Academic study guidelines on how to write a research paper

There are many possible ways to approach research papers; some disciplines need a great deal of factual research, or quantitative data, other fields require more conceptual research. We might think, for example, about the difference between a paper on literature, and one on psychological phenomena. Regardless of these differences, good research papers have much in common, and by always making sure that you include these features, you will guarantee a good result. So, how to go about it?


The first, most essential task is to choose a subject to investigate. There are several things to bear in mind when selecting a topic, foremost: is the topic interesting? Is it engaging? Is it current? Is there enough current research? Can I demonstrate an original approach? Originality within a context of existing scholarship is the key to success. Decide on a topic, and think of a new approach that you believe you can demonstrate with research.

Research, Research, Research!

Now that you have a topic, you must devote some serious time to reading the existing academic research on the subject. Be careful to select research from well-regarded thinkers, and from well-respected journals or publishers. Do not quote Wikipedia! Use your research time to garner evidence both for and against your argument.

Plan Your Attack

A plan, or research paper outline, is the next step. You should, before you begin writing anything, produce a comprehensive and detailed plan, that you can structure your research and argument around. The better the plan, the better the eventual paper.


Give yourself as much time as possible to write your paper, because there is a very good chance that during the writing process, you will change your opinion and your approach several times. You must be ready for this, and ready to begin again if this happens!

Edit Edit Edit

Now, one you have written your paper, you must spend a good deal of time editing and refining your paper. Take a day, and go through the paper again and again. Then take a day break, and then do the same again. Perfect what you have written, and maintain concentration.

These above points are the essential ingredients for any successful research project. If your paper has these, you are pretty likely to get a good mark!

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