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How To Write A Research Paper For College?

8 min
Uploaded on
Nov 22, 2022
Last updated on
Dec 1, 2023
Uploaded on
Nov 22, 2022
Last updated on
Dec 1, 2023
How To Write A Research Paper For College?
Your research for research ends here

The inevitable has come. You finally have to write a research paper for your college or dissertation. Many colleges require a paper from students to complete their degrees. The structure, the details and the placement of all the data and graphs, how you bring the entire format and the execution play a vital role while writing a college paper. Sounds tedious, right? You don't have to fret, though. We have everything you need about how to write a research paper for a college right here in this blog.

What is a research paper?

A research paper is an academic article that offers a thorough examination, assessment, interpretation, and in-depth analysis of a subject supported by empirical evidence or data. Analytical essays and college papers are similar, but the former place more emphasis on using statistical data and previous studies (like a literature review), while the latter adheres to a strict citation style. A research project is always intended to find a problem's solution. However, most people are already aware of college papers from school; they are frequently used in college courses to assess a student's familiarity with a particular subject or their general research abilities.

Types of research papers

Before learning how to write a research paper, let us know about different types of papers. Knowing the type of college paper needed for your assignment is crucial because every type has various requirements for preparation. The format may be similar, but mostly, it differs for each type. In universities, the most common type of college paper needed for assignments is the Analytical Research Paper, where students have to conduct a survey and analyse the respective responses; You can check out how to conduct research. However, there are some other types which are also used. The most common types of research papers needed for college assignments or dissertations are:

Types of research paper

1. Analytical Paper

2. Argumentative Paper

3. Cause and Effect Paper

4. Experimental Paper

5. Problem-Solution Paper

6. Report Paper

7. Survey Paper

Research Paper Format for Students

Deciding your research paper format before starting to write a paper is very important. The format of your paper will depend on the style guide you choose to follow. There are three commonly used college paper formats - the APA, MLA, and Chicago style, whose manuals provide formatting guidelines for things like font choices, page design, heading type, and reference page structure, in addition to citation requirements. Here are the basic guidelines for each college paper format:

1. American Psychological Association (APA)

APA is the style used by the American Psychological Association for documentation of sources. This form of writing college papers is used mainly in the social sciences as well as education and other fields.

  • You should use a common typeface such as 11 pt Arial or 12 pt Times New Roman.
  • Set page margins at 1 inch.
  • Double the line spacing.
  • Include a running head on each page if submitting for publication.
  • Every new paragraph needs a 12-inch indent.
  • APA style writing also tells more in-depth details about the order of pages, font, line spacing, etc., needed to write a college paper.

2. Modern Language Association (MLA)

Modern Language Association, or MLA, format, is a style of mentioning sources you use to write a research paper. This style is usually used for research papers for English Composition and other communication classes.  

  • Use a readable typeface, such as 12 pt. Times New Roman.
  • Make the page margins 1 inch.
  • Double-space your lines.
  • Every subsequent paragraph should be indented by one and a half inches.
  • Capitalise headings with title case.

3. Chicago or Turabian style

This style is the student version of The Chicago Manual of Style, which aims at students in high school and college who are writing research papers, theses, and dissertations. The Chicago Manual of Style aims at professional scholars. 

  • Use a common typeface, such as Times New Roman 12 pt.
  • Use margins of at least one inch.
  • Double the line spacing.
  • Every new paragraph needs a 12-inch indent.
  • Page numbers should be placed in the bottom centre or top right.

How to write a research paper for college?

Writing a research paper seems extremely tedious. But don’t worry, we have listed a step-by-step process to make your work easier. We have covered everything right from choosing the topic to proofreading! Let’s get started

How to write a research paper for college?

Step 1: Choose your topic

You may be given a topic to write on, or you may have to choose one on your own, depending on the assignment. If your instructor did not provide you with a topic, you would have to choose a topic on your own. You should pick a research topic which you feel connected to and feel confident about. The topic or the problem for the research paper should not be too vague or too narrow so that it does not become hard to find the relevant data.

Step 2: Conduct preliminary research

While finding sources online is a simple way to start a research project, determining the reliability of a source is more crucial. The sources for your research should be credible and reliable. You can source your data and information from encyclopaedias, journals, google Scholar, libraries, trustworthy publications or case studies. This will be your first stage, i.e. the preliminary stage of research. This is the stage where you will get a clear idea about your topic for research writing through the data you have sourced and skimmed.

Step 3: Write a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement conveys the main idea of your research paper, and it typically appears at the end of your introduction. This is one of the important parts of a college paper you should take care of while you write a college paper. Your thesis statement should have an interesting and compelling hook which draws the readers' attention. A strong thesis statement gives the reader a clear understanding of the topics and arguments you will be discussing in your work. Your thesis should be one or two sentences long and should be well-written, so readers know what they will encounter in your paper. 

Step 4: Conduct in-depth research

After you are done with the preliminary research, you need to source enough research which will be relevant to your research writing. You can conduct data through various methods such as experiments, surveys or questionnaires. Always keep in mind that your research writing should be unbiased and should be factual. This is the stage where you will go through the information you have collected while doing the preliminary research and find out supporting evidence. Only include details that are directly related to your issue; avoid including irrelevant data even if they seem interesting. 

Step 5: Write a research paper outline.

The foundation of your paper is an outline. There are various sections or components that make up a research paper outline. Your paper will surely include an introduction, body and conclusion. These headings will include relevant subheadings, which will be supported by empirical evidence. You need to make a list of all the vital topics, subtopics and categories to include in your paper.

Each section should be expertly written to ensure that the work is successful and well-structured overall.

1. Title/Cover Page

First impressions are important, which is why picking the right title can greatly impact how your college paper is perceived. A simple formula for a great title is: "[Result]: A [method] study of [topic] among [sample]", and you can modify this as per the type of research paper you're working on. This is just one of the crucial components of a research paper. Some types of college paper titles are:

  • Declarative
  • Descriptive
  • Interrogative

No matter which type you're going for, you need to keep these few things in mind. Be concise yet descriptive, and don't make your title too lengthy. Keep it between 5 to 15 words. Make sure it matches the guidelines and avoid the use of symbols and slang. 

2. Abstract

Simply put, this is a short and appealing overview of your college paper. When writing a research paper, make sure you give a brief background of the problem being studied and the manner of your solution. Also, be sure to include the main findings from your study and use keywords in your abstract.

3. Introduction

A good research paper introduction includes the problem's background and any solutions presented in the literature along with its reasons and focuses mainly on the problem you're aiming to solve. Write this section of the research paper in a logical way to make it easier for the reader to follow along with your thought process. Don't forget to start with your thesis statement.

4. Limitations

This section should tell the reader what obstacles you faced during your research. Make sure you keep all information relevant to the results and are concise. Avoid the use of unnecessary words, and don't include the results mentioned in the results section. 

5. Methodology

The main purpose of having a methods section is to allow anyone to reproduce your experiments. So, you should give enough detail to allow others to do so. However, you can skip detailing previous experiments, as readers can find these in the references you've provided. Make sure to write in the past tense and use standard nomenclature and numbers. Here's a checklist of what you should include:

  • References of previously published methods
  • Study settings
  • Cell lines
  • Antibodies
  • Animal models
  • Human subjects
  • Data accession codes for data deposited in a repository.
  • Software
  • Statistics
  • Timeframes

6. Main Body

This section will contain the bulk of your research paper. Unlike college essays, your college paper should be divided into sections with separate headers to make it easier for readers to scan. When writing a college paper's first draft, don't worry about perfecting each and every word. You can fine-tune it later when you're editing and proofreading the paper. To improve the flow of the paper, you can use transition sentences, tying each section together smoothly.

7. Conclusion

A research paper's conclusion is quite similar to that of an essay. Make sure you reiterate your thesis statement, summarise your study's findings, and reiterate evidence backing your results in as simple a manner as possible.

8. Bibliography

It's important to acknowledge any previous studies that you discuss in your paper to avoid plagiarism and to let readers easily navigate to these sources. Make sure to maintain a detailed list of all your references and include these in your bibliography section as per the format you are following, such as MLA, APA, etc. 

These are the fundamental components of every research paper outline, regardless of the format style you use.

Step 6: Write the first draft.

Now that you have finalised an outline for your research paper. Here comes the most important and exciting part. You will now actually start to write a research paper. This step won't be very intimidating if you have all the sources and data with a proper outline ready. Your research paper should contain all three: an introduction, body and conclusion, along with an abstract, citations and bibliography. This is the part where you will support your thesis statement with empirical evidence and facts. While you write a research paper, you have to remember that this section contains the main ideas and is the soul of your paper. The methods used to obtain information, the findings, and a discussion of the findings and outcomes are all found in the body of your research paper. The conclusion and the introduction carry the same importance. The research paper's concept is restated in the conclusion, along with the author's, i.e. your personal viewpoint on the subject. Your conclusion cannot include the facts that are already stated in your paper or new facts or information.

Step 7: Cite your research paper.

Citations are a very important part of how to write a research paper. Citation basically means quotations from any reference books, papers or authors. It mentions the referenced quotes' mainly in scholarly works. According to the paper format you are using, citations follow a certain set of guidelines and rules. Your final page, also known as the bibliography page, will contain all the citations and lists of all the references and sources that you used to gather your data.

Step 8: Edit and proofread

Once you have finished writing a research paper and all the elements of your paper have been written and compiled, proofread it many times to ensure that it is error-free. Before submitting it, make sure you check for all the minor details and make sure you do a thorough grammar check. Go over your paper twice so you do not miss anything.  

Tips for writing a research paper

Who doesn't love extras? Extra ketchup, extra mayo, extra tips? You can take a look at some tips while write your college paper here! You can check out these topics to learn more about how to write a research paper effectively and efficiently. 

1. Select a topic you feel connected to.

2. Using Index cards to jot notes down will be helpful.

3. Take enough time to edit and polish your paper.

4. Find a distraction-free environment.

5. Start writing a research paper early to avoid procrastination.

6. You can definitely ask for help if you need it.

7. Have enough sleep and rest.

8. Store copies of your research and work as backup.

Tools & Resources for Writing a Research Paper

With so much to keep in mind, writing a research paper well can certainly be quite stressful. No need to worry; Your little helpers are here. These tools and resources make writing a research paper a lot easier and faster. Using these when writing your research paper is a great way to work smarter, not harder. 

Managing citations has never been easier with citation manager apps that take up the task of acquiring metadata, organising citations, and formatting references. Mendeley, Zotero, Endnote, and Refworks are a few apps that you can use. 

The language might not be your forte, and your reviewers aren't going to correct your grammatical errors. So here are a few editing tools that will do just the trick - Hemingway Editor, Grammarly, and Trinka.

Now that you have learnt how to write a research paper, you can finally start writing a research paper. Go through the steps properly, choose a topic that might intrigue. We know you can do it. The task of writing a college paper seems ginormous as it involves a lot of hard work and brain activities. Once you start the process, it might not seem ginormous but interesting. Get enough sleep and rest and avoid procrastination, and you should write a college paper while enjoying it. You can also check out our blog on how to write a research paper appendix and how to write a literature review research paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it compulsory to write a research paper in college?

Can a blog be used in a college paper?

How do I choose a topic when writing a paper for college?

How to cite a research paper or the sources used for research?

Where can research be conducted while writing a paper?

How To Write A Research Paper For College?
8 min
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