Writing a Paper From Scratch: How To Write a College Research Paper Step By Step

While students ostensibly get some practice writing research papers in high school, this isn’t typically enough to prepare them for the rigors of writing a university level research paper. As a result, they find that the process is complex, they’re prone to writer’s block, and they have trouble organizing their ideas. This step by step guide can help anyone write a research paper worthy of a university class.

  1. Identify the topic on which you will write.

    First, consider an area in which you have some interest and curiosity. Then, narrow this subject down until you begin to come up with coherent, specific questions you’d like to answer with your paper.

  2. Draft a thesis statement.

    Once you have a list of questions you’d be interested in answering, determine which of these questions would be the simplest and most straightforward to research. Make sure it’s specific enough to help you form a thesis statement, as well. The thesis statement will be your focus for your research, and while it will evolve and likely change during the process of researching, it’s a good idea to have a working thesis from the beginning.

  3. Identify themes you will research.

    Consider the different aspects of the topic that you will research. These aspects will be themes, and will evolve to become the sections of your research paper.

  4. Stay organized.

    While researching, keep your notes and sources organized and sorted according to the themes you’re researching. That will make structuring your paper much simpler once you’ve gotten to that point.

  5. Outline the body of the paper.

    After completing your research, create an outline of the main body of the paper. Each theme should represent a section of the paper, and each section should be outlined in a thorough, detailed manner.

  6. Write the body of the paper.

    Using the outline you created in step five, move on to writing a rough draft of the main part of the paper. It’s unwise to begin with the introduction, as the introduction will play an important role in giving the reader an overview of the paper—that’s much easier to accomplish when you have the bulk of the paper already written!

  7. Outline and write the introduction and conclusion.

    After finishing the rough draft of the bulk of the paper, take the time to outline and write the introductory section as well as a strong conclusion.