Skip Nav

Writing a Good Research Question

Resource Links

❶If you are numbering the pages, then yes, the second and third pages should be numbered. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper?

Suggested Readings

Research-Based Writing


The paper won't write itself, but by planning and preparing well, the writing practically falls into place. Also, try to avoid plagiarism. To write a research paper, start by researching your topic at the library, online, or using an academic database. Once you've found at least 5 reputable sources, outline the information you've learned through your research. Then, come up with a sentence thesis to base your paper off of.

Include the information you found through your research in your paper to back up your thesis statement. For more help writing a research paper, like how to organize it, read the article! Featured Articles Research Papers. Ask yourself important questions. Although you may be limited by specific classroom or work related guidelines, choosing your topic is the first and most important step in your research paper project. Regardless of whether your topic can be anything you want or has rigid requirements, it is important to keep a few questions in mind: Is there enough research available on this topic?

Is the topic new and unique enough that I can offer fresh opinions? Pick something you love. Whenever possible, choose a topic that you feel passionate about.

Writing about something you enjoy certainly shows in the final product, making it more likely that you will be successful writing a paper about something you enjoy. If you are writing a research paper for a class, consider the other students. Is it likely that they will also be writing about your topic? How can you keep your paper unique and interesting if everyone is writing about the same thing?

Asking a professor for help may seem frightening, but if they are worth anything as a professor, they want you to be successful with your work, and will do what they can to make that happen. Although it requires a bit more time, you have the ability to change your topic even after you begin researching others. With a topic selected, the next step is to begin research.

Research comes in numerous forms including web pages, journal articles, books, encyclopedias, interviews, and blog posts, among others. Take time to look for professional resources who offer valid research and insight into your topic. Try to use a minimum of five sources to vary your information; never rely on only sources.

Look for empirical research. Whenever possible, look for peer-reviewed empirical research. These are articles or books written by experts in your field of interest, whose work has been read and vouched for by other experts in the same field. These can be found in scientific journals or via an online search. Take a trip to your local library or university library.

Although it may seem old fashioned, libraries are chock full of helpful research materials from books to newspapers and magazines to journals. Typically, websites that end with. That is because these websites belong to schools, the government, or organizations dealing with your topic. Try changing your search query often to find different search results for your topic.

There are special search engines and academic databases available that search through thousands of peer-reviewed or scientifically published journals, magazines, and books. Look for databases that cover your subject only. For example, PsycINFO is an academic database that holds nothing but works done by authors in the field of psychology and sociology.

This will help you to get more tailored results than a very general search would. Take advantage of this ability to ask for specific information by using as many of the query boxes as you can. Visit your school library and ask the librarian for a full list of the academic databases they subscribe to, as well as the passwords for each. Get creative with your research. This should contain many more books and journals that are about your topic as well.

This step is very important: Make marks on anything that you think might be remotely important or that could be put to use in your paper. As you mark off important pieces in the research, add your own commentary and notes explaining to yourself where you might use it in your paper. Writing down your ideas as you have them will make writing your paper much easier and give you something to refer back to. Annotating your research can take quite a bit of time, but needs to be taken one step further in order to add a bit more clarity for the outlining process.

Organize your notes by collecting all of your highlighted phrases and ideas into categories based on topic. For example, if you are writing a paper analyzing a famous work of literature, you could organize your research into a list of notes on the characters, a list of references to certain points in the plot, a list of symbols the author presents, et cetera.

Try writing each quote or item that you marked onto an individual note card. That way, you can rearrange and lay out your cards however you would like. Color code your notes to make it easier. Write down a list of all the notes you are using from each individual resource, and then highlight each category of information in a different color.

For example, write everything from a particular book or journal on a single sheet of paper in order to consolidate the notes, and then everything that is related to characters highlight in green, everything related to the plot mark in orange, et cetera. As you go through your notes, mark down the author, page number, title, and publishing information for each resource. This will come in handy when you craft your bibliography or works cited page later in the game. Identify the goal of the paper.

Generally, speaking, there are two types of research paper: Each requires a slightly different focus and writing style which should be identified prior to starting a rough draft.

An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view. The issue should be debatable with a logical counter argument. An analytic research paper offers a fresh look at an important issue. They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer.

Where do you think your research will take you? What will it mean if your research disputes your planned argument? At this step, you are well on your way to having a focus for your research, constructing a thesis, and then writing out your argument in a paper. Why are social networking sites harmful? How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on such social networking sites as MySpace and Facebook?

The clearer version specifies sites MySpace and Facebook , the type of harm privacy issues , and whom the issue is harming users. A strong research question should never leave room for ambiguity or interpretation. What is the effect on the environment from global warming? How is glacial melting affecting penguins in the Arctic Circle? What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem?

Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic. BODY — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. 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.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH PAPER • Getting ready with data • First draft • Structure of a scientific paper • Selecting a journal • Submission • Revision and galley proof Disclaimer: The suggestions and remarks in this presentation are based on personal research experience. Research practices and approaches vary.

Privacy FAQs

Why is a research question essential to the research process? Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process. The specificity of a well-developed research question helps writers avoid the “all-about” paper and work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis.

About Our Ads

Writing a Research Paper. This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper. Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide. Writing a Good Research Question. Research Questions and Hypotheses - This book chapter takes an in-depth look at the principles used to design and write research .

Cookie Info

Steps in Writing a Research Paper. A series of steps, starting with developing a research question and working thesis, will lead you through writing a research paper. As you move through these steps and actually create the research paper, you may find that you can't move through all of them in chronological order, and that's o.k. In fact, you.