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How to Write a Research Paper Book: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Research Paper Book

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Writing a research paper can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to the process. However, with the right guidance and approach, anyone can learn how to write a research paper book that is both informative and engaging. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper book that will help you organize your ideas, conduct research, and present your findings clearly and concisely.

The first step in writing a research paper book is to choose a topic that is both interesting and relevant to your field of study. Once you have chosen a topic, you will need to research to gather information and data that will support your thesis statement. This may involve reading books, articles, and other sources of information, as well as conducting interviews and surveys.

Once you have gathered your research, the next step is to organize your ideas and develop an outline for your book. This will help to ensure that your book is well-structured and easy to follow, and will also help you to identify any gaps in your research that need to be filled. With a clear outline in place, you can begin to write your research paper book , using your research to support your arguments and ideas.

Planning and Preparation

writing a research paper (step by step) book

Understanding the Assignment

Before starting to write the research paper, it is important to understand the assignment requirements thoroughly. Understanding the assignment will help in selecting a relevant topic, developing a research question, and conducting research. Students should pay attention to the assignment instructions, including the length of the paper, formatting requirements, and the due date.

Selecting a Topic

Selecting a topic is one of the most important steps in writing a research paper. Students should choose a topic that is interesting and relevant to the assignment. Brainstorming can help generate ideas for the topic. Once a topic is selected, students should develop a research question that is specific, clear, and focused. The research question will guide the research process and ensure that the paper is focused on a specific topic.

Conducting Preliminary Research

Before starting the actual research, it is important to conduct preliminary research to get an overview of the topic. This will help in identifying relevant sources and developing a research plan. Students should use a variety of sources, including books, articles, and websites. They should also pay attention to the credibility and reliability of the sources. Developing research skills is important in conducting effective research.

Overall, planning and preparation are crucial steps in writing a research paper. Understanding the assignment, selecting a topic, and conducting preliminary research will help in developing a focused and relevant research paper.

Structure and Outline

writing a research paper (step by step) book

Writing a research paper requires a systematic approach to ensure that the final product is well-structured and easy to read. The following subsections will guide how to create an outline, the components of a research paper, and how to organize chapters.

Creating an Outline

An outline is a crucial step in the research paper writing process . It helps to organize thoughts and ideas and provides a roadmap for the paper. A standard outline includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should provide a brief overview of the topic and the main objectives of the research. The body should include the main points and arguments, while the conclusion should summarize the findings and provide recommendations for future research.

Research Paper Components

A research paper typically includes several components, including the title page, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. The title page should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, and the date of submission. The abstract should provide a brief summary of the paper, including the research question, methodology, and key findings. The introduction should provide background information on the topic and a clear statement of the research question. The literature review should provide an overview of previous research on the topic. The methodology should describe the research design and methods used. The results should present the findings of the research, while the discussion should interpret the results and provide conclusions. The conclusion should summarize the main findings and provide recommendations for future research.

Organizing Chapters

Organizing chapters is an essential part of writing a research paper. Each chapter should focus on a specific aspect of the research question. The introduction chapter should provide background information and a clear statement of the research question. The literature review chapter should provide an overview of previous research on the topic. The methodology chapter should describe the research design and methods used. The results chapter should present the findings of the research. The discussion chapter should interpret the results and provide conclusions. The conclusion chapter should summarize the main findings and provide recommendations for future research.

In conclusion, a well-structured research paper requires a systematic approach that includes creating an outline, understanding the components of a research paper, and organizing chapters. By following these guidelines, researchers can produce a high-quality research paper that is easy to read and understand.

Writing the Paper

writing a research paper (step by step) book

When it comes to writing a research paper, the actual writing process can be daunting. However, by following a few key steps, the process can be broken down into manageable chunks. In this section, we will discuss how to craft a thesis statement, develop arguments, and cite sources.

Crafting a Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the backbone of any research paper. It is a clear and concise statement that summarizes the main point or argument of the paper. A good thesis statement should be specific and debatable, and it should provide a roadmap for the rest of the paper.

To craft a strong thesis statement, the writer should first identify the topic of the paper. From there, they should brainstorm ideas and narrow down their focus until they have a clear argument. Finally, they should refine their argument until it can be expressed in a single, concise sentence.

Developing Arguments

Once the thesis statement is in place, the writer can begin developing their arguments. Each argument should support the thesis statement and be backed up by evidence. The evidence can come from a variety of sources, including scholarly articles, books, and primary sources.

To develop strong arguments, the writer should start by outlining the main points they want to make. From there, they should gather evidence to support each point. Finally, they should organize their arguments logically and coherently.

Citing Sources

Citing sources is an important part of the research paper writing process. It allows the writer to give credit to the original authors and avoid plagiarism. There are two main types of citations: in-text citations and reference list citations.

In-text citations are used to give credit to the original authors within the body of the paper. They typically include the author’s last name and the year of publication. Reference list citations are used to provide more detailed information about the sources used in the paper. They typically include the author’s name, the title of the source, and publication information.

When citing sources, it is important to follow the citation style specified by the instructor or publication. Common citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago.

By following these steps, writers can successfully write a research paper that is well-organized, well-supported, and properly cited.

Formatting and Style Guides

writing a research paper (step by step) book

When writing a research paper, it is important to follow the appropriate formatting and style guidelines to ensure that your paper is clear, organized, and professional. This section will cover some of the most commonly used formatting and style guidelines, including APA and MLA styles, title page and headings, and references page formatting.

APA and MLA Styles

The American Psychological Association (APA) and Modern Language Association (MLA) are two of the most commonly used style guides for research papers. APA style is often used in the social sciences, while MLA style is often used in the humanities. It is important to consult the appropriate style guide for your field of study to ensure that you are following the correct guidelines.

APA style requires in-text citations with the author’s last name and year of publication, while MLA style requires in-text citations with the author’s last name and page number. Both styles also require references or works cited page at the end of the paper, which must be formatted according to specific guidelines.

Title Page and Headings

The title page of a research paper should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, and the institution where the paper will be submitted. The title should be centered on the page, and the author’s name and institution should be centered below the title. The title page should also include the date of submission.

Headings are an important part of organizing a research paper. They should be used to divide the paper into sections and subsections and should be formatted according to the appropriate style guide. In APA style, headings should be centered and bolded, while in MLA style, headings should be left-aligned and formatted in title case.

References Page Formatting

The references page should include a list of all sources cited in the paper, and should be formatted according to the appropriate style guide. In APA style, the references should be listed alphabetically by the author’s last name, while in MLA style, the works cited should be listed alphabetically by the author’s last name or the title of the work. Each entry should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the date of publication, and other relevant information, depending on the type of source.

In conclusion, following the appropriate formatting and style guidelines is an essential part of writing a research paper. By using the appropriate style guide, formatting the title page and headings correctly, and formatting the references page according to specific guidelines, you can ensure that your paper is clear, organized, and professional.

Revising and Editing

After completing the first draft of a research paper, it is essential to revise and edit it thoroughly to ensure that it is clear, coherent, and free of errors. This section will discuss the key aspects of revising and editing a research paper.

Reviewing for Clarity and Coherence

One of the primary goals of revising a research paper is to improve its clarity and coherence. To achieve this goal, it is crucial to review the paper for the following:

  • Logical flow of ideas: Ensure that the ideas presented in the paper are logically connected and presented in a coherent sequence.
  • Consistency: Check for consistency in style, tone, and formatting throughout the paper.
  • Clarity: Ensure that the language used in the paper is clear, concise, and easily understandable by the target audience.
  • Appropriateness: Ensure that the paper meets the requirements of the assignment and addresses the research question or thesis statement.

Checking for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offense in academic writing and can result in severe consequences. Therefore, it is essential to check the research paper for plagiarism before submitting it. There are several tools available online that can help detect plagiarism. However, it is important to understand that these tools are not foolproof and may not detect all instances of plagiarism. Therefore, it is essential to review the paper for the following:

  • Proper citation: Ensure that all sources used in the paper are properly cited using the appropriate citation style.
  • Paraphrasing: Ensure that all paraphrased content is properly cited and does not exceed acceptable limits.
  • Direct quotes: Ensure that all direct quotes are properly cited and accurately represent the source.

Final Edits

After reviewing the research paper for clarity, coherence, and plagiarism, it is time to make the final edits. The following are some key aspects to consider during the final editing phase:

  • Grammar and spelling: Check for grammar and spelling errors and correct them.
  • Formatting: Ensure that the paper follows the appropriate formatting guidelines specified by the instructor or the journal.
  • Proofreading: Read through the paper several times to ensure that it is free of errors and flows smoothly.

In conclusion, revising and editing a research paper is a crucial step in the writing process. It helps ensure that the paper is clear, coherent, and free of errors. By following the guidelines discussed in this section, writers can produce high-quality research papers that meet the requirements of their instructors or journals.

Publishing and Submission

Understanding publication requirements.

Before submitting a research paper for publication, it is important to understand the publication requirements of the target journal or publisher. These requirements may include specific formatting guidelines, word count limitations, and citation styles. It is also important to ensure that the research paper meets the scope and focus of the publication.

One way to understand the publication requirements is to review the submission guidelines provided by the journal or publisher. These guidelines may be available on the publication’s website or in the author instructions section of the publication. It is important to carefully review these guidelines to ensure that the research paper meets all of the requirements and guidelines.

Submission Process

Once the research paper is ready for submission, the author can begin the submission process. The submission process may vary depending on the journal or publisher but typically involves submitting the research paper through an online submission system or via email.

Before submitting the research paper, it is important to ensure that all of the submission requirements have been met. This may include providing a cover letter, abstract, and author information. It is also important to ensure that the research paper is properly formatted and meets all of the publication requirements.

After the research paper has been submitted, it will undergo a peer-review process. This process involves experts in the field reviewing the research paper for accuracy, significance, and originality. The author may receive feedback and suggestions for revisions during this process.

Once the research paper has been accepted for publication, the author may need to sign a publishing agreement. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of publication, including copyright ownership and distribution rights. It is important to carefully review and understand the terms of the publishing agreement before signing.

In conclusion, understanding publication requirements and following the submission process are key steps in successfully publishing a research paper. By carefully reviewing the submission guidelines and ensuring that all requirements have been met, authors can increase their chances of publication success.

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  • © 2017

Writing and Publishing a Scientific Research Paper

  • Subhash Chandra Parija 0 ,
  • Vikram Kate 1

Department of Microbiology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, India

You can also search for this editor in PubMed   Google Scholar

Department of Surgery, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, India

The book covers all aspects of scientific writing from submission to publishing in detail

Written and edited by world leaders in the field

Chapters are easy to understand with essential contents for writing quality scientific research paper and easy to follow algorithms and key points in each chapter

Chapters highlight the importance of each section of the scientific article

A comprehensive book which will focus on how to deal with rejected manuscripts, issues of plagiarism and ethical principles of scientific publications

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  • Table of contents

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Table of contents (18 chapters)

Front matter, writing a scientific research paper, why write a scientific research paper.

  • Subhash Chandra Parija, Vikram Kate

Components and Structure of a Manuscript

  • Sitanshu Sekhar Kar, Rakhee Kar
  • S. Shyama Prem

Abstract and Keywords

  • Vikram Kate, S. Suresh Kumar, Mohsina Subair


  • Tamilarasu Kadhiravan, Molly Mary Thabah
  • B. Vishnu Bhat, S. Kingsley Manoj Kumar, G. Krishna Rao
  • R. Ramesh, N. Ananthakrishnan

Discussion and Conclusion

  • Zubair H. Aghai, David Carola
  • Anup Mohta, Medha Mohta

Figures, Tables and Supporting Material

  • Dinker Pai, Soon Kyit Chua, Suneet Sood

Publishing a Scientific Research Paper

Choosing a journal for paper submission and methods of submission.

  • Vikram Kate, Madhuri Parija Halder, Subhash Chandra Parija

Revision of an Article and How to Deal with the Rejected Manuscript

  • Vikram Kate, Raja Kalayarasan

Authorship and Contributorship

  • Akash Shukla, Avinash Supe

Types of Manuscripts

  • Rajive Mathew Jose, Kiruthika Sivasubramanian

What Does a Reviewer Look into a Manuscript

  • Devinder Mohan Thappa, Malathi Munisamy

Open Access for Publication – Can It Be Chosen?

  • Savio George Barreto

Publishing Misconduct Including Plagiarism and Permissions

  • C. Adithan, A. Surendiran

This book covers all essential aspects of writing scientific research articles, presenting eighteen carefully selected titles that offer essential, “must-know” content on how to write high-quality articles. The book also addresses other, rarely discussed areas of scientific writing including dealing with rejected manuscripts, the reviewer’s perspective as to what they expect in a scientific article, plagiarism, copyright issues, and ethical standards in publishing scientific papers. Simplicity is the book’s hallmark, and it aims to provide an accessible, comprehensive and essential resource for those seeking guidance on how to publish their research work.

The importance of publishing research work cannot be overemphasized. However, a major limitation in publishing work in a scientific journal is the lack of information on or experience with scientific writing and publishing. Young faculty and trainees who are starting their research career are in need of a comprehensive guide that provides all essential components of scientific writing and aids them in getting their research work published.

  • Components of Scientific research paper
  • Choosing a journal for paper submission
  • Dealing with rejected manuscript
  • Authorship and contributorship
  • Reviewer’s perspective of the manuscript
  • Plagiarism and permissions

Department of Microbiology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, India

Subhash Chandra Parija

Department of Surgery, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, India

Vikram Kate

Subhash Chandra Parija is the Director of the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry, India, and has nearly three and half decades of teaching and research experience in Medical Microbiology. Prof. Parija is a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expert, and has been consulted to draft guidelines on food safety for parasites. Prof. Parija was on the Board of MD Examination at Colombo University, Sri Lanka, Sultan Quaboos University, Oman, University of Malaya, Malaysia. He was conferred a D.Sc. for his contributions in the field of Medical Parasitology by Madras University. The author of ten books including the “Text Book of Medical Parasitology,” he has published more than 300 papers in both national and international journals of repute.

Prof. Parija has been honored with more than 25 awards including the Medical Council of India’s Dr. BC Roy National Award and the National Academy of Medical Sciences’ Dr. PN Chuttani Oration Award. Prof. Parija founded the Indian Academy of Tropical Parasitology (IATP), the only professional organization of Medical Parasitologists in India, and initiated the journal Tropical Parasitology.

Vikram Kate  is currently the Professor and Head, Department of the Surgery and Senior Consultant General and Gastrointestinal Surgeon at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry. He has contributed more than 25 chapters in reputed surgical gastroenterology and surgery textbooks, and has more than 140 papers to his credit. He is a Past President of the Indian Association of Surgical Gastroenterology. He was awarded the Membership Diploma of the Faculty of Surgical Trainers by the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. Further, he currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Advanced Medical and Health Research , the official journal of JIPMER.

Professor Kate is Examiner for the M.S./M.Ch./DNB and Ph.D. program for Surgery, Surgical Gastroenterology and Intercollegiate Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons of England, Edinburgh and Glasgow (FRCS, FRCS Ed., FRCS Glasg.), and of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and the American College of Gastroenterology (FACG). He has been honored with many awards, including the Dr. Mathias Oration (2010), the Prof. N. Rangabashyam Oration (2015), by the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry Chapter of the Association of Surgeons of India and the Silver Jubilee MASICON Oration (2016) by the Nagpur Branch of the Association of Surgeons of India. 

Book Title : Writing and Publishing a Scientific Research Paper

Editors : Subhash Chandra Parija, Vikram Kate

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4720-6

Publisher : Springer Singapore

eBook Packages : Medicine , Medicine (R0)

Copyright Information : Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Hardcover ISBN : 978-981-10-4719-0 Published: 09 August 2017

Softcover ISBN : 978-981-13-5211-9 Published: 13 December 2018

eBook ISBN : 978-981-10-4720-6 Published: 28 July 2017

Edition Number : 1

Number of Pages : XVII, 195

Number of Illustrations : 12 b/w illustrations, 39 illustrations in colour

Topics : Medicine/Public Health, general

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  • Starting the research process

A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

Research process steps

When you have to write a thesis or dissertation , it can be hard to know where to begin, but there are some clear steps you can follow.

The research process often begins with a very broad idea for a topic you’d like to know more about. You do some preliminary research to identify a  problem . After refining your research questions , you can lay out the foundations of your research design , leading to a proposal that outlines your ideas and plans.

This article takes you through the first steps of the research process, helping you narrow down your ideas and build up a strong foundation for your research project.

Table of contents

Step 1: choose your topic, step 2: identify a problem, step 3: formulate research questions, step 4: create a research design, step 5: write a research proposal, other interesting articles.

First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad. Think about the general area or field you’re interested in—maybe you already have specific research interests based on classes you’ve taken, or maybe you had to consider your topic when applying to graduate school and writing a statement of purpose .

Even if you already have a good sense of your topic, you’ll need to read widely to build background knowledge and begin narrowing down your ideas. Conduct an initial literature review to begin gathering relevant sources. As you read, take notes and try to identify problems, questions, debates, contradictions and gaps. Your aim is to narrow down from a broad area of interest to a specific niche.

Make sure to consider the practicalities: the requirements of your programme, the amount of time you have to complete the research, and how difficult it will be to access sources and data on the topic. Before moving onto the next stage, it’s a good idea to discuss the topic with your thesis supervisor.

>>Read more about narrowing down a research topic

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writing a research paper (step by step) book

So you’ve settled on a topic and found a niche—but what exactly will your research investigate, and why does it matter? To give your project focus and purpose, you have to define a research problem .

The problem might be a practical issue—for example, a process or practice that isn’t working well, an area of concern in an organization’s performance, or a difficulty faced by a specific group of people in society.

Alternatively, you might choose to investigate a theoretical problem—for example, an underexplored phenomenon or relationship, a contradiction between different models or theories, or an unresolved debate among scholars.

To put the problem in context and set your objectives, you can write a problem statement . This describes who the problem affects, why research is needed, and how your research project will contribute to solving it.

>>Read more about defining a research problem

Next, based on the problem statement, you need to write one or more research questions . These target exactly what you want to find out. They might focus on describing, comparing, evaluating, or explaining the research problem.

A strong research question should be specific enough that you can answer it thoroughly using appropriate qualitative or quantitative research methods. It should also be complex enough to require in-depth investigation, analysis, and argument. Questions that can be answered with “yes/no” or with easily available facts are not complex enough for a thesis or dissertation.

In some types of research, at this stage you might also have to develop a conceptual framework and testable hypotheses .

>>See research question examples

The research design is a practical framework for answering your research questions. It involves making decisions about the type of data you need, the methods you’ll use to collect and analyze it, and the location and timescale of your research.

There are often many possible paths you can take to answering your questions. The decisions you make will partly be based on your priorities. For example, do you want to determine causes and effects, draw generalizable conclusions, or understand the details of a specific context?

You need to decide whether you will use primary or secondary data and qualitative or quantitative methods . You also need to determine the specific tools, procedures, and materials you’ll use to collect and analyze your data, as well as your criteria for selecting participants or sources.

>>Read more about creating a research design

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Finally, after completing these steps, you are ready to complete a research proposal . The proposal outlines the context, relevance, purpose, and plan of your research.

As well as outlining the background, problem statement, and research questions, the proposal should also include a literature review that shows how your project will fit into existing work on the topic. The research design section describes your approach and explains exactly what you will do.

You might have to get the proposal approved by your supervisor before you get started, and it will guide the process of writing your thesis or dissertation.

>>Read more about writing a research proposal

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

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  • How to write a research paper

Last updated

11 January 2024

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With proper planning, knowledge, and framework, completing a research paper can be a fulfilling and exciting experience. 

Though it might initially sound slightly intimidating, this guide will help you embrace the challenge. 

By documenting your findings, you can inspire others and make a difference in your field. Here's how you can make your research paper unique and comprehensive.

  • What is a research paper?

Research papers allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a particular topic. These papers are usually lengthier and more detailed than typical essays, requiring deeper insight into the chosen topic.

To write a research paper, you must first choose a topic that interests you and is relevant to the field of study. Once you’ve selected your topic, gathering as many relevant resources as possible, including books, scholarly articles, credible websites, and other academic materials, is essential. You must then read and analyze these sources, summarizing their key points and identifying gaps in the current research.

You can formulate your ideas and opinions once you thoroughly understand the existing research. To get there might involve conducting original research, gathering data, or analyzing existing data sets. It could also involve presenting an original argument or interpretation of the existing research.

Writing a successful research paper involves presenting your findings clearly and engagingly, which might involve using charts, graphs, or other visual aids to present your data and using concise language to explain your findings. You must also ensure your paper adheres to relevant academic formatting guidelines, including proper citations and references.

Overall, writing a research paper requires a significant amount of time, effort, and attention to detail. However, it is also an enriching experience that allows you to delve deeply into a subject that interests you and contribute to the existing body of knowledge in your chosen field.

  • How long should a research paper be?

Research papers are deep dives into a topic. Therefore, they tend to be longer pieces of work than essays or opinion pieces. 

However, a suitable length depends on the complexity of the topic and your level of expertise. For instance, are you a first-year college student or an experienced professional? 

Also, remember that the best research papers provide valuable information for the benefit of others. Therefore, the quality of information matters most, not necessarily the length. Being concise is valuable.

Following these best practice steps will help keep your process simple and productive:

1. Gaining a deep understanding of any expectations

Before diving into your intended topic or beginning the research phase, take some time to orient yourself. Suppose there’s a specific topic assigned to you. In that case, it’s essential to deeply understand the question and organize your planning and approach in response. Pay attention to the key requirements and ensure you align your writing accordingly. 

This preparation step entails

Deeply understanding the task or assignment

Being clear about the expected format and length

Familiarizing yourself with the citation and referencing requirements 

Understanding any defined limits for your research contribution

Where applicable, speaking to your professor or research supervisor for further clarification

2. Choose your research topic

Select a research topic that aligns with both your interests and available resources. Ideally, focus on a field where you possess significant experience and analytical skills. In crafting your research paper, it's crucial to go beyond summarizing existing data and contribute fresh insights to the chosen area.

Consider narrowing your focus to a specific aspect of the topic. For example, if exploring the link between technology and mental health, delve into how social media use during the pandemic impacts the well-being of college students. Conducting interviews and surveys with students could provide firsthand data and unique perspectives, adding substantial value to the existing knowledge.

When finalizing your topic, adhere to legal and ethical norms in the relevant area (this ensures the integrity of your research, protects participants' rights, upholds intellectual property standards, and ensures transparency and accountability). Following these principles not only maintains the credibility of your work but also builds trust within your academic or professional community.

For instance, in writing about medical research, consider legal and ethical norms, including patient confidentiality laws and informed consent requirements. Similarly, if analyzing user data on social media platforms, be mindful of data privacy regulations, ensuring compliance with laws governing personal information collection and use. Aligning with legal and ethical standards not only avoids potential issues but also underscores the responsible conduct of your research.

3. Gather preliminary research

Once you’ve landed on your topic, it’s time to explore it further. You’ll want to discover more about available resources and existing research relevant to your assignment at this stage. 

This exploratory phase is vital as you may discover issues with your original idea or realize you have insufficient resources to explore the topic effectively. This key bit of groundwork allows you to redirect your research topic in a different, more feasible, or more relevant direction if necessary. 

Spending ample time at this stage ensures you gather everything you need, learn as much as you can about the topic, and discover gaps where the topic has yet to be sufficiently covered, offering an opportunity to research it further. 

4. Define your research question

To produce a well-structured and focused paper, it is imperative to formulate a clear and precise research question that will guide your work. Your research question must be informed by the existing literature and tailored to the scope and objectives of your project. By refining your focus, you can produce a thoughtful and engaging paper that effectively communicates your ideas to your readers.

5. Write a thesis statement

A thesis statement is a one-to-two-sentence summary of your research paper's main argument or direction. It serves as an overall guide to summarize the overall intent of the research paper for you and anyone wanting to know more about the research.

A strong thesis statement is:

Concise and clear: Explain your case in simple sentences (avoid covering multiple ideas). It might help to think of this section as an elevator pitch.

Specific: Ensure that there is no ambiguity in your statement and that your summary covers the points argued in the paper.

Debatable: A thesis statement puts forward a specific argument––it is not merely a statement but a debatable point that can be analyzed and discussed.

Here are three thesis statement examples from different disciplines:

Psychology thesis example: "We're studying adults aged 25-40 to see if taking short breaks for mindfulness can help with stress. Our goal is to find practical ways to manage anxiety better."

Environmental science thesis example: "This research paper looks into how having more city parks might make the air cleaner and keep people healthier. I want to find out if more green spaces means breathing fewer carcinogens in big cities."

UX research thesis example: "This study focuses on improving mobile banking for older adults using ethnographic research, eye-tracking analysis, and interactive prototyping. We investigate the usefulness of eye-tracking analysis with older individuals, aiming to spark debate and offer fresh perspectives on UX design and digital inclusivity for the aging population."

6. Conduct in-depth research

A research paper doesn’t just include research that you’ve uncovered from other papers and studies but your fresh insights, too. You will seek to become an expert on your topic––understanding the nuances in the current leading theories. You will analyze existing research and add your thinking and discoveries.  It's crucial to conduct well-designed research that is rigorous, robust, and based on reliable sources. Suppose a research paper lacks evidence or is biased. In that case, it won't benefit the academic community or the general public. Therefore, examining the topic thoroughly and furthering its understanding through high-quality research is essential. That usually means conducting new research. Depending on the area under investigation, you may conduct surveys, interviews, diary studies, or observational research to uncover new insights or bolster current claims.

7. Determine supporting evidence

Not every piece of research you’ve discovered will be relevant to your research paper. It’s important to categorize the most meaningful evidence to include alongside your discoveries. It's important to include evidence that doesn't support your claims to avoid exclusion bias and ensure a fair research paper.

8. Write a research paper outline

Before diving in and writing the whole paper, start with an outline. It will help you to see if more research is needed, and it will provide a framework by which to write a more compelling paper. Your supervisor may even request an outline to approve before beginning to write the first draft of the full paper. An outline will include your topic, thesis statement, key headings, short summaries of the research, and your arguments.

9. Write your first draft

Once you feel confident about your outline and sources, it’s time to write your first draft. While penning a long piece of content can be intimidating, if you’ve laid the groundwork, you will have a structure to help you move steadily through each section. To keep up motivation and inspiration, it’s often best to keep the pace quick. Stopping for long periods can interrupt your flow and make jumping back in harder than writing when things are fresh in your mind.

10. Cite your sources correctly

It's always a good practice to give credit where it's due, and the same goes for citing any works that have influenced your paper. Building your arguments on credible references adds value and authenticity to your research. In the formatting guidelines section, you’ll find an overview of different citation styles (MLA, CMOS, or APA), which will help you meet any publishing or academic requirements and strengthen your paper's credibility. It is essential to follow the guidelines provided by your school or the publication you are submitting to ensure the accuracy and relevance of your citations.

11. Ensure your work is original

It is crucial to ensure the originality of your paper, as plagiarism can lead to serious consequences. To avoid plagiarism, you should use proper paraphrasing and quoting techniques. Paraphrasing is rewriting a text in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. Quoting involves directly citing the source. Giving credit to the original author or source is essential whenever you borrow their ideas or words. You can also use plagiarism detection tools such as Scribbr or Grammarly to check the originality of your paper. These tools compare your draft writing to a vast database of online sources. If you find any accidental plagiarism, you should correct it immediately by rephrasing or citing the source.

12. Revise, edit, and proofread

One of the essential qualities of excellent writers is their ability to understand the importance of editing and proofreading. Even though it's tempting to call it a day once you've finished your writing, editing your work can significantly improve its quality. It's natural to overlook the weaker areas when you've just finished writing a paper. Therefore, it's best to take a break of a day or two, or even up to a week, to refresh your mind. This way, you can return to your work with a new perspective. After some breathing room, you can spot any inconsistencies, spelling and grammar errors, typos, or missing citations and correct them. 

  • The best research paper format 

The format of your research paper should align with the requirements set forth by your college, school, or target publication. 

There is no one “best” format, per se. Depending on the stated requirements, you may need to include the following elements:

Title page: The title page of a research paper typically includes the title, author's name, and institutional affiliation and may include additional information such as a course name or instructor's name. 

Table of contents: Include a table of contents to make it easy for readers to find specific sections of your paper.

Abstract: The abstract is a summary of the purpose of the paper.

Methods : In this section, describe the research methods used. This may include collecting data, conducting interviews, or doing field research.

Results: Summarize the conclusions you drew from your research in this section.

Discussion: In this section, discuss the implications of your research. Be sure to mention any significant limitations to your approach and suggest areas for further research.

Tables, charts, and illustrations: Use tables, charts, and illustrations to help convey your research findings and make them easier to understand.

Works cited or reference page: Include a works cited or reference page to give credit to the sources that you used to conduct your research.

Bibliography: Provide a list of all the sources you consulted while conducting your research.

Dedication and acknowledgments : Optionally, you may include a dedication and acknowledgments section to thank individuals who helped you with your research.

  • General style and formatting guidelines

Formatting your research paper means you can submit it to your college, journal, or other publications in compliance with their criteria.

Research papers tend to follow the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), or Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) guidelines.

Here’s how each style guide is typically used:

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS):

CMOS is a versatile style guide used for various types of writing. It's known for its flexibility and use in the humanities. CMOS provides guidelines for citations, formatting, and overall writing style. It allows for both footnotes and in-text citations, giving writers options based on their preferences or publication requirements.

American Psychological Association (APA):

APA is common in the social sciences. It’s hailed for its clarity and emphasis on precision. It has specific rules for citing sources, creating references, and formatting papers. APA style uses in-text citations with an accompanying reference list. It's designed to convey information efficiently and is widely used in academic and scientific writing.

Modern Language Association (MLA):

MLA is widely used in the humanities, especially literature and language studies. It emphasizes the author-page format for in-text citations and provides guidelines for creating a "Works Cited" page. MLA is known for its focus on the author's name and the literary works cited. It’s frequently used in disciplines that prioritize literary analysis and critical thinking.

To confirm you're using the latest style guide, check the official website or publisher's site for updates, consult academic resources, and verify the guide's publication date. Online platforms and educational resources may also provide summaries and alerts about any revisions or additions to the style guide.

Citing sources

When working on your research paper, it's important to cite the sources you used properly. Your citation style will guide you through this process. Generally, there are three parts to citing sources in your research paper: 

First, provide a brief citation in the body of your essay. This is also known as a parenthetical or in-text citation. 

Second, include a full citation in the Reference list at the end of your paper. Different types of citations include in-text citations, footnotes, and reference lists. 

In-text citations include the author's surname and the date of the citation. 

Footnotes appear at the bottom of each page of your research paper. They may also be summarized within a reference list at the end of the paper. 

A reference list includes all of the research used within the paper at the end of the document. It should include the author, date, paper title, and publisher listed in the order that aligns with your citation style.

10 research paper writing tips:

Following some best practices is essential to writing a research paper that contributes to your field of study and creates a positive impact.

These tactics will help you structure your argument effectively and ensure your work benefits others:

Clear and precise language:  Ensure your language is unambiguous. Use academic language appropriately, but keep it simple. Also, provide clear takeaways for your audience.

Effective idea separation:  Organize the vast amount of information and sources in your paper with paragraphs and titles. Create easily digestible sections for your readers to navigate through.

Compelling intro:  Craft an engaging introduction that captures your reader's interest. Hook your audience and motivate them to continue reading.

Thorough revision and editing:  Take the time to review and edit your paper comprehensively. Use tools like Grammarly to detect and correct small, overlooked errors.

Thesis precision:  Develop a clear and concise thesis statement that guides your paper. Ensure that your thesis aligns with your research's overall purpose and contribution.

Logical flow of ideas:  Maintain a logical progression throughout the paper. Use transitions effectively to connect different sections and maintain coherence.

Critical evaluation of sources:  Evaluate and critically assess the relevance and reliability of your sources. Ensure that your research is based on credible and up-to-date information.

Thematic consistency:  Maintain a consistent theme throughout the paper. Ensure that all sections contribute cohesively to the overall argument.

Relevant supporting evidence:  Provide concise and relevant evidence to support your arguments. Avoid unnecessary details that may distract from the main points.

Embrace counterarguments:  Acknowledge and address opposing views to strengthen your position. Show that you have considered alternative arguments in your field.

7 research tips 

If you want your paper to not only be well-written but also contribute to the progress of human knowledge, consider these tips to take your paper to the next level:

Selecting the appropriate topic: The topic you select should align with your area of expertise, comply with the requirements of your project, and have sufficient resources for a comprehensive investigation.

Use academic databases: Academic databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and JSTOR offer a wealth of research papers that can help you discover everything you need to know about your chosen topic.

Critically evaluate sources: It is important not to accept research findings at face value. Instead, it is crucial to critically analyze the information to avoid jumping to conclusions or overlooking important details. A well-written research paper requires a critical analysis with thorough reasoning to support claims.

Diversify your sources: Expand your research horizons by exploring a variety of sources beyond the standard databases. Utilize books, conference proceedings, and interviews to gather diverse perspectives and enrich your understanding of the topic.

Take detailed notes: Detailed note-taking is crucial during research and can help you form the outline and body of your paper.

Stay up on trends: Keep abreast of the latest developments in your field by regularly checking for recent publications. Subscribe to newsletters, follow relevant journals, and attend conferences to stay informed about emerging trends and advancements. 

Engage in peer review: Seek feedback from peers or mentors to ensure the rigor and validity of your research. Peer review helps identify potential weaknesses in your methodology and strengthens the overall credibility of your findings.

  • The real-world impact of research papers

Writing a research paper is more than an academic or business exercise. The experience provides an opportunity to explore a subject in-depth, broaden one's understanding, and arrive at meaningful conclusions. With careful planning, dedication, and hard work, writing a research paper can be a fulfilling and enriching experience contributing to advancing knowledge.

How do I publish my research paper? 

Many academics wish to publish their research papers. While challenging, your paper might get traction if it covers new and well-written information. To publish your research paper, find a target publication, thoroughly read their guidelines, format your paper accordingly, and send it to them per their instructions. You may need to include a cover letter, too. After submission, your paper may be peer-reviewed by experts to assess its legitimacy, quality, originality, and methodology. Following review, you will be informed by the publication whether they have accepted or rejected your paper. 

What is a good opening sentence for a research paper? 

Beginning your research paper with a compelling introduction can ensure readers are interested in going further. A relevant quote, a compelling statistic, or a bold argument can start the paper and hook your reader. Remember, though, that the most important aspect of a research paper is the quality of the information––not necessarily your ability to storytell, so ensure anything you write aligns with your goals.

Research paper vs. a research proposal—what’s the difference?

While some may confuse research papers and proposals, they are different documents. 

A research proposal comes before a research paper. It is a detailed document that outlines an intended area of exploration. It includes the research topic, methodology, timeline, sources, and potential conclusions. Research proposals are often required when seeking approval to conduct research. 

A research paper is a summary of research findings. A research paper follows a structured format to present those findings and construct an argument or conclusion.

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How to Write a Research Paper

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If you already have a headache trying to understand what research paper is all about, we have created an ultimate guide for you on how to write a research paper. You will find all the answers to your questions regarding structure, planning, doing investigation, finding the topic that appeals to you. Plus, you will find out the secret to an excellent paper. Are you at the edge of your seat? Let us start with the basics then.

  • What is a Research Paper
  • Reasons for Writing a Research Paper
  • Report Papers and Thesis Papers
  • How to Start a Research Paper
  • How to Choose a Topic for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Plan
  • How to Do Research
  • How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Research Paper Rough Draft
  • How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Body of a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper
  • How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
  • How to Revise and Edit a Research Paper
  • How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper
  • What Makes a Good Research Paper

Research Paper Writing Services

What is a research paper.

How to Write a Research Paper

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You probably know the saying ‘the devil is not as black as he is painted’. This particular saying is absolutely true when it comes to writing a research paper. Your feet are cold even with the thought of this assignment. You have heard terrifying stories from older students. You have never done this before, so certainly you are scared. What is a research paper? How should I start? What are all these requirements about?

Luckily, you have a friend in need. That is our writing service. First and foremost, let us clarify the definition. A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides information about a particular topic that you’ve researched . In other words, you choose a topic: about historical events, the work of some artist, some social issues etc. Then you collect data on the given topic and analyze it. Finally, you put your analysis on paper. See, it is not as scary as it seems. If you are still having doubts, whether you can handle it yourself, we are here to help you. Our team of writers can help you choose the topic, or give you advice on how to plan your work, or how to start, or craft a paper for you. Just contact us 24/7 and see everything yourself.

5 Reasons for Writing a Research Paper

Why should I spend my time writing some academic paper? What is the use of it? Is not some practical knowledge more important? The list of questions is endless when it comes to a research paper. That is why we have outlined 5 main reasons why writing a research paper is a good thing.

  • You will learn how to organize your time

If you want to write a research paper, you will have to learn how to manage your time. This type of assignment cannot be done overnight. It requires careful planning and you will need to learn how to do it. Later, you will be able to use these time-managing skills in your personal life, so why not developing them?

  • You will discover your writing skills

You cannot know something before you try it. This rule relates to writing as well. You cannot claim that you cannot write until you try it yourself. It will be really difficult at the beginning, but then the words will come to your head themselves.

  • You will improve your analytical skills

Writing a research paper is all about investigation and analysis. You will need to collect data, examine and classify it. These skills are needed in modern life more than anything else is.

  • You will gain confidence

Once you do your own research, it gives you the feeling of confidence in yourself. The reason is simple human brain likes solving puzzles and your assignment is just another puzzle to be solved.

  • You will learn how to persuade the reader

When you write your paper, you should always remember that you are writing it for someone to read. Moreover, you want this someone to believe in your ideas. For this reason, you will have to learn different convincing methods and techniques. You will learn how to make your writing persuasive. In turns, you will be able to use these methods in real life.

What is the Difference between Report and Thesis Papers?

A common question is ‘what is the difference between a report paper and a thesis paper?’ The difference lies in the aim of these two assignments. While the former aims at presenting the information, the latter aims at providing your opinion on the matter. In other words, in a report paper you have to summarize your findings. In a thesis paper, you choose some issue and defend your point of view by persuading the reader. It is that simple.

A thesis paper is a more common assignment than a report paper. This task will help a professor to evaluate your analytical skills and skills to present your ideas logically. These skills are more important than just the ability to collect and summarize data.

How to Write a Research Paper Step by Step

Research comes from the French word  rechercher , meaning “to seek out.” Writing a research paper requires you to seek out information about a subject, take a stand on it, and back it up with the opinions, ideas, and views of others. What results is a printed paper variously known as a term paper or library paper, usually between five and fifteen pages long—most instructors specify a minimum length—in which you present your views and findings on the chosen subject.

How to Write a Research Paper

It is not a secret that the majority of students hate writing a research paper. The reason is simple it steals your time and energy. Not to mention, constant anxiety that you will not be able to meet the deadline or that you will forget about some academic requirement.

We will not lie to you; a research paper is a difficult assignment. You will have to spend a lot of time. You will need to read, to analyze, and to search for the material. You will probably be stuck sometimes. However, if you organize your work smart, you will gain something that is worth all the effort – knowledge, experience, and high grades.

The reason why many students fail writing a research paper is that nobody explained them how to start and how to plan their work. Luckily, you have found our writing service and we are ready to shed the light on this dark matter.

We have created a step by step guide for you on how to write a research paper. We will dwell upon the structure, the writing tips, the writing strategies as well as academic requirements. Read this whole article and you will see that you can handle writing this assignment and our team of writers is here to assist you.

How to Start a Research Paper?

How to Start a Research Paper

It all starts with the assignment. Your professor gives you the task. It may be either some general issue or specific topic to write about. Your assignment is your first guide to success. If you understand what you need to do according to the assignment, you are on the road to high results. Do not be scared to clarify your task if you need to. There is nothing wrong in asking a question if you want to do something right. You can ask your professor or you can ask our writers who know a thing or two in academic writing.

It is essential to understand the assignment. A good beginning makes a good ending, so start smart.

Learn how to start a research paper .

Choosing a Topic for a Research Paper

How to Choose a Topic for a Research Paper

We have already mentioned that it is not enough to do great research. You need to persuade the reader that you have made some great research. What convinces better that an eye-catching topic? That is why it is important to understand how to choose a topic for a research paper.

First, you need to delimit the general idea to a more specific one. Secondly, you need to find what makes this topic interesting for you and for the academia. Finally, you need to refine you topic. Remember, it is not something you will do in one day. You can be reshaping your topic throughout your whole writing process. Still, reshaping not changing it completely. That is why keep in your head one main idea: your topic should be precise and compelling .

Learn how to choose a topic for a research paper .

How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper

If you do not know what a proposal is, let us explain it to you. A proposal should answer three main questions:

  • What is the main aim of your investigation?
  • Why is your investigation important?
  • How are you going to achieve the results?

In other words, proposal should show why your topic is interesting and how you are going to prove it. As to writing requirements, they may differ. That is why make sure you find out all the details at your department. You can ask your departmental administrator or find information online at department’s site. It is crucial to follow all the administrative requirements, as it will influence your grade.

Learn how to write a proposal for a research paper .

How to Write a Research Plan?

How to Write a Research Plan

The next step is writing a plan. You have already decided on the main issues, you have chosen the bibliography, and you have clarified the methods. Here comes the planning. If you want to avoid writer’s block, you have to structure you work. Discuss your strategies and ideas with your instructor. Think thoroughly why you need to present some data and ideas first and others second. Remember that there are basic structure elements that your research paper should include:

  • Thesis Statement
  • Introduction
  • Bibliography

You should keep in mind this skeleton when planning your work. This will keep your mind sharp and your ideas will flow logically.

Learn how to write a research plan .

How to Do Research?

How to Do Research

Your research will include three stages: collecting data, reading and analyzing it, and writing itself.

First, you need to collect all the material that you will need for you investigation: films, documents, surveys, interviews, and others. Secondly, you will have to read and analyze. This step is tricky, as you need to do this part smart. It is not enough just to read, as you cannot keep in mind all the information. It is essential that you make notes and write down your ideas while analyzing some data. When you get down to the stage number three, writing itself, you will already have the main ideas written on your notes. Plus, remember to jot down the reference details. You will then appreciate this trick when you will have to write the bibliography.

If you do your research this way, it will be much easier for you to write the paper. You will already have blocks of your ideas written down and you will just need to add some material and refine your paper.

Learn how to do research .

How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper?

How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

To make your paper well organized you need to write an outline. Your outline will serve as your guiding star through the writing process. With a great outline you will not get sidetracked, because you will have a structured plan to follow. Both you and the reader will benefit from your outline. You present your ideas logically and you make your writing coherent according to your plan. As a result, this outline guides the reader through your paper and the reader enjoys the way you demonstrate your ideas.

Learn how to write an outline for a research paper . See research paper outline examples .

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

Briefly, the thesis is the main argument of your research paper. It should be precise, convincing and logical. Your thesis statement should include your point of view supported by evidence or logic. Still, remember it should be precise. You should not beat around the bush, or provide all the possible evidence you have found. It is usually a single sentence that shows your argument. In on sentence you should make a claim, explain why it significant and convince the reader that your point of view is important.

Learn how to write a thesis statement for a research paper . See research paper thesis statement examples .

Should I Write a Rough Draft for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Research Paper Rough Draft

Do you know any writer who put their ideas on paper, then never edited them and just published? Probably, no writer did so. Writing a research paper is no exception. It is impossible to cope with this assignment without writing a rough draft.

Your draft will help you understand what you need to polish to make your paper perfect. All the requirements, academic standards make it difficult to do everything flawlessly at the first attempt. Make sure you know all the formatting requirements: margins, words quantity, reference requirements, formatting styles etc.

Learn how to write a rough draft for a research paper .

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper?

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper

Let us make it more vivid for you. We have narrowed down the tips on writing an introduction to the three main ones:

  • Include your thesis in your introduction

Remember to include the thesis statement in your introduction. Usually, it goes at the end of the first paragraph.

  • Present the main ideas of the body

You should tell the main topics you are going to discuss in the main body. For this reason, before writing this part of introduction, make sure you know what is your main body is going to be about. It should include your main ideas.

  • Polish your thesis and introduction

When you finish the main body of your paper, come back to the thesis statement and introduction. Restate something if needed. Just make it perfect; because introduction is like the trailer to your paper, it should make the reader want to read the whole piece.

Learn how to write an introduction for a research paper . See research paper introduction examples .

How to Write a Body of a Research Paper?

How to Write a Body of a Research Paper

A body is the main part of your research paper. In this part, you will include all the needed evidence; you will provide the examples and support your argument.

It is important to structure your paragraphs thoroughly. That is to say, topic sentence and the evidence supporting the topic. Stay focused and do not be sidetracked. You have your outline, so follow it.

Here are the main tips to keep in head when writing a body of a research paper:

  • Let the ideas flow logically
  • Include only relevant information
  • Provide the evidence
  • Structure the paragraphs
  • Make the coherent transition from one paragraph to another

See? When it is all structured, it is not as scary as it seemed at the beginning. Still, if you have doubts, you can always ask our writers for help.

Learn how to write a body of a research paper . See research paper transition examples .

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper

Writing a good conclusion is important as writing any other part of the paper. Remember that conclusion is not a summary of what you have mentioned before. A good conclusion should include your last strong statement.

If you have written everything according to the plan, the reader already knows why your investigation is important. The reader has already seen the evidence. The only thing left is a strong concluding thought that will organize all your findings.

Never include any new information in conclusion. You need to conclude, not to start a new discussion.

Learn how to write a conclusion for a research paper .

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper?

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper, usually 100-200 words. You should provide the main gist of your paper in this short summary. An abstract can be informative, descriptive or proposal. Depending on the type of abstract, you need to write, the requirements will differ.

To write an informative abstract you have to provide the summary of the whole paper. Informative summary. In other words, you need to tell about the main points of your work, the methods used, the results and the conclusion of your research.

To write a descriptive abstract you will not have to provide any summery. You should write a short teaser of your paper. That is to say, you need to write an overview of your paper. The aim of a descriptive abstract is to interest the reader.

Finally, to write a proposal abstract you will need to write the basic summary as for the informative abstract. However, the difference is the following: you aim at persuading someone to let you write on the topic. That is why, a proposal abstract should present your topic as the one worth investigating.

Learn how to write an abstract for a research paper .

Should I Revise and Edit a Research Paper?

How to Revise and Edit a Research Paper

Revising and editing your paper is essential if you want to get high grades. Let us help you revise your paper smart:

  • Check your paper for spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Sharpen the vocabulary
  • Make sure there are no slang words in your paper
  • Examine your paper in terms of structure
  • Compare your topic, thesis statement to the whole piece
  • Check your paper for plagiarism

If you need assistance with proofreading and editing your paper, you can turn to the professional editors at our service. They will help you polish your paper to perfection.

Learn how to revise and edit a research paper .

How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper?

How to Write a Bibliography for a Research Paper

First, let us make it clear that bibliography and works cited are two different things. Works cited are those that you cited in your paper. Bibliography should include all the materials you used to do your research. Still, remember that bibliography requirements differ depending on the formatting style of your paper. For this reason, make sure you ask you professor all the requirements you need to meet to avoid any misunderstanding.

Learn how to write a bibliography for a research paper .

The Key Secret to a Good Research Paper

Now when you know all the stages of writing a research paper, you are ready to find the key to a good research paper:

  • Choose the topic that really interests you
  • Make the topic interesting for you even if it is not at the beginning
  • Follow the step by step guide and do not get sidetracked
  • Be persistent and believe in yourself
  • Really do research and write your paper from scratch
  • Learn the convincing writing techniques and use them
  • Follow the requirements of your assignment
  • Ask for help if needed from real professionals

Feeling more confident about your paper now? We are sure you do. Still, if you need help, you can always rely on us 24/7.

We hope we have made writing a research paper much easier for you. We realize that it requires lots of time and energy. We believe when you say that you cannot handle it anymore. For this reason, we have been helping students like you for years. Our professional team of writers is ready to tackle any challenge.

All our authors are experienced writers crafting excellent academic papers. We help students meet the deadline and get the top grades they want. You can see everything yourself. All you need to do is to place your order online and we will contact you. Writing a research paper with us is truly easy, so why do not you check it yourself?

Additional Resources for Research Paper Writing:

  • Anthropology Research
  • Career Research
  • Communication Research
  • Criminal Justice Research
  • Health Research
  • Political Science Research
  • Psychology Research
  • Sociology Research


writing a research paper (step by step) book

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Research Process :: Step by Step

  • Introduction
  • Select Topic
  • Identify Keywords
  • Background Information
  • Develop Research Questions
  • Refine Topic
  • Search Strategy
  • Popular Databases
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Types of Periodicals
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Do you use Excel, Word, or PowerPoint for a paper or presentation? Do you feel comfortable using these applications?

If not, visit the  Microsoft Office  training website. 

writing a research paper (step by step) book

Writing research papers can be challenging. 

Knowing how to: 

  • take notes and organize your ideas
  • effectively use writing and grammar resources
  • construct an annotated bibliography , and
  • complete a literature review

will help you successfully complete your research assignments.

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  • Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) Includes resources and instructional materials to assist with a variety of writing projects.
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How To Write a Research Paper Step by Step

Posted by Rene Tetzner | Aug 5, 2021 | Paper Writing Advice | 0 |

How To Write a Research Paper Step by Step

How To Write a Research Paper Step by Step This step-by-step guide to how to write a successful academic or scientific research paper outlines the steps that must be taken when writing about advanced research for formal publication, conference presentation, university credit, online sharing and other means of professional dissemination. Beginning with the development of an engaging and relevant research topic and one or more research questions or hypotheses, authors are advised to follow eight essential steps to meet requirements and prepare a well-written and carefully organised research paper that clearly communicates with readers.

The arrangement of the steps as I present them here will prove effective for most research papers in the arts and sciences, but it is important to remember that there can be considerable overlap among these steps, and the order in which they are completed may vary depending on the topic and the author’s approach to research and writing. The different aspects of a research paper tend to develop gradually as the planning and writing process advances, with work on one step frequently affecting work on earlier as well as later steps. A flexible approach to the writing process that accommodates the unique nature of the current research and the positive role of reflection and revision will enable the best use of this step-by-step guide.

writing a research paper (step by step) book

Eight Essential Steps for Writing an Excellent Research Paper STEP 1: Choosing and Developing the Research Topic An interesting and relevant research topic is an absolute necessity for a successful academic or scientific research paper. There will always be trendy or fashionable topics that prove, at least for a fleeting moment, interesting to an extremely wide audience, but most advanced research is reported primarily for rather specific groups of readers, such as fellow researchers within a discipline and professional practitioners. Those targeted or ideal readers should therefore be anticipated and kept firmly in mind to inspire the development and refinement of a robust topic that will demand original research and help the author generate valuable new knowledge.

The topic of a research paper should also fit, in both focus and range, the intended venue, so learning about the goals and objectives of the peer-reviewed journal, scholarly website, professional conference or other destination for a research paper is vital. Remember as you work that the most engaging and promising research topics are not usually finalised in a moment, a day or even a week. Alterations and refinements are often motivated by writing about the new research as well as by reading about the similar work of fellow researchers, and even careful rereading of one’s own fully drafted paper can lead to significant and productive shifts in a research topic.

writing a research paper (step by step) book

STEP 2: Designing Research Questions and Hypotheses An excellent way to focus the report and discussion of original research is to design one or more research questions or hypotheses that can be answered or tested via the current research and the author’s interpretation of its findings. Research questions and hypotheses can help the researcher as well as his or her readers understand the purpose and value of the research. Designing them early, presenting them clearly in the paper’s introductory material and returning to answer and discuss them after the results have been reported provide a solid thread on which to weave a focussed and logical argument.

It is essential to give considerable thought to the nature and wording of research questions and hypotheses in relation to the research methods employed, ensuring in all cases that any questions can in fact be answered and any hypotheses tested through the chosen methods. For this reason research questions and hypotheses are often designed in conjunction with the research methods for a project. For some types of papers research questions and hypotheses are mandatory. Even if they are not, however, they can usually be included in any type of research paper and are especially useful writing tools, enabling the author to address a research problem and future readers to understand it in clear and constructive ways.

STEP 3: Preparing a Working Outline of the Research Paper Although some successful academic and scientific authors claim never to bother with outlines for their research papers, many others would never proceed without a carefully designed outline. A working outline offers the author, particularly an author new to writing about research, an excellent way in which to plan the content and structure of a research paper that will meet the many requirements usually associated with reporting advanced research in a professional and publishable manner. Obviously, whatever sections, subsections and other elements are needed to report and discuss the current research should be incorporated along with notes about the contents of these parts, but so too should the preferences indicated by a publisher’s guidelines for authors, a website’s instructions for contributors’ posts, a conference organiser’s rules for presenters or an instructor’s template for course papers.

For some papers the guidelines and requirements will be detailed and extensive; for others they will be brief or vague or virtually nonexistent. The trick in all cases is to discover the relevant guidelines and observe them with as much precision and consistency as possible as you plan a paper that also presents your work as clearly and concisely as possible. The length of a paper, its structure and the documentation style of its references are often determined by guidelines, so keep an eye open for details about these aspects of the paper in particular. Although preparing a detailed outline that includes internal headings and subheadings as well as notes about what each part of the paper should contain and achieve can be time consuming, such an outline can also serve as a working template for drafting the paper itself and thereby significantly increase the efficiency of the writing process.

STEP 4: Creating Tables, Figures and Other Support Documents Another strategy for rendering the writing of a research paper a more efficient and successful process is to assign certain information to tables, figures, appendices and other visual and support documents before beginning to draft the paper itself. Research results that consist of complex numerical data, detailed descriptions of research methods or in-depth case studies are examples of the kind of information that can effectively be presented in these visual and support documents. Such elements should be carefully designed to communicate their contents as clearly as possible, and consistency of design across elements of the same kind or those serving a similar purpose is advisable to enable comparative analysis.

If the visual and support documents for a research paper are designed and created before the main text is drafted, unnecessary repetition of information can be more easily avoided. In addition, arranging complicated information in the visual formats of tables and figures can help the researcher as well as future readers detect and better understand important patterns and trends in the results. This can, in turn, significantly enhance the interpretation and discussion of the findings, particularly when an author is dealing with complex data. Furthermore, separating helpful but not strictly necessary details from the running text of a paper and placing them in appendices or archives can make them more readily digestible while streamlining the main argument and rendering the research paper as a whole more appealing to general as well as specialist audiences.

STEP 5: Drafting the Research Paper Section by Section With a working outline and an early version of the tables, figures and other support documents in hand, the process of drafting the main text of the research paper can begin. Because every necessary part and detail of the paper must ultimately be completed and included in the right place, the outline should always be followed with care, ensuring that each section and element is drafted in some form on the first attempt, including any required preliminary and final material.

While every part of the paper should be drafted, however, the bits and pieces need not be drafted in the order in which they will finally appear for readers. A more practical approach may be to work at the first draft in whatever order proves easiest, starting, for instance, with the description of methods or the report of results, following those with drafts of the discussion and conclusion, and finishing at the beginning with background or introductory material. The title, abstract, keywords and other preliminary and final matter such as acknowledgements, image credits and professional declarations can be added at any time, but some of them – the abstract and acknowledgements, for instance – will be best written after all parts of the main text are drafted.

Each and every element of the research paper should be carefully written to achieve its specific purposes, whether those may be increasing accessibility and attracting potential readers or analysing and discussing research results. Language that is specific and precise in explaining facts and ideas is advisable for a research paper, and it is always essential to write well, using a concise and formal style, complete sentences and accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation to ensure clear and professional communication of all aspects of the research.

STEP 6: Adding Scholarly Citations and References Among the many aspects of an academic or scientific research paper that must never be neglected are the citations and references that acknowledge the work, publications and ideas of other authors and researchers. These should, of course, be included among the various parts of the research paper drafted in Step 5, but it is so very important to acknowledge sources, give credit where credit is due and generally tie one’s own research and its implications into the broader network of original research and advancing knowledge that I consider the addition of in-text citations and complete bibliographical references as a separate step here.

Many scholarly authors add the in-text citations, at least in a rough or cursory form, as they draft each section of the paper. Although this approach may not be strictly necessary, it is an extremely effective way to ensure that all the necessary citations are present and to avoid the dangers of unintentional plagiarism and embarrassing errors. These in-text citations can then be checked and finalised when the complete bibliographical references are listed at the end of the paper. As a general rule, every source cited should appear in the list of references and every source in that list should be cited in the text. Since most disciplines, publishers and instructors have stylistic preferences for scholarly references, guidelines must always be consulted, and correct and thorough information in the right style and order must be provided for every source used.

STEP 7: Proofreading, Editing and Refining the Paper It is a very rare and exceptional first draft of an academic or scientific research paper that ends up published by a reputable journal or awarded with a top-notch grade. Successful research papers are, generally speaking, papers that have been carefully written, revised, edited, proofread and often revised and edited all over again by their authors. Such careful attention and reflection enable the improvement of language and style, the clarification of content and structure, the refinement of argument and interpretation, the correction of errors and confusing information, and the development of logical transitions between the various sections and elements of the paper.

Numerical data, tables and figures, bibliographical references and any information that is repeated in different places in the paper are among those aspects that usually require special checks to ensure accuracy and consistency. If language problems prevent clear communication, the help of a professional proofreader or editor may be advisable, and asking a trusted mentor or colleague, particularly one who has successfully published research similar to your own, to read and comment on the paper is also an excellent idea. Remember, however, that this strategy will prove most useful to authors who are willing to receive the feedback in a constructive manner and seriously consider alterations and improvements.

STEP 8: Sharing or Submitting the Research Paper Appropriately Having dedicated so much time and effort to planning, drafting and perfecting a research paper, an academic or scientific author might be thought mad indeed to submit the paper to a potential publisher in any other manner than that required to ensure the best possible reception. Yet too any researchers come to the end of the writing process only to neglect submission requirements and generate a less than desirable initial response. This disappointment can easily be prevented by checking the guidelines or instructions carefully and submitting, for example, a perfectly formatted paper of the right length to a journal editor and accompanying it with a well-written and informative cover letter.

Never forget the importance of providing exactly what is wanted and expected. The organisers of a conference do not want a fifteen-minute paper that runs on for half an hour and the creators of a website do not want blogs formatted in ways that simply do not work on their site. The paper you provide must be appropriate for the venue, and professionalism should be maintained in this and other ways when working to publish and otherwise share advanced research. A professional perspective can be especially challenging to maintain when faced with less than positive comments from editors, peer reviewers and other early readers with strong opinions, so remember that achieving some degree of objectivity and focussing on producing the best research paper possible can be immensely helpful approaches.

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Successful Scientific Writing and Publishing: A Step-by-Step Approach

John k. iskander.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia

Sara Beth Wolicki

2 Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, Washington, District of Columbia

Rebecca T. Leeb

Paul z. siegel.

Scientific writing and publication are essential to advancing knowledge and practice in public health, but prospective authors face substantial challenges. Authors can overcome barriers, such as lack of understanding about scientific writing and the publishing process, with training and resources. The objective of this article is to provide guidance and practical recommendations to help both inexperienced and experienced authors working in public health settings to more efficiently publish the results of their work in the peer-reviewed literature. We include an overview of basic scientific writing principles, a detailed description of the sections of an original research article, and practical recommendations for selecting a journal and responding to peer review comments. The overall approach and strategies presented are intended to contribute to individual career development while also increasing the external validity of published literature and promoting quality public health science.


Publishing in the peer-reviewed literature is essential to advancing science and its translation to practice in public health ( 1 , 2 ). The public health workforce is diverse and practices in a variety of settings ( 3 ). For some public health professionals, writing and publishing the results of their work is a requirement. Others, such as program managers, policy makers, or health educators, may see publishing as being outside the scope of their responsibilities ( 4 ).

Disseminating new knowledge via writing and publishing is vital both to authors and to the field of public health ( 5 ). On an individual level, publishing is associated with professional development and career advancement ( 6 ). Publications share new research, results, and methods in a trusted format and advance scientific knowledge and practice ( 1 , 7 ). As more public health professionals are empowered to publish, the science and practice of public health will advance ( 1 ).

Unfortunately, prospective authors face barriers to publishing their work, including navigating the process of scientific writing and publishing, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Often, public health professionals lack both training opportunities and understanding of the process ( 8 ). To address these barriers and encourage public health professionals to publish their findings, the senior author (P.Z.S.) and others developed Successful Scientific Writing (SSW), a course about scientific writing and publishing. Over the past 30 years, this course has been taught to thousands of public health professionals, as well as hundreds of students at multiple graduate schools of public health. An unpublished longitudinal survey of course participants indicated that two-thirds agreed that SSW had helped them to publish a scientific manuscript or have a conference abstract accepted. The course content has been translated into this manuscript. The objective of this article is to provide prospective authors with the tools needed to write original research articles of high quality that have a good chance of being published.

Basic Recommendations for Scientific Writing

Prospective authors need to know and tailor their writing to the audience. When writing for scientific journals, 4 fundamental recommendations are: clearly stating the usefulness of the study, formulating a key message, limiting unnecessary words, and using strategic sentence structure.

To demonstrate usefulness, focus on how the study addresses a meaningful gap in current knowledge or understanding. What critical piece of information does the study provide that will help solve an important public health problem? For example, if a particular group of people is at higher risk for a specific condition, but the magnitude of that risk is unknown, a study to quantify the risk could be important for measuring the population’s burden of disease.

Scientific articles should have a clear and concise take-home message. Typically, this is expressed in 1 to 2 sentences that summarize the main point of the paper. This message can be used to focus the presentation of background information, results, and discussion of findings. As an early step in the drafting of an article, we recommend writing out the take-home message and sharing it with co-authors for their review and comment. Authors who know their key point are better able to keep their writing within the scope of the article and present information more succinctly. Once an initial draft of the manuscript is complete, the take-home message can be used to review the content and remove needless words, sentences, or paragraphs.

Concise writing improves the clarity of an article. Including additional words or clauses can divert from the main message and confuse the reader. Additionally, journal articles are typically limited by word count. The most important words and phrases to eliminate are those that do not add meaning, or are duplicative. Often, cutting adjectives or parenthetical statements results in a more concise paper that is also easier to read.

Sentence structure strongly influences the readability and comprehension of journal articles. Twenty to 25 words is a reasonable range for maximum sentence length. Limit the number of clauses per sentence, and place the most important or relevant clause at the end of the sentence ( 9 ). Consider the sentences:

  • By using these tips and tricks, an author may write and publish an additional 2 articles a year.
  • An author may write and publish an additional 2 articles a year by using these tips and tricks.

The focus of the first sentence is on the impact of using the tips and tricks, that is, 2 more articles published per year. In contrast, the second sentence focuses on the tips and tricks themselves.

Authors should use the active voice whenever possible. Consider the following example:

  • Active voice: Authors who use the active voice write more clearly.
  • Passive voice: Clarity of writing is promoted by the use of the active voice.

The active voice specifies who is doing the action described in the sentence. Using the active voice improves clarity and understanding, and generally uses fewer words. Scientific writing includes both active and passive voice, but authors should be intentional with their use of either one.

Sections of an Original Research Article

Original research articles make up most of the peer-reviewed literature ( 10 ), follow a standardized format, and are the focus of this article. The 4 main sections are the introduction, methods, results, and discussion, sometimes referred to by the initialism, IMRAD. These 4 sections are referred to as the body of an article. Two additional components of all peer-reviewed articles are the title and the abstract. Each section’s purpose and key components, along with specific recommendations for writing each section, are listed below.

Title. The purpose of a title is twofold: to provide an accurate and informative summary and to attract the target audience. Both prospective readers and database search engines use the title to screen articles for relevance ( 2 ). All titles should clearly state the topic being studied. The topic includes the who, what, when, and where of the study. Along with the topic, select 1 or 2 of the following items to include within the title: methods, results, conclusions, or named data set or study. The items chosen should emphasize what is new and useful about the study. Some sources recommend limiting the title to less than 150 characters ( 2 ). Articles with shorter titles are more frequently cited than articles with longer titles ( 11 ). Several title options are possible for the same study ( Figure ).

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Object name is PCD-15-E79s01.jpg

Two examples of title options for a single study.

Abstract . The abstract serves 2 key functions. Journals may screen articles for potential publication by using the abstract alone ( 12 ), and readers may use the abstract to decide whether to read further. Therefore, it is critical to produce an accurate and clear abstract that highlights the major purpose of the study, basic procedures, main findings, and principal conclusions ( 12 ). Most abstracts have a word limit and can be either structured following IMRAD, or unstructured. The abstract needs to stand alone from the article and tell the most important parts of the scientific story up front.

Introduction . The purpose of the introduction is to explain how the study sought to create knowledge that is new and useful. The introduction section may often require only 3 paragraphs. First, describe the scope, nature, or magnitude of the problem being addressed. Next, clearly articulate why better understanding this problem is useful, including what is currently known and the limitations of relevant previous studies. Finally, explain what the present study adds to the knowledge base. Explicitly state whether data were collected in a unique way or obtained from a previously unstudied data set or population. Presenting both the usefulness and novelty of the approach taken will prepare the reader for the remaining sections of the article.

Methods . The methods section provides the information necessary to allow others, given the same data, to recreate the analysis. It describes exactly how data relevant to the study purpose were collected, organized, and analyzed. The methods section describes the process of conducting the study — from how the sample was selected to which statistical methods were used to analyze the data. Authors should clearly name, define, and describe each study variable. Some journals allow detailed methods to be included in an appendix or supplementary document. If the analysis involves a commonly used public health data set, such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System ( 13 ), general aspects of the data set can be provided to readers by using references. Because what was done is typically more important than who did it, use of the passive voice is often appropriate when describing methods. For example, “The study was a group randomized, controlled trial. A coin was tossed to select an intervention group and a control group.”

Results . The results section describes the main outcomes of the study or analysis but does not interpret the findings or place them in the context of previous research. It is important that the results be logically organized. Suggested organization strategies include presenting results pertaining to the entire population first, and then subgroup analyses, or presenting results according to increasing complexity of analysis, starting with demographic results before proceeding to univariate and multivariate analyses. Authors wishing to draw special attention to novel or unexpected results can present them first.

One strategy for writing the results section is to start by first drafting the figures and tables. Figures, which typically show trends or relationships, and tables, which show specific data points, should each support a main outcome of the study. Identify the figures and tables that best describe the findings and relate to the study’s purpose, and then develop 1 to 2 sentences summarizing each one. Data not relevant to the study purpose may be excluded, summarized briefly in the text, or included in supplemental data sets. When finalizing figures, ensure that axes are labeled and that readers can understand figures without having to refer to accompanying text.

Discussion . In the discussion section, authors interpret the results of their study within the context of both the related literature and the specific scientific gap the study was intended to fill. The discussion does not introduce results that were not presented in the results section. One way authors can focus their discussion is to limit this section to 4 paragraphs: start by reinforcing the study’s take-home message(s), contextualize key results within the relevant literature, state the study limitations, and lastly, make recommendations for further research or policy and practice changes. Authors can support assertions made in the discussion with either their own findings or by referencing related research. By interpreting their own study results and comparing them to others in the literature, authors can emphasize findings that are unique, useful, and relevant. Present study limitations clearly and without apology. Finally, state the implications of the study and provide recommendations or next steps, for example, further research into remaining gaps or changes to practice or policy. Statements or recommendations regarding policy may use the passive voice, especially in instances where the action to be taken is more important than who will implement the action.

Beginning the Writing Process

The process of writing a scientific article occurs before, during, and after conducting the study or analyses. Conducting a literature review is crucial to confirm the existence of the evidence gap that the planned analysis seeks to fill. Because literature searches are often part of applying for research funding or developing a study protocol, the citations used in the grant application or study proposal can also be used in subsequent manuscripts. Full-text databases such as PubMed Central ( 14 ), NIH RePORT ( 15 ), and CDC Stacks ( 16 ) can be useful when performing literature reviews. Authors should familiarize themselves with databases that are accessible through their institution and any assistance that may be available from reference librarians or interlibrary loan systems. Using citation management software is one way to establish and maintain a working reference list. Authors should clearly understand the distinction between primary and secondary references, and ensure that they are knowledgeable about the content of any primary or secondary reference that they cite.

Review of the literature may continue while organizing the material and writing begins. One way to organize material is to create an outline for the paper. Another way is to begin drafting small sections of the article such as the introduction. Starting a preliminary draft forces authors to establish the scope of their analysis and clearly articulate what is new and novel about the study. Furthermore, using information from the study protocol or proposal allows authors to draft the methods and part of the results sections while the study is in progress. Planning potential data comparisons or drafting “table shells” will help to ensure that the study team has collected all the necessary data. Drafting these preliminary sections early during the writing process and seeking feedback from co-authors and colleagues may help authors avoid potential pitfalls, including misunderstandings about study objectives.

The next step is to conduct the study or analyses and use the resulting data to fill in the draft table shells. The initial results will most likely require secondary analyses, that is, exploring the data in ways in addition to those originally planned. Authors should ensure that they regularly update their methods section to describe all changes to data analysis.

After completing table shells, authors should summarize the key finding of each table or figure in a sentence or two. Presenting preliminary results at meetings, conferences, and internal seminars is an established way to solicit feedback. Authors should pay close attention to questions asked by the audience, treating them as an informal opportunity for peer review. On the basis of the questions and feedback received, authors can incorporate revisions and improvements into subsequent drafts of the manuscript.

The relevant literature should be revisited periodically while writing to ensure knowledge of the most recent publications about the manuscript topic. Authors should focus on content and key message during the process of writing the first draft and should not spend too much time on issues of grammar or style. Drafts, or portions of drafts, should be shared frequently with trusted colleagues. Their recommendations should be reviewed and incorporated when they will improve the manuscript’s overall clarity.

For most authors, revising drafts of the manuscript will be the most time-consuming task involved in writing a paper. By regularly checking in with coauthors and colleagues, authors can adopt a systematic approach to rewriting. When the author has completed a draft of the manuscript, he or she should revisit the key take-home message to ensure that it still matches the final data and analysis. At this point, final comments and approval of the manuscript by coauthors can be sought.

Authors should then seek to identify journals most likely to be interested in considering the study for publication. Initial questions to consider when selecting a journal include:

  • Which audience is most interested in the paper’s message?
  • Would clinicians, public health practitioners, policy makers, scientists, or a broader audience find this useful in their field or practice?
  • Do colleagues have prior experience submitting a manuscript to this journal?
  • Is the journal indexed and peer-reviewed?
  • Is the journal subscription or open-access and are there any processing fees?
  • How competitive is the journal?

Authors should seek to balance the desire to be published in a top-tier journal (eg, Journal of the American Medical Association, BMJ, or Lancet) against the statistical likelihood of rejection. Submitting the paper initially to a journal more focused on the paper’s target audience may result in a greater chance of acceptance, as well as more timely dissemination of findings that can be translated into practice. Most of the 50 to 75 manuscripts published each week by authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are published in specialty and subspecialty journals, rather than in top-tier journals ( 17 ).

The target journal’s website will include author guidelines, which will contain specific information about format requirements (eg, font, line spacing, section order, reference style and limit, table and figure formatting), authorship criteria, article types, and word limits for articles and abstracts.

We recommend returning to the previously drafted abstract and ensuring that it complies with the journal’s format and word limit. Authors should also verify that any changes made to the methods or results sections during the article’s drafting are reflected in the final version of the abstract. The abstract should not be written hurriedly just before submitting the manuscript; it is often apparent to editors and reviewers when this has happened. A cover letter to accompany the submission should be drafted; new and useful findings and the key message should be included.

Before submitting the manuscript and cover letter, authors should perform a final check to ensure that their paper complies with all journal requirements. Journals may elect to reject certain submissions on the basis of review of the abstract, or may send them to peer reviewers (typically 2 or 3) for consultation. Occasionally, on the basis of peer reviews, the journal will request only minor changes before accepting the paper for publication. Much more frequently, authors will receive a request to revise and resubmit their manuscript, taking into account peer review comments. Authors should recognize that while revise-and-resubmit requests may state that the manuscript is not acceptable in its current form, this does not constitute a rejection of the article. Authors have several options in responding to peer review comments:

  • Performing additional analyses and updating the article appropriately
  • Declining to perform additional analyses, but providing an explanation (eg, because the requested analysis goes beyond the scope of the article)
  • Providing updated references
  • Acknowledging reviewer comments that are simply comments without making changes

In addition to submitting a revised manuscript, authors should include a cover letter in which they list peer reviewer comments, along with the revisions they have made to the manuscript and their reply to the comment. The tone of such letters should be thankful and polite, but authors should make clear areas of disagreement with peer reviewers, and explain why they disagree. During the peer review process, authors should continue to consult with colleagues, especially ones who have more experience with the specific journal or with the peer review process.

There is no secret to successful scientific writing and publishing. By adopting a systematic approach and by regularly seeking feedback from trusted colleagues throughout the study, writing, and article submission process, authors can increase their likelihood of not only publishing original research articles of high quality but also becoming more scientifically productive overall.


The authors acknowledge PCD ’s former Associate Editor, Richard A. Goodman, MD, MPH, who, while serving as Editor in Chief of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Series, initiated a curriculum on scientific writing for training CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers and other CDC public health professionals, and with whom the senior author of this article (P.Z.S.) collaborated in expanding training methods and contents, some of which are contained in this article. The authors acknowledge Juan Carlos Zevallos, MD, for his thoughtful critique and careful editing of previous Successful Scientific Writing materials. We also thank Shira Eisenberg for editorial assistance with the manuscript. This publication was supported by the Cooperative Agreement no. 1U360E000002 from CDC and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The findings and conclusions of this article do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC or the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. Names of journals and citation databases are provided for identification purposes only and do not constitute any endorsement by CDC.

The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions.

Suggested citation for this article: Iskander JK, Wolicki SB, Leeb RT, Siegel PZ. Successful Scientific Writing and Publishing: A Step-by-Step Approach. Prev Chronic Dis 2018;15:180085. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd15.180085 .


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