Research paper writing consists of several stages. The first stage consists of choosing a relevant topic and making a thesis statement that shows the objectives and goals of your investigation. It is followed by the research and experimental stage during which a student studies the matter, works with relevant literature, and collects data for the written part of this project. Then you have to write the paper itself. The last stage is less stressful as you already have all the necessary information and only need to analyze and present it in a proper manner, however, it requires knowing and following the basic principles of academic writing.
Depending on your paper rubric, class guidelines, or formatting guidelines, you may have to organize your paper in a specific way. For example, when writing in APA format you must organize your paper by headings including the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. These guidelines will alter the way you craft your outline and final paper.
Although you may be limited by specific classroom or work related guidelines, choosing your topic is the first and most important step in your research paper project. Regardless of whether your topic can be anything you want or has rigid requirements, it is important to keep a few questions in mind: Is there enough research available on this topic? Is the topic new and unique enough that I can offer fresh opinions? Is it pertinent to my class/occupation?
A research paper is different from a research proposal (also known as a prospectus), although the writing process is similar. Research papers are intended to demonstrate a student’s academic knowledge of a subject. A proposal is a persuasive piece meant to convince its audience of the value of a research project. Think of the proposal as the pitch and the paper as the finished product.