How to Write a Research Paper in English | 4 Simple Steps

Last Updated on April 2, 2021

This is how to write a research paper in English. Most of us can agree that writing a research paper can feel like an impossible task, just the thought of having to write one is powerful enough to ruin our entire mood. Writing a research paper can take a lot of time and work, which is why many of us leave it for the last minute, hoping it will miraculously disappear.

There’s a very high chance that you currently have a research paper to write and have been staring at it not knowing where to start, if that’s the case then don’t worry, you’re in the right place. Because in this article we are going to discuss just how to write a research paper and make the dreadful process a whole lot easier.

What is a Research Paper?

Before attempting to write a research paper, it’s important that you know what it is.

Many people confuse research papers with essays and although the two can seem very similar with one another, there is a very clear difference between the two. An essay is significantly shorter than a research paper, this is because the writing is often based on the opinion of the writer who uses arguments to support their own opinion. However, a research paper is a lot more complex than that.

A research paper is a piece of academic writing, consisting of: analysis, interpretation. and argument-based research. In comparison to essays, research papers are far more detailed. They don’t only focus on your writing skills, but your research skills as well, hence the name ‘research paper’. When writing a research paper, you don’t just share your opinion on the matter, but also include a lot of factual information including any relevant sources.

The purpose of an essay, is to present the reader with your opinion on the topic, you want to make the reader agree with you and convince them that your opinion is a better option than any others that there may be. However, a research paper has a purpose of informing the reader about a specific topic, you want them to be able to make their own opinion based off of what you wrote and not try to convince them how right you believe your opinion is. In other words, you could say a research paper is way more formal than an essay as it’s often not as personal.

For example, when you start an essay, you may begin with something like “Should abortion be legalised? Personally, I believe the answer is yes because…” and you continue by sharing your opinion on the matter and adding extra arguments to support that opinion. However, research papers would start in a different way. You should start your research paper with an introduction on the topic you have chosen to write about, then explain what your topic means and so on. As you can see a research paper has a much lower level of personal compared to an essay.

And that is what a research paper is and how it is different from an essay.

How to Write a Research Paper

Now that we’ve established what a research paper is, let’s discuss the correct way to write one.

Step 1 – Choose and/or Understand Your Topic

Before starting to write your research paper, it’s important that you understand what it is exactly that you are writing about. If you were given the great opportunity of being able to pick your own topic to write about, it may be a good idea to choose something that you know you are comfortable to talk about for a long period of time, something that you may even consider yourself to be passionate about.

However, if you weren’t so lucky don’t panic. Feel free to take some time to really learn about the topic you were assigned, don’t be afraid to ask around if you feel that you need to. Many usually research by reading articles or books, but not everyone learns that way. If you need to watch some videos or listen to some audios about the topic you are writing about.

Step 2 – Conduct Research

Now that you are comfortable with your topic, it’s time to do the research. If you’re struggling with what exactly you need to research, just think of these five key questions and try to use as many as you can in your research paper: what? why? when? where? and, how? Write down as much information as you can but make sure that your notes are clear and well organised, as this will make putting everything together in the end a lot easier.

Try to find any information on the topic that most people tend to ignore, this may add uniqueness to your paper which is excellent as you want to stand out. Are there are strong debates revolving around your topic, what are they? And why are they so strong? Feel free to share your own personal opinion to the topic, if you have a unique opinion that’s even better. Have there been any recent changes to your topic?

Step 3 – Create a draft or as Many as You Need

As many of us have learnt in life, practise makes perfect. After gathering up as much information surrounding your topic as possible, attempt a first draft. Create what your research paper will roughly look like when it’s completed. Don’t be too concerned about it making sense 100% or looking perfect and having correct spellings and grammar, this is just a draft. You will have to opportunity to develop it later on.

Make sure your draft includes everything you want to include on your research paper, you’re able to use or create a research paper outline to help you with this before you start. Make sure everything is in correct order and clear, if you’re not too sure don’t focus on the introduction for now. Finally, make sure your paragraphs are correctly written. Each paragraph should focus on one idea at a time, in order to be clear and organised for the reader.

Step 4 – Create Your Final Product

Once you’re happy with your previous draft, it’s finally time to write the actual thing.

Remember to start with a good introduction, here is where you should try to answer the ‘what? why? and how?’ questions, in order to properly introduce your topic to the reader. Follow up with a well detailed body and text, make sure your paragraphs are organised and you’re being clear on the subject. Using an outline for this part, will be extremely helpful if you’re stuck. Finally, end with a conclusion. You don’t want to end your paper with any questions unanswered or with new information you won’t be able to discuss, you want to give the reader a sense of finality.

Research Paper Example

Here is a brief outline of what your research paper should look like, using COVID19 as a topic:


(What is COVID19? What place is most affected and which one is the least affected, according to cases? What do the statistics show?)

Paragraph 1: The dangers of COVID19

(What are the symptoms and time-frame of the virus? Is there a risk of death, according to statistics? How does COVID19 spread?)

Paragraph 2: How to prevent COVID19 and why are there doubts?

(How are the procedures put in place helping to prevent COVID19? How does this change throughout the globe? Why do people believe this virus isn’t a real thing and what are the debates surrounding this subject?)

Paragraph 3: How are the protests affecting the cases?

(Where have there been protests and what affect did it have on that specific region?)

Paragraph 4: COVID19 and other diseases

(How are the dangers of COVID19 linked to other diseases? How can COVID19 lead to other diseases and what are they? What do the statistics of those with other diseases who passed away after contracting COVID19 show?)


(Summarise all the different arguments about COVID19, as well as all the figures you have presented in your research paper. Conclude a statement based on the information you have gathered and share which side you believe is right.)

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How to Write a Research Paper in English

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