If you’re a curious person who always wants to everything about anything, then you’ll love writing research papers. As a writer who constantly works on different forms of content and different niches, I spend most of my time researching. In fact, that’s my favorite part of the entire process. I love that feeling I get when I research, learn more, find what I need, and use it to create unique content. As you’ve already figured by its name, a research paper requires a lot of curiosity and “detective work” as I like to call it. You can easily picture yourself as a detective (or even a journalist) who’s working on same big case or story.
Writing research paper for the very first time can be overwhelming, you’re nervous because you don’t want to make mistakes. Or maybe you’ve already worked on this type of paper before, but you want to know how to improve. I am going to help writing papers you out, regardless of your experience, by providing useful info and tips for writing a high-quality work. Let’s see how to write introduction and outline for a research paper (it’s easier than you think).
Research paper introduction
Research papers usually discuss serious topic or ideas, or the ones that are subjected to numerous debates. A writer i.e. you, has to a thorough research, find out as much as possible and combine previous and current research data on the topic. The paper should, also, include conflicting ideas or attitudes.
Let’s say your research paper is about global warming, besides info (previous and current studies and such) about this topic, it’s useful to write about two opposing views or mention that some people believe it is a hoax. That way, you are covering both sides of the issue and show how unbiased you are.
The research paper does not deal with writer’s opinion, it is not your job to write what you think about the subject and support your claim with evidence. Instead, it deals with facts!
You have probably dealt with this problem before – you want to start writing, but you can’t think of anything, ideas vanished entirely, and you don’t know how to formulate the introduction. That is a common concern, even among those who believe that introductions aren’t important in the first place.
The high-quality paper is the one wherein all parts, from the introduction to a conclusion, are well-structured. There are no “less important” parts of the text. So, how to create an introduction for a research paper?
Elements of the introduction
In order to create a bulletproof introduction, you should stick to the basic formula that consists of the following:
- Hook – the very beginning of your introduction, which is why it should be interesting in order to grab a reader’s attention. This is, basically, where readers already make the very first impression of your work and as you know, first impressions are everything. The hook for a research paper is typically longer than in a basic essay. The typical research paper is longer than some essay, which is why it needs a longer intro. To create the hook, you can use anecdotes, statistics, questions, quotes, anything you see fit for your topic.
- Research question – in most cases you’ll get the research question i.e. what exactly to research and create your paper about, but in other instances, you’ll have to do it on your own. Generally, research question should be concise, on the point, and inform the reader what to expect throughout your work.
- Thesis statement – it accounts for the last sentence or two of the introduction. The thesis statement in a research paper is equally important to those in ordinary essays. Not only they provide additional information to the reader, but also help you stay focused and avoid straying away from your topic. The thesis statement is, actually, an answer to the research question, so make sure it’s a good, constructive one.
Example: The history of medieval times in Europe and the Middle East was primarily characterized by armed conflict between Christians and Muslims. Christians called these conflicts the Crusades because they were fighting under the sign of the cross to save the holy lands of the Bible from being desecrated by non-Christians. However, the true reason for fighting for these lands was less than holy. What was the real reason behind Crusades? The underlying cause for Crusades was mainly a desire for economic gain that prompted the Christian leaders to send soldiers to fight in the Holy Land and efforts from the Church to, still, remain the biggest and undisputable authority.
Purple – hook
Blue – research question
Red – thesis statement
Whenever having to write a research introduction, keep in mind the diagram you see below.
Tips for introduction
Here are some useful things to consider when writing a research paper introduction:
- Although introductions of research papers can be somewhat longer than in regular essays, you should still try to keep it short. Don’t drag the introduction and take up half of a page or something. Rambling, lengthy introductions will quickly lose your reader’s interest. Plus, they are a sign of an unorganized thought
- Introduction isn’t a summarized version of the entire paper, it briefly introduces your work
- Never choose a thesis statement you can’t support with evidence
- Based on your research, include points or subtopics that you will delve into in the body of the paper
- Subtopics should be associated with the main subject and work to strengthen the importance and value of your thesis statement
- When writing the first draft, you can save the introduction for last (if you find it easier that way). By the time you finish the body and conclusion, you’ll get inspired and know what to include in the introductory part of your paper.
- Take a notebook and write down different ideas to make an interesting, yet professional introduction. Separate good ideas from the bad ones, think of your research question and thesis statement. Now, connect those ideas with sentences
- Be precise, your introductions should be precise and specific and discuss only the idea you’ve researched and plan to elaborate further, don’t stray away from the topic and write about stuff that you won’t even mention in the body.
Research paper outline
Now that you know how to start your research paper, you’re probably wondering how to keep going. Be sure that you have found a worthy research paper topic before passing to the next level. Just like with essays, the outline is everything. It’s a formula you use to write about any topic and still get a well-structured paper that your professor will love.
The general outline for research paper consists of the following:
- Introduction (explained above)
- Body – the central part of the paper and includes context or general information about the subject, existing arguments, detailed research. Here you can also include your argument, but only if a professor specifies it when sending out assignments. As mentioned above, research papers are usually concerned with facts, not opinions
- Conclusion – summary of main points, why the subject matters
Example: Here’s how the general outline would look if were writing about Shakespeare:
- Body – Shakespeare’s early life, marriage, works, later years
- Early life, family, marriage to Anne Hathaway, references to his marriage in poems he wrote
- Shakespeare’s works: tragedies, comedies, histories, sonnets, other poems
- Later years: last two plays, retired to Stratford, death, burial, epitaph on this tombstone
It is important to bear in mind that every new idea, in this case, an aspect of Shakespeare’s life and work, requires a separate paragraph.
To simplify, use the following diagram when you have to work on a research paper.
The purpose of a research paper outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before the writing process commences. Since I’ve already shown how to write the introduction, it’s time to give a few pointers for the body and conclusion of your work. So, here we go:
- Assume that your reader isn’t familiar with the topic and start with basic info first. Imagine you’re reading a paper for a five-year-old. Give background, historical context, etc. You don’t have to go into the tiniest details, mentioning something useful, memorable will do the trick too
- It’s useful to research and include opinions of other, respected historical figures about your topic. For example, what other authors had to say about Shakespeare
- Don’t forget about conflicting views e.g. some people didn’t like Shakespeare and thought he was a fraud, it’s useful to mention that as well. Regardless of the topic, there are always pro- and anti- opinions, mention both sides
- Only include information you can support with reliable and trustworthy evidence. Don’t use Wikipedia, blogs and such, go for journals, books, respected websites, it all depends on the topic of course
- Give credit where credit is due, don’t forget to cite your sources
- The overall tone of your paper should be formal, don’t be scared to demonstrate your vast vocabulary skills
- Avoid wordiness, sentences should be concise. Every word you use should only contribute to the overall meaning of a sentence. Don’t use “fluff” just meet the word count
- When writing conclusions, briefly mention the most important arguments or research, explain the importance of the subject and what we can learn from it.
Writing a research paper may seem like a mission impossible if you’ve never had the opportunity to work on such an assignment. But, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Always make sure you follow an outline and you’ll stay on the right track. Picture yourself as a detective or journalist who’s in the search for the truth. Why don’t you try writing your own paper about Shakespeare, now? Good luck!
What does a good thesis statement look like?
There is one big tip on writing a good essay almost every article on the web gives you. It’s to come up with a clear and specific thesis statement.
But how one does it? You need to understand what is the main idea of your paper and how to communicate it in a comprehensive and concise way. Here are some of the thesis statement examples to help you make this task less problematic.
Thesis statement formula
As you can see, there is no universal thesis statement formula as every type of a writing assignment requires a different approach. In some cases, you will have to include counterarguments, and in others presenting solely your point of view will suffice. Here are a couple of examples:
While there is a common belief that ……., a closer examination proves that …….
Despite the ……., the recent facts show that ……
The reason for is …… and as a result …….
- Endorsement of child labor by international companies should not be supported.
Consumers should not buy items from the countries that endorse child labor because this kind of financial approval encourages big corporations to increase the production, the exhaustion of a child’s body can lead to severe health problems, and the hard work deprives children of their childhood.
- The morality of atheists and theists.
Even though atheists do not have an instruction of good behavior provided by the superior beings, they are not less moral than theists. They have their own moral compass and laws established by society to differentiate good deeds from the bad ones.
- Testing drugs on animals is the sacrifice we have to make.
The greatest value we have is a human life. If testing a new drug on a cute little rabbit could result in saving your mother or father from a terminal illness, then this is the sacrifice we need to make. Animal testing can lead to our healthier future, less incurable diseases, and more saved lives.
- Getting a university diploma is necessary.
Even though there are some examples of successful people without a college degree, everybody should go through this stage of self-development. The years in college give you knowledge, improve your soft skills, and connect you with other bright people who can help you get to the top in the future.
- Personal information on the web should have a legislative basis.
Even though we can’t imagine our life without social media, we have to be careful about the information we provide as it can be used for research reasons. There should be specific laws about the availability of big data and who can use it because it will be easy to manipulate people’s minds, gather the personal information without permission and use it for someone’s benefits.
- Landing on the Moon is a fake.
Despite the presence of a documentary video of landing on the Moon, it should be recognized as the biggest fraud. The details of the video and the fact that we still have not made a come back there after more than 40 years indicate that it could not be filmed on the Moon surface.
- Parents monitoring their children internet use is the right thing.
While there is a lot of useful and educational information on the internet, parents should regulate the internet use of their children. Children get distracted, spend more time on harmful web sites, and avoid social interaction.
- Money as a motivation for good grades is an option.
The approach of encouraging the children to get good grades by paying them can be a model of the real world situation. If you work hard and get good results, you will get paid accordingly. This way of encouragement is acceptable and can be used by parents.
- The line between exaggeration and lies in advertising.
There are not enough regulatory norms to make the modern advertisement less deceiving. The line between exaggeration and lies is not clear and the products advertised turn often don’t meet the customers’ expectations. If we introduce more rigid rules to advertising, there will be less disappointed customers.
- Space missions should not be a priority.
We spend billions of dollars on developing the strategies of Mars colonization while there are millions of people suffering from famine here, on our planet. It would be more beneficial to spend more on saving people in Africa from starvation and water shortages than sending someone to a distant planet.
- Unfair salary rates of doctors.
In the world where human life is the biggest value, doctors should get the highest salary rates, not actors and singers. They save lives, deprive us of physical pain, and have to spend years of studying and practicing to be able to do that.
- Euthanasia should be legalized.
Euthanasia should be recognized as one of the possible ways of ending a person’s life. The right of life is given to every person and we are free to take decisions we consider to be right.
- Homeschooling is effective.
Homeschooling is an effective way of educating children as it gives an opportunity to focus on personal strength and weaknesses, make emphasis on the particular subjects a child has an interest in, and adapt the studying approach to the most convenient for a child.
- Diets are just waste of time.
Multiple cases show that all the diets have a short-term effect on the body. Diets are ineffective because people start gaining weight once they stop and the organism goes through an unnecessary stress.
- The production of cigarettes should decrease by 90%.
The production of cigarettes should decrease by 90% so that with time, the harmful habit could disappear. A significant decrease in the production of tobacco products will lead to the minimization of demand on it as the price will get higher, the supply will decrease and people will not be able to buy it.
- Reverse discrimination at the workplace is a problem.
The fear of being punished for the discrimination of ethnical minorities at the workplace leads to the discrimination of the rest of the population. There should be a law that balances out this inequality.
- Redistribution of money spent on the space programs is needed.
The government should not spend money on the search for new exoplanets as it has no practical value for people on Earth. Instead, they should focus on asteroid mining projects to be able to get the vital resources after they are all used on our planet and survive.
- Plastic surgeries should not be allowed to everyone.
Even though plastic surgeries are aesthetically justified, they do not solve the psychological problems of desire to change one’s appearance. They should be allowed only in severe cases because they give people the fake satisfaction, can cause an addiction, and support the objectification of one’s image.
- Video games advocating violence should be banned.
Video games featuring violent episodes should be banned as they lead to violence at schools, damage the mentality of minds, and create the perverted image of reality.
- Abortions should be legal.
The legalization of abortions should be legalized as women should have the freedom to make decisions regarding their bodies and there are cases when there could be no other solution to the problem.
- Endorsement of child labor by international companies should not be supported.
- Studying abroad.
Although the idea of studying abroad might sound costly, the experience one will get from the interaction with another culture and different approach to teaching is worth it.
- Marriage at a young age.
There is nothing good about getting married at a young age except for it being romantic. People’s personalities change dramatically between 20 and 30 years old and young marriages are almost never a good idea.
- Getting a degree.
Higher education is no longer a requirement for getting the dream job. Online short-term courses can give you the necessary theoretical information.
- Women choosing not to have children.
There is nothing scandalous about a woman who chooses not to have children and our society has to understand that. It is her time and body that are at stake but not someone’s beliefs.
- Modern art.
Modern art becomes more and more meaningless as almost every creative project has a goal of provoking negative emotions.
- National identity.
We will see more and more regions demanding independence in the upcoming years because the question of national identity has become extremely the top of the agenda in Europe.
There is an urgent need of educating people about AIDS as there are many countries even in Europe where the information about this disease is inaccurate and unspecific.
- Protecting animals.
Every civilized country should ban circuses that use animals for their shows. This kind of entertainment is not worth the sufferings those animals go through.
Becoming a vegetarian is a new stage of the human development as you stop being an animal and make a conscious choice of not eating meat for the sake of other animals just like you.
Choosing death instead of life is a selfish deed by which you take the joy of your life not from yourself but from the people who love you.
- Studying abroad.
- Plants in the developing countries.
International companies having their factories in the developing countries provide thousands of people with work and stable income. The question of ethics should not stand in the way of helping those people to survive.
- 6 hour work day
The U.S. should introduce a 6 hour work day for office workers to reduce sick-leave and increase the motivation.
- The importance of exams.
Exams are not an effective way of assessing students’ knowledge. There should be an alternative to measuring the abilities while exams will be banned.
- School uniforms.
School uniforms work perfectly for erasing the difference of families’ income levels and can always be individualized by the students to express their creativity.
- Space debris.
Space debris is a serious threat to our planet and there should be more information and publicity on the topic.
- Personal information.
The federal government should not have access to the personal information we state online and should not be able to use it.
- Food at school cafeterias
The food at school cafeterias is one of the main reason of children’s obesity in the U.S. the government should introduce legal regulations regarding this issue.
- Maternity leave
The period of paid maternity leave should increase up to 2 years. A woman should be able to get a salary from the government during this time while staying with children at home.
- Harmful ads.
The ads of alcohol and cigarettes should be banned as they advocate the unhealthy way of life.
- Beauty contests.
Beauty contests do not have any value for the society and should be eliminated from the lives of civilized societies.
- Plants in the developing countries.
- Plato and Socrates.
While the two Greek philosophers had their differences in understanding the world around us, they both were the founders of Western philosophy and made a huge impact on philosophy as we know it today.
- Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
The similarities between the two dictators are striking and they need a thorough investigation to understand the specific reasons for their horrid behavior.
- Judaism and Christianity.
Although they bear some similarities, the differences between Judaism and Christianity are remarkable and cause massive disputes until today.
- Online and on-campus studies.
While online classes provide students with more flexibility, they require more organizational and time-management skills to succeed at studies.
- Darwin and Lamarck
Although Darwin and Lamarck had similar views on the idea of species evolving over time, they had reached to different results in terms of the acquired traits inheritability.
- Hobbes and Locke
While Hobbes and Locke both had a major impact on the political philosophy, their views on the origin of moral principles of the right and wrong a man has.
- TV series and full-length film
The quality of modern TV series has increased immensely and sometimes matches the one of a full-length film, even though the two forms have some dramatic differences.
- Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir
Although the two painters had a close working relationship, they used different approaches to communicating their inner understanding of the world’s beauty.
- eBooks and paper books
While both eBooks and paper books have the same goal, the experience they bring to a reader is different and leads to several major distinctions between the two.
- Google and Facebook
Although Google and Facebook are designed for different purposes, they have multiple similarities of influencing people’s perceptions.
- Plato and Socrates.
Gambling addiction can be caused by several factors – impulse control disorder, genetics, past trauma syndrome- each having its particular impact on the behavior.
The success of any tennis player depends on his physical, mental, and emotional skills.
- Being a popular writer.
There is no unified success formula for authors to become successful but there are 5 main factors that can influence the writing career.
- Missions to the Moon.
The main reason for stopping further missions to the moon are the high cost and focus on more strategically important expenditures.
- How to survive on an island after a shipwreck.
There is a list of things one can do to prepare for a shipwreck and survive on an island before getting rescued that includes some physical training and thorough strategy.
- Random shootings.
The reasons behind the increasing number of random shootings in the U.S. are the growing fear of population and feeling of vulnerability.
Children diagnosed with autism need their parents to take a special approach to upbringing which includes a particular schedule of activities to avoid stress.
- Creative Professions.
The popularity of creative professions in the 21st century can be explained by the possibility of making robots do the hard routine tasks.
To minimize a major damage caused by a hurricane, every household needs to take thorough preventive measures.
- Caste system in India.
The phenomenon of a caste system in India was introduced as a mean of taking the local populations under control.
- Diversification in business is one of the most effective ways of assuring its success as it lets you have an alternative service or product to focus on during a critical situation.
- The symptoms of most of the eating disorders appear due to the stressful way of life.
- Creating a positive environment at a workplace increases employees’ motivation and reduces days of sick leave.
- Sharing responsibilities in the workplace between the members of one team project increases productivity by X% and helps people feel involved in the process.
- The lack of effective communication between colleagues and subordinates can lead to the decrease of productivity.
- The urge of changing workplaces and professions in the 21st century has the main reason of overall dissatisfaction with life. The feeling of uselessness and depression makes millennials search for a better place to work and live.
- Skills and knowledge do not matter for a top manager as long as they do not have a strong personality and leadership skills.
- The individual approach to every employee of New Balance corporation is an example of building a positive brand image without investing too much money in PR.
- Translation fails multinational companies make have a serious impact on the sales revenue.
- The case of IKEA demonstrates how good PR and social practices can turn society’s attention from the weaknesses of the company and make them its strengths.
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela is a marvelous example of inspirational writing that shows how it is possible to fight for civil rights on the streets and behind the prison bars.
- Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald shows us all the drastic consequences of having an illusion of a better life and making it the sense of one’s life.
- Pride and Prejudice was a revolutionary novel depicting a woman as a self-sufficient human being and not just a supplement to a man.
- The idea of the struggle against growing up plays the central role in The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
- In Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, we see that wealth and social class are secondary to loyalty and affection.
- The Odyssey is an epic masterpiece that teaches us that any life journey is filled up with a great number of obstacles and the outcome depends on how good we can cope with them.
- Through Goethe’s Faust, we can understand the real value of life and the significance of all the decisions we make as some of them may lead us to dramatic results.
- The central point Lord of the Flies makes us think about is the constant conflict between personal barbarism and the rigid rules of society.
- In the heart aching novel Of Mice and Men, we see the upsetting nature of human life as the sense of loneliness becomes dominant in all main characters.
- In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky paints a picture of faith and doubt conflict and the unbearable burden of free will can change one’s life dramatically.
- There should be no controversy in terms of a gay character appearing in a Disney movie – Beauty and the Beast- in 2017 as the norms of our society has changed a lot.
- Donald Trump’s illogical and offensive behavior can be just a distraction from the world’s bigger political issues so that there would be no panic amongst the people.
- The phenomenon of higher education will be replaced by online courses and seminars in the nearest future as it is a more effective approach.
- Despite the protests, women’s objectification remains to be one of the central problems of perception of female beauty.
- Elon Musk’s ideas can help Australia and other countries to fight the energy problems and will be the future for the technological development as they are feasible and affordable.
- The government should stop supporting space missions trying to find extraterrestrial life due to the time factor. Unless we build a time machine, the time barrier will not let us find other forms of life elsewhere in the Universe.
- There should be more severe punishment for the sex offenders to reduce the cases of violence. The capital punishment is the most effective option in fighting these crimes.
- Parents should pay more attention to the time their children spend online because they need to know the difference between the real and virtual world from the early age.
- The biggest thing one can thieve from someone is no longer material but ephemeral – personal information. Because of the constant hackers attacks, it’s become impossible to feel safe.
- If the universities with a long history will not make the necessary adaptations to the modern educational system, the online education will take over the majority of world countries.
- The human factor is the reason of multiple aircraft extreme situations as only a few pilots are able to take fast and logical decisions under stress.
- The stereotype of a woman’s place being at home upbringing children starts to disappear, the gap between the salaries between two genders remains to be dramatic.
- Clothing is still the best way of introducing yourself to a person without saying anything.
- The type of a teachers’ salary that depends on the results of his work and not on the experience they have is becoming more and more popular.
- The concept of family is often the central topic in many of the world’s literature masterpieces.
- The effects of global warming become more visible with every year and can lead to the distinction of species.
- The sanctions upon the Russian Federation do not prove to be effective even a year from their initiation.
- The idea of degradation can be clearly seen in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”.
- Homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo effect for a person.
- With the development of the digital era, the advertisers move their focus to online ads ignoring the effects of outdoor advertising.