Begin a research paper

Dec 5, 2020

Dec 5, 2020 | Guide

How to begin a research paper

Most students dread research paper assignments.

Yes, they can be quite challenging, but, after learning the basics, and practice, you will realize research papers are not that difficult.

One of the challenges you will face is how to begin writing your research paper, and that is the focus of this article.

Understand What The Assignment Is All About

You will not produce a high-quality paper if you do not understand it.

The first step, therefore, should be reading the instructions and making sure you understand them.

Remember, you will only get a good score if you follow the instructions.

Pay attention to the following details:

  • The subject of the paper – it will help you come up with a topic to discuss.
  • The timelines – when is the assignment due, when can you submit the first draft and so on.
  • The format, length, and other instructions relating to structure.

No matter how good of a paper you write, if it does not follow all instructions, you will fail.


Even after understanding the requirements of the paper, you are not yet ready to start writing.

You have to do some planning and organization.

Planning involves exploring the different approaches they can take to write the paper.

Read and reread the question or subject given and brainstorm some of the arguments, or ideas you can write about.

It is also at this stage that a student gathers resources to use as references to the paper.

Note that, time management is a priceless skill in research paper writing.

You have to dedicate enough time to each stage of writing, otherwise, you will have too much to do a few days before the deadline, and risk missing it altogether.

The point is, before you get down to business, set some timelines within which you are to complete different tasks.

Guidelines On How To Begin a Research Paper

After understanding the instructions and planning, you can now get down to business.

As mentioned before, starting is the most challenging part.

From experience, we have come up with the following guidelines on how to begin your research paper.

  1. Identify a topic to discuss

The first step to writing a research paper is to identify a topic to discuss.

When choosing a topic, consider the following:

  • Instructions given: the topic you pick must follow the requirements of the assignment.
  • Relevance: choose a topic that is relevant to the subject and one that your audience can relate.
  • Interest: You will have an easier time writing about a topic you are enthusiastic about. You will easily come up with and read-worthy an interesting argument.
  • Comprehension: write about a topic you understand. Or, first, do research to understand the topic given.
  • Narrow down: If you write about a broad topic, you will have a problem picking your references, and, because of the word limit, your paper will miss some crucial points you intended to include.

2.  Research

Lack of content is one of the reasons students struggle with research papers.

Before you start writing read as much material on your topic as possible.

Reading will help you have enough material to hit the word count and because it makes you understand the topic more, you will produce a high-quality paper.

As you gather material for your paper, consider all types of literature, new and old.

You want to gather enough facts around a given topic so you can develop a relevant and strong argument.

Some of the sources you can use for your research paper include:

  • Books
  • Expert interviews
  • Academic journals
  • Reputable newspapers and magazines
  • Reputable online sources such as government and university websites

As you conduct your research take short notes, so you will not forget some crucial information.

These short notes will also help you create an outline for your research paper.

Remember, you are required to write your sources at the end of the paper.

So, make sure you jot down the sources you get your main points from.

3.   Develop a thesis statement

You cannot start writing without having developed a thesis statement.

The introduction of your research paper has to include a thesis statement for it to be any good.

A thesis, basically, is the main argument in a research paper.

  • A good thesis statement;
  • Indicates the theme of the paper
  • Outlines the focus of your paper; it informs readers what your central idea is and the purpose of your paper.
  • States facts

As a writer, the thesis statement ensures you remain on topic.

As for readers, it helps them understand what the paper is all about, your stand on the topic of discussion, and it gives them a summary of the main ideas in the paper.

It is advisable to develop several thesis statements as you do your research, and then settle on the one you think will be easier to write.

As you write your paper, you can always adjust the thesis statement as needed.

4.   Come up with an outline for your research paper

At this point, you have a topic, you have gathered resources and done your research, and you have a thesis statement.

Still, you are not ready to start writing.

You need to create an outline for your paper.

This is where the short notes you took during research come in handy.

Basically, an outline is a map for your paper.

It highlights your main points and helps you organize your points in a flowing order.

An outline guides you on the content to include, and where to put it.

4.   Create a captivating introduction

The introduction of your paper serves two main purposes:

Informing the reader what the paper is all about

Interesting the reader enough for them to read the rest of the paper

The latter is very important since most people assume because the introduction is good, the rest of the paper is good too.

Of course, the opposite can be true: a good essay could have a very bad introduction.

So, make sure you write a good introduction so you do not bore a reader even before they get into the details of your paper.


Perfecting your writing skills start with knowing how to begin writing the research paper.

As discussed, understanding the topic and planning are the first steps.

Then, you identify a topic to discuss, conduct research, develop a thesis statement, and create an outline for the paper, before working on the introduction.

If you need professional help with your research paper, contact us now.

Otherwise, all the best in your research paper!