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Research Paper Writing Guide

What Is a Research Paper?

A research paper is a commonly assigned type of project at colleges and universities. It requires the student to accumulate information through a massive research process, take a particular stand regarding the research question, and offer an evidence-based discussion.

Scientists and academics also write research papers. They evaluate various studies and discuss the connections and differences between them. This is a more complex type of project, which is usually published in a journal after the process of peer reviewing.

In most cases, it’s students who need research paper writing help. Academics are already trained to engage in this type of writing. Students, on the other hand, never received proper instructions. For that purpose, they rely on online research paper writing assistance. 

How to Conduct Proper Research

You need a plan and a timeframe for conducting systematic research. Depending on the complexity of your topic, you’ll need to spend at least a week conducting elaborate research. If this is a serious project of PhD level and beyond, you’ll spend months or even years.

But for a college research paper, a week should be enough.

  • Visit the university library to see what resources you have at your disposal. If there’s a website you can explore, start your research there.
  • Use Google Scholar to find authoritative studies and published books on the topic. Maybe you’ll need to pay to access some of them.
  • Start by reading the abstracts, so you’ll identify the most relevant resources. Then, you’ll read the complete content of the narrowed-down list of sources.
  • You have to take notes along the way. The research process will inspire the main ideas in your paper. Also, you need to know where the information is coming from. You’ll provide proper MLA or APA citations later on. For now, simple notes are enough.

How to Write a Research Paper: Common Structure

When writing a research paper, you’ll need to follow a specific structure. Similarly to an essay, the research paper contains three main sections:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

However, this is not a 5-paragraph essay. It’s a much longer project, with a body that’s separated in different chapters.

These are the main chapters included in the most common structure for research papers:

Introduction

This is where you’ll state the problem and explain why it’s important for the academic community. You’ll address the gap in current knowledge, and you’ll state the goals of this research process.

Methods

There are various research methods: analyzing existing literature, surveys and/or interviews, lab experiments, and more. You’ll choose your methods and you’ll outline them in this chapter. You’ll explain why you chose those specific methods.

Results

In this chapter, you will present the findings from your research.

Discussion

Here, you’ll discuss the results and you’ll connect them to previous research on the matter. In the end, you’ll include recommendations for further research.

How to Make an Outline for a Research Paper

An essay outline is easy to write: you just plan what arguments you’ll include in each section. It’s not that simple with the research paper outline. You have a lot of work to do before you can come to the results and discussion. Thus, outlining becomes an ongoing process.

Before you start outlining, you’ll go through these stages:

  • Choosing a topic
  • Outlining your argument
  • Defining your audience
  • Conducting thorough research and taking notes along the way

After this, you’ll organize those notes in the sections we mentioned above. This will be just a preliminary outline. As you start writing the Methods and Results, you’ll be getting ideas on how to write the discussion. So you’ll add more details in the outline along the way.

APA Formatting Rules for a Research Paper

The APA citation style guidelines are provided by the American Psychological Association. This style is used for research papers for social science topics. You’ll need to provide citations in the text and in the reference list.

This is the main rule to follow for in-text APA citations:

  • (Author, date)

You’ll provide more elaborate information in the reference list. This is the format for referencing journal articles:

  • Author, A. A. & Author B. B, (Year). Title of the article. Title of periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. https

MLA Formatting Rules for a Research Paper 

The MLA formatting style was formulated by the Modern Language Association, and it’s mostly used within humanities and liberal arts. It requires in-text citations and a Works Cited page.

This is the main rule to follow when citing sources in the text:

  • (Author page)

As you can see, it’s different from an APA citation, where we referenced the year of publication instead of the page.

The reference for the Works Cited page is slightly different, too:

  • Author(s). “Title of the article.” Title of the periodical, day month year, pages.

List of 50 Research Paper Topics

Topics on Education

  1. Why should businesses invest in educational programs for young generations?
  2. Methods for minimizing violence in elementary schools
  3. Sexual abuse among university staff: how can it be controlled and sanctions?
  4. Should primary and secondary educational programs include personal growth instructions?
  5. Are religious studies necessary in all levels of education?
  6. Do private U.S. universities provide better quality of education than community colleges?
  7. The pros and cons of standardized tests in the U.S. educational system
  8. Should sexual education be taught in elementary school?
  9. Does excessive discipline limit the creative potential of high-school students?
  10. Should universities impose dress codes to students?
  11. Should students be censored in their creative writing projects?
  12. Effective teaching methods for digitally-literate elementary students
  13. How can teachers prevent students from cheating on exams?
  14. What drives students to buy papers online?
  15. Homeschooling as an effective alternative method of education

Topics on Environmental Issues

  1. How the Clean Air Act will affect climate change
  2. Limited water resources as a reason for increased carbon dioxide emissions
  3. How the U.S. energy policy impacts climate changes
  4. Major reasons for pollution in megacities in the 21st century
  5. Air quality in developed vs undeveloped countries
  6. How can we recover Indian rivers from massive pollution?
  7. How can we support the ecosystem’s recovery after forest fires?
  8. Can a modern human survive in extremely cold conditions?
  9. Are there enough food resources on Earth to stop world hunger?
  10. Can we reverse the damage that the palm tree industry does to the environment?
  11. Does the Earth have enough clean water to support humanity for another 100 years?
  12. Can humanity survive without excessive oil drilling?
  13. Modern policies for protecting endemic wildlife
  14. Water contamination as a reason for the deterioration of the Taj Mahal
  15. How deep sea mining affects life in the oceans

Topics on Family Issues

  1. How can schools support elementary students from dysfunctional families?
  2. The psychological impact of being a child of older parents
  3. Should parents force children to learn even if they resist the process?
  4. How adultery affects minor children in the family
  5. The transition from high school to college: how does it affect the student’s parents?
  6. Adaptation methods for children from previous marriages
  7. Gender roles in families from Eastern European countries
  8. Gender discrimination as a result of one-child policies
  9. Are children from multicultural families more open-minded than those limited to a single culture?
  10. How depression affects parenting decisions
  11. How can a parent support a rebelling teenager?
  12. What type of education can prevent smoking among teenagers?
  13. How toxic marriages affect the children in the family
  14. Family counseling: does it work?
  15. The effects of parental neglect on teenage girls

Topics on Political Issues

  1. How international law can contribute towards preservation of the environment
  2. Should every country be part of an international alliance?
  3. Is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization necessary in the 21st century?
  4. Should the U.S. government interfere in conflicts among and within other countries?
  5. Why do French people idealize Napoleon Bonaparte?
  6. Is peace achievable through war?
  7. How are the United States dependent on other countries?
  8. How media influences national politics
  9. Does the majority always know best during national elections?
  10. Methods for eliminating corruption and nepotism in governmental organizations
  11. How international laws protect children on a global level
  12. Is international law a necessary concept?
  13. The effects of globalization on nationalism
  14. Long-term consequences of civil wars on society development
  15. The origins of politics

Topics on Social Issues

  1. Why does racism exist in the 21st century?
  2. Racism in the modern French society: how can it be handled?
  3. How police brutality influences social order
  4. Interracial marriage in Australia: comparison between the acceptance in the 20th and 21st century
  5. How racism impacts the culture of Aboriginal Australians
  6. How mass media influences a student’s decision to apply to college
  7. How celebrities set strange fashion trends
  8. Does high fashion make sense in daily life?
  9. How romantic comedy movies impact a woman's perception of marriage
  10. How rich people can stop world hunger
  11. The evolution of desired body types among women
  12. How celebrities influence the diet culture among teenagers
  13. The essential differences between being a patriot and being a nationalist
  14. Cultural appropriation: respect or abuse by the dominant culture?
  15. The position of multi-ethnic citizens in the U.S. societies