How-To Write a Research Paper


Before you begin writing you should know the basic components of every essay. Every essay has an Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Depending on the type of essay i.e. argumentative, narrative, descriptive or expository the number of paragraphs may change.


  • You are introducing the topic to the reader.
  • This is your opportunity to grab the readers attention
    • Begin your introduction or paper with a quote or a statistic.
  • The last sentence of your introduction includes your thesis statement.
    • Thesis is the most important part of your paper.
    • It explains to the reader exactly what the rest of your paper will discuss.
    • It is usually a 3 part informative sentence or 4 part argumentative sentence.


  • The body follows the thesis statement.
  • The body is normally 3 or more paragraphs or parts depending on the type of paper.
  • Each paragraph discusses one part or argument to your thesis


  • This is a summary of everything within your paper.
  • The reader should be able to read your conclusion and know exactly what your paper was about.
  • This is your closer, so you want to make it memorable and informative.
  • Highlight your main points or argument.


So what makes your paper a research paper?

A research paper requires RESEARCH! You cannot write from your own personal experience. You must gather evidence or facts to support your thesis. Your sources (Journals, magazines, newspapers, books, ect…) must have authority. An authority is an academic (PhD), professional, scientist  or established organization ect… that has extensive knowledge on the subject matter you are researching. You must use their opinions and research to make your paper credible. However, you cannot use word-for-word, you must paraphrase and cite the authority.

Difference between opinion & research paper


1. Decide on a topic

  • Example Topic: Oncologist

2. Begin research on your topic

  • Ask yourself questions:
    • What do oncologists treat?
    • Are there different types of oncologists?
    • How does a person/doctor become an oncologists?
    • Are there standard practices oncologists must adhere to?
  • Search the library databases and the web for answers to your questions.

3.  Create a thesis statement (most important part of your paper)

  • This is the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.
  • Follow these instructions on Creating a Thesis Statement
  • A thesis statement usually has three parts
    • Example thesis:  Considering the number of diagnosed cancer patients and the number of death attributed to cancer, it becomes important to know more about the doctors specialized in diagnosing and treating cancer patients, the qualifications of said doctors, and the ethical standards of patient care that these doctors must follow

4. Create an outline based on your research & thesis

5. Continue research, formulate and write report

  • Research each point noted in your outline to ensure you have enough information to write your paper
  • Search the library databases
  • Gather sources (save on thumb drive or email)
  • Use the databases citation tool (APA 6th edition) to gather your source information for your in-text citations and reference page
  • Compile information and begin your first draft.

6. American Psychological Association (APA)

Why do we use APA? We use APA to

1. Prevent plagiarism–give credit where credit is due

2. Show the authority

APA Style Components

  • Times New Roman
  • 12pt Font
  • double spaced
  • Page number on every page
  • Running head
  • Indented paragraphs
  • In-text citation (last name of author, Year of publication)
    • Example: (Carson-DeWitt, 2002)
    • Use an in-text citation after every fact. You will have many in-text citations. 
    • Every in-text citation must have a reference and every reference must have an in-text citation.
    • Avoid using too many direct quotes. You want to paraphrase as much as possible. 
    • Even when you paraphrase an in-text citation is still needed.
    • Examples of direct quotes vs paraphrase:
      • Direct Quote:
        • Palladino and Wade’s (2010) results indicate that “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (p. 147)
        • In fact, “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (Palladino & Wade, 2010, p. 147).
      • Paraphrase:
        • According to the study conducted by Palladino and Wade (2010), the results indicated that flexible minds produce healthy minds (p. 147).
        • Results of the study indicated that in order for a mind to be healthy the mind must be flexible (Palladion & Wade, 2010).
  • References
    • Alphabetized by author’s last name
    • Hanging indent
    • The type of source determines the organization of the reference. i.e. Journal article, book, magazine, Website ect… are all organized a little differently
    • You can use Microsoft Word to organized your references and create your in-text citations. [References tab]
    • EXAMPLE: Carson-DeWitt, R. (2002). Cancer. In D. S. Blanchfield, & J. L. Longe, The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (pp. 631-638). Detroit: Gale.
    • Sample APA Paper (Your paper should look just like the example)
    • APA Template
    • Guide to Writing Research Reports 101 (Includes APA Specifications

More APA Style Guides

7. Example Videos







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