Research paper writing: what to start with?

Ask any graduate student and they will tell you that the hardest part of any research writing assignment is getting started. Knowing where to begin, when you first sit down to tackle your next research paper is all about planning and organizing your approach to make the writing process go smoothly. We recommend that students learn how to outline their paper first before they try to write. By working from a carefully laid out “plan” you can save yourself time and energy because you will know what research materials you are going to need in order to make your paper complete.

Outlining Your Paper

The first thing you need to do when planning your paper is organize your content in an outline so you know what to look for when you are doing your research. Start out by coming up with an approximate word count based on the assignment criteria and the amount of detail that you intend to put into the assignment. Some instructors will be very particular about how many words your paper must have, working from a disciplined outline will make it easier to achieve the desired “word count” without padding your paper.

Basically your paper is going to need to include 5 main points; Thesis, Introduction+Hypothesis, Three Pieces of Strong Evidence, and Conclusion. Divide the approximate final word count by 5 in order to calculate how many words should be in each section. Remember this will just give you a “basic” idea of how many words to include, you can play with this as you begin to put together your actual paper.

Draft Your Thesis

Once you have laid you paper out, you need to come up with your thesis- some students like to vaguely research a few different research topics before composing their thesis so that they can get some inspiration for their paper. This works great for verifying whether or not your chosen topic has enough research evidence available to write a well-rounded composition. Keep in mind that your Thesis can be modified down the road, you just need to clarify what you are trying to achieve with your paper in order to proceed with the outline.

After landing on a Thesis, you can then begin to lay out the rest of your research assignment. Basically you will need to find at least three strong pieces of evidence to support your thesis as well as write a hypothesis that addresses what you intend to discover by researching this topic further.

Relax and Write

Now that you have done all the preliminary work you should have a great starting point for your research paper. If you can stick to the outline that you have laid out, you will be able to complete your paper in less time, with less stress and wasted energy.