their permission . Ensure that you acknowledge sources of funding, including any grant or reference numbers.
Furthermore, if you have worked with animals or humans, you need to include information about the ethical approval of your study and, if applicable, whether informed consent was given. Also, state whether you have any competing interests regarding the study (e.g. because of financial or personal relationships.)
The end is in sight, but don’t relax just yet!
De facto, there are often more mistakes in the references than in any other part of the manuscript. It is also one of the most annoying and time-consuming problems for editors.
Remember to cite the main scientific publications on which your work is based. But do not inflate the manuscript with too many references. Avoid excessive – and especially unnecessary – self-citations. Also, avoid excessive citations of publications from the same institute or region.
5. Decide the Order of Authors
In the sciences, the most common way to order the names of the authors is by relative contribution.
Generally, the first author conducts and/or supervises the data analysis and the proper presentation and interpretation of the results. They put the paper together and usually submit the paper to the journal.
Co-authors make intellectual contributions to the data analysis and contribute to data interpretation. They review each paper draft. All of them must be able to present the paper and its results, as well as to defend the implications and discuss study limitations.
Do not leave out authors who should be included or add “gift authors”, i.e. authors who did not contribute significantly.
6. Check and Double-Check
As a final step before submission, ask colleagues to read your work and be constructively critical .
Make sure that the paper is appropriate for the journal – take a last look at their aims and scope. Check if all of the requirements in the instructions for authors are met.
Ensure that the cited literature is balanced. Are the aims, purpose and significance of the results clear?
Conduct a final check for language, either by a native English speaker or an editing service.
7. Submit Your Paper
When you and your co-authors have double-, triple-, quadruple-checked the manuscript: submit it via e-mail or online submission system. Along with your manuscript, submit a cover letter, which highlights the reasons why your paper would appeal to the journal and which ensures that you have received approval of all authors for submission.
It is up to the editors and the peer-reviewers now to provide you with their (ideally constructive and helpful) comments and feedback. Time to take a breather!
If the paper gets rejected, do not despair – it happens to literally everybody. If the journal suggests major or minor revisions, take the chance to provide a thorough response and make improvements as you see fit. If the paper gets accepted, congrats!
It’s now time to get writing and share your hard work – good luck!
If you are interested, check out this related blog post
[Title Image by Nick Morrison via Unsplash]
David Sleeman worked as Senior Journals Manager in the field of Physical Sciences at De Gruyter.
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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide
Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.
The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:
- Present your topic and get the reader interested
- Provide background or summarize existing research
- Position your own approach
- Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
- Give an overview of the paper’s structure
The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.
Table of contents
Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.
The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.
The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.
For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:
A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:
Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.
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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.
In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.
Argumentative paper: Background information
After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.
Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .
Empirical paper: Describing previous research
For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.
This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.
Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.
The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.
Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance
In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.
Empirical paper: Relate to the literature
In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:
- What research gap is your work intended to fill?
- What limitations in previous work does it address?
- What contribution to knowledge does it make?
You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.
Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.
The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).
Argumentative paper: Thesis statement
The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.
Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis
The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.
Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.
A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.
- This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
- We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.
If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.
For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:
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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.
In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.
If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.
- This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
- This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …
Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.
- Argumentative paper
- Empirical paper
Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.
The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.
The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
and your problem statement
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an overview of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .
A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.
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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Paper Types / How to Write a Research Paper
How to Write a Research Paper
Research papers are a requirement for most college courses, so knowing how to write a research paper is important. These in-depth pieces of academic writing can seem pretty daunting, but there’s no need to panic. When broken down into its key components, writing your paper should be a manageable and, dare we say it, enjoyable task.
We’re going to look at the required elements of a paper in detail, and you might also find this webpage to be a useful reference .
- What is a research paper?
- How to start a research paper
- Get clear instructions
- Brainstorm ideas
- Choose a topic
- Outline your outline
- Make friends with your librarian
- Find quality sources
- Understand your topic
- A detailed outline
- Keep it factual
- Finalize your thesis statement
- Think about format
- Cite, cite and cite
- The editing process
- Final checks
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is more than just an extra long essay or encyclopedic regurgitation of facts and figures. The aim of this task is to combine in-depth study of a particular topic with critical thinking and evaluation by the student—that’s you!
There are two main types of research paper: argumentative and analytical.
Argumentative — takes a stance on a particular topic right from the start, with the aim of persuading the reader of the validity of the argument. These are best suited to topics that are debatable or controversial.
Analytical — takes no firm stance on a topic initially. Instead it asks a question and should come to an answer through the evaluation of source material. As its name suggests, the aim is to analyze the source material and offer a fresh perspective on the results.
If you wish to further your understanding, you can learn more here .
A required word count (think thousands!) can make writing that paper seem like an insurmountable task. Don’t worry! Our step-by-step guide will help you write that killer paper with confidence.
How to Start a Research Paper
Don’t rush ahead. Taking care during the planning and preparation stage will save time and hassle later.
Get Clear Instructions
Your lecturer or professor is your biggest ally—after all, they want you to do well. Make sure you get clear guidance from them on both the required format and preferred topics. In some cases, your tutor will assign a topic, or give you a set list to choose from. Often, however, you’ll be expected to select a suitable topic for yourself.
Having a research paper example to look at can also be useful for first-timers, so ask your tutor to supply you with one.
Brainstorming research paper ideas is the first step to selecting a topic—and there are various methods you can use to brainstorm, including clustering (also known as mind mapping). Think about the research paper topics that interest you, and identify topics you have a strong opinion on.
Choose a Topic
Once you have a list of potential research paper topics, narrow them down by considering your academic strengths and ‘gaps in the market,’ e.g., don’t choose a common topic that’s been written about many times before. While you want your topic to be fresh and interesting, you also need to ensure there’s enough material available for you to work with. Similarly, while you shouldn’t go for easy research paper topics just for the sake of giving yourself less work, you do need to choose a topic that you feel confident you can do justice to.
Outline Your Outline
It might not be possible to form a full research paper outline until you’ve done some information gathering, but you can think about your overall aim; basically what you want to show and how you’re going to show it. Now’s also a good time to consider your thesis statement, although this might change as you delve into your source material deeper.
Researching the Research
Now it’s time to knuckle down and dig out all the information that’s relevant to your topic. Here are some tips.
Make Friends With Your Librarian
While lots of information gathering can be carried out online from anywhere, there’s still a place for old-fashioned study sessions in the library. A good librarian can help you to locate sources quickly and easily, and might even make suggestions that you hadn’t thought of. They’re great at helping you study and research, but probably can’t save you the best desk by the window.
Find Quality Sources
Not all sources are created equal, so make sure that you’re referring to reputable, reliable information. Examples of sources could include books, magazine articles, scholarly articles, reputable websites, databases and journals. Keywords relating to your topic can help you in your search.
As you search, you should begin to compile a list of references. This will make it much easier later when you are ready to build your paper’s bibliography. Keeping clear notes detailing any sources that you use will help you to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s work or ideas.
Understand Your Topic
Simply regurgitating facts and figures won’t make for an interesting paper. It’s essential that you fully understand your topic so you can come across as an authority on the subject and present your own ideas on it. You should read around your topic as widely as you can, before narrowing your area of interest for your paper, and critically analyzing your findings.
A Detailed Outline
Once you’ve got a firm grip on your subject and the source material available to you, formulate a detailed outline, including your thesis statement and how you are going to support it. The structure of your paper will depend on the subject type—ask a tutor for a research paper outline example if you’re unsure.
If you’ve fully understood your topic and gathered quality source materials, bringing it all together should actually be the easy part!
Keep it Factual
There’s no place for sloppy writing in this kind of academic task, so keep your language simple and clear, and your points critical and succinct. The creative part is finding innovative angles and new insights on the topic to make your paper interesting.
Don’t forget about our verb , preposition , and adverb pages. You may find useful information to help with your writing!
Finalize Your Thesis Statement
You should now be in a position to finalize your thesis statement, showing clearly what your paper will show, answer or prove. This should usually be a one or two sentence statement; however, it’s the core idea of your paper, and every insight that you include should be relevant to it. Remember, a thesis statement is not merely a summary of your findings. It should present an argument or perspective that the rest of your paper aims to support.
Think About Format
The required style of your research paper format will usually depend on your subject area. For example, APA format is normally used for social science subjects, while MLA style is most commonly used for liberal arts and humanities. Still, there are thousands of more styles . Your tutor should be able to give you clear guidance on how to format your paper, how to structure it, and what elements it should include. Make sure that you follow their instruction. If possible, ask to see a sample research paper in the required format.
Cite, Cite and Cite
As all research paper topics invariably involve referring to other people’s work, it’s vital that you know how to properly cite your sources to avoid unintentional plagiarism. Whether you’re paraphrasing (putting someone else’s ideas into your own words) or directly quoting, the original source needs to be referenced. What style of citation formatting you use will depend on the requirements of your instructor, with common styles including APA and MLA format , which consist of in-text citations (short citations within the text, enclosed with parentheses) and a reference/works cited list.
The Editing Process
It’s likely that your paper will go through several drafts before you arrive at the very best version. The editing process is your chance to fix any weak points in your paper before submission. You might find that it needs a better balance of both primary and secondary sources (click through to find more info on the difference), that an adjective could use tweaking, or that you’ve included sources that aren’t relevant or credible. You might even feel that you need to be clearer in your argument, more thorough in your critical analysis, or more balanced in your evaluation.
From a stylistic point of view, you want to ensure that your writing is clear, simple and concise, with no long, rambling sentences or paragraphs. Keeping within the required word count parameters is also important, and another thing to keep in mind is the inclusion of gender-neutral language, to avoid the reinforcement of tired stereotypes.
Don’t forget about our other pages! If you are looking for help with other grammar-related topics, check out our noun , pronoun , and conjunction pages.
Once you’re happy with the depth and balance of the arguments and points presented, you can turn your attention to the finer details, such as formatting, spelling, punctuation, grammar and ensuring that your citations are all present and correct. The EasyBib Plus plagiarism checker is a handy tool for making sure that your sources are all cited. An EasyBib Plus subscription also comes with access to citation tools that can help you create citations in your choice of format.
Also, double-check your deadline date and the submissions guidelines to avoid any last-minute issues. Take a peek at our other grammar pages while you’re at it. We’ve included numerous links on this page, but we also have an interjection page and determiner page.
So you’ve done your final checks and handed in your paper according to the submissions guidelines and preferably before deadline day. Congratulations! If your schedule permits, now would be a great time to take a break from your studies. Maybe plan a fun activity with friends or just take the opportunity to rest and relax. A well-earned break from the books will ensure that you return to class refreshed and ready for your next stage of learning—and the next research paper requirement your tutor sets!
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A Process Approach to Writing Research Papers
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(adapted from Research Paper Guide, Point Loma Nazarene University, 2010)
Step 1: Be a Strategic Reader and Scholar
Even before your paper is assigned, use the tools you have been given by your instructor and GSI, and create tools you can use later.
See the handout “Be a Strategic Reader and Scholar” for more information.
Step 2: Understand the Assignment
- Free topic choice or assigned?
- Type of paper: Informative? Persuasive? Other?
- Any terminology in assignment not clear?
- Library research needed or required? How much?
- What style of citation is required?
- Can you break the assignment into parts?
- When will you do each part?
- Are you required or allowed to collaborate with other members of the class?
- Other special directions or requirements?
Step 3: Select a Topic
- interests you
- you know something about
- you can research easily
- Write out topic and brainstorm.
- Select your paper’s specific topic from this brainstorming list.
- In a sentence or short paragraph, describe what you think your paper is about.
Step 4: Initial Planning, Investigation, and Outlining
- the nature of your audience
- ideas & information you already possess
- sources you can consult
- background reading you should do
Make a rough outline, a guide for your research to keep you on the subject while you work.
Step 5: Accumulate Research Materials
- Use cards, Word, Post-its, or Excel to organize.
- Organize your bibliography records first.
- Organize notes next (one idea per document— direct quotations, paraphrases, your own ideas).
- Arrange your notes under the main headings of your tentative outline. If necessary, print out documents and literally cut and paste (scissors and tape) them together by heading.
Step 6: Make a Final Outline to Guide Writing
- Reorganize and fill in tentative outline.
- Organize notes to correspond to outline.
- As you decide where you will use outside resources in your paper, make notes in your outline to refer to your numbered notecards, attach post-its to your printed outline, or note the use of outside resources in a different font or text color from the rest of your outline.
- In both Steps 6 and 7, it is important to maintain a clear distinction between your own words and ideas and those of others.
Step 7: Write the Paper
- Use your outline to guide you.
- Write quickly—capture flow of ideas—deal with proofreading later.
- Put aside overnight or longer, if possible.
Step 8: Revise and Proofread
- Check organization—reorganize paragraphs and add transitions where necessary.
- Make sure all researched information is documented.
- Rework introduction and conclusion.
- Work on sentences—check spelling, punctuation, word choice, etc.
- Read out loud to check for flow.
Carolyn Swalina, Writing Program Coordinator Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley ©2011 UC Regents
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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How to Write a Research Paper
Last Updated: January 31, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Chris Hadley, PhD . Chris Hadley, PhD is part of the wikiHow team and works on content strategy and data and analytics. Chris Hadley earned his PhD in Cognitive Psychology from UCLA in 2006. Chris' academic research has been published in numerous scientific journals. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 4,159,731 times.
Whether you’re in a history, literature, or science class, you’ll probably have to write a research paper at some point. It may seem daunting when you’re just starting out, but staying organized and budgeting your time can make the process a breeze. Research your topic, find reliable sources, and come up with a working thesis. Then create an outline and start drafting your paper. Be sure to leave plenty of time to make revisions, as editing is essential if you want to hand in your best work!
Sample Research Papers and Outlines
Researching Your Topic
- For instance, you might start with a general subject, like British decorative arts. Then, as you read, you home in on transferware and pottery. Ultimately, you focus on 1 potter in the 1780s who invented a way to mass-produce patterned tableware.
Tip: If you need to analyze a piece of literature, your task is to pull the work apart into literary elements and explain how the author uses those parts to make their point.
- Authoritative, credible sources include scholarly articles (especially those other authors reference), government websites, scientific studies, and reputable news bureaus. Additionally, check your sources' dates, and make sure the information you gather is up to date.
- Evaluate how other scholars have approached your topic. Identify authoritative sources or works that are accepted as the most important accounts of the subject matter. Additionally, look for debates among scholars, and ask yourself who presents the strongest evidence for their case.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- You’ll most likely need to include a bibliography or works cited page, so keep your sources organized. List your sources, format them according to your assigned style guide (such as MLA or Chicago ), and write 2 or 3 summary sentences below each one.  X Research source
- Imagine you’re a lawyer in a trial and are presenting a case to a jury. Think of your readers as the jurors; your opening statement is your thesis and you’ll present evidence to the jury to make your case.
- A thesis should be specific rather than vague, such as: “Josiah Spode’s improved formula for bone china enabled the mass production of transfer-printed wares, which expanded the global market for British pottery.”
Drafting Your Essay
- Your outline is your paper’s skeleton. After making the outline, all you’ll need to do is fill in the details.
- For easy reference, include your sources where they fit into your outline, like this: III. Spode vs. Wedgewood on Mass Production A. Spode: Perfected chemical formula with aims for fast production and distribution (Travis, 2002, 43) B. Wedgewood: Courted high-priced luxury market; lower emphasis on mass production (Himmelweit, 2001, 71) C. Therefore: Wedgewood, unlike Spode, delayed the expansion of the pottery market.
- For instance, your opening line could be, “Overlooked in the present, manufacturers of British pottery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries played crucial roles in England’s Industrial Revolution.”
- After presenting your thesis, lay out your evidence, like this: “An examination of Spode’s innovative production and distribution techniques will demonstrate the importance of his contributions to the industry and Industrial Revolution at large.”
Tip: Some people prefer to write the introduction first and use it to structure the rest of the paper. However, others like to write the body, then fill in the introduction. Do whichever seems natural to you. If you write the intro first, keep in mind you can tweak it later to reflect your finished paper’s layout.
- After setting the context, you'd include a section on Josiah Spode’s company and what he did to make pottery easier to manufacture and distribute.
- Next, discuss how targeting middle class consumers increased demand and expanded the pottery industry globally.
- Then, you could explain how Spode differed from competitors like Wedgewood, who continued to court aristocratic consumers instead of expanding the market to the middle class.
- The right number of sections or paragraphs depends on your assignment. In general, shoot for 3 to 5, but check your prompt for your assigned length.
- If you bring up a counterargument, make sure it’s a strong claim that’s worth entertaining instead of ones that's weak and easily dismissed.
- Suppose, for instance, you’re arguing for the benefits of adding fluoride to toothpaste and city water. You could bring up a study that suggested fluoride produced harmful health effects, then explain how its testing methods were flawed.
- Sum up your argument, but don’t simply rewrite your introduction using slightly different wording. To make your conclusion more memorable, you could also connect your thesis to a broader topic or theme to make it more relatable to your reader.
- For example, if you’ve discussed the role of nationalism in World War I, you could conclude by mentioning nationalism’s reemergence in contemporary foreign affairs.
Revising Your Paper
- This is also a great opportunity to make sure your paper fulfills the parameters of the assignment and answers the prompt!
- It’s a good idea to put your essay aside for a few hours (or overnight, if you have time). That way, you can start editing it with fresh eyes.
Tip: Try to give yourself at least 2 or 3 days to revise your paper. It may be tempting to simply give your paper a quick read and use the spell-checker to make edits. However, revising your paper properly is more in-depth.
- The passive voice, such as “The door was opened by me,” feels hesitant and wordy. On the other hand, the active voice, or “I opened the door,” feels strong and concise.
- Each word in your paper should do a specific job. Try to avoid including extra words just to fill up blank space on a page or sound fancy.
- For instance, “The author uses pathos to appeal to readers’ emotions” is better than “The author utilizes pathos to make an appeal to the emotional core of those who read the passage.”
- Read your essay out loud to help ensure you catch every error. As you read, check for flow as well and, if necessary, tweak any spots that sound awkward.  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- It’s wise to get feedback from one person who’s familiar with your topic and another who’s not. The person who knows about the topic can help ensure you’ve nailed all the details. The person who’s unfamiliar with the topic can help make sure your writing is clear and easy to understand.
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Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- Remember that your topic and thesis should be as specific as possible. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- Researching, outlining, drafting, and revising are all important steps, so do your best to budget your time wisely. Try to avoid waiting until the last minute to write your paper. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/planresearchpaper/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/evaluating-print-sources/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/conducting_research/research_overview/index.html
- ↑ https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/writing/graduate-writing-lab/writing-through-graduate-school/working-sources
- ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-5-putting-the-pieces-together-with-a-thesis-statement/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/index.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/essay-structure
- ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/counterarguments
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
- ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/formandstyle/writing/scholarlyvoice/activepassive
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/index.html
About This Article
To write a research paper, start by researching your topic at the library, online, or using an academic database. As you conduct your research and take notes, zero in on a specific topic that you want to write about and create a 1-2 sentence thesis to state the focus of your paper. Then, create an outline that includes an introduction, 3 to 5 body paragraphs to present your arguments, and a conclusion to sum up your main points. Once you have your paper's structure organized, draft your paragraphs, focusing on 1 argument per paragraph. Use the information you found through your research to back up your claims and prove your thesis statement. Finally, proofread and revise your content until it's polished and ready to submit. For more information on researching and citing sources, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How AI can help you write your research paper
Putting together a research paper can be a daunting task, often involving hours of research, managing information, and crafting a well-structured document. However, the advent of AI-powered tools makes the process more manageable than ever before. Even better than some research tips, explore how AI-powered tools can change the way you build research papers, making the entire process smoother, more precise, and less time-consuming.
Use AI for research
One of the most laborious aspects of writing a research paper is gathering information and conducting thorough research; AI-powered tools can help streamline this process significantly.
Use Microsoft Copilot in Edge to find relevant research papers, articles, and academic sources with ease. By simply inputting your paper parameters, research topic or keywords you can quickly access a vast database of academic resources, saving you hours of scouring the internet. Copilot can also swiftly provide definitions, explanations, and relevant context for unfamiliar terms or passages on the page, eliminating the need to switch between tabs or search engines. Moreover, Copilot’s AI-powered tools can summarize extensive web content and suggest related articles or papers to deepen your understanding. By integrating Copilot into your research workflow, you can enhance productivity and ensure access to up-to-date and pertinent information.
Organize your paper with AI
Once you've collected the necessary information, you need to organize and structure your research paper effectively. Copilot, accessible right in the Microsoft Edge sidebar, can help build a clear, well-structured outline for your paper based specifically on your topic and web sources. By inputting key points and subtopics, these AI-powered tools can generate a structured outline to serve as a roadmap for your argument. This ensures your research paper is logically organized, making it easier for readers to comprehend.
Come across a concept or fact on the web that you want to use? Something spark an idea you want to get down and revisit? Use the Compose tab in Copilot to write up a summary of the idea, or where it fits into your larger argument. Ask for a citation while you’re at it—more on that a little later.
As a bonus, Microsoft Edge’s AI-powered tools check for grammar and spelling errors and provide suggestions to improve the clarity of your writing. If you like writing chunks of your paper as you research, this is ideal. They can help refine your writing style and ensure your ideas are effectively communicated.
Finding sources using AI
Looking for primary or academic sources? Ask Copilot in Microsoft Edge sidebar. With a topic, keywords, and questions, the AI-powered tool can help hunt down possible sources fast. Copilot may provide links and even summaries of the sources. To be sure the sources are credible, always review them for yourself, of course, and make the best decision about what is relevant and persuasive for your paper.
Citing sources using AI
Citing sources and managing references is a crucial aspect of research paper writing—and one of the most dreaded. Fortunately, AI-powered citation and reference management tools can simplify the tedious citation process. As you track sources and collect information across the web, the AI-powered Microsoft Edge sidebar can help generate citations for your sources. Simply ask for Copilot to cite a source using a specific style—typically APA, MLA, or Chicago—and it will find the best citation generator for your paper. The sidebar tools can also serve as a sort of extra set of eyes, checking your footnotes and bibliography for errors or inconsistencies.
Ethical use of AI-powered tools in school
The ethics of using AI for research papers raise important questions about transparency, integrity, and the role of human creativity and critical thinking in academia. While AI-powered tools undeniably offer efficiency and assistance in the research process, it's crucial for researchers to maintain transparency. Proper citation and acknowledgment of AI-generated content or assistance is essential to uphold academic integrity and avoid plagiarism.
Ultimately, the responsible use of AI in research should complement human ingenuity rather than replace it, emphasizing collaboration between technology and researchers to advance knowledge ethically and morally.
Embark on you next research paper with AI’s help
AI-powered tools like those built into Microsoft Edge have the ability to revolutionize the process of developing research papers. From automating research to helping with organization, citation management, even language translation, these tools offer a variety of benefits to researchers.
When you embark on your next research paper, consider integrating AI-powered tools into your workflow to save time, enhance accuracy, and improve the overall quality of your work. Microsoft Copilot in Edge is an easy and convenient AI portal for researchers and writers. Try Microsoft Edge today to tap into the power of AI and improve your research papers today.
- This article was created with the help of AI.
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How to Write a Research Paper Fast
As a student, you knew it was inevitable. The day has come where you have to write a research paper, but you’ve put it off until the last minute. Now the pressure is sinking in to get it done quickly and you want to know how to write a research paper fast.
The good news is that it’s doable. The better news is that there are ways to avoid waiting until the last minute. We will tackle those after we give you everything you need to know to get it done.
Photo by Russ Ward
A research paper is what it sounds like — a paper that requires a thesis (or argument) along with the research to back it up. Research papers involve citing a variety of sources, analyzing arguments, and pulling different academic pieces together to prove a point.
1. Understand the Assignment:
The first thing you have to make sure you do before you get to outlining and writing is to understand the assignment. You will need to organize different pieces of information, from books, essays, interviews, articles and more.
2. Choose a Topic:
Depending on the assignment provided, you will either have a topic in front of you or you will have to decide on one yourself. If your professor did not provide you with a topic, here are some helpful ways to choose one that will work for your needs:
- Choose something you understand enough so that you will be able to interpret the research about it
- Before you get started, check that there is a lot of content about that topic by performing a simple online search to see what turns up
- Write out your topic as a research question that you plan to answer
- Research more about your topic and find evidence to back up what you want to answer
- Make a list of keywords that you continue to see pop up about the topic
- Create your thesis
3. Perform Research:
While performing research is as easy as conducting an online search for sources, the more important element is evaluating the validity of a source. Don’t use Wikipedia as a source, because it is crowdsourced and can be edited by anyone. Instead, rely on digital encyclopedias, scholarly databases, trustworthy publications like TIME magazine and the New York Times, and the like. Since you’re writing this research paper at the last minute, the library may not be a possible option. However, for the next time you write a research paper and plan in advance, definitely utilize books from the library.
4. Write Your Thesis:
A thesis statement is the gist of your entire paper. It is what you will spend your writing proving; therefore, it has to be strong and to the point. A thesis statement appears in the introduction of your research paper, following the strong hook statement that draws your readers in. There is a formulaic way to write a strong thesis statement, and it looks something like this:
“By examining (argument 1), (argument 2), and (argument 3), it is clear that (statement you will prove).”
A thesis statement is typically one sentence and it is clearly written so that the reader knows exactly what they will read about in your paper.
To check that you’ve written a strong thesis statement, ask yourself if it achieves the following:
- Is it in the introduction?
- Does it answer the question from the prompt?
- Can others argue against my thesis?
- Is it going to prove a single claim?
- Does it answer something meaningful?
5. Outline Your Paper:
Now that you have the main ingredients for your research paper, namely your thesis and supporting research, you can start outlining. Everyone has their own way they like to create an outline for papers. Here’s one good example of how it can be done — this is called a flat outline:
- List the topics you will discuss
- Under each topic, write your sources
- If you are lacking sources, revisit and research more to give more meat to your paper
- Move your topics and their information onto your paper in an organized flow
- Write your thesis at the top so you can ensure that you are answering/proving your thesis throughout the paper’s argument
6. The Body/Intro and Conclusion:
So, do you start with your introduction and conclusion and then fill in the body? Or, do you do it the other way around? Really, there is no right or wrong way. It ultimately depends on your preference. Some people like to write their introduction and use it to serve as an outline of their paper and then flow from there. Others like to write their points in the body of their paper and then extrapolate the introduction and conclusion from what they wrote.
Regardless of how you perform your work, there is a structure that the paper must follow, which looks like this:
- Introduction – includes a hook sentence (grabs the reader), your thesis and a menu sentence (a list of what you will discuss).
- Body paragraphs – each body paragraph comes from what you mentioned in your introduction’s menu sentence. Each body paragraph has a topic sentence, or a first sentence that clearly states what it will be about. Each body paragraph includes support and sources that prove the topic sentence or argument.
- Conclusion – here, you restate your introduction and thesis in different words. You want to end with a strong and memorable sentence. Just like your introduction began with a hook statement, your conclusion should end with something that will be remembered.
7. Cite Sources:
One of the major differences between a research paper and any other academic paper is that you must cite your sources. The end of your paper will have a list of sources, or a bibliography. Depending on your professor’s preferences, they will either be listed in APA format , MLA , Chicago , etc. This is an imperative step because your entire research paper’s evidence is based on and backed up by these sources, so you must give them credit where credit is due.
While this is not in the cards for all paper writing, it is very important for a last minute research paper. You’ve likely spent hours crunching the information and regurgitating it in your own words to fill up the once blank pages. As such, it’s a good idea to step away from your paper, get some sleep, and then revisit it with fresh eyes in the morning.
9. Proofread Revise and Editing:
As with any paper, you want to make sure you read it over to catch any mistakes. Not only should you use the Word processing tool that checks spelling and grammar for you, but you must also read it out loud to find any mistakes.
10. Find and Remove Plagiarism:
Once you are done with the entire proofreading and checking phase, the last thing that you have to do is find and remove plagiarism in your research paper. Plagiarism has a lot of consequences, and you have to make sure that your research paper is completely free of it. To do this, you first have to use a plagiarism checker to find all the plagiarized parts. Once found, you can either remove them or give the required accreditations.
If there is time to ask a friend or peer to read over your paper one time, that will be a good idea, too.
Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash
How to write a research paper in a day.
Granted, all the steps above can help you write a research paper fast. Here’s a brief look at how you can do this in a day:
1. Brainstorm Quickly
- Use the prompt
- Outline possible options
- Perform a simple Google search and find what has the most information
- Choose your topic
- Create an outline
- Find research to support each point in your outline
3. Write Quickly
- Put it all on paper as you think of it
- Take time to edit, condense, and rewrite
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
Find a good writing environment.
Before sitting down to get started on your last-minute task, make sure you set up an environment that is conducive to getting your work done. Things you want to consider:
Choose somewhere quiet and distraction-free. You will have to stay focused for a few hours, so you’ll want to choose a comfortable setting.
2. Good lighting:
Along with comfort, make sure you have adequate lighting to read and write.
3. Go somewhere studious:
Perhaps, if time permits, you can choose to work in somewhere like a library or a study lounge.
4. Bring just your supplies needed:
Even if you work at home, make sure you set up a table with only the supplies you need, as to limit distractions. This could include: a computer, tablet, pen, paper, highlighter, books, and sticky notes. Plus, don’t forget water!
Tips to Avoid Procrastination
Writing a last-minute paper, especially that involves research, is stressful and less than optimal . Instead of finding yourself in this position, you can follow this advice to avoid such a situation.
1. Start early:
Once you’re given the prompt, start thinking about what you want to write about. You can write down ideas on paper and look into the research that supports each point.
2. Outline first and take breaks:
Begin outlining your paper so that when you sit to write, you already have the bulk of it prepared. If you start early, you will have the advantage and ability to take breaks. This helps to revisit your argument with a clear head and potentially see things that you may have otherwise missed.
3. Ask for help if you need it:
Starting early means that you are not crunched for time. So, you have the added benefit of asking for help. You can solicit advice from friends, peers, family, your professors, teacher assistants, the online community, and more. Plus, when you finish writing your paper, you have time to ask for help from someone other than you to read it over and edit it.
The Bottom Line
While knowing how to write a paper fast is useful and at times necessary, it is not the optimal way to approach assignments. However, sometimes being in a bind is out of your control. Therefore, the best way to write a research paper fast is to follow the aforementioned steps and remember to stay calm.
While a research paper involves a lot of work, from creating a strong thesis to finding supporting research, it can be made into an enjoyable activity when you choose to write about something you are interested in. It gives you a chance to digest other people’s findings and make your own inferences about what they mean.
By following the typical structure of a research paper, creating an outline and finding good sources, you can get your research paper done in a night. Good luck!
3 Ways to Make the Research Writing Process Easier
- Peer Review
These 3 techniques can help you be more productive as you write your research manuscript.
Updated on November 29, 2019
Writing anxiety is extremely common among graduate students and professional researchers alike. Whether your task is to produce a 200-word abstract, an entire dissertation, or something in between, the thought of facing The Blank Page can be stressful and overwhelming.
Have you ever been sitting at your desk, struggling to write, when you suddenly feel like nothing could possibly be more fun or important than cleaning your bathroom right now ?
You are not alone! If writing were easy, there would not be an entire genre of books and articles on writing strategy and overcoming procrastination. Even experienced, prolific, and famous writers acknowledge that they have love-hate relationships with their craft.
Changing how you approach the writing process can make a world of difference. Here are three tips.
1. Write to stimulate thinking and solve problems.
When I was struggling to write my own dissertation several years ago, a fellow graduate student gave me some great advice: “writing produces thinking, not the other way around.” It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you must have everything “worked out,” crystal-clear in your mind, before you can write even a sentence. Not true!
Although perhaps counterintuitive, the creative act and process of writing will help you to discover new ideas and ways of organizing and expressing them. You may find yourself working out problems and obstacles simply by stringing words together.
Remember, writing is a craft like any other. Like a sculptor, painter, composer, or any other artist, you need to give yourself the freedom and permission to work with your media – words and ideas – without the pressure of producing a perfect final product on your first try.
Many writers struggle with perfectionism, but this usually leads to the “paralysis of analysis:” obsessing over the perfect word or sentence structure. It's okay to be this obsessive when you are polishing your manuscript for publication, but in the initial stages of drafting, try to keep moving quickly, using whatever words and phrases come to you naturally. ( AJE can help you with editing later ).
Here is a trick that has worked for me: set a timer for 20 minutes, and write as much as possible during that time, without worrying about grammar, phrasing, or vocabulary. Just go for it! No one ever has to see it but you, and it will get your ideas flowing.
In fact, once you take the first step and have put something, anything, down on paper, you will most likely find that the ideas keep coming when you aren't even actively working – like interest on your initial investment – so be ready to capture them with a notebook or your phone.
Key take-away : Writing is part of thinking. Don't wait to write until you feel “ready.” Ask yourself “Can I write for just 20 minutes?” and go for it.
2. Make it modular.
Once you've decided to let go of perfectionism and do some free-form writing, how do you know where to start? Thinking about your entire writing project from start to finish is usually too overwhelming. There is no rule that you have to write it in sequence!
One of my favorite professors introduced me to the idea of “modular writing.” Think of your paper as a set of building blocks. Dreading writing the introduction ? Skip it for now. It's often easier to write once you've finished the rest of the article anyway.
If you are really struggling, ask yourself “What is the easiest part of this manuscript to write?” and start there. Maybe it's the methodology , or even the limitations of your research – that's fine, just start writing it.
If you keep up this habit, even for 20 or 30 minutes a day (see point 1 above about setting a timer), you will soon have a nice collection of “modules” or building blocks that you can combine into a manuscript. Again, don't worry about the language too much at this point. Just write. Editing will come later.
It is also a great idea to reward yourself when you complete a discrete task, such as finishing a section. This reward can be small – an episode or chapter of a TV show or book you're into, your favorite edible treat or drink – the point is to establish a cycle of positive reinforcement. Are you “bribing” yourself? Maybe! But if it helps you write, it's worth it.
Key take-away : “Modular writing” is a great way to break your paper down into manageable tasks. Write the sections of your paper in the order that is easiest for you, and put them together, in sequence, later.
3. Set yourself up for success.
I used to feel very stressed looking at a blank Microsoft Word document on my computer. I felt like a pianist about to perform at Carnegie Hall, but the keyboard was my piano, and everything had to be perfect from the first word. That is no way to encourage productive writing! But with a pen and a notebook, I felt more relaxed, and the writing flowed more naturally.
The bottom line is that you should use whatever tools and tricks work for you and your individual writing process. You can even write in an email to yourself if that helps you relax more than a word processing document (yes, I've done this).
Is there a particular type of pen or pencil that just makes you want to write because of the smoothness of its ink on real paper? Use it! Do you love writing on a whiteboard with dry-erase markers? Do it! The point is to start writing .
The great thing about all of the technology available to us today is that it gives us so much freedom to be creative and productive in new ways. Although there are a lot of rules for formatting and submitting your manuscript (and AJE can help you with those ), there are *no rules* for writing a draft. Remember, it's a lot easier to edit a draft that *exists* than one that doesn't!
Key take-away : There are no rules when writing your draft. The best writing habits are the ones that work for you.
- Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day , by Joan Bolker, Owl Books, 1998. This book is somewhat geared toward the humanities and social sciences, and is a bit dated by now, but it is still a must-read for anyone writing a dissertation or master's thesis and inspired several of the strategies discussed above.
- How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing , by Paul J. Silvia, American Psychological Association, 2007. Relevant to all academic disciplines.
Mariel Wolfson, PhD
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The best AI tools for writing a research paper
Research papers may be the most dreaded of academic assignments, even before you hit the Master’s or PhD level, never mind your post-grad career. Thankfully there are now a number of generative AI tools that can speed up research writing, and we’ve gathered some of the better ones into a handy list.
While you’ll see some familiar names on here, it’s worth reminding everyone that in an academic environment, AI can potentially be a minefield. Some uses of it are considered cheating or otherwise unethical, especially if you plagiarize content. When that worry is eliminated, you still need to doublecheck the style, grammar, facts, and/or sources of any AI output.
Grammarly’s main purpose is of course correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation. But it can also recommend changes to the tone or formality of your language, and most importantly for research papers, there’s a beta citation generator. That feature supports APA, MLA, and Chicago styles, so as a student at least, you should be covered.
Note that while there’s a free version of Grammarly, you’ll need to upgrade to a Premium plan to get things like full-sentence rewrites, formatting help, and plagiarism detection. The upgraded version can even help with English fluency if that’s a second language and you’re not used to cultural conventions. Premium further bumps up the number of AI prompts you can use from 100 per month to 1,000.
This tool focuses exclusively on paper discovery. On top of enabling manual searches and a personal library, though, it can also recommend related papers and authors, and update you on the latest material connected to your research. If you like, you can collaborate with others, or check out a visual map of a paper’s links.
The best part is that ResearchRabbit is entirely supported by donations, so if you’re a struggling grad student, there’s no need to pay for the convenience. Go ahead and save your cash for food, rent, and student loans.
Scholarcy promises to do the hard part with a lot of outside source material — summarize it so you get the gist. The tool is said to work with books and papers alike, and extract vital information such as findings, limitations, and data analyses. The result is a flashcard, but with links to sources, and the ability to choose what appears. If you need the tables from scientific papers, for instance, you can force Scholarcy to include them.
An extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge supports open repositories like arXiv and biorXiv. In fact you can use this for free, though you’re limited to small- to medium-sized documents, and you’ll need to sign up for a subscription if you want to save summaries to your Scholarcy Library. A subscription also gets you sharing, annotation, and export options, as well as the ability to import from Dropbox, Google Drive, or custom RSS feeds.
While Scite might in some ways serve same purpose as ResearchRabbit — hunting down papers — it goes a lot further. You can ask it general knowledge questions and get answers with cited sources, or doublecheck the sources for claims you’ve read elsewhere, such as ChatGPT . When searching for material, you can apply numerous filters including authorship, institutional affiliation, or how many citations mention, support, or contrast a particular paper.
You can even check how often your own material is being cited, or get aggregate insights and notifications based on your collections. It’s serious stuff, and once your trial period expires, you’ll need to pay $144 per year or $20 per month unless you’re lucky enough to fall under a university or corporate plan.
If Scite can be considered a step up from ResearchRabbit, the same might be said about Trinka versus Grammarly. Trinka is specifically aimed at fixing academic and technical writing, including style, grammar, and jargon issues. It’s based on the APA and AMA style guides, and it always aims for a formal tone.
There’s a host of additional features here, including paraphrasing, citation and plagiarism checking, and analysis to find an ideal journal to publish in. Plug-ins are available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Microsoft Word. A Safari plug-in is promised sometime in the future.
If all you want is small-scale help with grammar, paraphrasing, and plagiarism, there’s a free version of Trinka which supports Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, however, if you want to lift usage caps and take advantage of Word integration.
If you want to deliver an excellent paper, you should start your work as soon as possible. Do not let procrastination influence your results.
Even if you're an experienced writer, we recommend to proofread everything you write before submitting. You just can't be too careful.
How to Research Paper Fast – 10 Easy Tricks!
It’s easy to procrastinate on a research paper, especially if you don’t enjoy the topic. Other times, you might be too busy to get a head start. Regardless, when you are racing to get your writing assignment done, check out these guidelines on how to write a research paper fast and easy. By following this advice, you can learn a skill that will benefit you the rest of your school career!
Tips for Writing a Research Paper Fast
- Have a direction. You cannot write an organized paper unless you know where you want to go. As with planning any paper, start with a thesis.
- Choose a topic that interests you. The research and writing go faster when you are interested in what you are writing.
- Pick something you are knowledgeable of. This will make it easier to write. Since you will need to do less research, you will also finish the paper faster.
- Plan the topic well. If you have a topic that is too narrow or too broad for the assignment, it is going to be difficult to get the word count right.
- Get organized. Planning your thoughts is key as you consider how to write a good research paper fast. Writing an outline also makes the drafting stage go significantly quicker.
- Practice. The more that you write, the less time it will take you to research and express your ideas. You will also find that you can organize easier and make less mistakes while writing.
- Outsource part of the process. Many writing services will do the research, help with drafting or outlining, or even just proofread your work. This is a good option if you fall behind before the deadline or when you need a little extra help.
- Use the computer-but print to proofread. If you type the first draft on a computer, you can easily submit it after making corrections. However, you should still print it out to proofread. This is easier and more effective than staring at it on a computer screen.
- Keep sources together. You do not want to lose your source notes in the confusion and end up having to do extra work at the end. Making your reference page as you go can also help.
- Always proofread. Even when you are rushed, it is important to look over your work. You may even find more than your usual number of mistakes because you hurried.
Why Do I Need to Write Quickly?
Writing quickly has many benefits. It gives you the opportunity to jot down your ideas without being restricted. It is also useful when you are pinched for time. Students do not always have the time they need to get everything done. By knowing how to write a research paper fast, you ensure you can get good grades even when you are in a hurry.
Can I Get a Good a Good Grade and Write Fast?
When you take the time to do your assignments, you get better grades. However, this isn’t always practical with the number of assignments most students work. As you consider the best way to write a research paper fast, remember that you’ll get better with practice. As you follow these guidelines, you’ll become a writing expert.
It might be best to start your papers early, but that does not always happen. When life gets in the way, it is good to know you can still produce a quality assignment quickly. Hopefully, this article has given you more tips on how to write a research paper really fast.