How to Write an Academic Research Paper


What first thought pops up in your mind when you hear a “research paper” word combination? Well, do not bother, we can imagine! It’s dreadful, isn’t it? Every college student goes through this once in a while, and there is nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes, writing a research paper may take a lot of time from you, a long-term novel written with a lot of efforts and concentration, and mind-blowing experience. Honestly, a certain research paper may well look like a work of art, but don’t take it literally. It’s not a science fiction novel!

Let us give you a brief overview of what is an academic research paper, and how to write it. A research paper is a type of an academic writing task where you provide a hypothesis or a problem of present interest, find a solution to it and support your findings with solid arguments. In plain English it means that when you know nothing about something, you go and perform some research on a topic that interests you; then you make some assumptions as to how useful this or that information is, and then you can recommend it to your friends using your personal experience as an example and as a proof. The best thing about a research paper is that you may learn something new, and become more proficient in your field of study; you may learn something useful and it will help you in your professional career. So be very attentive!

While everybody perfectly understands what a word “academic” means, others may be taken aback by what the main types of research are. When it comes to academic writing of a research paper, you must know that there are several types of research. They are:

  • Fundamental Research– development of theoretical knowledge. It is an acquisition of new scientific data on processes, phenomena, and patterns that exist in a certain area of interest; scientific foundations, methods and principles of research;
  • Exploratory Research– increase of knowledge for further understanding of an area of interest. Science and technology development forecasts; finding ways of application of new patterns and phenomena;
  • Applied Research– finding specific scientific solutions to apply them in practice. Acquisition of references, requirements, methodologies, etc.

These types of research vary depending on a certain field of knowledge, discipline, and requirements for your research paper. Only one of these types may be used in one academic paper while all of them may be used in the other. It is a matter of time, and it is a matter of topic of interest.

Before proceeding to how to write an academic research paper, we would like to remind you what are parts of a research paper. Here they are:

  1. Title;
  2. Abstract;
  3. Introduction;
  4. Methods;
  5. Results;
  6. Discussion;
  7. Conclusion;
  8. Bibliography;

The number of these parts and their quantity may vary from one research paper to another, depending on a specific goal of your research and recommendations of your instructor. They are general and given for familiarization; it doesn’t mean that they are true for every single research paper.

Now, let’s concentrate on how to write a research paper. “How” is always of vital interest, isn’t it? Below you find some useful tips that may be of a great help.


Time Management

Sometimes, writing a research paper may take a lot of efforts, especially, if a thesis of your paper is difficult, and it requires performing a deep analysis. In any case, you should get control of your time. Time management may be very helpful. Create a “to do” list, and write out the most significant points of your research. Define how much time do you need to perform a research. Make it clear what points of your research need to be checked. Set the deadline for each chapter of your paper in order to submit a first draft of your paper in time.

“Do not wait […]. Start writing a paper, and use a paper as a forcing function to make you do research to articulate a paper,” says Simon Peyton Jones, a British professor and a computer scientist. His recommendations are clear enough to try to follow them. So why you shouldn’t?



A title is everything. It defines your research, and that is why it is very important to make it right. First of all, do not make it too long because a reader of your work may lose your  thought. At the same time, do not make it too short since you may be unable to understand what is the main idea of your work. A title may be given to you by your instructor, so you won’t have to brainstorm it day and night. In general, try to write up to 50 words to be explicit enough.



Ideas for academic research papers are written representations of your thoughts in this field. An idea requires performing research to know more about a subject of research. Think carefully because even a minute and insignificant idea may result in great and interesting academic paper. Second advice is to pick an idea for your research from your field of knowledge. For example, if you are studying medicine, you won’t think of writing about fashion, obviously. Another advice is to think of your interests in this field. You may choose some new and unknown topic that interests you, and become proficient in it. You may become a true expert on this mystique subject.



Just don’t go to extremes. Overuse of quotes is bad, just as bad a lack of them. Make this paper yours. Prove your point of view and give solid arguments to well-known problems or theories, and support your thoughts with a couple of appropriate quotes supporting your point. Just do not overuse quotes. Otherwise, your work may look like a story of quotes. One more thing, do not borrow evidences or facts from other sources without stating the original source. It is called plagiarism.


Research Journals

Research journals are a great source of useful information in a certain area. There are many specialized research and scientific journals that publish the latest findings in many fields. For example, American Anthropologist, Latin American Antiquity, New Scientist, etc. Many educational institutions publish their own research journals where they publish academic research papers of their students and Ph.Ds. Go ahead and google them. They become your source of inspiration and information because a good researcher is a reading researcher.

Taking all the aforesaid into consideration, it’s worth practicing certain points of this article. Firstly, the narrower your subject is, the better your paper looks. Secondly, do not spend too much time on research, and start writing despite all difficulties. Thirdly, make the title of your paper understandable and interesting for everybody. Quarterly, try to figure out an idea of a research of a field of your expertise, perform research on something that you do not know but what you would like to learn. Fifthly, make sure that your paper meets an initial assignment given to you by your instructor. Otherwise, you will have to write the whole paper from scratch. Finally, read research journals published by your educational institution, or well-known and credible scientific journals for more data, facts or information.

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