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7.3 – Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Revise your paper to improve organization and cohesion.
  • Determine an appropriate style and tone for your paper.
  • Revise to ensure that your tone is consistent.
  • Edit your paper to ensure that language, citations, and formatting are correct.

research paper draft 2

Given all the time and effort you have put into your research project, you will want to make sure that your final draft represents your best work. This requires taking the time to revise and edit your paper carefully.

You may feel like you need a break from your paper before you revise and edit it. That is understandable—but leave yourself with enough time to complete this important stage of the writing process. In this section, you will learn the following specific strategies that are useful for revising and editing a research paper:

  • How to evaluate and improve the overall organization and cohesion
  • How to maintain an appropriate style and tone
  • How to use checklists to identify and correct any errors in language, citations, and formatting

Revising Your Paper: Organization and Cohesion

When writing a research paper, it is easy to become overly focused on editorial details, such as the proper format for bibliographical entries. These details do matter. However, before you begin to address them, it is important to spend time reviewing and revising the content of the paper.

A good research paper is both organized and cohesive. Organization means that your argument flows logically from one point to the next. Cohesion means that the elements of your paper work together smoothly and naturally. In a cohesive research paper, information from research is seamlessly integrated with the writer’s ideas.

Revise to Improve Organization

When you revise to improve organization, you look at the flow of ideas throughout the essay as a whole and within individual paragraphs. You check to see that your essay moves logically from the introduction to the body paragraphs to the conclusion, and that each section reinforces your thesis. Use Checklist 12.1 to help you.

Revising for Organization – Checklist

At the essay level.

  • Does my introduction proceed clearly from the opening to the thesis?
  • Does each body paragraph have a clear main idea that relates to the thesis?
  • Do the main ideas in the body paragraphs flow in a logical order? Is each paragraph connected to the one before it?
  • Do I need to add or revise topic sentences or transitions to make the overall flow of ideas clearer?
  • Does my conclusion summarize my main ideas and revisit my thesis?

At the paragraph level

  • Does the topic sentence clearly state the main idea?
  • Do the details in the paragraph relate to the main idea?
  • Do I need to recast any sentences or add transitions to improve the flow of sentences?

If you’re not sure, continue to revise your work or contact your Professor for help.

Jorge reread his draft paragraph by paragraph. As he read, he highlighted the main idea of each paragraph so he could see whether his ideas proceeded in a logical order. For the most part, the flow of ideas was clear. However, he did notice that one paragraph did not have a clear main idea. It interrupted the flow of the writing. During revision, Jorge added a topic sentence that clearly connected the paragraph to the one that had preceded it. He also added transitions to improve the flow of ideas from sentence to sentence.

Read the following paragraphs twice, the first time without Jorge’s changes, and the second time with them.

Jorge’s draft paragraph

Insert “Over the past decade, increasing numbers of Americans have jumped on the low-carbohydrate bandwagon.” after sentence 4. Revise & combine sentences 7 and 8 to read: “Proponents of low-carb diets say they are not only the most effective way to lose weight, but also they yield health benefits such as lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels. Start sentence 8 with “Meanwhile,”.

Follow these steps to begin revising your paper’s overall organization.

  • Print out a hard copy of your paper.
  • Read your paper paragraph by paragraph. Highlight your thesis and the topic sentence of each paragraph.
  • Using the thesis and topic sentences as starting points, outline the ideas you presented—just as you would do if you were outlining a chapter in a textbook. Do not look at the outline you created during prewriting. You may write in the margins of your draft or create a formal outline on a separate sheet of paper.
  • Next, reread your paper more slowly, looking for how ideas flow from sentence to sentence. Identify places where adding a transition or recasting a sentence would make the ideas flow more logically.
  • Review the topics on your outline. Is there a logical flow of ideas? Identify any places where you may need to reorganize ideas.
  • Begin to revise your paper to improve organization. Start with any major issues, such as needing to move an entire paragraph. Then proceed to minor revisions, such as adding a transitional phrase or tweaking a topic sentence so it connects ideas more clearly.

Collaboration

Please share your paper with a classmate. Repeat the six steps and take notes on a separate piece of paper. Share and compare notes.

Writers choose transitions carefully to show the relationships between ideas—for instance, to make a comparison or elaborate on a point with examples. Make sure your transitions suit your purpose and avoid overusing the same ones. For an extensive list of transitions, see Chapter 3 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , Section 3.4 “Revising and Editing” .

Revise to Improve Cohesion

When you revise to improve cohesion, you analyze how the parts of your paper work together. You look for anything that seems awkward or out of place. Revision may involve deleting unnecessary material or rewriting parts of the paper so that the out-of-place material fits in smoothly.

In a research paper, problems with cohesion usually occur when a writer has trouble integrating source material. If facts or quotations have been awkwardly dropped into a paragraph, they distract or confuse the reader instead of working to support the writer’s point. Overusing paraphrased and quoted material has the same effect. Use the Checklist below to review your essay for cohesion.

Revising for Cohesion: Checklist

  • Does the opening of the paper clearly connect to the broader topic and thesis? Make sure entertaining quotes or anecdotes serve a purpose.
  • Have I included support from research for each main point in the body of my paper?
  • Have I included introductory material before any quotations? Quotations should never stand alone in a paragraph.
  • Does paraphrased and quoted material clearly serve to develop my own points?
  • Do I need to add to or revise parts of the paper to help the reader understand how certain information from a source is relevant?
  • Are there any places where I have overused material from sources?
  • Does my conclusion make sense based on the rest of the paper? Make sure any new questions or suggestions in the conclusion are clearly linked to earlier material.

As Jorge reread his draft, he looked to see how the different pieces fit together to prove his thesis. He realized that some of his supporting information needed to be integrated more carefully and decided to omit some details entirely. Read the following paragraph, first without Jorge’s revisions and then with them.

Jorge’s paragraph with source integration & revisions

One likely reason for these lackluster long-term results is that a low-carbohydrate diet – like any restrictive diet – is difficult to adhere to for any extended period. Most people enjoy foods that are high in carbohydrates, and no one wants to be the person who always turns down that slice of pizza or birthday cake. In commenting on the Gardner study, experts at Harvard School of Public Health (2010) noted that women in all four diet groups had difficulty following the plan. Because it is hard for dieters to stick to a low-carbohydrate eating plan, the initial success of these diets is short-lived (Heinz, 2009). Medical professionals caution that low-carbohydrate diets are difficult for many people to follow consistently and that, in to maintain a healthy weight, dieters should try to develop nutrition and exercise habits they can incorporate into their lives in the long term (Mayo Clinic, 2008). Registered dietician D. Kwon (personal communication, August 10, 2010) comments, “For some people, (low-carbohydrate diets) are great, but for most, any sensible eating and exercise plan would work just as well” (Kwon, 2010) .

Summary of revisions: Remove 2nd sentence “Most people enjoy…”. Add signal phrase with personal communication citation to last sentence. Delete the parenthetical citation from end of paragraph.

Jorge decided that his comment about pizza and birthday cake came across as subjective and was not necessary to make his point, so he deleted it. He also realized that the quotation at the end of the paragraph was awkward and ineffective. How would his readers know who Kwon was or why her opinion should be taken seriously? Adding an introductory phrase helped Jorge integrate this quotation smoothly and establish the credibility of his source.

Follow these steps to begin revising your paper to improve cohesion.

  • Read the body paragraphs of your paper first. Each time you come to a place that cites information from sources, ask yourself what purpose this information serves. Check that it helps support a point and that it is clearly related to the other sentences in the paragraph.
  • Identify unnecessary information from sources that you can delete.
  • Identify places where you need to revise your writing so that readers understand the significance of the details cited from sources.
  • Skim the body paragraphs once more, looking for any paragraphs that seem packed with citations. Review these paragraphs carefully for cohesion.
  • Review your introduction and conclusion. Make sure the information presented works with ideas in the body of the paper.
  • Revise the places you identified in your paper to improve cohesion.

Please exchange papers with a classmate. Complete step four. On a separate piece of paper, note any areas that would benefit from clarification. Return and compare notes.

Writing at Work

Using a consistent style and tone.

Once you are certain that the content of your paper fulfills your purpose, you can begin revising to improve style and tone . Together, your style and tone create the voice of your paper, or how you come across to readers. Style refers to the way you use language as a writer—the sentence structures you use and the word choices you make. Tone is the attitude toward your subject and audience that you convey through your word choice.

Determining an Appropriate Style and Tone

Although accepted writing styles will vary within different disciplines, the underlying goal is the same—to come across to your readers as a knowledgeable, authoritative guide. Writing about research is like being a tour guide who walks readers through a topic. A stuffy, overly formal tour guide can make readers feel put off or intimidated. Too much informality or humor can make readers wonder whether the tour guide really knows what he or she is talking about. Extreme or emotionally charged language comes across as unbalanced.

To help prevent being overly formal or informal, determine an appropriate style and tone at the beginning of the research process. Consider your topic and audience because these can help dictate style and tone. For example, a paper on new breakthroughs in cancer research should be more formal than a paper on ways to get a good night’s sleep.

A strong research paper comes across as straightforward, appropriately academic, and serious. It is generally best to avoid writing in the first person, as this can make your paper seem overly subjective and opinion based. Use Checklist 12.3 on style to review your paper for other issues that affect style and tone. You can check for consistency at the end of the writing process. Checking for consistency is discussed later in this section.

Revising for Style: Checklist

  • My paper avoids excessive wordiness.
  • My sentences are varied in length and structure.
  • I have avoided using first-person pronouns such as I and we .
  • I have used the active voice whenever possible.
  • I have defined specialized terms that might be unfamiliar to readers.
  • I have used clear, straightforward language whenever possible and avoided unnecessary jargon.
  • My paper states my point of view using a balanced tone—neither too indecisive nor too forceful.

Word Choice

Note that word choice is an especially important aspect of style. In addition to checking the points noted on Checklist 12.3, review your paper to make sure your language is precise, conveys no unintended connotations, and is free of biases. Here are some of the points to check for:

  • Vague or imprecise terms
  • Repetition of the same phrases (“Smith states…, Jones states…”) to introduce quoted and paraphrased material
  • Exclusive use of masculine pronouns or awkward use of he or she
  • Use of language with negative connotations, such as haughty or ridiculous
  • Use of outdated or offensive terms to refer to specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups

Using plural nouns and pronouns or recasting a sentence can help you keep your language gender neutral while avoiding awkwardness. Consider the following examples.

  • Gender-biased: When a writer cites a source in the body of his paper, he must list it on his references page.
  • Awkward: When a writer cites a source in the body of his or her paper, he or she must list it on his or her references page.
  • Improved: Writers must list any sources cited in the body of a paper on the references page.

Keeping Your Style Consistent

As you revise your paper, make sure your style is consistent throughout. Look for instances where a word, phrase, or sentence just does not seem to fit with the rest of the writing. It is best to reread for style after you have completed the other revisions so that you are not distracted by any larger content issues. Revising strategies you can use include the following:

  • Read your paper aloud. Sometimes your ears catch inconsistencies that your eyes miss.
  • Share your paper with another reader whom you trust to give you honest feedback. It is often difficult to evaluate one’s own style objectively—especially in the final phase of a challenging writing project. Another reader may be more likely to notice instances of wordiness, confusing language, or other issues that affect style and tone.
  • Line-edit your paper slowly, sentence by sentence. You may even wish to use a sheet of paper to cover everything on the page except the paragraph you are editing—that forces you to read slowly and carefully. Mark any areas where you notice problems in style or tone, and then take time to rework those sections.

On reviewing his paper, Jorge found that he had generally used an appropriately academic style and tone. However, he noticed one glaring exception—his first paragraph. He realized there were places where his overly informal writing could come across as unserious or, worse, disparaging. Revising his word choice and omitting a humorous aside helped Jorge maintain a consistent tone. Read his revisions.

Jorge’s first paragraph with academic style revisions

I. Introduction

Picture this: You’re standing in the aisle of your local grocery store when you see a chubby guy an overweight man nearby staring at several brands of ketchup on display. After deliberating for a moment, he reaches for the bottle with the words “Low-Carb!” displayed prominently on the label. (You can’t help but notice that the low-carb ketchup is higher priced.) Is he making a smart choice that will help him lose weight and enjoy better health – or is he just buying into the latest diet fad?

Summary of revisions: replace “a chubby guy” in sentence 1 with “an overweight man”. Remove 3rd sentence.

Using the Style Checklist, line-edit your paper. You may use either of these techniques:

  • Print out a hard copy of your paper, or work with your printout. Read it line by line. Check for the issues noted on the Style Checklist, as well as any other aspects of your writing style you have previously identified as areas for improvement. Mark any areas where you notice problems in style or tone, and then take time to rework those sections.
  • If you prefer to work with an electronic document, use the menu options in your word-processing program to enlarge the text to 150 or 200 percent of the original size. Make sure the type is large enough that you can focus on only one paragraph at a time. Read the paper line by line as described in step 1. Highlight any areas where you notice problems in style or tone, and then take time to rework those sections.

Please exchange papers with a classmate. On a separate piece of paper, note places where the essay does not seem to flow or you have questions about what was written. Return the essay and compare notes.

Editing Your Paper

After revising your paper to address problems in content or style, you will complete one final editorial review. Perhaps you already have caught and corrected minor mistakes during previous revisions. Nevertheless, give your draft a final edit to make sure it is error-free. Your final edit should focus on two broad areas:

  • Errors in grammar, mechanics, usage, and spelling
  • Errors in citing and formatting sources

Correcting Errors

Given how much work you have put into your research paper, you will want to check for any errors that could distract or confuse your readers. Using the spell-checking feature in your word-processing program can be helpful—but this should not replace a full, careful review of your document. Be sure to check for any errors that may have come up frequently for you in the past. Use Checklist 12.4 to help you as you edit:

Grammar, Mechanics, Punctuation, Usage, and Spelling Checklist

  • My paper is free of grammatical errors, such as errors in subject-verb agreement and sentence fragments. (For additional guidance on grammar, see  “Writing Basics: What Makes a Good Sentence?”. )
  • My paper is free of errors in punctuation and mechanics, such as misplaced commas or incorrectly formatted source titles. (For additional guidance on punctuation and mechanics, see “Punctuation” .)
  • My paper is free of common usage errors, such as alot and alright . (For additional guidance on correct usage, see “Working with Words: Which Word Is Right?” .)
  • My paper is free of spelling errors. I have proofread my paper for spelling in addition to using the spell-checking feature in my word-processing program.
  • I have checked my paper for any editing errors that I know I tend to make frequently.

Checking Citations and Formatting

When editing a research paper, it is also important to check that you have cited sources properly and formatted your document according to the specified guidelines. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, citing sources correctly ensures that you have given proper credit to other people for ideas and information that helped you in your work. Second, using correct formatting establishes your paper as one student’s contribution to the work developed by and for a larger academic community. Increasingly, American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines are the standard for many academic fields. Modern Language Association (MLA) is also a standard style in many fields. Use Checklist 12.5 to help you check citations and formatting.

Citations and Formatting Checklist

  • Within the body of my paper, each fact or idea taken from a source is credited to the correct source.
  • Each in-text citation includes the source author’s name (or, where applicable, the organization name or source title) and year of publication. I have used the correct format of in-text and parenthetical citations.
  • Each source cited in the body of my paper has a corresponding entry in the references section of my paper.
  • My references section includes a heading and double-spaced, alphabetized entries.
  • Each entry in my references section is indented on the second line and all subsequent lines.
  • Each entry in my references section includes all the necessary information for that source type, in the correct sequence and format.
  • My paper includes a title page.
  • The margins of my paper are set at one inch. Text is double spaced and set in a standard 12-point font.

For detailed guidelines on APA  citation and formatting, see Chapter 8 – APA Style Citations – Tutorial

During the process of revising and editing, Jorge made changes in the content and style of his paper. He also gave the paper a final review to check for overall correctness and, particularly, correct APA citations and formatting. Read the final draft of his paper.

Read Jorge’s final essay

Note: HTML/plain text & Pressbooks do not always display page layout or APA formatting such as page numbers, spacing, margins or indentation accurately. Please review APA formatting rules to ensure you meet APA guidelines with your own work. The text version is included here in HTML format for ease of reading/use. You may also want to View Jorge’s paper in PDF format .

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets

Jorge Ramirez

       Picture this: You’re standing in the aisle of your local grocery store when you see an overweight man nearby staring at several brands of ketchup on display. After deliberating for a moment, he reaches for the bottle with the words “Low-Carb!” displayed prominently on the label. Is he making a smart choice that will help him lose weight and enjoy better health—or is he just buying into the latest diet fad?

       Over the past decade, increasing numbers of Americans have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon. As of 2004, researchers estimated that approximately 40 million Americans, or about one-fifth of the population, were attempting to restrict their intake of food high in carbohydrates (Sanders & Katz, 2004). Proponents of low-carb diets say they not only are the most effective way to lose weight but also yield health benefits such as lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels. Meanwhile, some doctors claim that low-carb diets are overrated and caution that their long-term effects are unknown. Although following a low-carbohydrate diet can benefit some people, these diets are not necessarily that best option for everyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health.

Purported Benefits of Low-Carbohydrate Diets

      To make sense of the popular enthusiasm for low-carbohydrate diets, it is important to understand proponents’ claims about how they work. Any eating plan includes a balance of the three macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—each of which is essential for human health. Different foods provide these macronutrients in different proportions; a steak is primarily a source of protein, and a plate of pasta is primarily a source of carbohydrates. No one recommends eliminating any of these three macronutrient groups entirely.

       However, experts disagree on what protein: fats: carbohydrate ratio is best for optimum health and for maintaining a healthy weight. Since the 1970s, the USDA has recommended that the greatest proportion of one’s daily calories should come from carbohydrates—breads, pastas, and cereals—with moderate consumption of proteins and minimal consumption of fats. High-carbohydrate foods form the base of the “food pyramid” familiar to nutrition students.

       Those who subscribe to the low-carb philosophy, however, argue that this approach is flawed. They argue that excess weight stems from disordered metabolism, which in turn can be traced to overconsumption of foods high in carbohydrates—especially refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar (Atkins, 2002; Agatson, 2003). The body quickly absorbs sugars from these foods, increasing the level of glucose in the blood. This triggers the release of insulin, delivering energy-providing glucose to cells and storing some of the excess as glycogen. Unfortunately, the liver turns the rest of this excess glucose into fat. Thus, adherents of the low-carb approach often classify foods according to their glycemic index (GI)—a measurement of how quickly a given food raises blood glucose levels when consumed. Foods high in refined carbohydrates—sugar, potatoes, white breads, and pasta, for instance—have a high glycemic index.

       Dieters who focus solely on reducing fat intake may fail to realize that consuming refined carbohydrates contributes to weight problems. Atkins (2002) notes that low-fat diets recommended to many who wish to lose weight are, by definition, usually high in carbohydrates, and thus unlikely to succeed.

       Even worse, consuming high-carbohydrate foods regularly can, over time, wreak havoc with the body’s systems for regulating blood sugar levels and insulin production. In some individuals, frequent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels cause the body to become insulin-resistant—less able to use glucose for energy and more likely to convert it to fat (Atkins, 2002). This in turn helps to explain the link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. In contrast, reducing carbohydrate intake purportedly helps the body use food more efficiently for energy. Additional benefits associated with these diets include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (Atkins, 2002), lowered blood pressure (Bell, 2006; Atkins, 2002), and reduced risk of developing certain cancers (Atkins, 2002).

       Given the experts’ conflicting recommendations, it is no wonder that patients are confused about how to eat for optimum health. Some may assume that even moderate carbohydrate consumption should be avoided (Harvard School of Public Health, 2010). Others may use the low-carb approach to justify consuming large amounts of foods high in saturated fats—eggs, steak, bacon, and so forth. Meanwhile, low-carb diet plans and products have become a multibillion-dollar industry (Hirsch, 2004). Does this approach live up to its adherents’ promises?

Research on Low-Carbohydrate Diets and Weight Loss

       A number of clinical studies have found that low-carbohydrate diet plans are indeed highly effective for weight loss. Gardner et al. (2007) compared outcomes among overweight and obese women who followed one of four popular diet plans: Atkins, The Zone, LEARN, or Ornish. After 12 months, the group that had followed the low-carb Atkins plan had lost significantly more weight than those in the other three groups. McMillan-Price et al. (2006) compared results among overweight and obese young adults who followed one of four plans, all of which were low in fat but had varying proportions of proteins and carbohydrates. They found that, over a 12-week period, the most significantly body-fat loss occurred on plans that were high in protein and/or low in “high glycemic index” foods. More recently, the American Heart Association (2010) reported on an Israeli study that found that subjects who followed a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet lost more weight than those who followed a low-fat plan or a Mediterranean plan based on vegetables, grains, and minimal consumption of meats and healthy fats.2 Other researchers have also found that low-carbohydrates diets resulted in increased weight loss (Ebbeling et al., 2007; Bell, 2006; HealthDay, 2010).

       Although these results are promising, they may be short-lived. Dieters who succeed in losing weight often struggle to keep the weight off—and unfortunately, low-carb diets are no exception to the rule. HealthDay (2010) cites a study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that compared obese subjects who followed a low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet. The former group lost more weight steadily—and both groups had difficulty keeping weight off. Similarly, Swiss researchers found that, although low-carb dieters initially lost more weight than those who followed other plans, the differences tended to even out over time (Bell, 2006). This suggests that low-carb diets may be no more effective than other diets for maintaining a healthy weight in the long term.

       One likely reason is that a low-carbohydrate diet—like any restrictive diet—is difficult to adhere to for any extended period. In commenting on the Gardner study, experts at the Harvard School of Public Health (2010) noted that women in all four diet groups had difficulty following the plan. Medical professionals caution that low-carbohydrate diets are difficult for many people to follow consistently and that, to maintain a healthy weight, dieters should try to develop nutrition and exercise habits they can incorporate in their lives in the long term (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Registered dietician D. Kwon (personal communication, August 10, 2010) comments, “For some people, [low-carbohydrate diets] are great, but for most, any sensible eating and exercise plan would work just as well”.

Other Long-Term Health Outcomes

       Regardless of whether low-carb diets are most effective for weight loss, their potential benefits for weight loss must be weighed against other long-term health outcomes such as hypertension, the risk of heart disease, and cholesterol levels. Research findings in these areas are mixed. For this reason, people considering following a low-carbohydrate diet to lose weight should be advised of the potential risks in doing so.

       Research on how low-carbohydrate diets affect cholesterol levels in inconclusive. Some researchers have found that low-carbohydrate diets raise levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol (Ebbeling et al., 2007; Seppa, 2008). Unfortunately, they may also raise levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease (Ebbeling et al., 2007; Reuters Health, 2010). A particular concern is that as dieters on a low-carbohydrate plan increase their intake of meats and dairy products—foods that are high in protein and fat—they are also likely to consume increased amounts of saturated fats, resulting in clogged arteries and again increasing the risk of heart disease. Studies of humans (Bradley et al., 2009) and mice (Foo et al., 2009) have identified possible risks to cardiovascular health associated with low-carb diets. The American Heart Association (2010) and the Harvard School of Public Health (2010) caution that doctors cannot yet assess how following a low-carbohydrate diet affects patients’ health over a long-term period.

       Some studies (Bell, 2006) have found that following a low-carb diet helped lower patients’ blood pressure. Again, however, excessive consumption of foods high in saturated fats may, over time, lead to the development of clogged arteries and increase risk of hypertension. Choosing lean meats over those high in fat and supplementing the diet with high-fiber, low-glycemic-index carbohydrates, such as leafy green vegetables, is a healthier plan for dieters to follow.

       Perhaps most surprisingly, low-carbohydrate diets are not necessarily advantageous for patients with Type 2 diabetes. Bradley et al. (2009) found that patients who followed a low-carb or a low-fat diet had comparable outcomes for both weight loss and insulin resistance. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2010) advises diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels carefully and to consult with their health care provider to develop a plan for healthy eating. Nevertheless, the nutritional guidelines it provides as a dietary starting point closely follow the USDA food pyramid.

       Low-carb diets have garnered a great deal of positive attention, and it isn’t entirely undeserved. These diets do lead to rapid weight loss, and they often result in greater weight loss over a period of months than other diet plans. Significantly overweight or obese people may find low-carb eating plans the most effective for losing weight and reducing the risks associated with carrying excess body fat. However, because these diets are difficult for some people to adhere to and because their potential long-term health effects are still being debated, they are not necessarily the ideal choice for anyone who wants to lose weight. A moderately overweight person who wants to lose only a few pounds is best advised to choose whatever plan will help him stay active and consume fewer calories consistently—whether or not it involves eating low-carb ketchup.

Agatson, A. (2003). The South Beach Diet . St. Martin’s Griffin.

The American Heart Association. (2010). American Heart Association comments on weight loss study comparing low carbohydrate/high protein, Mediterranean style and low fat diets . http://americanheart.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=473

Atkins, R. C. (2002). Dr. Atkins’ diet revolution . M. Evans and Company.

Bell, J. R. (2006). Low-carb beats low-fat diet for early losses by not long term. OBGYN News , 41 (12), 32. doi:10.1016/S0029-7437(06)71905-X

Bradley, U., Spence, M., Courtney, C. H., McKinley, M. C., Ennis, C. N., McCance, D. R., McEneny, J., Bell, P. M., Young, I. S., & Hunter, S. J. (2009). Low-fat versus low-carbohydrate weight reduction diets: effects on weight loss, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular risk: A randomized control trial [Abstract]. Diabetes , 58 (12), 2741–2748. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2009/08/23/db09-0098.abstract

Ebbeling, C. B., Leidig, M. M., Feldman, H. A., Lovesky, M. M., & Ludwig, D. S. (2007). Effects of a low-glycemic load vs low-fat diet in obese young adults: A randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association , 297 (19), 2092–2102. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/19/2092?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=ebbeling&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

Foo, S. Y., Heller, E. R., Wykrzykowska, J., Sullivan, C. J., Manning-Tobin, J. J., Moore, K. J….Rosenzweigac, A. (2009). Vascular effects of a low-carbohydrate high-protein diet. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of America , 106 (36), 15418–15423. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907995106

Gardner, C. D., Kiazand, A., Alhassan, S., Kim, S., Stafford, R. S., Balise, R. R., Kraemer, H. C., & King, A. C. (2007). Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women. Journal of the American Medical Association , 297 (9), 969–977. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/9/969#AUTHINFO

Harvard School of Public Health (2010). Carbohydrates: Good carbs guide the way. The Nutrition Source .  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/carbohydrates-full-story/index.html#good-carbs-not-no-carbs

HealthDay. (2010). Low-fat diets beat low-carb regiment long term . http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_95861.html

Hirsch, J. (2004). The low-carb evolution: Be reactive with low-carb products but proactive with nutrition. Nutraceuticals World . http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view/13321

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Healthy lifestyle: Weight loss . https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048466?p=1

McMillan-Price, J., Petocz, P., Atkinson, F., O’Neill, K., Samman, S., Steinbeck, K., Caterson, I., & Brand-Miller, J. (2006, July). Comparison of 4 diets of varying glycemic load on weight loss and cardiovascular risk reduction in overweight and obese young adults: A randomized controlled trial. Archives of Internal Medicine , 166 (14), 1466–1475. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/166/14/1466

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2010). National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: What I need to know about eating and diabetes . http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/eating_ez/index.htm

Reuters Health. (2010). Low-carb diet can increase bad cholesterol levels . http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_95708.html

Seppa, N. (2008). Go against the grains, diet study suggests: Low-carb beats low-fat in weight loss, cholesterol. Science News , 174 (4), 25. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/issue/id/34757

Source: PDF/text version of the final research essay from “Developing Your Final Draft” In English Composition 2 by Lumen Learning is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 . / has been Adapted by Emily Cramer & Amanda Quibell / Created PDF/accessible format, APA style updated to 7th edition and corrections made so that in-text and reference entries match.

Key Takeaways

  • Organization in a research paper means that the argument proceeds logically from the introduction to the body to the conclusion. It flows logically from one point to the next. When revising a research paper, evaluate the organization of the paper as a whole and the organization of individual paragraphs.
  • In a cohesive research paper, the elements of the paper work together smoothly and naturally. When revising a research paper, evaluate its cohesion. In particular, check that information from research is smoothly integrated with your ideas with appropriate in-text citations.
  • An effective research paper uses a style and tone that are appropriately academic and serious. When revising a research paper, check that the style and tone are consistent throughout.
  • Editing a research paper involves checking for errors in grammar, mechanics, punctuation, usage, spelling, citations, and formatting.

Attribution & References

  • Except where otherwise noted, this chapter is adapted from ” 12.2 Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper ” In Writing for Success by University of Minnesota licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 . Edits made for accessibility and visual images, updates to APA citation & references.
  • Final Essay screenshots & PDF/text version of the final research essay from “Developing Your Final Draft” In English Composition 2 by Lumen Learning is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA . / Adapted by Emily Cramer & Amanda Quibell / Created accessible PDF format, APA style updated to 7th edition and corrections made so that in-text and reference entries match.

7.3 - Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper Copyright © 2022 by Jen Booth, Emily Cramer & Amanda Quibell, Georgian College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing a Research Paper

  • Draft Your Paper

Library Research Guide

  • Choose Your Topic
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Organize Your Information
  • Revise, Review, Refine

How Will This Help Me?

Drafting will help you:

  • Get down all of your thoughts
  • Determine the best organization for your paper
  • Ensure all parts of your essay support your thesis
  • See whether your main ideas have adequate support

Links for Writing Help

These resources can help you draft your paper. 

  • K-State Writing Center The Writing Center, located in ECS 122D, provides one-to-one consultations and can help students during any stage of the writing process. They also hold hours in The Resource Link in Hale Library every week.
  • Using Outlines This page from Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University explains a variety of types of outlines and their uses in the writing process.
  • Working with Working Outlines This resource from the Writing Center at Eastern Illinois University describes the usefulness and benefits of working outlines.
  • Considering Structure and Organization This link to a resource from the Writing and Research Center at the University of Washington provides a thorough examination of the structure of a written argument.

Create a Working Outline

Outlines may seem like extra work, but they can make paper writing easier and more efficient. The trick is determining when and how to use outlines so that they serve as a tool to help rather than hinder you. If you like outlines, you might create an outline before writing and then update it throughout the writing process.

Outlines can be used other ways. For example, you might use an outline to transition from research to writing to help you figure out where you're going. You could also use an outline after writing a draft to ensure that every aspect of your paper supports your thesis statement and that the paper's organization is coherent.

Image of essay structure

Incorporate Source Material Effectively

To incorporate source material effectively into your writing, you need to know how to use signal phrases (attributive tags), when to use quotation marks, and how to paraphrase correctly. 

Signal phrases

  • Tell readers the name of the source that you're borrowing information from.
  • Lend credibility to your paper by describing the source's expertise.
  • Can be used with paraphrasing or direct quoting. 
  • Work with in-text citations. (Check your citation style--APA, MLA, etc.--to determine whether an in-text citation is still needed along with the attributive tag.)

Sample signal phrase: "Willie the Wildcat, mascot of Kansas State University, states that..."

Quotation marks

  • Use the language from the source verbatim.
  • Tell the reader you're borrowing the wording.
  • Work with attributive tags and in-text citations to give credit to the source for the borrowed ideas and language.
  • Should not be used in a way the misrepresents the source.

Sample quotation (using APA): Part of the mission of K-State is to "develop a highly skilled and educated citizenry" (Kansas State University, 2013, Mission Statement section, para. 5).

Complete paraphrases

  • Present the source information completely in your own words. 
  • Work with signal phrases and in-text citations to credit the source and to tell readers you've borrowed these ideas.
  • Do not merely change every few words to synonyms.
  • Do not retain the author's original sentence structure.

Sample paraphrase (using APA): K-State seeks to create an environment that encourages intellectual growth, academic freedom, and individual empowerment and prepares students to contribute to society after they leave the university (Kansas State University, 2013). 

Kansas State University. (2013). About the University. In Undergraduate Catalog 2013-2014. Retrieved from http://catalog.k-state.edu/content.php?catoid=13&navoid=1403

Cite Sources Correctly

Use these resources to help you cite your sources in your paper and on the references page.

  • APA Formatting and Style Guide This guide from the OWL at Purdue can help you with formatting your paper, using in-text citations, creating the entries in your reference list, and using APA style in your writing.
  • APA In-Text Citations: The Basics This page from the OWL at Purdue explains how to use the author-date system for in-text citations and how to format short and long quotations.
  • MLA Formatting and Style Guide The OWL at Purdue's MLA style guide can help you with formatting your paper, using in-text citations, creating the entries in your bibliography, and using MLA style in your writing.
  • MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics From the OWL at Purdue, this page explains how to use the author-page system for in-text citations and provides examples from a variety of source types.
  • Chicago Manual of Style K-State Libraries has a subscription to the online version of the Chicago Manual of Style. Print copies are also available at the Library Help Desk.
  • Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition This guide from the OWL at Purdue can help you with formatting your paper, using author-date in-text citations or the Notes and Bibliography (NB) system, and creating the entries in your bibliography.

Write the Introduction and Conclusion

Sometimes, writing the introduction or the conclusion of your paper can be a challenge. The following tips may help you with the introduction:

  • Include your thesis. Forecast the paper's organization with your main ideas.
  • Offer a connection. Show readers how the topic relates to their lives.
  • Provide context . Add background to bring your audience on board so they're ready for the rest of the paper. 
  • Write it later. Try writing the introduction after you've written the rest of the paper. The introduction may come first, but you don't have to write it first. 
  • Update it. Review the introduction after making changes to your paper. It may need changes too. 

Here are some tips to help with the conclusion:

  • Restate your thesis. Remind readers of the point of your paper.
  • Summarize your main ideas. Restate these so readers remember.
  • Give it an end. Connect back to an early point in the paper to bring it full circle or leave them with an idea that is vivid, humorous, or meaningful. 
  • Keep it relevant. Avoid introducing new topics not covered in your paper.
  • Update it. Review the conclusion after making changes to your paper. It may need changes too. 

Check for Overall Consistency

Sometimes, while writing a draft, you may decide to change the direction of your paper. This is OK, but it requires some follow up work. If your paper takes shape in an unexpected way, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my thesis statement still make sense?
  • Do all of my main ideas still work together to support the thesis?
  • Do I have enough high quality evidence to support the new direction?
  • Does the introduction serve its purpose still?
  • Does the conclusion function as it should?

If you answer no to any questions, be sure to adjust the problem areas as needed to keep everything on track. 

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Chapter 12: Peer Review and Final Revisions

12.2 Editing and Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper

Learning Objectives

  • Edit your paper to ensure that language, citations, and formatting are correct

Given all the time and effort you have put into your research paper, you will want to make sure that your final draft represents your best work. This requires taking the time to revise and edit your paper carefully.

You may feel like you need a break from your paper before you edit it. That feeling is understandable, so you want to be sure to leave yourself enough time to complete this important stage of the writing process. This section presents a number of opportunities for you to focus on different aspects of the editing process; as with revising a draft, you should approach editing in different stages.

Some of the content in this section may seem repetitive, but again, it provides you with a chance to double-check any revisions you have made at a detailed level.

Editing Your Draft

If you have been incorporating each set of revisions as Mariah and Jorge have, you have produced multiple drafts of your writing. So far, all your changes have been content changes. Perhaps with the help of peer feedback, you have made sure that you sufficiently supported your ideas. You have checked for problems with unity and coherence. You have examined your essay for word choice, revising to cut unnecessary words and to replace weak wording with specific and appropriate wording.

The next step after revising the content is editing. When you edit, you examine the surface features of your text. You examine your spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation. You also make sure you use the proper format when creating your finished assignment.

Tip: Editing takes time. Be sure to budget time into the writing process to complete additional edits after revising. Editing and proofreading your writing helps you create a finished work that represents your best efforts. Here are a few more tips to remember about your readers:

  • Readers do not notice correct spelling, but they do notice misspellings.
  • Readers look past your sentences to get to your ideas—unless the sentences are awkward, poorly constructed, and frustrating to read.
  • Readers notice when every sentence has the same rhythm as every other sentence, with no variety.
  • Readers do not cheer when you use there, their, and they’re correctly, but they notice when you do not.
  • Readers will notice the care with which you handled your assignment and your attention to detail in the delivery of an error-free document.

Being Clear and Concise

Some writers are very methodical and painstaking when they write a first draft. Other writers unleash a lot of words in order to get out all that they feel they need to say. Do either of these methods match your style? Or is your composing style somewhere in between? No matter which description best fits you, the first draft of almost every piece of writing, no matter its author, can be made clearer and more concise.

If you have a tendency to write too much, you will need to look for unnecessary words. If you have a tendency to be vague or imprecise in your wording, you will need to find specific words to replace any overly general language.

Identifying Wordiness

Sometimes writers use too many words when fewer words will appeal more to their audience and better fit their purpose. Here are some common examples of wordiness to look for in your draft. Eliminating wordiness helps all readers, because it makes your ideas clear, direct, and straightforward.

  • Sentences that begin with   There is   or   There are
  • Wordy .  There are two major experiments that the Biology Department sponsors.
  • Revised .  The Biology Department sponsors two major experiments.
  • Sentences with unnecessary modifiers
  • Wordy .  Two extremely famous and well-known consumer advocates spoke eloquently in favour of the proposed important legislation.
  • Revised .  Two well-known consumer advocates spoke in favour of the proposed legislation.

Sentences with deadwood phrases that add little to the meaning. Be judicious when you use phrases such as  in terms of ,  with a mind to ,  on the subject of ,  as to whether or not ,  more or less ,  as far as…is concerned , and similar expressions. You can usually find a more straightforward way to state your point.

  • Wordy .  As a world leader in the field of green technology, the company plans to focus its efforts in the area of geothermal energy. A report as to whether or not to use geysers as an energy source is in the process of preparation.
  • Revised .  As a world leader in green technology, the company plans to focus on geothermal energy. Researchers are preparing a report about using geysers as an energy source.

Sentences in the passive voice or with forms of the verb   to be : S entences with passive voice verbs often create confusion because the subject of the sentence does not perform an action. Sentences are clearer when the subject performs the action and is followed by a strong verb. Use strong active voice verbs in place of forms of  to be , which can lead to wordiness. Avoid passive voice when you can.

  • Wordy . It might perhaps be said that using a GPS device is something that is a benefit to drivers who have a poor sense of direction.
  • Revised . Using a GPS device benefits drivers who have a poor sense of direction.

Sentences with constructions that can be shortened

  • Wordy .   The e-book reader, which is a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone. My over-60 uncle bought an e-book reader, and his wife bought an e-book reader, too.
  • Revised .   The e-book reader, a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone. My over-60 uncle and his wife both bought e-book readers.

Choosing Specific, Appropriate Words

Most essays at the post-secondary level should be written in formal English suitable for an academic situation. Follow these principles to be sure that your word choice is appropriate. For more information about word choice, see  Chapter 2: Working with Words: Which Word Is Right?

  • Avoid slang . Find alternatives to  bummer ,  kewl , and  rad .
  • Avoid language that is overly casual . Write about “men and women” rather than “girls and guys” unless you are trying to create a specific effect. A formal tone calls for formal language.
  • Avoid contractions . Use  do not  in place of  don’t ,  I am  in place of  I’m , have not  in place of  haven’t , and so on. Contractions are considered casual speech.
  • Avoid clichés . Overused expressions such as  green with envy ,  face the music ,  better late than never , and similar expressions are empty of meaning and may not appeal to your audience.
  • Be careful when you use words that sound alike but have different meanings . Some examples are  allusion/illusion ; complement/compliment; council/counsel; concurrent/consecutive; founder/flounder; and historic/historical. When in doubt, check a dictionary.
  • Choose words with the connotations you want . Choosing a word for its connotations is as important in formal essay writing as it is in all kinds of writing. Compare the positive connotations of the word  proud  and the negative connotations of  arrogant  and  conceited .
  • Use specific words rather than overly general words . Find synonyms for  thing ,  people ,  nice ,  good ,  bad ,  interesting , and other vague words. Or use specific details to make your exact meaning clear.

Now read the revisions Mariah made to make her third paragraph clearer and more concise. She has already incorporated the changes she made to improve unity and coherence.

Self-Practice Exercise 12.8

H5P: Understanding Word Choice

Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph.

  • Read the unrevised and the revised paragraphs aloud. Explain in your own words how changes in word choice have affected Mariah’s writing.
  • Do you agree with the changes that Mariah made to her paragraph? Which changes would you keep and which were unnecessary? Explain. What other changes would you have made?
  • What effect does removing contractions and the pronoun you have on the tone of the paragraph? How would you characterize the tone now? Why?

Now return once more to your essay in progress. Read carefully for problems with word choice. Be sure that your draft is written in formal language and that your word choice is specific and appropriate.

Self-Practice Exercise 12.9

Return once more to the first draft of the essay you have been revising. Check it for unnecessary words.

Try making your sentences as concise as they can be.

Brief Punctuation Review

Throughout this book, you have been presented with a number of tables containing transitional words. The list below Punctuating Transitional Words and Phrases shows many of the transition words you have seen organized into different categories to help you know how to punctuate with each one.

Punctuating Transitional Words and Phrases

Joining Independent Clauses (coordination)

  • 2 IND: IND; IND
  • accordingly
  • after a while
  • as a result
  • at any rate
  • at the same time
  • consequently
  • for example
  • for instance
  • furthermore
  • in addition
  • in other words
  • in particular
  • in the first place
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • on the contrary
  • on the other hand

Forming Dependent Clauses (subordination)

  • in order that

* This column contains relative pronouns, which may be punctuated differently.

Joining Independent Clauses

There are three ways to join independent clauses. By using a mix of all three methods and varying your transition words, you will add complexity to your writing and improve the flow. You will also be emphasizing to your reader which ideas you want to connect or to show things like cause and effect or contrast. For a more detailed review of independent clauses, look back at Chapter 3: Putting Ideas into Your Own Words and Paragraphs . Option 1 By simply using a semicolon ( ; ), you can make the ideas connect more than if you were to use a period. If you are trying to reinforce that connection, use a semicolon because it is not as strong of a pause as a period and reinforces the link. Option 2 When you want to link two independent sentences and increase the flow between ideas, you can add a comma and a coordinating conjunction between them. With coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), you do not use a comma every time: you would only do so if what is on either side of the conjunction is a complete sentence not just a phrase. You would not put a comma if you are only giving a list of two items. For example:

Comma: It is cold outside , so I wore an extra warm coat.

No comma: It is cold outside. I wore an extra warm coat and gloves.

The first example contains a complete sentence (independent clause) on either side of the conjunction so . Just the conjunction by itself or just a comma by itself is not strong enough to join two independent clauses. However, if you put the two together with so , you can link the two. In the second example, and is simply connecting two noun phrases: warm coat and gloves . What comes after the conjunction is not a complete sentence, so you would not add a comma. To check if there is a complete, independent clause, ask yourself, “Can that part stand by itself as a complete sentence?” In the case of the no comma example, gloves is what comes after the comma. That is not a complete sentence, only a noun: that means it is part of a list and is not a complete sentence = no comma. The point of these examples was to show you that you have to be careful how you use commas and conjunctions. As easy as it would be to just always toss in a comma, doing so would confuse your reader as what is and is not part of a list and what ideas are joined. Option 3 Your third choice is to join two independent clauses with a conjunctive adverb or another transition word. These words are very useful because they clearly show your reader how you would like your ideas to connect. If you wanted to emphasize contrasting ideas, you would use on the other hand or however . If you wanted to show cause and effect, you could use as a result . Refer to the tables you have seen in other chapters to make sure you are using the transitions you actually mean to be using; then, check Punctuating Transitional Words and Phrases above to confirm how you should punctuate it. After your first independent clause, you can choose to either use a period or a semicolon, again depending on how much of a link you want to show. You may also want to consider how many long sentences you have used prior to this. If you use a lot of complicated sentences, you should probably use a period to allow your reader to take a break. You must also remember to include a comma after the transition word.

Period: It is cold outside . Therefore, I wore an extra warm coat.

Semicolon: It is cold outside ; therefore, I wore an extra warm coat.

Joining Dependent Clauses

If one of the clauses in a sentence is independent and can stand on its own, but the other is not, you have to construct the sentence a little differently. Whenever you add a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun to an independent sentence, you create a dependent clause—one that can never stand alone. In the examples below, notice that when the independent clause comes first, it is strong enough to carry the dependent clause at the end without any helping punctuation. However, if you want the dependent clause first, you must add a comma between it and the independent clause: the dependent clause is not strong enough to support the independent clause after without a little help. In the examples below, the independent clauses are double underlined and the dependent clause has a single underline.

IND first: I wore an extra warm coat as it is cold outside.

DEP first: As it is cold outside , I wore an extra warm coat.

Tip: If you want to start a sentence with Because , you need to make sure there is a second half to that sentence that is independent. A Because (dependent) clause can never stand by itself.

At the bottom on Punctuating Transitional Words and Phrases  you can see a list of five dependent markers that can be used a little differently. These are relative pronouns, and when you use them, you need to ask yourself if the information is 100 percent necessary for the reader to understand what you are describing. If it is optional, you can include a comma before the relative clause even if it comes after the independent clause.

Non – essential: As it is cold outside, I wore an extra warm coat , which was blue.

Essential: My coat which is blue is the one I wear when it is really cold outside.

In the non – essential example, the fact that the coat was warm was probably more important than that the coat was blue. The information that the coat is blue probably would not make a difference in keeping the person warm, so the information in that relative clause is not terribly important. Adding the comma before the clause tells the reader it is extra information. In the essential example, the use of the same clause without a preceding comma shows that this information is important. The writer is implying he has other coats that are not as warm and are not blue, so he is emphasizing the importance of the blue coat. These are the only five subordinators, or relative pronouns, for which you can do this; every other one needs to follow the previous explanation of how to use these dependent transition words. If you do decide to add a comma with one of the relative pronouns, you need to think critically about whether or not that description is completely essential.

Using any of these sentence joining strategies is helpful in providing sentence variety to help your reader stay engaged and reading attentively. By following these punctuation rules, you will also avoid creating sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and comma splices, all of which improves your end product.

Given how much work you have put into your research paper, you will want to check for any errors that could distract or confuse your readers. Using the spell checking feature in your word processing program can be helpful, it should not replace a full, careful review of your document. Be sure to check for any errors that may have come up frequently for you in the past. Use Checklist 12.4: Editing Your Writing to help you as you edit.

Checklist 12.4 : Editing Your Writing

H5P: Editing Your Writing

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your grammar .

  • Does every verb agree with its subject?
  • Is the antecedent of every pronoun clear?
  • Is it clear which word a participial phrase modifies (eg. no dangling modifier)?
  • Have you ensured there are no run-on sentences?
  • Are subject, object, and possessive personal pronouns used correctly?
  • Do all personal pronouns agree with their antecedents?
  • Are all sentences complete sentences (eg. not fragments)?
  • Are independent clauses joined with conjunctions?
  • Are tense forms, especially for irregular verbs, written correctly?
  • Are the correct comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs used?
  • Are who and whom used correctly?
  • Is every verb in the correct tense?

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your sentence structure .

  • Is my parallel structure accurate?
  • Have I chosen the best coordinating or subordinating conjunctions to join clauses?
  • Are my sentences clear?
  • Do I vary my sentence structure?
  • Have I used apostrophes correctly to write all singular and plural possessive forms?
  • Have I used quotation marks correctly?
  • Does every sentence end with the correct end punctuation?
  • Can I justify the use of every exclamation point?

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your mechanics and usage .

  • Have I corrected any spelling errors?
  • Have I used capital letters where they are needed?
  • Have I written abbreviations, where allowed, correctly?
  • Have I corrected any errors in the use of commonly confused words, such as to/too/two?

Tip: Be careful about relying too much on spelling checkers and grammar checkers. A spelling checker cannot recognize that you meant to write principle  but wrote  principal instead. A grammar checker often queries constructions that are perfectly correct. The program does not understand your meaning; it makes its check against a general set of formulas that might not apply in each instance. If you use a grammar checker, accept the suggestions that make sense, but consider why the suggestions came up.

Tip: Proofreading requires patience; it is very easy to read past a mistake. Set your paper aside for at least a few hours, if not a day or more, so your mind will rest. Some professional proofreaders read a text backward so they can concentrate on spelling and punctuation. Another helpful technique is to slowly read a paper aloud, paying attention to every word, letter, and punctuation mark.

If you need additional proofreading help, ask a reliable friend, classmate, or peer tutor to make a final pass on your paper to look for anything you missed.

Your finished assignment should be properly formatted, following the style required of you. Formatting includes the style of the title, margin size, page number placement, location of the writer’s name, and other factors. Your instructor or department may require a specific style to be used. The requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide, especially when citations of sources are included.

To ensure the format is correct and follows any specific instructions, make a final check before you submit an assignment.

Self-Practice Exercise 12.10

With the help of Checklist 12.4, edit and proofread your essay.

Checking Citations and Formatting

When editing a research paper, it is also important to check that you have cited sources properly and formatted your document according to the specified guidelines. There are two reasons for this. First, citing sources correctly ensures that you give proper credit to other people for ideas and information that helped you in your work. Second, using correct formatting establishes your paper as one student’s contribution to the work developed by and for a larger academic community. Increasingly, American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines are the standard for many academic fields. Use Checklist 12.5: Citations and Formatting to help.

Checklist 12.5 : Citations and Formatting

H5P:  Citation and Formatting

Reread your paper and check whether you have achieved the following goals in working towards proper citation and formatting.

  • Each in-text citation includes the source author’s name (or, where applicable, the organization name or source title) and year of publication. I have used the correct format of in text and parenthetical citations.
  • Within the body of my paper, each fact or idea taken from a source is credited to the correct source.
  • My paper includes a running head.
  • Each source cited in the body of my paper has a corresponding entry in the references section of my paper.
  • My references section includes a heading and double-spaced alphabetized entries.
  • Each entry in my references section is indented on the second line and all subsequent lines.
  • The margins of my paper are set at one inch. Text is double spaced and set in a standard 12-point font.
  • My paper includes a title page.
  • Each entry in my references section includes all the necessary information for that source type, in the correct sequence and format.

For detailed guidelines on APA citation and formatting, see  Chapter 9: Citations and Referencing .

Writing at Work

Following APA citation and formatting guidelines may require time and effort. However, it is good practice for learning how to follow accepted conventions in any professional field. Many large corporations create a style manual with guidelines for editing and formatting documents produced by that corporation. Employees follow the style manual when creating internal documents and documents for publication.

During the process of revising and editing, Jorge made changes in the content and style of his paper. He also gave the paper a final review to check for overall correctness and, particularly, correct APA citations and formatting. Read the final draft of his paper: Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets .

With the help of Checklist 12.5, edit and proofread your essay.

Although you probably do not want to look at your paper again before you submit it to your instructor, take the time to do a final check. Since you have already worked through all of the checklists above focusing on certain aspects at one time, working through one final checklist should confirm you have written a strong, persuasive essay and that everything is the way you want it to be. As extra insurance you have produced a strong paper, you may even want someone else to double-check your essay using Checklist 12.6: Final Revision . Then you can compare to see how your perceptions of your paper match those of someone else, essentially having that person act as the one who will be grading your paper.

Checklist 12.6: Final Revision

H5P: Final Revision

Although you probably do not want to look at your paper again before you submit it to your instructor, take the time to do a final check. Since you have already worked through all of the checklists above focusing on certain aspects at one time, working through one final checklist should confirm you have written a strong, persuasive essay and that everything is the way you want it to be. As extra insurance you have produced a strong paper, you may even want someone else to double-check your essay using Checklist 12.6: Final Revision. Then you can compare to see how your perceptions of your paper match those of someone else, essentially having that person act as the one who will be grading your paper.

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your organization .

  • Are your paragraphs organized in a logical manner?
  • Focus: Have you clearly stated your thesis (your controlling idea) in the first paragraph?
  • Check whether your paragraphs are organized according to a specific pattern.
  • Unity: Write your opening and closing paragraphs and place each topic sentence in between. You should have a “mini essay”
  • with several different main points supporting your thesis.
  • Have you provided a comprehensive conclusion to your essay? Does it summarize your main points (using different words)?
  • Do you show you understand the assignment: purpose, audience, and genre?
  • Does your thesis statement catch the reader’s attention?
  • Does each topic sentence (per paragraph) logically follow the one preceding it?
  • Do you have several points to support your thesis?
  • Are your paragraphs organized in the best way to support your thesis?

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your paragraphs and sentences .

  • Does each sentence logically follow the preceding one?
  • Are there several sentences giving details, facts, quotes, reasons, and arguments in each paragraph?
  • Is each supporting detail specific, concrete, and relevant to the topic sentence?
  • Have you used transitional words to help the reader follow your thoughts?
  • Does each paragraph have only one main point?
  • Does your essay have an appropriate tone and point of view?
  • Does each paragraph have main points and supporting details?
  • Is each sentence is relevant to the main point of the paragraph?
  • Is your approach or pattern used to develop your paragraph’s main point followed?
  • Are your paragraphs all an appropriate length?

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your sentences and usage .

  • Verb tenses are consistent.
  • Weak adverbs (may be) are replaced with strong verbs (is).
  • Pronoun referents are clear.
  • Wordiness has been eliminated.
  • Subject and verbs agree.
  • Subjects are person are consistent.
  • Sentence structure is varied.
  • Repetition has been eliminated.
  • Fragments, splices, and run-on sentences have been revised.
  • Each sentence has a subject and a verb.
  • Lists are written in parallel.
  • Wordiness has been corrected.
  • All verbs are active.
  • Modifiers have been checked for clarity.

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your documentation .

  • Reference section is complete.
  • All references are documented.
  • In-text citations are formatted correctly.
  • In-text citations are present for every reference.

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your mechanics .

  • All spelling and typographical errors have been corrected.
  • All words and sentences are punctuated according to common usage.

Reread your paper and use the list below to check your content .

  • I have provided enough background information. The details I have provided are relevant and necessary.
  • I believe what I have written.
  • My controlling idea and the development of my argument make sense.
  • I have primarily used paraphrasing (not direct quotation).

You should now be confident you have produced a strong argument that is wonderfully constructed and that you will be able to persuade your audience that your points and point of view are valid.

Key Takeaways

  • During revising, you add, cut, move, or change information in order to improve content.
  • During editing, you take a second look at the words and sentences you used to express your ideas and fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
  • Remember to budget time for careful editing and proofreading. Use all available resources, including editing checklists, peer editing, and your institution’s writing lab, to improve your editing skills.
  • Organization in a research paper means that the argument proceeds logically from the introduction to the body to the conclusion. It flows logically from one point to the next. When revising a research paper, evaluate the organization of the paper as a whole and the organization of individual paragraphs.
  • In a cohesive research paper, the elements of the paper work together smoothly and naturally. When revising a research paper, evaluate its cohesion. In particular, check that information from research is smoothly integrated with your ideas.
  • An effective research paper uses a style and tone that are appropriately academic and serious. When revising a research paper, check that the style and tone are consistent throughout.
  • Editing a research paper involves checking for errors in grammar, mechanics, punctuation, usage, spelling, citations, and formatting.

Writing for Success - 1st Canadian H5P Edition Copyright © 2021 by Tara Horkoff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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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 .

Guide Overview

  • 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.

Brainstorm Ideas

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.

Get Writing!

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.

Final Checks

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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How to Write a Research Paper

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Research Paper Fundamentals

How to choose a topic or question, how to create a working hypothesis or thesis, common research paper methodologies, how to gather and organize evidence , how to write an outline for your research paper, how to write a rough draft, how to revise your draft, how to produce a final draft, resources for teachers .

It is not fair to say that no one writes anymore. Just about everyone writes text messages, brief emails, or social media posts every single day. Yet, most people don't have a lot of practice with the formal, organized writing required for a good academic research paper. This guide contains links to a variety of resources that can help demystify the process. Some of these resources are intended for teachers; they contain exercises, activities, and teaching strategies. Other resources are intended for direct use by students who are struggling to write papers, or are looking for tips to make the process go more smoothly.

The resources in this section are designed to help students understand the different types of research papers, the general research process, and how to manage their time. Below, you'll find links from university writing centers, the trusted Purdue Online Writing Lab, and more.

What is an Academic Research Paper?

"Genre and the Research Paper" (Purdue OWL)

There are different types of research papers. Different types of scholarly questions will lend themselves to one format or another. This is a brief introduction to the two main genres of research paper: analytic and argumentative. 

"7 Most Popular Types of Research Papers" (Personal-writer.com)

This resource discusses formats that high school students commonly encounter, such as the compare and contrast essay and the definitional essay. Please note that the inclusion of this link is not an endorsement of this company's paid service.

How to Prepare and Plan Out Writing a Research Paper

Teachers can give their students a step-by-step guide like these to help them understand the different steps of the research paper process. These guides can be combined with the time management tools in the next subsection to help students come up with customized calendars for completing their papers.

"Ten Steps for Writing Research Papers" (American University)  

This resource from American University is a comprehensive guide to the research paper writing process, and includes examples of proper research questions and thesis topics.

"Steps in Writing a Research Paper" (SUNY Empire State College)

This guide breaks the research paper process into 11 steps. Each "step" links to a separate page, which describes the work entailed in completing it.

How to Manage Time Effectively

The links below will help students determine how much time is necessary to complete a paper. If your sources are not available online or at your local library, you'll need to leave extra time for the Interlibrary Loan process. Remember that, even if you do not need to consult secondary sources, you'll still need to leave yourself ample time to organize your thoughts.

"Research Paper Planner: Timeline" (Baylor University)

This interactive resource from Baylor University creates a suggested writing schedule based on how much time a student has to work on the assignment.

"Research Paper Planner" (UCLA)

UCLA's library offers this step-by-step guide to the research paper writing process, which also includes a suggested planning calendar.

There's a reason teachers spend a long time talking about choosing a good topic. Without a good topic and a well-formulated research question, it is almost impossible to write a clear and organized paper. The resources below will help you generate ideas and formulate precise questions.

"How to Select a Research Topic" (Univ. of Michigan-Flint)

This resource is designed for college students who are struggling to come up with an appropriate topic. A student who uses this resource and still feels unsure about his or her topic should consult the course instructor for further personalized assistance.

"25 Interesting Research Paper Topics to Get You Started" (Kibin)

This resource, which is probably most appropriate for high school students, provides a list of specific topics to help get students started. It is broken into subsections, such as "paper topics on local issues."

"Writing a Good Research Question" (Grand Canyon University)

This introduction to research questions includes some embedded videos, as well as links to scholarly articles on research questions. This resource would be most appropriate for teachers who are planning lessons on research paper fundamentals.

"How to Write a Research Question the Right Way" (Kibin)

This student-focused resource provides more detail on writing research questions. The language is accessible, and there are embedded videos and examples of good and bad questions.

It is important to have a rough hypothesis or thesis in mind at the beginning of the research process. People who have a sense of what they want to say will have an easier time sorting through scholarly sources and other information. The key, of course, is not to become too wedded to the draft hypothesis or thesis. Just about every working thesis gets changed during the research process.

CrashCourse Video: "Sociology Research Methods" (YouTube)

Although this video is tailored to sociology students, it is applicable to students in a variety of social science disciplines. This video does a good job demonstrating the connection between the brainstorming that goes into selecting a research question and the formulation of a working hypothesis.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement for an Analytical Essay" (YouTube)

Students writing analytical essays will not develop the same type of working hypothesis as students who are writing research papers in other disciplines. For these students, developing the working thesis may happen as a part of the rough draft (see the relevant section below). 

"Research Hypothesis" (Oakland Univ.)

This resource provides some examples of hypotheses in social science disciplines like Political Science and Criminal Justice. These sample hypotheses may also be useful for students in other soft social sciences and humanities disciplines like History.

When grading a research paper, instructors look for a consistent methodology. This section will help you understand different methodological approaches used in research papers. Students will get the most out of these resources if they use them to help prepare for conversations with teachers or discussions in class.

"Types of Research Designs" (USC)

A "research design," used for complex papers, is related to the paper's method. This resource contains introductions to a variety of popular research designs in the social sciences. Although it is not the most intuitive site to read, the information here is very valuable. 

"Major Research Methods" (YouTube)

Although this video is a bit on the dry side, it provides a comprehensive overview of the major research methodologies in a format that might be more accessible to students who have struggled with textbooks or other written resources.

"Humanities Research Strategies" (USC)

This is a portal where students can learn about four methodological approaches for humanities papers: Historical Methodologies, Textual Criticism, Conceptual Analysis, and the Synoptic method.

"Selected Major Social Science Research Methods: Overview" (National Academies Press)

This appendix from the book  Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy , printed by National Academies Press, introduces some methods used in social science papers.

"Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 6. The Methodology" (USC)

This resource from the University of Southern California's library contains tips for writing a methodology section in a research paper.

How to Determine the Best Methodology for You

Anyone who is new to writing research papers should be sure to select a method in consultation with their instructor. These resources can be used to help prepare for that discussion. They may also be used on their own by more advanced students.

"Choosing Appropriate Research Methodologies" (Palgrave Study Skills)

This friendly and approachable resource from Palgrave Macmillan can be used by students who are just starting to think about appropriate methodologies.

"How to Choose Your Research Methods" (NFER (UK))

This is another approachable resource students can use to help narrow down the most appropriate methods for their research projects.

The resources in this section introduce the process of gathering scholarly sources and collecting evidence. You'll find a range of material here, from introductory guides to advanced explications best suited to college students. Please consult the LitCharts  How to Do Academic Research guide for a more comprehensive list of resources devoted to finding scholarly literature.

Google Scholar

Students who have access to library websites with detailed research guides should start there, but people who do not have access to those resources can begin their search for secondary literature here.

"Gathering Appropriate Information" (Texas Gateway)

This resource from the Texas Gateway for online resources introduces students to the research process, and contains interactive exercises. The level of complexity is suitable for middle school, high school, and introductory college classrooms.

"An Overview of Quantitative and Qualitative Data Collection Methods" (NSF)

This PDF from the National Science Foundation goes into detail about best practices and pitfalls in data collection across multiple types of methodologies.

"Social Science Methods for Data Collection and Analysis" (Swiss FIT)

This resource is appropriate for advanced undergraduates or teachers looking to create lessons on research design and data collection. It covers techniques for gathering data via interviews, observations, and other methods.

"Collecting Data by In-depth Interviewing" (Leeds Univ.)

This resource contains enough information about conducting interviews to make it useful for teachers who want to create a lesson plan, but is also accessible enough for college juniors or seniors to make use of it on their own.

There is no "one size fits all" outlining technique. Some students might devote all their energy and attention to the outline in order to avoid the paper. Other students may benefit from being made to sit down and organize their thoughts into a lengthy sentence outline. The resources in this section include strategies and templates for multiple types of outlines. 

"Topic vs. Sentence Outlines" (UC Berkeley)

This resource introduces two basic approaches to outlining: the shorter topic-based approach, and the longer, more detailed sentence-based approach. This resource also contains videos on how to develop paper paragraphs from the sentence-based outline.

"Types of Outlines and Samples" (Purdue OWL)

The Purdue Online Writing Lab's guide is a slightly less detailed discussion of different types of outlines. It contains several sample outlines.

"Writing An Outline" (Austin C.C.)

This resource from a community college contains sample outlines from an American history class that students can use as models.

"How to Structure an Outline for a College Paper" (YouTube)

This brief (sub-2 minute) video from the ExpertVillage YouTube channel provides a model of outline writing for students who are struggling with the idea.

"Outlining" (Harvard)

This is a good resource to consult after completing a draft outline. It offers suggestions for making sure your outline avoids things like unnecessary repetition.

As with outlines, rough drafts can take on many different forms. These resources introduce teachers and students to the various approaches to writing a rough draft. This section also includes resources that will help you cite your sources appropriately according to the MLA, Chicago, and APA style manuals.

"Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper" (Univ. of Minnesota)

This resource is useful for teachers in particular, as it provides some suggested exercises to help students with writing a basic rough draft. 

Rough Draft Assignment (Duke of Definition)

This sample assignment, with a brief list of tips, was developed by a high school teacher who runs a very successful and well-reviewed page of educational resources.

"Creating the First Draft of Your Research Paper" (Concordia Univ.)

This resource will be helpful for perfectionists or procrastinators, as it opens by discussing the problem of avoiding writing. It also provides a short list of suggestions meant to get students writing.

Using Proper Citations

There is no such thing as a rough draft of a scholarly citation. These links to the three major citation guides will ensure that your citations follow the correct format. Please consult the LitCharts How to Cite Your Sources guide for more resources.

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide

Some call  The Chicago Manual of Style , which was first published in 1906, "the editors' Bible." The manual is now in its 17th edition, and is popular in the social sciences, historical journals, and some other fields in the humanities.

APA Citation Guide

According to the American Psychological Association, this guide was developed to aid reading comprehension, clarity of communication, and to reduce bias in language in the social and behavioral sciences. Its first full edition was published in 1952, and it is now in its sixth edition.

MLA Citation Guide

The Modern Language Association style is used most commonly within the liberal arts and humanities. The  MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing  was first published in 1985 and (as of 2008) is in its third edition.

Any professional scholar will tell you that the best research papers are made in the revision stage. No matter how strong your research question or working thesis, it is not possible to write a truly outstanding paper without devoting energy to revision. These resources provide examples of revision exercises for the classroom, as well as tips for students working independently.

"The Art of Revision" (Univ. of Arizona)

This resource provides a wealth of information and suggestions for both students and teachers. There is a list of suggested exercises that teachers might use in class, along with a revision checklist that is useful for teachers and students alike.

"Script for Workshop on Revision" (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt's guide for leading a 50-minute revision workshop can serve as a model for teachers who wish to guide students through the revision process during classtime. 

"Revising Your Paper" (Univ. of Washington)

This detailed handout was designed for students who are beginning the revision process. It discusses different approaches and methods for revision, and also includes a detailed list of things students should look for while they revise.

"Revising Drafts" (UNC Writing Center)

This resource is designed for students and suggests things to look for during the revision process. It provides steps for the process and has a FAQ for students who have questions about why it is important to revise.

Conferencing with Writing Tutors and Instructors

No writer is so good that he or she can't benefit from meeting with instructors or peer tutors. These resources from university writing, learning, and communication centers provide suggestions for how to get the most out of these one-on-one meetings.

"Getting Feedback" (UNC Writing Center)

This very helpful resource talks about how to ask for feedback during the entire writing process. It contains possible questions that students might ask when developing an outline, during the revision process, and after the final draft has been graded.

"Prepare for Your Tutoring Session" (Otis College of Art and Design)

This guide from a university's student learning center contains a lot of helpful tips for getting the most out of working with a writing tutor.

"The Importance of Asking Your Professor" (Univ. of Waterloo)

This article from the university's Writing and Communication Centre's blog contains some suggestions for how and when to get help from professors and Teaching Assistants.

Once you've revised your first draft, you're well on your way to handing in a polished paper. These resources—each of them produced by writing professionals at colleges and universities—outline the steps required in order to produce a final draft. You'll find proofreading tips and checklists in text and video form.

"Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper" (Univ. of Minnesota)

While this resource contains suggestions for revision, it also features a couple of helpful checklists for the last stages of completing a final draft.

Basic Final Draft Tips and Checklist (Univ. of Maryland-University College)

This short and accessible resource, part of UMUC's very thorough online guide to writing and research, contains a very basic checklist for students who are getting ready to turn in their final drafts.

Final Draft Checklist (Everett C.C.)

This is another accessible final draft checklist, appropriate for both high school and college students. It suggests reading your essay aloud at least once.

"How to Proofread Your Final Draft" (YouTube)

This video (approximately 5 minutes), produced by Eastern Washington University, gives students tips on proofreading final drafts.

"Proofreading Tips" (Georgia Southern-Armstrong)

This guide will help students learn how to spot common errors in their papers. It suggests focusing on content and editing for grammar and mechanics.

This final set of resources is intended specifically for high school and college instructors. It provides links to unit plans and classroom exercises that can help improve students' research and writing skills. You'll find resources that give an overview of the process, along with activities that focus on how to begin and how to carry out research. 

"Research Paper Complete Resources Pack" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This packet of assignments, rubrics, and other resources is designed for high school students. The resources in this packet are aligned to Common Core standards.

"Research Paper—Complete Unit" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This packet of assignments, notes, PowerPoints, and other resources has a 4/4 rating with over 700 ratings. It is designed for high school teachers, but might also be useful to college instructors who work with freshmen.

"Teaching Students to Write Good Papers" (Yale)

This resource from Yale's Center for Teaching and Learning is designed for college instructors, and it includes links to appropriate activities and exercises.

"Research Paper Writing: An Overview" (CUNY Brooklyn)

CUNY Brooklyn offers this complete lesson plan for introducing students to research papers. It includes an accompanying set of PowerPoint slides.

"Lesson Plan: How to Begin Writing a Research Paper" (San Jose State Univ.)

This lesson plan is designed for students in the health sciences, so teachers will have to modify it for their own needs. It includes a breakdown of the brainstorming, topic selection, and research question process. 

"Quantitative Techniques for Social Science Research" (Univ. of Pittsburgh)

This is a set of PowerPoint slides that can be used to introduce students to a variety of quantitative methods used in the social sciences.

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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
  • Ensure nothing is forgotten

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

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Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

  • Definition of measles
  • Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
  • Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
  • Symptoms and timeframes of disease
  • Risk of fatality, including statistics
  • How measles is spread
  • Immunization procedures in different regions
  • Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
  • Immunization figures in affected regions
  • High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
  • Illnesses that can result from measles virus
  • Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
  • Summary of arguments of different groups
  • Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
  • Which side of the argument appears to be correct?

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Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
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Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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How to Write a Research Paper

Academic Writing Service

If you already have a headache trying to understand what research paper is all about, we have created an ultimate guide for you on how to write a research paper. You will find all the answers to your questions regarding structure, planning, doing investigation, finding the topic that appeals to you. Plus, you will find out the secret to an excellent paper. Are you at the edge of your seat? Let us start with the basics then.

  • What is a Research Paper
  • Reasons for Writing a Research Paper
  • Report Papers and Thesis Papers
  • How to Start a Research Paper
  • How to Choose a Topic for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Plan
  • How to Do Research
  • How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Paper Rough Draft
  • How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Body of a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper
  • How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
  • How to Revise and Edit a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper
  • What Makes a Good Research Paper

Research Paper Writing Services

What is a research paper.

How to Write a Research Paper

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You probably know the saying ‘the devil is not as black as he is painted’. This particular saying is absolutely true when it comes to writing a research paper. Your feet are cold even with the thought of this assignment. You have heard terrifying stories from older students. You have never done this before, so certainly you are scared. What is a research paper? How should I start? What are all these requirements about?

Luckily, you have a friend in need. That is our writing service. First and foremost, let us clarify the definition. A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides information about a particular topic that you’ve researched . In other words, you choose a topic: about historical events, the work of some artist, some social issues etc. Then you collect data on the given topic and analyze it. Finally, you put your analysis on paper. See, it is not as scary as it seems. If you are still having doubts, whether you can handle it yourself, we are here to help you. Our team of writers can help you choose the topic, or give you advice on how to plan your work, or how to start, or craft a paper for you. Just contact us 24/7 and see everything yourself.

5 Reasons for Writing a Research Paper

Why should I spend my time writing some academic paper? What is the use of it? Is not some practical knowledge more important? The list of questions is endless when it comes to a research paper. That is why we have outlined 5 main reasons why writing a research paper is a good thing.

  • You will learn how to organize your time

If you want to write a research paper, you will have to learn how to manage your time. This type of assignment cannot be done overnight. It requires careful planning and you will need to learn how to do it. Later, you will be able to use these time-managing skills in your personal life, so why not developing them?

  • You will discover your writing skills

You cannot know something before you try it. This rule relates to writing as well. You cannot claim that you cannot write until you try it yourself. It will be really difficult at the beginning, but then the words will come to your head themselves.

  • You will improve your analytical skills

Writing a research paper is all about investigation and analysis. You will need to collect data, examine and classify it. These skills are needed in modern life more than anything else is.

  • You will gain confidence

Once you do your own research, it gives you the feeling of confidence in yourself. The reason is simple human brain likes solving puzzles and your assignment is just another puzzle to be solved.

  • You will learn how to persuade the reader

When you write your paper, you should always remember that you are writing it for someone to read. Moreover, you want this someone to believe in your ideas. For this reason, you will have to learn different convincing methods and techniques. You will learn how to make your writing persuasive. In turns, you will be able to use these methods in real life.

What is the Difference between Report and Thesis Papers?

A common question is ‘what is the difference between a report paper and a thesis paper?’ The difference lies in the aim of these two assignments. While the former aims at presenting the information, the latter aims at providing your opinion on the matter. In other words, in a report paper you have to summarize your findings. In a thesis paper, you choose some issue and defend your point of view by persuading the reader. It is that simple.

A thesis paper is a more common assignment than a report paper. This task will help a professor to evaluate your analytical skills and skills to present your ideas logically. These skills are more important than just the ability to collect and summarize data.

How to Write a Research Paper Step by Step

Research comes from the French word  rechercher , meaning “to seek out.” Writing a research paper requires you to seek out information about a subject, take a stand on it, and back it up with the opinions, ideas, and views of others. What results is a printed paper variously known as a term paper or library paper, usually between five and fifteen pages long—most instructors specify a minimum length—in which you present your views and findings on the chosen subject.

How to Write a Research Paper

It is not a secret that the majority of students hate writing a research paper. The reason is simple it steals your time and energy. Not to mention, constant anxiety that you will not be able to meet the deadline or that you will forget about some academic requirement.

We will not lie to you; a research paper is a difficult assignment. You will have to spend a lot of time. You will need to read, to analyze, and to search for the material. You will probably be stuck sometimes. However, if you organize your work smart, you will gain something that is worth all the effort – knowledge, experience, and high grades.

The reason why many students fail writing a research paper is that nobody explained them how to start and how to plan their work. Luckily, you have found our writing service and we are ready to shed the light on this dark matter.

We have created a step by step guide for you on how to write a research paper. We will dwell upon the structure, the writing tips, the writing strategies as well as academic requirements. Read this whole article and you will see that you can handle writing this assignment and our team of writers is here to assist you.

How to Start a Research Paper?

How to Start a Research Paper

It all starts with the assignment. Your professor gives you the task. It may be either some general issue or specific topic to write about. Your assignment is your first guide to success. If you understand what you need to do according to the assignment, you are on the road to high results. Do not be scared to clarify your task if you need to. There is nothing wrong in asking a question if you want to do something right. You can ask your professor or you can ask our writers who know a thing or two in academic writing.

It is essential to understand the assignment. A good beginning makes a good ending, so start smart.

Learn how to start a research paper .

Choosing a Topic for a Research Paper

How to Choose a Topic for a Research Paper

We have already mentioned that it is not enough to do great research. You need to persuade the reader that you have made some great research. What convinces better that an eye-catching topic? That is why it is important to understand how to choose a topic for a research paper.

First, you need to delimit the general idea to a more specific one. Secondly, you need to find what makes this topic interesting for you and for the academia. Finally, you need to refine you topic. Remember, it is not something you will do in one day. You can be reshaping your topic throughout your whole writing process. Still, reshaping not changing it completely. That is why keep in your head one main idea: your topic should be precise and compelling .

Learn how to choose a topic for a research paper .

How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper

If you do not know what a proposal is, let us explain it to you. A proposal should answer three main questions:

  • What is the main aim of your investigation?
  • Why is your investigation important?
  • How are you going to achieve the results?

In other words, proposal should show why your topic is interesting and how you are going to prove it. As to writing requirements, they may differ. That is why make sure you find out all the details at your department. You can ask your departmental administrator or find information online at department’s site. It is crucial to follow all the administrative requirements, as it will influence your grade.

Learn how to write a proposal for a research paper .

How to Write a Research Plan?

How to Write a Research Plan

The next step is writing a plan. You have already decided on the main issues, you have chosen the bibliography, and you have clarified the methods. Here comes the planning. If you want to avoid writer’s block, you have to structure you work. Discuss your strategies and ideas with your instructor. Think thoroughly why you need to present some data and ideas first and others second. Remember that there are basic structure elements that your research paper should include:

  • Thesis Statement
  • Introduction
  • Bibliography

You should keep in mind this skeleton when planning your work. This will keep your mind sharp and your ideas will flow logically.

Learn how to write a research plan .

How to Do Research?

How to Do Research

Your research will include three stages: collecting data, reading and analyzing it, and writing itself.

First, you need to collect all the material that you will need for you investigation: films, documents, surveys, interviews, and others. Secondly, you will have to read and analyze. This step is tricky, as you need to do this part smart. It is not enough just to read, as you cannot keep in mind all the information. It is essential that you make notes and write down your ideas while analyzing some data. When you get down to the stage number three, writing itself, you will already have the main ideas written on your notes. Plus, remember to jot down the reference details. You will then appreciate this trick when you will have to write the bibliography.

If you do your research this way, it will be much easier for you to write the paper. You will already have blocks of your ideas written down and you will just need to add some material and refine your paper.

Learn how to do research .

How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper?

How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

To make your paper well organized you need to write an outline. Your outline will serve as your guiding star through the writing process. With a great outline you will not get sidetracked, because you will have a structured plan to follow. Both you and the reader will benefit from your outline. You present your ideas logically and you make your writing coherent according to your plan. As a result, this outline guides the reader through your paper and the reader enjoys the way you demonstrate your ideas.

Learn how to write an outline for a research paper . See research paper outline examples .

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

Briefly, the thesis is the main argument of your research paper. It should be precise, convincing and logical. Your thesis statement should include your point of view supported by evidence or logic. Still, remember it should be precise. You should not beat around the bush, or provide all the possible evidence you have found. It is usually a single sentence that shows your argument. In on sentence you should make a claim, explain why it significant and convince the reader that your point of view is important.

Learn how to write a thesis statement for a research paper . See research paper thesis statement examples .

Should I Write a Rough Draft for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Research Paper Rough Draft

Do you know any writer who put their ideas on paper, then never edited them and just published? Probably, no writer did so. Writing a research paper is no exception. It is impossible to cope with this assignment without writing a rough draft.

Your draft will help you understand what you need to polish to make your paper perfect. All the requirements, academic standards make it difficult to do everything flawlessly at the first attempt. Make sure you know all the formatting requirements: margins, words quantity, reference requirements, formatting styles etc.

Learn how to write a rough draft for a research paper .

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper?

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper

Let us make it more vivid for you. We have narrowed down the tips on writing an introduction to the three main ones:

  • Include your thesis in your introduction

Remember to include the thesis statement in your introduction. Usually, it goes at the end of the first paragraph.

  • Present the main ideas of the body

You should tell the main topics you are going to discuss in the main body. For this reason, before writing this part of introduction, make sure you know what is your main body is going to be about. It should include your main ideas.

  • Polish your thesis and introduction

When you finish the main body of your paper, come back to the thesis statement and introduction. Restate something if needed. Just make it perfect; because introduction is like the trailer to your paper, it should make the reader want to read the whole piece.

Learn how to write an introduction for a research paper . See research paper introduction examples .

How to Write a Body of a Research Paper?

How to Write a Body of a Research Paper

A body is the main part of your research paper. In this part, you will include all the needed evidence; you will provide the examples and support your argument.

It is important to structure your paragraphs thoroughly. That is to say, topic sentence and the evidence supporting the topic. Stay focused and do not be sidetracked. You have your outline, so follow it.

Here are the main tips to keep in head when writing a body of a research paper:

  • Let the ideas flow logically
  • Include only relevant information
  • Provide the evidence
  • Structure the paragraphs
  • Make the coherent transition from one paragraph to another

See? When it is all structured, it is not as scary as it seemed at the beginning. Still, if you have doubts, you can always ask our writers for help.

Learn how to write a body of a research paper . See research paper transition examples .

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper

Writing a good conclusion is important as writing any other part of the paper. Remember that conclusion is not a summary of what you have mentioned before. A good conclusion should include your last strong statement.

If you have written everything according to the plan, the reader already knows why your investigation is important. The reader has already seen the evidence. The only thing left is a strong concluding thought that will organize all your findings.

Never include any new information in conclusion. You need to conclude, not to start a new discussion.

Learn how to write a conclusion for a research paper .

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper?

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper, usually 100-200 words. You should provide the main gist of your paper in this short summary. An abstract can be informative, descriptive or proposal. Depending on the type of abstract, you need to write, the requirements will differ.

To write an informative abstract you have to provide the summary of the whole paper. Informative summary. In other words, you need to tell about the main points of your work, the methods used, the results and the conclusion of your research.

To write a descriptive abstract you will not have to provide any summery. You should write a short teaser of your paper. That is to say, you need to write an overview of your paper. The aim of a descriptive abstract is to interest the reader.

Finally, to write a proposal abstract you will need to write the basic summary as for the informative abstract. However, the difference is the following: you aim at persuading someone to let you write on the topic. That is why, a proposal abstract should present your topic as the one worth investigating.

Learn how to write an abstract for a research paper .

Should I Revise and Edit a Research Paper?

How to Revise and Edit a Research Paper

Revising and editing your paper is essential if you want to get high grades. Let us help you revise your paper smart:

  • Check your paper for spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Sharpen the vocabulary
  • Make sure there are no slang words in your paper
  • Examine your paper in terms of structure
  • Compare your topic, thesis statement to the whole piece
  • Check your paper for plagiarism

If you need assistance with proofreading and editing your paper, you can turn to the professional editors at our service. They will help you polish your paper to perfection.

Learn how to revise and edit a research paper .

How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper

First, let us make it clear that bibliography and works cited are two different things. Works cited are those that you cited in your paper. Bibliography should include all the materials you used to do your research. Still, remember that bibliography requirements differ depending on the formatting style of your paper. For this reason, make sure you ask you professor all the requirements you need to meet to avoid any misunderstanding.

Learn how to write a bibliography for a research paper .

The Key Secret to a Good Research Paper

Now when you know all the stages of writing a research paper, you are ready to find the key to a good research paper:

  • Choose the topic that really interests you
  • Make the topic interesting for you even if it is not at the beginning
  • Follow the step by step guide and do not get sidetracked
  • Be persistent and believe in yourself
  • Really do research and write your paper from scratch
  • Learn the convincing writing techniques and use them
  • Follow the requirements of your assignment
  • Ask for help if needed from real professionals

Feeling more confident about your paper now? We are sure you do. Still, if you need help, you can always rely on us 24/7.

We hope we have made writing a research paper much easier for you. We realize that it requires lots of time and energy. We believe when you say that you cannot handle it anymore. For this reason, we have been helping students like you for years. Our professional team of writers is ready to tackle any challenge.

All our authors are experienced writers crafting excellent academic papers. We help students meet the deadline and get the top grades they want. You can see everything yourself. All you need to do is to place your order online and we will contact you. Writing a research paper with us is truly easy, so why do not you check it yourself?

Additional Resources for Research Paper Writing:

  • Anthropology Research
  • Career Research
  • Communication Research
  • Criminal Justice Research
  • Health Research
  • Political Science Research
  • Psychology Research
  • Sociology Research

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Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition

For researchers in the natural sciences looking to write effective research papers

With insights from 12 experts in scientific writing, including Nature Portfolio Editors

14.5 hours of learning

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  • About this course

Writing research papers allows you to contribute to the scientific record, and is critical for advancing your career. To ensure that the findings you have invested so much effort in have an impact on your scientific community, it is pivotal that the paper you write is effective. In other words, it needs to be informative, concise, well structured and engaging . An effective research paper makes it easier to convey to editors and reviewers the significance of presented outcomes. It also provides researchers with the information they need, boosting dissemination of your work.

This course will introduce you to powerful narrative tools and principles of scientific writing. It will also teach you how to apply them to your next manuscript. Don’t miss out and start learning today!

This is the second edition of our highly popular ‘Writing a Research Paper’ course. We recommend you take this updated version even if you have already started the first edition . However, the previous version of the course is still available, if you wish to continue it to obtain your certificate. If you have already completed the first edition of the course you will still be able to access your certificate on the progress page under “My dashboard”. 

The benefits of this new 2nd edition

  • Restructured content for a better learning experience
  • Enriched content with extensive real-world examples
  • Bite-size lessons on each topic to fit busy schedules
  • Strategies to apply narrative tools when writing research papers
  • Detailed examples for explaining concepts, taken from real papers where possible
  • Step-by-step strategies and how to apply them to your research paper
  • Portfolio activities that empower you to transfer knowledge into practice.

What you'll learn

  • Understand what makes an effective research paper
  • Gain insights on the preferred structure of a Nature published paper
  • Leverage narrative tools and their application to scientific writing
  • Master the principles of scientific writing style
  • Write a research paper section by section
  • Develop effective titles and abstracts
  • Finalise your research paper for submission.

Free Sample Understanding the elements of an effective research paper

9 lessons 2h

Free Sample Applying narrative tools to your research paper

7 lessons 3h

Free Sample Using the principles of scientific writing style for your research paper

22 lessons 2h

Free Sample Writing your research paper section by section

32 lessons 5h 30m

Free Sample Finalising your research paper for submission

6 lessons 2h

Free Sample Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition: Free Sample

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8 lessons 2h

Start this module

Select the dropdown to explore an overview of the content for each module

Module 1: Understanding the elements of an effective research paper

  • Welcome to the course
  • The structure of a research paper
  • What makes an effective research paper
  • Strategies to write an effective research paper
  • Overview of the strategies for writing an effective research paper
  • Narrative tools and research papers – how they work together
  • Principles of scientific writing style
  • Key points about the strategies for writing an effective research paper
  • Module summary

Module 2: Applying narrative tools to your research paper

  • Introduction
  • The key message
  • The audience
  • The story arc
  • Steps to develop your story arc
  • The evidence

Module 3: Using the principles of scientific writing style for your research paper

Informative writing

  • Introduction to informative writing
  • Pitfalls that can undermine the informativeness of your research paper
  • Master the basics of informative writing
  • Take informative writing to the next level
  • Apply the key points of informative writing to your research paper

Concise writing

  • Introduction to concise writing
  • Pitfalls that can undermine the conciseness of your research paper
  • Master the basics of concise writing
  • Take concise writing to the next level
  • Apply the key points of concise writing to your research paper

Well-structured writing

  • Introduction to well-structured writing 
  • Pitfalls that can undermine the structure of your research paper
  • Master the basics of well-structured writing
  • Take well-structured writing to the next level
  • Key takeaways for ensuring well-structured writing

Engaging writing

  • Introduction to engaging writing
  • Pitfalls that can undermine the engaging of your research paper
  • Master the basics of engaging writing
  • Take engaging writing to the next level
  • Key takeaways for writing engagingly

Module 4: Writing your paper section by section

  • Tools to help you plan and write the sections of your paper

The methods section

  • The purpose of the methods section
  • What to include in the methods section
  • How to structure the methods section
  • The specific writing style of the methods section
  • Common pitfalls in the methods section
  • Key points about writing the methods section

The results section

  • The purpose of the results section
  • What to include in the results section
  • How to structure the results section
  • The specific writing style of the results section
  • Common pitfalls in the results section
  • Key points about writing the results section

The discussion section

  • The purpose of the discussion section
  • What to include in the discussion section
  • How to structure the discussion section
  • The specific writing style of the discussion section
  • Common pitfalls in the discussion section
  • Key points about writing the discussion section

The conclusion section

  • The purpose of the conclusion section
  • How to structure the conclusion section
  • The specific writing style of the conclusion section
  • Common pitfalls in the conclusion section
  • Key points about writing the conclusion section

The introduction section

  • The purpose of the introduction section
  • What to include in the introduction section
  • How to structure the introduction section
  • The specific writing style of the introduction section
  • Common pitfalls in the introduction section
  • Key points about writing the introduction section

Module 5: Finalising your research paper for submission

  • Assemble an appealing title
  • Compose an effective abstract
  • Revise your paper before submission
  • Course summary

Developed with experts in scientific writing

The course was developed and refined by an international panel of academics, editors and experts in writing research papers.

Meet the expert panel that have helped shape and refine the content of the course:

Davide Esposito

Chief Editor, Nature Catalysis

Peter Gorsuch

Linguistic Design Manager, Springer Nature

Joshua Schimel

Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara and author of Writing Science

Sadaf Shadan

Biological Sciences Team Manager and Senior Editor, Nature

Advice from experienced science editors and researchers

The course contains additional insights from other experts in scientific writing:

Magdalena Skipper

Editor-in-Chief, Nature   and Chief Editorial Advisor,  Nature Portfolio

Malena Rice

Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy, Yale University and named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list in science

Alexia-Ileana Zaromytidou

Chief Editor, Nature Cancer

Xiaodong Zou

Professor, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University

Anna Ploszajski

Freelance materials scientist and storyteller

Tamara Goldin

Chief Editor, Nature Geoscience

Zoë Doubleday

Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow, University of South Australia

Senior Editor, Nature Nanotechnology

Why should you take this course?

Discover related courses, research integrity: publication ethics.

Examine ways you can handle ethical arises that can arise as you publish your research

Publishing a Research Paper

Learn about the publication process and the things you need to consider

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The Research Paper

There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, students will find that they can achieve great things through their research and writing.

The pages in this section cover the following topic areas related to the process of writing a research paper:

  • Genre - This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic - This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses themselves.
  • Identifying an Audience - This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin - This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.

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What’s Included: Research Paper Template

If you’re preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your paper will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The research paper template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Section 1: Introduction 
  • Section 2: Literature review 
  • Section 3: Methodology
  • Section 4: Findings /results
  • Section 5: Discussion
  • Section 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included links to free resources to help you understand how to write each section.

The cleanly formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Research Paper Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The research paper template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of research papers can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research papers, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level research paper?

This template can be used for a research paper at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my research paper be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. We include generic word count ranges for each section within the template, but these are purely indicative. 

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this research paper template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my research paper?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our private coaching services .

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

Level of Information Text Example
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3     
Level 4         
Level 5             

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Level of Information Text Example
Level 1
Level 1
Level 1
Level 1

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to Write a Conclusion - Steps with Examples

I remember my college days when one of the most dreadful assignments was writing a research paper. It made me wonder if there was an easier way to help me through it. The worst part was writing the conclusion, which meant wrapping up the entire paper and finally drawing conclusions. It sounds pretty intimidating, doesn't it? How are you supposed to fit all that information into such a short space, and what else might you be missing? In this guide, I will show you how to write a conclusion so you can spare yourself from the distress of it all.

What to Include/ Not Include in a Conclusion?

Professors often stress a lot on writing a good conclusion that includes a wrap-up for your paper or essay. These are some factors you must consider to include in your conclusion:

Restate Your Thesis:

Begin by restating the main argument or thesis of your paper. This reinforces the central point you have been arguing throughout your work.

Summarize Key Points:

Provide a concise summary of the key points and findings from your paper. Highlight the most significant pieces of evidence that support your thesis.

Discuss the Implications:

Explain the broader implications of your findings. How do they contribute to the field of study? What practical applications or theoretical advancements arise from your research?

Address Limitations:

Acknowledge any limitations or weaknesses in your study. This demonstrates a critical and reflective approach to your research and provides a foundation for future work.

Suggest Future Research:

Propose areas for future research. What questions remain unanswered? What further investigations could build on your findings?

End with a Strong Closing Statement:

Conclude with a strong, impactful statement that leaves a lasting impression on your reader. This could be a call to action, a prediction, or a thought-provoking question related to your research topic.

There may also be certain things you would unknowingly add in your conclusion that would ultimately leave a bad impression on the reader. Keep these factors in mind so you may avoid when writing your conclusion for your paper:

New Information:

Avoid introducing new information or ideas that were not covered in the body of the paper. The conclusion is for synthesizing and reflecting on the information already presented.

Detailed Methodology:

Do not include detailed descriptions of your research methods. This information belongs in the methodology section of your paper.

Repetitive Summaries:

Refrain from simply reiterating points that were already made in the results or discussion sections. Instead, focus on synthesizing the information and highlighting its significance.

Speculative Statements:

Avoid idle speculation or guesswork about potential outcomes or implications that are not supported by your research findings.

Apologies or Undermining Your Work:

Do not undermine your work by apologizing for any perceived shortcomings. Present your conclusions confidently and assert the value of your research.

Excessive Length:

Keep the conclusion concise and to the point. Long, drawn-out conclusions can dilute the impact of your final statements.

To put things into perspective, here's what a good and bad conclusion example look like:

Good Example:

Bad Example:

Types of Conclusion

Summarizing conclusion:.

This type is the most common and involves summarizing the main points of the research, reiterating the research question, and restating the significance of the findings.

It is broadly used across different disciplines.

Example: If a study investigated the impact of social media on adolescents' mental health, a summarizing conclusion would reiterate key findings, such as the association between high social media use and increased anxiety and depression levels among adolescents, and emphasize the importance of these findings for developing effective interventions.

Editorial Conclusion:

This type is used less frequently and is suited for research papers that advocate for a particular viewpoint or policy. It presents a strong editorial opinion based on the research findings and offers recommendations or calls to action.

It is suitable for papers focusing on policy recommendations or advocating a specific viewpoint.

Example: For a study on the environmental impact of plastic waste, an editorial conclusion might call for a comprehensive ban on single-use plastics and increased recycling initiatives, urging governments, businesses, and individuals to take immediate action to protect the environment.

Externalizing Conclusion:

This type extends the research beyond the scope of the paper by suggesting future research directions or discussing broader implications of the findings. It is often used in theoretical or exploratory research papers.

It is Ideal for theoretical or exploratory studies.

Example: In a study exploring AI applications in healthcare, an externalizing conclusion might suggest future research into the ethical, legal, and social implications of AI in healthcare and emphasize the need for interdisciplinary collaboration to harness AI's potential while addressing its challenges.

How to Write a Conclusion in 4 Steps [With Examples]

Writing a conclusion may seem a bit tricky, but once you fully understand the essence of what goes into a conclusion, it will become much easier. To demonstrate how to write a conclusion, I will be using WPS Office , a tool designed to be convenient for students, thanks to its easy-to-use interface and free features. You can also utilize WPS AI, as I am in these simple 4 steps, to make the entire process smoother for yourself.

Step 1: Restate The Thesis Statement

Start your conclusion by restating the thesis statement of your research paper. This reminds the reader of the main focus and purpose of your study.

Example: If your thesis statement is "This study investigates the impact of social media on adolescents' mental health, revealing a significant association between high social media usage and increased levels of anxiety and depression.", you can use WPS AI to help improve and rewrite your thesis statement.

Here's how WPS AI can assist you with your thesis statement.

Write your thesis statement in WPS Writer and select the entire text using your mouse.

After selecting the text, a small hover menu will appear. Click on the "WPS AI" icon in this menu.

This will open a list of AI assistance options you can choose from. To ask WPS AI to improve your thesis statement, click on "Improve Writing".

WPS AI will process and return an improved thesis statement. If you don’t like the improved version, click on "Rewrite", or click on "Accept" to replace your text with the improved version.

Step 2: Review Main Supporting Points

Next, we need to summarize the key points of our research. When summarizing the key findings of your research, it’s important to highlight the most significant results and their implications.

Example: Let's say that from our research the most important findings were:

The study found that high social media usage negatively affects adolescents' self-esteem due to constant exposure to idealized images and lifestyles.

Excessive use of social media, particularly before bedtime, was linked to disrupted sleep patterns and insufficient rest, contributing to mental health issues.

Despite being a tool for connection, high social media usage can lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation as face-to-face interactions decrease.

Here's how WPS AI can assist you summarize the key points of your research for your conclusion.

Let's switch to WPS Office again, and this time let's select the key points that we have written down from our research.

Click on the WPS AI icon from the hover menu to open the list of options you can choose from.

From the list, let's click on "Summarize" to shorten and summarize the key points from our research.

You can now choose to either accept or ask WPS AI to rewrite this summary of key points again.

Step 3: Show Why It Matters

Now that you have laid out all the findings from your paper and WPS AI has effectively summarized them, you can further prompt it to broaden the implications of your findings and follow up with real-world problems.

To get real-world insights using WPS AI, follow these steps:

Click on the WPS AI widget at the top right corner of the WPS Writer interface.

The WPS AI pane will open on the right. Here, simply type in your prompt. Here is an example of a prompt:

"Explain the significance of high social media usage leading to increased anxiety and depression in adolescents, and discuss potential real-world problems and solutions."

WPS AI will display the results, which can now be a part of your summary or can be further summarized or improved with the help of WPS AI.

Step 4: Offer Meaningful Insights

Lastly, provide some final thoughts or insights that will leave a lasting impression on your reader. This can include suggestions for future research, practical applications of your findings, or a call to action based on your conclusions.

Example: Here is an example of how Meaningful Insights can be presented:

Further research is needed to explore the long-term effects of social media usage on adolescent mental health and to identify effective interventions.

Developing and promoting apps that encourage healthy social media use and provide mental health support could mitigate the negative effects identified in the study.

Stakeholders, including policymakers, educators, and parents, should collaborate to create environments that foster healthy digital habits and support adolescents' mental health.

Now, with the help of WPS AI, these points can simply be summarized to get more concise and structured Meaningful Insights for our conclusion.

Bonus Tips: How to Polish your Conclusion with WPS AI

Writing a strong conclusion for your research paper is crucial, and WPS Office is designed to be exceptionally student-friendly. It offers accessible options and advanced features for free, making it an excellent tool for students. One of the standout features is WPS AI, which integrates AI into its writing and proofreading abilities.

Draft Generation: WPS AI can assist you in writing a conclusion by generating an initial draft. This draft serves as a solid foundation, ensuring that all essential elements are included and properly structured.

Grammar and Style Check: WPS AI can identify grammar errors, awkward phrasing, and inconsistencies in your conclusion paragraph. This ensures that your writing is polished and professional.

Sentence Structure Enhancement: The AI can suggest improvements to sentence structures, helping you to vary sentence lengths and styles for better readability and flow. This makes your conclusion more engaging and easier to read.

Vocabulary Enhancement: WPS AI offers synonyms and alternative word choices to enhance the vocabulary in your conclusion, making your writing more sophisticated and engaging.

Clarity and Conciseness: WPS AI can help you refine your conclusion to ensure it effectively summarizes your main points without unnecessary repetition or tangents. This keeps your conclusion focused and impactful.

Refinement and Customization: Once WPS AI has generated the draft, you can refine and personalize it to align with your research and style. This step allows you to inject your voice and insights into the conclusion, making it uniquely yours.

Polishing and Proofreading: After refining the draft, you can use WPS AI to polish the conclusion further. WPS AI's advanced proofreading capabilities ensure that your conclusion is not only coherent and concise but also free of grammatical errors and stylistic inconsistencies.

ByIncorporating WPS AI into your writing routine you can significantly improve your efficiency and the overall quality of your academic work. You can streamline the process of writing your research paper conclusion, saving time and effort while ensuring a high-quality result. Whether you’re summarizing key findings, making policy recommendations, or suggesting future research directions, WPS AI helps you create a compelling and impactful conclusion.

So we have seen how WPS AI can help us write more effective and accurate conclusions, but is this all the help it offers? Absolutely not! With the help of WPS AI, you can further improve your conclusion by making it more fluent and easier to read.

Furthermore, WPS AI is not just a writing tool; it also offers AI spell check features, which can help students proofread their work according to their academic style such as APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

WPS Office has a lot to offer and is a perfect tool for students who need help writing not just effective conclusions but also effective research papers. So if you are stuck with a conclusion or a research paper, consider turning to WPS AI for help.

FAQs about writing a conclusion for paper/ essay

1. how long should a conclusion be.

A well-constructed conclusion typically constitutes approximately 10% of your document's total word count. For instance, in a 1,500-word paper, aim for a conclusion of about 150 words. This provides sufficient space to summarize key points and offer a final overview of the main ideas discussed.

2. How can I make my Conclusion impactful?

Here are some effective strategies for creating an impactful conclusion:

Utilize compelling language to engage the reader effectively.

Ensure the conclusion remains clear and concise, omitting insignificant specifics.

Conclude with a stimulating statement, a call to action, or a reflection on the broader implications of your research findings to make a lasting impact.

3. How do I avoid simply repeating what I've already said in the Conclusion?

To avoid repeating yourself in your conclusion, focus on cohesively summarizing your main ideas rather than reiterating them. Additionally, consider exploring the wider impact of your arguments or suggesting directions for future research on your topic. This approach ensures your conclusion provides fresh perspectives and maintains reader interest.

Perfect Your Conclusion With WPS Office

Your research paper is not complete without a strong conclusion. The person who reads your paper should feel like they have taken away significant key insights from your work. Writing an effective conclusion can sometimes be challenging, but WPS Office, with its AI capabilities, can assist you in helping you with how to write a conclusion to perfection. Incorporate WPS AI into your writing routine to significantly improve your efficiency and the overall quality of your academic work. Try WPS Office today and experience the benefits of AI-assisted writing firsthand.

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  6. Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper

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COMMENTS

  1. 12.2 Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper

    A good research paper is both organized and cohesive. Organization means that your argument flows logically from one point to the next. Cohesion means that the elements of your paper work together smoothly and naturally. In a cohesive research paper, information from research is seamlessly integrated with the writer's ideas.

  2. 12.1 Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper

    Apply guidelines for citing sources within the body of the paper and the bibliography. Use primary and secondary research to support ideas. Identify the purposes for which writers use each type of research. At last, you are ready to begin writing the rough draft of your research paper. Putting your thinking and research into words is exciting.

  3. How to Write a Research Paper

    Choose a research paper topic. Conduct preliminary research. Develop a thesis statement. Create a research paper outline. Write a first draft of the research paper. Write the introduction. Write a compelling body of text. Write the conclusion. The second draft.

  4. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

    Step 2: Develop a structure and outline. With your research question pinned down and your literature digested and catalogued, it's time to move on to planning your actual research paper. It might sound obvious, but it's really important to have some sort of rough outline in place before you start writing your paper.

  5. 8.3 Drafting

    12.1 Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper. 12.2 Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper. 12.3 Writing a Research Paper: End-of-Chapter Exercises ... you start each new draft, do not just write over the last one. Instead, save the draft with a new tag after the title—draft 1, draft 2, and so on—so that you will have a complete ...

  6. The Writing Process

    Step 1: Prewriting. Step 2: Planning and outlining. Step 3: Writing a first draft. Step 4: Redrafting and revising. Step 5: Editing and proofreading. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the writing process.

  7. 7.3

    A strong research paper comes across as straightforward, appropriately academic, and serious. It is generally best to avoid writing in the first person, as this can make your paper seem overly subjective and opinion based. Use Checklist 12.3 on style to review your paper for other issues that affect style and tone.

  8. Research Guides: Writing a Research Paper: Draft Your Paper

    The following tips may help you with the introduction: Include your thesis. Forecast the paper's organization with your main ideas. Offer a connection. Show readers how the topic relates to their lives. Provide context. Add background to bring your audience on board so they're ready for the rest of the paper.

  9. 12.2: Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper (Part 1)

    Exercise 12.2.2 12.2. 2. Follow these steps to begin revising your paper to improve cohesion. Print out a hard copy of your paper, or work with your printout from Exercise 1. Read the body paragraphs of your paper first.

  10. 12.2 Editing and Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper

    An effective research paper uses a style and tone that are appropriately academic and serious. When revising a research paper, check that the style and tone are consistent throughout. Editing a research paper involves checking for errors in grammar, mechanics, punctuation, usage, spelling, citations, and formatting.

  11. 10.9: Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper

    2. Cut apart your paragraphs (but keep each paragraph together). 3. Give the cut-apart paragraphs to a friend, and see if they can figure out which order they should go in. If they decide it goes in the order you already have your paper in, your paper is probably organized well already.

  12. 10.8: Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper

    These results were "noticeably better than results for subjects on a low-fat diet (45% carbohydrates, 35% protein, 20% fat)" whose average weight loss was only "7 kg (15.4 lbs) in the same period" (Heinz). From this, it can be concluded that "low-carbohydrate diets obtain more rapid results.".

  13. How to Write a Research Paper: A Step by Step Writing Guide

    Along with Meredith Harris, Mitchell Allen. Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content. Writing a research paper is made easy with our 7 step guide. Learn how to organize your thoughts ...

  14. How to Write a Research Paper

    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.

  15. How to Write a Research Paper

    How to Write an Outline for Your Research Paper. There is no "one size fits all" outlining technique. Some students might devote all their energy and attention to the outline in order to avoid the paper. Other students may benefit from being made to sit down and organize their thoughts into a lengthy sentence outline.

  16. Chapter 12: Writing a Research Paper

    Chapter 12: Writing a Research Paper. 12.1 Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper. 12.2 Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper. 12.3 Writing a Research Paper: End-of-Chapter Exercises. Previous: 11.6 Writing from Research: End-of-Chapter Exercises.

  17. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences. Example: 1 Body paragraph one. 1.1 First point. 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point. 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point.

  18. How To Write a Research Paper

    To write an informative abstract you have to provide the summary of the whole paper. Informative summary. In other words, you need to tell about the main points of your work, the methods used, the results and the conclusion of your research. To write a descriptive abstract you will not have to provide any summery.

  19. Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition

    The benefits of this new 2nd edition. Restructured content for a better learning experience. Enriched content with extensive real-world examples. Bite-size lessons on each topic to fit busy schedules. Strategies to apply narrative tools when writing research papers. Detailed examples for explaining concepts, taken from real papers where possible.

  20. Writing a Research Paper

    Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the ...

  21. Free Research Paper Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    If you're preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples.. The template's structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall ...

  22. 13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

    Exercise 2. Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following: Your title page; The abstract you created in Note 13.8 "Exercise 1" Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

  23. How to Write a Conclusion

    I remember my college days when one of the most dreadful assignments was writing a research paper. It made me wonder if there was an easier way to help me through it. The worst part was writing the conclusion, which meant wrapping up the entire paper and finally drawing conclusions. It sounds pretty intimidating, doesn't it? How are you supposed to fit all that information into such a ...