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How to Write a Research Paper
Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.
Start the Research Process
Before you begin writing the research paper, you must do your research. It is important that you understand the subject matter, formulate the ideas of your paper, create your thesis statement and learn how to speak about your given topic in an authoritative manner. You’ll be looking through online databases, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, books, newspapers, government publications, reports, guides and scholarly resources. Take notes as you discover new information about your given topic. Also keep track of the references you use so you can build your bibliography later and cite your resources.
Develop Your Thesis Statement
When organizing your research paper, the thesis statement is where you explain to your readers what they can expect, present your claims, answer any questions that you were asked or explain your interpretation of the subject matter you’re researching. Therefore, the thesis statement must be strong and easy to understand. Your thesis statement must also be precise. It should answer the question you were assigned, and there should be an opportunity for your position to be opposed or disputed. The body of your manuscript should support your thesis, and it should be more than a generic fact.
Create an Outline
Many professors require outlines during the research paper writing process. You’ll find that they want outlines set up with a title page, abstract, introduction, research paper body and reference section. The title page is typically made up of the student’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class and the date of the paper. The abstract is a summary of the paper. An introduction typically consists of one or two pages and comments on the subject matter of the research paper. In the body of the research paper, you’ll be breaking it down into materials and methods, results and discussions. Your references are in your bibliography. Use a research paper example to help you with your outline if necessary.
Organize Your Notes
When writing your first draft, you’re going to have to work on organizing your notes first. During this process, you’ll be deciding which references you’ll be putting in your bibliography and which will work best as in-text citations. You’ll be working on this more as you develop your working drafts and look at more white paper examples to help guide you through the process.
Write Your Final Draft
After you’ve written a first and second draft and received corrections from your professor, it’s time to write your final copy. By now, you should have seen an example of a research paper layout and know how to put your paper together. You’ll have your title page, abstract, introduction, thesis statement, in-text citations, footnotes and bibliography complete. Be sure to check with your professor to ensure if you’re writing in APA style, or if you’re using another style guide.
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As a college student, completing your research paper on time is always advisable to avoid the last-minute rush. However, sometimes you get caught up in several school activities and forget to start writing on time.
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What do you do when you have just a few hours to finish and submit a full research paper? The pressure can be too much.
If you ever find yourself in the craze of writing your paper at the last minute, this article will give you some valuable tips on writing a research paper fast and finishing it without losing your mind.
Review and understand the research question
The first thing to do before you start writing is to review the research question and understand the research objectives. Take a few minutes to review the question, and ensure you understand all the prompts.
This way, it will be easy to conduct research, collect relevant resources, and organize the information you’ll use to write the paper.
Brainstorm and choose a topic quickly
Once you understand the assignment, you’ll need to choose a topic if your professor did not provide one. Take the next few minutes to brainstorm and select your topic as fast as possible.
To save time, choose a topic you are familiar with and do a quick online search to see if there is enough reference information on the internet about it. If there are enough references, use the topic to form a research question and a thesis statement for your paper.
Going with a familiar topic will make the paper easy to write, and you can finish it within a short time.
Use keywords to research faster
Did you form a research question already? Type the exact question on Google search and identify related articles, journals, essays, or published research papers. You can also create a list of keywords from your research question and use them to search for relevant sources .
If you can’t find relevant references from the Google search results, go to scholarly databases like Google Scholar and JSTOR . Note that your references should be credible for a research paper, and these databases often have the most credible publications.
Once you find the relevant references, bookmark them so you can easily find them when you start writing.
Create a brief outline of the main ideas
Since you’ve done your research and found the relevant sources of information, use them to identify the main points of your research paper and create a brief outline . In your outline, list all the sections of your research paper and write short notes (one or two sentences) on what you’ll include in every section.
You can also save some time by using online tools like Dynalist to create effective outlines faster. This will make your work easy when you start writing, and you’ll finish your research paper within the shortest time.
Find a distraction-free writing environment
Before you start writing, find a distraction-free environment where you can concentrate on your paper for a few hours without being disturbed.
Some common distractions to avoid when you start writing include:
- Noise or loud music;
- Checking in on social media;
- Notifications from email and other apps;
- Taking calls or chatting with friends.
Ensure the sitting space is also comfortable and has adequate lighting to avoid straining. A distraction-free environment will help you stay focused, so you can write your research paper fast.
Start writing and write quickly
When you finally start writing, fold your sleeves and write as quickly as possible. As a rule of thumb, start with the most specific sections and finish with the most challenging ones.
One of the most accessible sections in a research paper that you can start with is the methods section. After the methods, go straight to the results and the discussion sections, then craft a logical conclusion that summarizes your main points.
Write the abstract and the introduction last since they are often challenging and require more effort to draft. Finally, cite your references on the references page. You can cite faster by utilizing free citation generators like BibMe or CiteThisForMe to create full citations.
Utilize the PEER system
Point - Evidence - Explain - Repeat (PEER) system will come in handy when writing the discussion section.
In every paragraph of the discussion, state the point (P), identify the evidence (E) from your research, explain the evidence (E), and repeat it in the next paragraph. Use the same PEER system to explain all the points in the outline for consistency and to make your paragraphs flow effortlessly.
Want to learn more about the PEER system? Here’s a video by David Stuckler that elaborates on it.
Use online tools to revise and edit
When you finish writing, you’ll need to proofread and edit your research paper to make it error-free before submitting it.
Some online tools you can utilize to fasten the process and save you much time and energy include:
- Grammarly to identify and correct errors related to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and wrong choice of words.
- Hemingway Editor: To improve the readability of your paper. It eliminates fluffy words and phrases and makes your paper clear and concise.
- Turnitin: To identify plagiarism , which is a complete no-no when writing a research paper.
Double-check the structure and content with the guidelines
You don’t want to submit your research paper only for the professor to decline it for not meeting the set standards. Therefore, before submitting, spare a few minutes to review the entire paper again and check if its structure and contents comply with the assignment prompts and guidelines.
If you missed something, be sure to incorporate it before submitting it. This will save you the time and headache of going over your research paper again if it gets declined by the professor.
How to Avoid the Last-Minute Rush
Writing a research paper at the last minute can be stressful considering the long process involved, such as researching, writing, editing, proofreading, and revising.
Now that you know how to write a research paper fast, here are some things you can do to avoid losing your mind in the last-minute rush:
1. Start early
Once you receive the research prompt from your professor, start brainstorming and making draft notes about the research topic as soon as possible. Identify resources early and create an outline. You can then allocate a few hours daily to work on the paper so you can finish early.
2. Stop procrastinating
Procrastination can be addictive and prevent you from finishing your work on time. Once you draw out a plan for your research paper, stick with it and resist the urge to procrastinate.
A lot is involved in writing a research paper, and it's possible to get stuck somewhere in the middle. If you do, consult your professor, classmates, or senior college students. This will prevent you from wasting time trying to crack a tricky part of the research.
4. Seek help if you need it
If you can’t finish your paper alone, seek help from a fast essay writing service.
For instance, Writers Per Hour has fast essay writers trained to deliver essays within the stipulated deadline. One page research paper in 5 hours will cost you $33.99 if you are in high school. Similarly, if you are a college student, the price will range from $41.99 to $47.99, depending on your course.
We also run promotional offers, so check out our prices and keep an eye out for discounts .
How much time does it take to write a research paper?
The longer the research paper and the more complex the topic, the longer it will take to complete. However, you can take 40 hours to achieve a good research paper. For example, our essay writer can do it within 5 hours.
How long does it take to write a 5-page research paper?
You can take 10-14 hours to complete a 5-page research paper. The more time you spend preparing, the less time you’ll take to write and complete the research paper.
How do you finish a research paper in 2 hours?
Here’s how you can aim to finish a research paper in 2 hours:
- Craft the thesis statement: First 15 minutes;
- Outlining: 10 minutes;
- Research: 30 minutes;
- Writing: 30-40 minutes;
- Proofread and edit : 20 minutes;
- Cite references: 10 minutes.
Is it possible to write a research paper in one day?
While it’s not ideal, a research paper can be done in a day. Spend a few hours brainstorming, researching, and creating a brief outline. After preparing everything, find a distraction-free environment and start writing. Remember to write quickly so you can finish the paper by the end of the day.
Knowing how to write a research paper fast can save you time. When you finish your paper quickly, you can have more time to study, complete other assignments, attend classes with less worry, or have social time with your peers at college.
While it is never advisable to put yourself through stress and anxiety by putting off research papers till the last minute, we do understand that life does come the way, and there will be times when you will have a research paper due the next day and find yourself in a complete mess.
So, if you have a research paper due tomorrow, approach the situation in an organized manner by following these smart tips – that is the best to deal with it.
Last edit at Mar 03 2023
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How much time does it really take to manage your academic paper?
Knowing how to write an essay fast isn’t just about meeting deadlines – it’s about reducing the amount of time you spend researching, combing through sources, and repeatedly writing citations. Although it doesn’t help seeing the deadline creep up, especially if you’ve barely made a dent in your work!
While each academic paper varies greatly in time needed to complete, it can take anywhere from 10 days to 10 months to complete all the research process steps required. The time depends on the complexity of the topic, availability of information, research methods, your writing skills, and your overall organization of the process.
More often than not, completing an academic research paper will take more time than you expected. Don’t wait until you’ve reached the point of no return, wishing you’d used better time management skills earlier on.
The typical research process steps are as follows, with certain steps taking longer or shorter depending on how well you manage your time:
These research process steps each may have unforeseen challenges within each stage.
Additionally, many researchers also have to juggle a lot of deliverables that aren’t directly related to actual research work. These include tasks such as:
- Doing peer review work
- Admin and logistics tasks
- Being a professor in a university
- Working on other publications, presentations, and proposal submissions
With all these responsibilities, you need to have good time management skills and make the most out of the time allotted to be a successful researcher. Time management not only helps with avoiding last-minute stresses, but also ensures that your research process steps are more efficient to accomplish.
Time Management Strategies
There are many benefits to managing your time, such as:
- Being prepared for any meeting with your professor, students, supervisor, editor, and others
- Allocating appropriate time to each task by efficiently and realistically planning each stage
- Properly monitoring the progress of your research project overall
Here are some ways to improve time management skills when writing a research paper:
A project management tool will help you optimize your research process; however, you should generally avoid the tools that only focus on a single task—be it referencing, literature management, plagiarism check, or something else. Those kinds of academic software force you to manage across multiple apps instead of having them all in one place.
Look for tools that combine the features you need in one single dashboard, cutting down the time you spend doing the necessary, yet time-consuming, tasks of managing an academic research paper.
How Flowcite Helps in Time Management for Academic Writing
We applied a Business Process Integration approach to the Flowcite software, putting together the best research, writing, editing and publishing services in one platform. Our software is designed according to the natural workflow of your thought process, with a smart multi-functional tab structure that allows you to research, read, sort, and work at the same time.
The platform’s functionality consists of core and add-on services. There’s no need to look elsewhere for tools you can add on to your belt, as we’ve integrated the following services into Flowcite:
- A Knowledge Library with over 21 million credible academic sources
- An AI-driven Article Summarizer
- A browser plugin for web source referencing
- Up to 30 GB Personal Library storage for references and citations
- Built-in LaTeX collaborative text editor
- A writing extension with over 7,000 citation styles (compatible with MS Word, LaTeX and CKEditor)
Beyond these, Flowcite also helps you write and edit faster with the following services:
- Professional Similarity Checking, Proofreading, and Journal Matchmaking services
- Peer Review and Manuscript Submission support
- Printing Service with free worldwide express delivery
All of these tools enable and teach you to write an essay fast, and even let you take advantage of on-demand editing service s whenever you need them. Using Flowcite instead of dozens of other applications and services can save up to 80% of a researcher’s time—often spent on non-writing activities, like project management and software management.
While it’s important to follow your plan and schedule, remember to work smart and instead of hard.
There will be days where you feel unmotivated or unproductive, where you’ll find yourself wasting time instead of using it to further your research. When that happens, it’s important to remain committed to your long-term research goal and optimize your workflow with the right tools and strategies for consistent and increased productivity.
Get started with Flowcite today for free and start conducting your research in minutes, not hours.
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Brittany is a Content Marketing Strategist at Flowcite, and an outstanding academic writing expert. She holds a first-class Honours degree in Literae Humaniores from the University of Oxford and has been certified in Digital Marketing Analytics by the MIT Sloan School of Management.
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How long does it take you to write 5 page research paper?
including the time you research + write!
Depends on the topic and how passionate I am about it. I'm bad with writing when I'm rushed, so I usually spend 2-3 hours a day over 3-4 days to get it to final quality. If it's a topic I'm good with then I can get one done in 2 days, but that is rare. Of course, I've knocked out a couple in a night each because I procrastinated, but they weren't my best work.
yea was gonna say i lucked out with a project doing a presentation for the chernobyl incident once(i have long since child-hood been absolutely fascinated with the whole thing haha) so i basically breezed through it within a day or two and got the quality/grade i wanted :)
Depends. Typically I dragged them out, but I did once manage to write a six-page paper two hours before it was due. Got an A, but the stress was not worth it at all.
If it’s due the next day, about 4-5 hours
Depends on what I'm doing.
Want an A -> work ass off -> 3-5 days of 3-4 hours of work
Want a good paper but A not necessary -> 2-3 days of 2-3 hours of work
Something to turn in -> 1 day, 3 hours work
I know this is 3 years ago but that is surprisingly helpful
Research usually only takes me a couple of hours for a five-page paper, and writing it takes me about 2 1/2 hours, depending on the subject.
If it's something to do with English or history, it doesn't take more than 5 hours for research and writing. If it's technical writing for a STEM subject then usually double that time. And if it's something philosophical or a required English course that everyone takes, I wouldn't spend more than a couple hours.
It depends on the topic. I'm usually writing for astrophysics, so it takes 4+ hours of research just to write a single sentence. That means it could take me many hours to write and revise a 5-page paper. It takes many tens of hours to write something up to 15-20 pages, and it took me weeks of solid work to write my 40-page literature review for my thesis.
One time I pulled off a 11 page term paper in about 4 days. Got a A- too (really good for the prof) and laughed at some of the students that cried to the prof about how they spent the entire semester working on it only to get the same grade.
When I write a paper, the ideas that come to my head have to go down on paper immediately or I'll forget about it. So i try and divy up sections and write them in an two hours each sitting.
I usually do research for 2 days, about 4-5 hours in total. I then outline the paper which takes about 3-4 hours. In my experience, writing the paper itself takes the least amount of time.
For my film papers, it can be anywhere from a day (start to finish, research and all), but more often than not I'll be doing research, coming up with (and changing a thesis) over the course of a week. All in all, probably like, 10-13 hours work spread over a week-ish, with about a day or two of writing spread over 4 hours.
Must be a pretty poor paper
A really long time!
Usually I do it in 2 days, one for researching and the other for writing. About 5 hours per day.
If you want to save tons of time with citations use Mendeley, works wonders, but you need you studend mail.
Best I’ve done is one minute before it needs to be printed.
about 2 hours
5 pages double spaced? Probably like an hour. Single spaced? About 3 hours.
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How long it Takes to Write an Essay (Word and Page Count)
Writing essays or assignments is a tricky undertaking for most students. Time is ever not enough when writing an essay. For some, it takes little time to complete certain pages, while others might find it harder to achieve the same pages unless they have more time. To craft classy and A+ grade essays, you need to understand how long it takes to write an essay.
This article comprehensively answers the main question of how long it actually takes to write a standard essay, research paper, or assignment, which is a common question among students from every academic level.
Whether you take less or more time to write an essay, as long as you submit your essay on time and score the best grade, that’s it! However, knowing how much time it takes helps you plan your schedule, especially if you have little time in your hands to complete essays and other school assignments.
So, how long does it take to write an essay? We share with you some critical insights below.
How long Does it take to write an essay?
Writing an essay is not like wearing a pair of socks where you just do it. Instead, the process requires adequate planning, the actual writing, and polishing what you have written.
In a nutshell, although estimating the most ideal time to complete an entire essay is impossible, we can infer or estimate it based on the optimal time it takes.
The total time it takes to write an essay, research paper, term paper, or complete an assignment varies depending on a myriad of factors such as required length, writing and research skills of the writer, and the technicality of the subject or topic. It is possible to write a simple 500 to 600- word essay or paper in 2 hours or less for an average writer. However, it will take you almost 5-6 hours if you are a slow or inexperienced writer.
If you are writing a 1500-word essay, you can take 4-5 hours or even a day, depending on how complex the content is and your writing skills.
We have seen writers devour 20-page research papers in a day and 10–15-page essays in less than 15 hours.
Beginning with a 40-page thesis or research paper, we will break down how long it ideally takes to complete an essay or research paper up to the smallest assignment assigned to students, usually 2 pages or 500 words.
As we advance, refer to our article : The ideal length of a comprehensive essay for the exact word count and the number of pages.
40-Page Thesis or Research paper
For an experienced writer, writing 40 pages, including research work, will take 2.5 to 3 days or 50-72 hours. This is considering that they will be taking breaks in-between or attending to personal issues. However, if research is done and only typing remains, it can take 8-12 hours to complete.
For a slow writer, you can complete writing 40 pages in 6-8 days. Some people take ten days or more, but the assumption is that they have little time to write the paper as they have other commitments.
A 40-page research paper is 11000 words, which can be achieved by writing 3600 words or 12-pages per day. However, considering that sections such as introduction, discussion, and conclusion are easy to tackle, the saved time is pushed to the complex parts of the research paper.
Anything you do, resist the temptation of using an online paraphrasing tool or w writing a bot to achieve the word count within the shortest time. A paper written after researching, reading, and critically reasoning sounds better than that spun by a bot.
To write such a paper within those three days, research well, take notes and organize your research. Then, you can use online bibliography organizers and download the peer-reviewed journals into a folder for easy access.
Rationally, professors assign more time to complete the long papers. Avoid the last-minute rush because you procrastinated. Begin early enough so that each part is not rushed and that you can cover all the required details.
30-page Research Paper/Thesis
If you are assigned a 30-page thesis or research paper, you can still complete it in under 2.5 days. Assuming you are writing 15 pages per day, it will only take you two days. However, if you are a slow writer, you will need to take up to 5 days to complete a 30-page research paper.
As a student with much time, planning, writing, and polishing, a 30-page paper should be in less than a week. If your deadline is 2 weeks, ensure that you are done in the first week so that you’re left with enough time to rest, research further, and refine ideas in your paper.
Again, you need to plan your research, writing, and revision processes. Ensure that you take notes, have an organized list of bibliography, and have downloaded the online peer-reviewed articles to use.
20-Page Research Paper
This is about 5000-5500 double-spaced paper.
A fast, accurate, and experienced professional writer can take a maximum of 2 days to complete a 20-page paper. However, a slow writer will take up to 4 to 5 days to complete 20-pages. We have experimented with this with our writers internally and conducted online surveys with clients and students.
We can say that the writing and research skills, typing speed, and organization define how fast you nail that 20-page research paper. If you are writing by hand, which is unlikely in this era, you will take more than 2 weeks.
The ultimate plan is to spend 30% of the time researching, 50% writing, and 20% editing and polishing. Once the writing process is organized, completing a 20-page research paper will be smooth, easy, and fun.
12-Page Essay, Term paper, or Research Paper
We have seen writers complete 12-page papers in under 12 hours. All we can say is that skills, the complexity of the subject, typing speed, and experience matter.
Ideally, writing 12 pages needs between 12-20 hours. An advanced writer will complete a 12-page essay in 8-10 hours, while a slow writer will take as much as over 12 hours but not more than 20 hours.
The trick is to plan, research, and organize your research thoroughly, then write the paper. You better use mind maps or concept maps to organize your thoughts around the paper. It makes it easy to own and achieve the vision of the paper. Also, try to limit your distractions and focus on achieving the most in your paper.
A 10-page essay or Research paper
So, you have 2500 to 2750 words or 3000 words to write an essay, research paper, or term paper, and you wonder how long that will take? Well, writing a 10-page paper should take you 5-10 hours.
If you are a slow writer, it will take more than 12 hours but not a day. This is the typical length of most assignments given in class as part of coursework. However, it is an ideal length for you to critically and comprehensively explore a given topic. This counts for a 2500-3000 double-spaced paper or five pages of single-spaced paper.
To complete a 10-page paper faster, you need to begin by reading the prompt. It would help if you then chose a good topic and researched to familiarize yourself with it. Next, write a clear thesis statement and refine it as you organize your research. Finally, write the paper and then edit it later.
Our professional paper writing service has writers who can complete your 10-page paper within a day or in 12 hours. Our experts draw from their experience, pro writing skills, research experience, and ability to organize thoughts faster. They have been doing this for the longest time and can complete your paper fast.
5-page double-spaced essay
A five-page essay is by far the most common assignment in tourism, management, leadership, anthropology, nursing, sociology, education, and many other disciplines.
The duration to complete depends on how complex the topic is, the depth of research required, and the actual deadline of the paper. It is about 1500 to 1650 words in length.
In a 5-page double-spaced essay, the introduction and conclusion comprise 20%, which leaves you with 80% of the word count for the body paragraphs. An expert writer can do the same in 3-4 hours if it is not complex. However, slow writers will take up to a day or two to complete the same length.
A standard 5-page paper can be written in 4-5 hours.
This is a 4-page double-spaced paper. Depending on the extent of research required, special instructions, and skills of the writer, you can take 2-4 hours.
An essay pro will take 2 hours to complete a standard 1000-word essay , while a slow writer will need up to 7 hours. This is because they are each writing a 1000-word essay graded an A+ at the end of the day.
The trick is to familiarize yourself with the topic, write an outline, organize your research, and write the essay, then edit it after taking a short break.
Writing a standard 500-word essay, which is two pages, takes 2 hours or less. Therefore, a standard writer will take 2-3 hours while an expert writer will take one and a half hours tops.
Once you get such an essay, write it faster, spend a few minutes understanding the gist of the essay, familiarizing yourself with the topics, and planning the paper. Often, it needs you to strikingly hook your readers and conclude the essay in a bang.
This is one of those essays you write as you cite and read internally as you listen to ensure that everything is well written. Again, you will need to have fast typing skills to achieve the page count in an hour or less.
Factors that Determine the time you take to write an essay
As we mentioned before, a hoard of elements defines the time you will take to write an essay. Here are some of the vital factors:
- The technicality of the content –the time you take to complete an essay depends on how complex the content is. For instance, if you are writing an argumentative or informative essay, you’d probably take less time compared to when writing a technical essay on biology, nursing, physics, or geography.
- Special guidelines from class– if there are special requirements from class, such as using the class text, you’d take less time writing your essay. However, suppose the special requirements need you to focus on an area or structure specifically. In that case, you will probably take more time to write the essay.
- The extent of Research– an essay requiring in-depth research, reading, and critical analysis will take more time than a descriptive or explorative essay. The complexity of the subject defines the extent of research. If your essay is on science and other technical subjects, it definitely requires more research and time.
- The time you have –the deadline of your essay defines the time you have to complete your essay. However, your personal schedule also determines how long you have to complete an essay. Generally, the more time you have, the more time it takes to write an essay. To avoid writers’ block, consider finishing your essay on time within the standard time it takes to complete an essay. It makes you professional, timely and leaves you with more time to polish it.
- Experience with writing– experienced writers will take less time writing an essay compared to average or novice writers. For instance, our fast essay writers take an hour or less to write a one-page essay of 275-300 words. Equally, they can complete a 10-page essay in under 12 hours.
- Writing Skills –your writing skills also determine how quickly you write an essay. If you are skilled enough to plan, research, and write, you will complete your essay in the shortest record time.
- Research Skills –the research strategies you used to get familiar with the topic, develop arguments, and offer examples also define how long you’ll take to complete an essay or research paper. Besides, if you are organized enough, you will take less time researching and writing an essay.
- Front and Back matter requirements– if your essay requires a special cover page and references page or appendices, it might take slightly more time compared to an essay with a standard cover and title pages.
How the writing process affects the time you take to write an essay
Do you know that the writing process and how you apply it defines the time it takes to complete an essay? Well, it does. Before we tell you how-to, let’s re-cap the essay writing process.
The essay writing process entails three main stages:
- Preparation/pre-writing : Here, you decide on the topic, do in-depth research to familiarize yourself with the topic, choose a tentative thesis statement, and create an essay outline.
- Writing : Here is where the rubber meets the road. You develop your arguments in the body of your essay, provide evidence in the body paragraphs, and write the conclusion and introduction of your paper with the hook and thesis statement being prominent features.
- Revision/post-writing : You revise for content, grammar, spelling, formatting, and organization.
This simple three-step writing process applies whether you are writing a case study, a term paper, a research paper, or any form of assignment.
Note that taking these steps becomes seamless as you practice and write more papers. You do not have to beat yourself up as they are not systematic. You can choose to begin with any step. However, ensure that the paper you write at the end will be worth the best grades.
Time-wise, the pre-writing or preparation stage should take 20% of the total time you have. Writing should always take 50% of the total time you have. Finally, you should spend 30% of the time in the post-writing stage.
So, if you have 24 hours to complete a 5-page essay, spend 5 hours brainstorming, outlining, and researching. You should then spend 12 hours writing the paper, inclusive of breaks. Note that you will be writing as you refer from sources, compare ideas, give examples, and offer evidence while citing the respective sources. The process is tedious but should be meticulous as it either makes or breaks your grade. Finally, you will spend the remaining 7 hours polishing the essay.
As you can see, this gives you ample time to run personal errands, attend to other personal issues, and complete your assignments on time.
Therefore, to write an essay fast, accurately, and efficiently, you need to plan your time against the structure of your essay.
How to improve your essay writing speed
In our article, we have used terms such as slow and novice writers to refer to average writers. It is not bad to be one. However, everyone aspires to be the best version of themselves. Writing challenging essays sucks, and the sooner you do away with them, the sooner your school life becomes less stressful. Here are some seven best strategies you can use to improve your essay, assignment, coursework, or research paper writing speed.
1. Read and understand the instructions
A common mistake students make is casually reading the instructions and assuming that they can head straight into writing a paper. If you want to write an essay fast , concentrate on what your professor wants before deciding how you meet these requirements. It cuts the time you would have wasted when you discover that you would have done it the other way round while in the middle of your writing.
2. Plan your essay/research paper
To write any paper faster, you have to plan adequately. Planning helps allocate time and spend time on the things that matter. Failing to plan is equal to failure. Therefore, write a great outline for your paper. Know what falls where. For instance, write a tentative thesis statement , plan what essay hook to use in your intro, and decide what the main message that supports the thesis each of the body paragraphs will harbor.
3. Conduct research
After planning your research, you need to conduct thorough research. The aim of the research is to familiarize with the topic, collect views and perspectives on the topic, and refine the thesis statement. While researching, ensure that you take notes.
It would be prudent if you also take note of what other scholars have discussed your topic. Refine the scope of your paper and the focus of each paragraph. While researching, you can refine the outline to ensure that everything flows. Find evidence, examples, and quotes from books and scholarly articles to defend your thesis.
4. Organize your research
When you research and leave it at that – it is a recipe for failure. Instead, organize your research effectively. Here is the trick: download the downloadable scholarly articles and save them into a folder on your computer. You can also bookmark books. As you do so, use the digital bibliography or citation tools to organize the sources in alphabetical order as would appear on your reference page.
5. Find a suitable place to write it
Do not just write your paper anywhere. After all, you cannot do homework in the club, café, train or bus. Instead, it would help if you found a distraction-free place to do your homework . A place without distractions lets you sink in the mood of your assignment.
If your roommates are noisy, try the library or find an excellent place to complete your essay without distractions. Avoid noisy and busy places as they will steal away your concentration.
If you find yourself working well with music, find some slow music that does not distract your concentration. As well, have some water to replenish yourself as you write. Finally, have a spot with good, reliable, and safe internet so that you can research online, write, and countercheck facts without having to read hardcover books.
6. Break the paper into sections
When writing, a paper with some structure or skeleton will be completed much faster than that whose parts are not broken.
Breaking your essay into sections helps you know what areas to focus on the most. Besides, you can jump sections and complete the easier ones without disturbing the flow of your essay or research paper.
Writing the paper as a block denies you the chance to be creative. Ideas tend to get to us when we are busy elsewhere. When you have a section, you can quickly incorporate the idea and return to the previous section, and the essay will still flow, regardless.
After finishing a section, take a break so that you return fresh to complete the next one until your essay or research paper is completed.
7. Write fast, then polish later
Instead of being a perfectionist as you write, focus on just writing. Leave the editing and polishing for later.
To write an essay or research paper faster, you need to write, flow your ideas, and maintain the gist of the essay. Then, you can correct the typos, errors, and omissions later. Doing so saves you the stress of rushing through polishing, which is integral for the best grades.
The truth on the ground is that writing an essay, research paper, term paper, or assignment suck. To write an essay or any assignment, the writing process entails preparation, writing, and revision. Following these three main steps ensures that you end up with a good grade on your assignment.
Time is money, and if you learn how to manage it, the better. To write a great essay, you need to be diligent, patient and committed. Typically, you will be developing ideas about a topic right from the introduction to the conclusion. In between, you have the body paragraphs that take time and skill. Therefore, it is critical to understand the ideal time it takes to write a comprehensive essay.
How to write a whole research paper in a week
Writing up a full research article in a single week? Maybe you think that’s impossible. Yet I have done it repeatedly, and so have students in my courses. This is an exceptionally joyful (even if demanding) experience: being so productive just feels great! You are not wasting any time, and a paper produced in one go is typically coherent and nice to read. Even if you are a slow writer, you can write a whole paper in a single week — if you follow my strategy. Read below about what you need to prepare and how to approach this project.
I wrote my first scientific research article in 7 days. It started as a desperate effort to stop my procrastination and “just do it”. But I was surprised what a positive experience it was: focused and efficient, I was making daily progress, feeling motivated and content. Finally, the fruits of my hard work were gaining shape — and they did it so quickly!
I realized it was highly effective to write up a paper like this: writing for the whole day, every day until the first draft was finished. My writing project was firmly present in my mind — I didn’t lose time catching up with what I have written in the last session. Since I was not doing anything else, my wandering mind settled in very fast, and I was getting into a routine. The daily progress was clearly visible and motivated me to continue. And the result was a coherent paper that was easy to revise.
Meanwhile, this paper-a-week approach is my favorite. That’s how I write my papers, and that’s what I teach to students. In on-site courses young scientists draft a whole paper in 5 days, writing one major section per day. At the beginning of the week, many participants have doubts. But at the end of the week, they are all excited to see how much they managed to write in just a single week.
If you would also like to try out this approach, then read on about the necessary preparations, the optimal setting, and a productive writing strategy.
If you would like to get support during the preparation, drafting and revising of your research article, check out my online course Write Up Your Paper .
- First, think about your audience and pick a suitable journal . This is an important step because the audience and journal determine the content & style of your paper. As a reference, pick two recent papers on a similar topic published in your target journal.
- Create a storyline for your paper. What is the main message you want to convey, and how are you going to present your results?
- Put together all the results that you need to present your story convincingly: collect the necessary data, finish analyses, and create figures and tables.
- Select and read the relevant background literature as well as studies you want to compare your work with. As you read, note down any point that comes to your mind as something to be mentioned in the Introduction or Discussion section.
- Draft a preliminary Abstract : it will help you keep the direction and not get distracted by secondary ideas as you write the individual sections.
Depending on how complete your results already are, you might need 2-4 weeks to finish all these preparations. To help you keep an overview, I created a checklist with detailed steps that you need to take before you attempt to write up your paper in a week. Subscribe to our Newsletter and get your copy of the checklist.
Reserve a whole week for writing
Now, writing a paper in a single week is a serious business. You can’t do it if you don’t focus solely on the writing and create good writing conditions. Therefore, I recommend the following settings:
- Find a place where you can write without distractions. I have written my first paper over the Easter holidays when there was nobody in the office. You might choose to write at home or in a library. Though if possible, the best is to go for a retreat: removing yourself from your everyday settings immensely helps focus on the writing.
- Cancel (all) social obligations for the week. While it’s crucial to relax in the evening, you want to avoid disturbances associated with social events. Anything that makes your thoughts drift away from your work because it requires planning, exchanging of messages with others, or simply because it’s too exciting is better left for some other week. On the other hand, a quiet meeting with a good friend over a glass of wine or beer might be just the perfect way to unwind and rest after a productive, yet exhausting day of writing.
- Get support from the partner, family or friends — if possible. It’s best when you don’t need to run errands, cook and clean during this week. If you live alone, you can probably easily arrange yourself for undisturbed work. If you live with other people, ask them for consideration and support.
What I described above are the *ideal* conditions for undisturbed writing. But don’t give up if you can’t create such conditions for yourself. Work with what is possible — maybe it will take you 7-8 instead of 5-6 days but that’s still a great result, right?
Do you need to revise & polish your manuscript or thesis but don’t know where to begin?
Get your Revision Checklist
Click here for an efficient step-by-step revision of your scientific texts.
Maybe you think that you can never ever draft a research article in a single week. Because you write so slowly, producing only few paragraphs per day. Well — I agree that if you don’t optimize your writing strategy, it would be hard to impossible to write up a whole paper in a week.
- Separate the processes of writing and revising. That’s the most important principle. Resist the urge to revise as you write the first draft. Moreover, don’t interrupt your writing to look up missing information. Work with placeholders instead. This allows you to get into the state of flow and proceed much faster than you can imagine.
- Start your writing day with 10 minutes of freewriting . Write without stopping about anything that comes to your mind. This helps you to warm up for writing, clear your head of any unrelated thoughts, and get into the mood of writing without editing.
- Take regular power breaks. I recommend to follow the Pomodoro technique : write for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. After 3-4 such sessions take a longer break of 0.5-1 hour. During the breaks get up, walk a bit, stretch, look around, and breathe deeply. These breaks help you sustain high focus and productivity throughout the whole day.
- Eat and sleep well. What you are doing is similar to a professional athlete. So take care of your brain and body, and they will serve you well.
- Reward yourself. Every day celebrate the progress you have made. You have full right to be proud of you!
Write the individual sections in a reasonable order
If you have written a research paper before, you have probably realized that starting with the Introduction and finishing with the Discussion is not the ideal order in which to tackle the individual sections. Instead, I recommend the following procedure:
- Start with the Methods section. This is the easiest section to write, so it’s great as a warm-up, to get into writing without the need to think (and procrastinate ;)) too much. Look at your figures and tables: what methods did you use to create them? Then describe your methods, one after another.
- Results section: Writing the Methods section refreshes your memory about the research you have done. So writing the Results section next should not be too hard: Take one display object (figure or table) after another, and describe the results they contain. While you do so, you will come across points that need to be discussed in the Discussion section. Note them down so you don’t forget them.
- Introduction : When your results are fresh in your mind, you are in a great position to write the Introduction — because the Introduction should contain selected information that gives the reader context for your research project and allows them to understand your results and their implications.
- Discussion : When you have taken notes while writing the Results section, the Discussion section should be quite easy to draft. Don’t worry too early about the order in which you want to discuss the individual points. Write one paragraph for each point , and then see how you can logically arrange them.
- Abstract and title : On the last day, revise the preliminary Abstract or write a new one. You could also take a break of a few days before tackling the Abstract, to gain clarity and distance. Generate multiple titles (I recommend 6-10), so that you and your co-authors can choose the most appropriate one.
Just do it!
Once you have written the whole draft, let it sit for a week or two, and then revise it. Follow my tips for efficient revising and get your revision checklist that will guide you step-by-step through the whole process.
Now I am curious about your experience: Have you ever written up an academic article quickly? How did you do it? Please, share with us your tips & strategies!
Do you need to revise & polish your manuscript or thesis but don’t know where to begin? Is your text a mess and you don't know how to improve it?
Click here for an efficient step-by-step revision of your scientific texts. You will be guided through each step with concrete tips for execution.
7 thoughts on “ How to write a whole research paper in a week ”
Thank for your guide and suggestion. It gives to me very precious ways how to write a article. Now I am writing a article related to Buddhist studies. Thank you so much.
You are welcome!
excellent! it helped me a lot! wish you all best
Hi Parham, I’m happy to hear that!
I have never written any paper before. As I am from very old school.
But my writing skill is actually very good. Your help is definitely going to help me as this has inspired me alot. Will let you know, once done. I really like the outline that you have given. Basically you have made it so easy for me .
Hope fully will be in touch with you soon.
Thanks and ki d Regards, Shehla
Dear Shehla, that sounds great! I’m looking forward to hearing about your paper!
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Best sights of the knowledge base for you
How long should it take to write an 8 page research paper?
Table of Contents
Writing 8 pages will take about 1.7 hours for the average writer typing on a keyboard and 3.3 hours for handwriting. However, if the content needs to include in-depth research, links, citations, or graphics such as for a blog article or high school essay, the length can grow to 13.3 hours.
How long does it take to research for an essay?
Typically, it takes about 2 hours to research and then jot note the facts you got along with sources. Then it takes about 30 minutes to citate all the sources into APA or MLA or whatever other style. For me, I can type 35 words/minute, so it would take me 1.43 hours to type up a 3000 word essay optimally.
How do you write a research paper for a month?
How To Do A Research Paper In One MonthGeneral rules. There should be careful consideration when choosing the topic. Introduction. In the first two weeks, the writer should focus on the title page, abstract, introduction and the methods and materials section. Body. Conclusion.
How long does it take to write 15 pages?
Writing 15 pages will take about 3.1 hours for the average writer typing on a keyboard and 6.3 hours for handwriting. However, if the content needs to include in-depth research, links, citations, or graphics such as for a blog article or high school essay, the length can grow to 25 hours.
How do you write a 15 page paper fast?
By following these guidelines, you will know how to write a 15 page paper quickly without compromising quality.Face the task. Break down the task into units. Study the instructions. Choose a topic. Conduct Research. Formulate a thesis and create an outline. Write the paper. Add citations.
How long does it take to write a 14 page paper?
6-10 hours depending on how much research I’d done previously. I never started a college paper earlier than the day before it was due.
How many sources should a 15 page paper have?
TYPE OF RESEARCH PAPER For a lengthy essay, there is no way 5 sources are going to suffice for the research purposes. A reference list of at least 15 is considered ideal for in this case.
How long does it take to write 100 pages?
about 20.8 hours
How long will it take to write a 4 page paper?
Writing 4 pages will take about 50 minutes for the average writer typing on a keyboard and 1.7 hours for handwriting. However, if the content needs to include in-depth research, links, citations, or graphics such as for a blog article or high school essay, the length can grow to 6.7 hours.
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Budgeting Your Time to Complete a Research Paper
Research papers for dummies.
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In a perfect world, writing a major research paper would be such a delightful experience that you would eagerly jump right in and start writing a brilliant paper that's just the right length and completed on time. Unfortunately, real people living in the real world may have a tough time thinking about work that is not due for a month or so. (Actually, real people may have a tough time thinking about work at all. Life offers so many possibilities for fun!) Nevertheless, you should take a stab at creating a plan. This articles gives you guidelines for long (ten-week), medium (five-week), and short (two-week) assignments. There's even a plan to help you tackle a delicate question: What should you do when the paper is due tomorrow and you haven't even started yet?
Don't assume that all weeks are created equal. Before you make a paper-writing plan, consider everything else that you have going on, including events that have no relation to the research paper you're writing. Read this section with a calendar or day-planner in hand — one that has events like "sister's wedding," "voyage to the North Pole," and "math final" listed.
Now write start and end dates for each step in your research paper. Schedule a lot of work for weeks that look relatively free, and give yourself a free pass (or light duty) during busy times.
Work habits are as individual as fingerprints. Be sure to adapt the following guidelines to your own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the ten-week plan allots three weeks for research and three-plus weeks for writing. But if you are a jaguar when it comes to reading and a tortoise when it comes to writing, change the distribution to two weeks for research and four-plus weeks for writing.
If you're reporting on the results of your own scientific experiments, figure out how much time you need to do the actual lab work and add that time to the schedule below.
I've got all the time in the world: The ten-week plan
No, you don't have all the time in the world. Ten weeks will become a memory faster than a survivor who's been kicked off the island. Get started right away so that you have time to polish that paper into perfection. Here's a solid plan:
- Selecting a topic (includes preliminary reading) — two weeks
- Conducting research (finding and evaluating sources, note taking) — three weeks
- Creating a thesis statement, writing a topic sentence, or formulating a hypothesis — three days
- Designing the paper (choosing a structure, identifying subtopics, outlining) — four days
- Writing first draft — three weeks
- Writing final draft — four days
- Making finishing touches (title page, bibliography, and so on) — three days
The thesis statement is a declaration that you will prove in your paper. Don't confuse a thesis statement with a thesis, which is a type of research paper.
Notice that there's a lot more time allocated for the first draft (three weeks) than for the final draft (one week, including the finishing touches). You will do better if you put most of your energy into a great rough draft, leaving the final draft for polishing your prose, checking details, and so on. Don't skimp on the rough draft! It's important. But don't skip the final draft, either. You'll be surprised by how much you can improve your paper if you give it two drafts.
I can take my time: The five-week plan
Depending on the length of the paper and the number of sources you plan to use, you may not be able to take your time at all. Here's a suggested budget:
- Selecting a topic (includes preliminary reading) — one week
- Conducting research (finding and evaluating sources, note taking) — ten days
- Creating a thesis statement, writing a topic sentence or formulating a hypothesis — one day
- Designing the paper (choosing a structure, identifying subtopics, outlining) — two days
- Writing first draft — ten days
- Making finishing touches (title page, bibliography, and so on) — one day
One day for finishing touches assumes that you have kept very good records and will not have to spend a lot of time worrying about the format of your citations (footnote, endnote, or parenthetical identification of sources). You should take care of those issues when you write the rough draft.
I'm in a hurry but not in a panic: The two-week plan
A two-week plan is called for because of one of two situations:
Situation #1: The Paper Assigner gave you only two weeks because he or she wants only a limited number of sources and a fairly short piece of writing.
Situation #2: The Paper Assigner gave you three months, and you spent the first two-and-a-half chasing the perfect wave on your surfboard.
If Situation #2 applies to you, ask (actually, beg) the Paper Assigner for more time. If the answer is no, you're going to have to compress a lot of work into a short period. (Also, you're going to have to put the surfboard — and everything else that is fun — away for the duration.)
Here's the timetable for either situation:
- Selecting a topic (includes preliminary reading) — two days
- Conducting research (finding and evaluating sources, note taking) — four days
- Creating a thesis statement, writing a topic sentence or formulating a hypothesis — one-half day
- Designing the paper (choosing a structure, identifying subtopics, outlining) — one-half day
- Writing first draft — four days
- Writing final draft — two days
It's due tomorrow!
Okay, you're in big trouble. You've got two possible situations here:
Situation #1: Your Authority Figure took part in the Spanish Inquisition and is keeping the old torture skills sharp by assigning impossible amounts of work in ridiculous amounts of time.
Situation #2: You went surfing (see Situation #2 in the preceding two-week plan) and left the work until the last minute.
Your only remedy is to come clean, confess that you can't do the job, and hope for mercy. If the answer is no, find out the penalty for late papers and work as quickly as you can. Load up on the major food groups — salt, grease, caffeine, and sugar — and unplug the phone. Turn off the instant messaging function on your computer, too. Pick a minimum number of sources (Internet or traditional) and read as fast as you can. You'll probably be able to create only one draft, but try (really, really, really try) to allow time — even an hour — to revise this draft. Your paper will be better in the long run. Also, after you hand the paper in, but before you go to sleep, take a moment to record your New Year's Resolutions:
Resolution #1 (for Situation #1) — I won't take any more courses from professors who have trained in dungeons, or I will read the want ads every day until I find a new job.
Resolution #2 (for Situation #2) — I will plan my time better so that I can avoid feeling as if my eyelids were glued to my forehead when the next paper assignment comes around.
No matter what the temptation, don't fool around with artificial stimulants (other than a couple of cups of coffee or a few sodas). Little pills guaranteed to disrupt the usual human need for sleep are not worth the risk to your health. Take the rap — the lower grade or the boss's wrath — and do better the next time. Stay on the safe side so at least you know that there will be a next time.
About This Article
This article is from the book:.
- Research Papers For Dummies ,
About the book author:
Geraldine Woods is the author of more than 40 books, including the popular English Grammar For Dummies . She has taught high school and middle school English for over 25 years.
This article can be found in the category:
- Research Papers For Dummies Cheat Sheet
- Notetaking on the Computer
- Forming a Thesis Statement
- Surviving Research Paper Disasters
- Grammar Checklist for Your Research Paper
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The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Research Paper
Few things strike more fear in academics than the accursed research paper , a term synonymous with long hours and hard work. Luckily there’s a secret to help you get through them. As long as you know how to write a research paper properly, you’ll find they’re not so bad . . . or at least less painful.
In this guide we concisely explain how to write an academic research paper step by step. We’ll cover areas like how to start a research paper, how to write a research paper outline, how to use citations and evidence, and how to write a conclusion for a research paper.
But before we get into the details, let’s take a look at what a research paper is and how it’s different from other writing .
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What is a research paper?
A research paper is a type of academic writing that provides an in-depth analysis, evaluation, or interpretation of a single topic, based on empirical evidence. Research papers are similar to analytical essays, except that research papers emphasize the use of statistical data and preexisting research, along with a strict code for citations.
Research papers are a bedrock of modern science and the most effective way to share information across a wide network. However, most people are familiar with research papers from school; college courses often use them to test a student’s knowledge of a particular area or their research skills in general.
Considering their gravity, research papers favor formal, even bland language that strips the writing of any bias. Researchers state their findings plainly and with corresponding evidence so that other researchers can consequently use the paper in their own research.
Keep in mind that writing a research paper is different from writing a research proposal . Essentially, research proposals are to acquire the funding needed to get the data to write a research paper.
How long should a research paper be?
The length of a research paper depends on the topic or assignment. Typically, research papers run around 4,000–6,000 words, but it’s common to see short papers around 2,000 words or long papers over 10,000 words.
If you’re writing a paper for school, the recommended length should be provided in the assignment. Otherwise, let your topic dictate the length: Complicated topics or extensive research will require more explanation.
How to write a research paper in 9 steps
Below is a step-by-step guide to writing a research paper, catered specifically for students rather than professional researchers. While some steps may not apply to your particular assignment, think of this as more of a general guideline to keep you on track.
1 Understand the assignment
For some of you this goes without saying, but you might be surprised at how many students start a research paper without even reading the assignment guidelines.
So your first step should be to review the assignment and carefully read the writing prompt. Specifically, look for technical requirements such as length , formatting requirements (single- vs. double-spacing, indentations, etc.) and citation style . Also pay attention to the particulars, such as whether or not you need to write an abstract or include a cover page.
Once you understand the assignment, the next steps in how to write a research paper follow the usual writing process , more or less. There are some extra steps involved because research papers have extra rules, but the gist of the writing process is the same.
2 Choose your topic
In open-ended assignments, the student must choose their own topic. While it may seem simple enough, choosing a topic is actually the most important decision you’ll make in writing a research paper, since it determines everything that follows.
Your top priority in how to choose a research paper topic is whether it will provide enough content and substance for an entire research paper. You’ll want to choose a topic with enough data and complexity to enable a rich discussion. However, you also want to avoid general topics and instead stick with topics specific enough that you can cover all the relevant information without cutting too much.
Try not to be robotic about choosing your topic, though; it’s still best to pick something that you’re personally interested in. Ideally, you’ll find a topic that satisfies both requirements, something that provides a suitable amount of content and also keeps you engaged.
3 Gather preliminary research
The sooner you start researching, the better—after all, it’s called a research paper for a reason.
To refine your topic and prepare your thesis statement, find out what research is available for your topic as soon as possible. Early research can help dispel any misconceptions you have about the topic and reveal the best paths and approaches to find more material.
Typically, you can find sources either online or in a library. If you’re searching online, make sure you use credible sources like science journals or academic papers. Some search engines—mentioned below in the Tools and resources section—allow you to browse only accredited sources and academic databases.
Keep in mind the difference between primary and secondary sources as you search. Primary sources are firsthand accounts, like published articles or autobiographies; secondary sources are more removed, like critical reviews or secondhand biographies.
When gathering your research, it’s better to skim sources instead of reading each potential source fully. If a source seems useful, set it aside to give it a full read later. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck poring over sources that you ultimately won’t use, and that time could be better spent finding a worthwhile source.
Sometimes you’re required to submit a literature review , which explains your sources and presents them to an authority for confirmation. Even if no literature review is required, it’s still helpful to compile an early list of potential sources—you’ll be glad you did later.
4 Write a thesis statement
Using what you found in your preliminary research, write a thesis statement that succinctly summarizes what your research paper will be about. This is usually the first sentence in your paper, making it your reader’s introduction to the topic.
A thesis statement is the best answer for how to start a research paper. Aside from preparing your reader, the thesis statement also makes it easier for other researchers to assess whether or not your paper is useful to them for their own research. Likewise, you should read the thesis statements of other research papers to decide how useful they are to you.
A good thesis statement mentions all the important parts of the discussion without disclosing too many of the details. If you’re having trouble putting it into words, try to phrase your topic as a question and then answer it .
For example, if your research paper topic is about separating students with ADHD from other students, you’d first ask yourself, “Does separating students with ADHD improve their learning?” The answer—based on your preliminary research—is a good basis for your thesis statement.
5 Determine supporting evidence
At this stage of how to write an academic research paper, it’s time to knuckle down and do the actual research. Here’s when you go through all the sources you collected earlier and find the specific information you’d like to use in your paper.
Normally, you find your supporting evidence by reading each source and taking notes. Isolate only the information that’s directly relevant to your topic; don’t bog down your paper with tangents or unnecessary context, however interesting they may be. And always write down page numbers , not only for you to find the information later, but also because you’ll need them for your citations.
Aside from highlighting text and writing notes, another common tactic is to use bibliography cards . These are simple index cards with a fact or direct quotation on one side and the bibliographical information (source citation, page numbers, subtopic category) on the other. While bibliography cards are not necessary, some students find them useful for staying organized, especially when it’s time to write an outline.
6 Write a research paper outline
A lot of students want to know how to write a research paper outline. More than informal essays, research papers require a methodical and systematic structure to make sure all issues are addressed, and that makes outlines especially important.
First make a list of all the important categories and subtopics you need to cover—an outline for your outline! Consider all the information you gathered when compiling your supporting evidence and ask yourself what the best way to separate and categorize everything is.
Once you have a list of what you want to talk about, consider the best order to present the information. Which subtopics are related and should go next to each other? Are there any subtopics that don’t make sense if they’re presented out of sequence? If your information is fairly straightforward, feel free to take a chronological approach and present the information in the order it happened.
Because research papers can get complicated, consider breaking your outline into paragraphs. For starters, this helps you stay organized if you have a lot of information to cover. Moreover, it gives you greater control over the flow and direction of the research paper. It’s always better to fix structural problems in the outline phase than later after everything’s already been written.
Don’t forget to include your supporting evidence in the outline as well. Chances are you’ll have a lot you want to include, so putting it in your outline helps prevent some things from falling through the cracks.
7 Write the first draft
Once your outline is finished, it’s time to start actually writing your research paper. This is by far the longest and most involved step, but if you’ve properly prepared your sources and written a thorough outline, everything should run smoothly.
If you don’t know how to write an introduction for a research paper, the beginning can be difficult. That’s why writing your thesis statement beforehand is crucial. Open with your thesis statement and then fill out the rest of your introduction with the secondary information—save the details for the body of your research paper, which comes next.
The body contains the bulk of your research paper. Unlike essays , research papers usually divide the body into sections with separate headers to facilitate browsing and scanning. Use the divisions in your outline as a guide.
Follow along your outline and go paragraph by paragraph. Because this is just the first draft, don’t worry about getting each word perfect . Later you’ll be able to revise and fine-tune your writing, but for now focus simply on saying everything that needs to be said. In other words, it’s OK to make mistakes since you’ll go back later to correct them.
One of the most common problems with writing long works like research papers is connecting paragraphs to each other. The longer your writing is, the harder it is to tie everything together smoothly. Use transition sentences to improve the flow of your paper, especially for the first and last sentences in a paragraph.
Even after the body is written, you still need to know how to write a conclusion for a research paper. Just like an essay conclusion , your research paper conclusion should restate your thesis , reiterate your main evidence , and summarize your findings in a way that’s easy to understand.
Don’t add any new information in your conclusion, but feel free to say your own personal perspective or interpretation if it helps the reader understand the big picture.
8 Cite your sources correctly
Citations are part of what sets research papers apart from more casual nonfiction like personal essays . Citing your sources both validates your data and also links your research paper to the greater scientific community. Because of their importance, citations must follow precise formatting rules . . . problem is, there’s more than one set of rules!
You need to check with the assignment to see which formatting style is required. Typically, academic research papers follow one of two formatting styles for citing sources:
- MLA (Modern Language Association)
- APA (American Psychological Association)
The links above explain the specific formatting guidelines for each style, along with an automatic citation generator to help you get started.
In addition to MLA and APA styles, you occasionally see requirements for CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style), AMA (American Medical Association) and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
Citations may seem confusing at first with all their rules and specific information. However, once you get the hang of them, you’ll be able to properly cite your sources without even thinking about it. Keep in mind that each formatting style has specific guidelines for citing just about any kind of source, including photos , websites , speeches , and YouTube videos .
9 Edit and proofread
Last but not least, you want to go through your research paper to correct all the mistakes by proofreading . We recommend going over it twice: once for structural issues such as adding/deleting parts or rearranging paragraphs and once for word choice, grammatical, and spelling mistakes. Doing two different editing sessions helps you focus on one area at a time instead of doing them both at once.
To help you catch everything, here’s a quick checklist to keep in mind while you edit:
- Is your thesis statement clear and concise?
- Is your paper well-organized, and does it flow from beginning to end with logical transitions?
- Do your ideas follow a logical sequence in each paragraph?
- Have you used concrete details and facts and avoided generalizations?
- Do your arguments support and prove your thesis?
- Have you avoided repetition?
- Are your sources properly cited?
- Have you checked for accidental plagiarism?
Word choice, grammar, and spelling edit:
- Is your language clear and specific?
- Do your sentences flow smoothly and clearly?
- Have you avoided filler words and phrases ?
- Have you checked for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
Some people find it useful to read their paper out loud to catch problems they might miss when reading in their head. Another solution is to have someone else read your paper and point out areas for improvement and/or technical mistakes.
Revising is a separate skill from writing, and being good at one doesn’t necessarily make you good at the other. If you want to improve your revision skills, read our guide on self-editing , which includes a more complete checklist and advanced tips on improving your revisions.
Technical issues like grammatical mistakes and misspelled words can be handled effortlessly if you use a spellchecker with your word processor, or even better, a digital writing assistant that also suggests improvements for word choice and tone, like Grammarly (we explain more in the Tools and resources section below).
Tools and resources
If you want to know more about how to write a research paper, or if you want some help with each step, take a look at the tools and resources below.
This is Google’s own search engine, which is dedicated exclusively to academic papers. It’s a great way to find new research and sources. Plus, it’s free to use.
Zotero is a freemium, open-source research manager, a cross between an organizational CMS and a search engine for academic research. With it, you can browse the internet for research sources relevant to your topic and share them easily with colleagues. Also, it automatically generates citations.
Writing long research papers is always a strain on your attention span. If you have trouble avoiding distractions during those long stretches, FocusWriter might be able to help. FocusWriter is a minimalist word processor that removes all the distracting icons and sticks only to what you type. You’re also free to choose your own customized backgrounds, with other special features like timed alarms, daily goals, and optional typewriter sound effects.
This useful and free tool from Google lets you create simple charts and graphs based on whatever data you input. Charts and graphs are excellent visual aids for expressing numeric data, a perfect complement if you need to explain complicated evidential research.
Grammarly goes way beyond grammar, helping you hone word choice, checking your text for plagiarism, detecting your tone, and more. For foreign-language learners, it can make your English sound more fluent, and even those who speak English as their primary language benefit from Grammarly’s suggestions.
Research paper FAQs
A research paper is a piece of academic writing that analyzes, evaluates, or interprets a single topic with empirical evidence and statistical data.
When will I need to write a research paper in college?
Many college courses use research papers to test a student’s knowledge of a particular topic or their research skills in general. While research papers depend on the course or professor, you can expect to write at least a few before graduation.
How do I determine a topic for my research paper?
If the topic is not assigned, try to find a topic that’s general enough to provide ample evidence but specific enough that you’re able to cover all the basics. If possible, choose a topic you’re personally interested in—it makes the work easier.
Where can I conduct research for my paper?
Today most research is conducted either online or in libraries. Some topics might benefit from old periodicals like newspapers or magazines, as well as visual media like documentaries. Museums, parks, and historical monuments can also be useful.
How do I cite sources for a research paper?
The correct formatting for citations depends on which style you’re using, so check the assignment guidelines. Most school research reports use either MLA or APA styles, although there are others.
This article was originally written by Karen Hertzberg in 2017. It’s been updated to include new information.
How much time does it take to write a paper?
- April 24, 2014
Hi eva (& all others).
Can u all tell me how much time it took to write the paper that u sent for publishing. To be precise, suppose u have obtained all the results, decided what all u are going to put in the paper & also written a sort of rough draft. Now after that how much time did u take to just write the final version of the paper?
I am asking this because I im in the process of doing this painful part & am taking a lot of time (figures, supplementary material & a lot of LAZYNESS.)
My quick reply back then was the following: around 40 hours typically – spaced out over 2 or 3 weeks
So let’s look at this question in more detail. We’re looking at a situation in which you have the results, an idea of an outline and “a sort of rough draft”. That’s already a splendid beginning. Before we continue, I’d recommend you look at my post on “How to write a paper in 2 days” . This post was aimed at writing conference papers, for which the requirements are typically less stringent than for journal papers, but it might be the exact time-constraining kinda kick in the arse one might need every now and then.
The situation our reader is more advanced than the typical stage in which you start writing (he/she already has a rough draft, which is excellent), but a little less “ready” for publishing than taking material from a dissertation. Although that really depends – sometimes you need to shift things around to turn a chapter into a paper, or cut a lot of words to fulfill the word limit, and that can take time too.
My guess of 40 hours (based on the papers I submitted before finishing my dissertation) comes from writing papers for which I had research reports ready, and parts already in conference papers. But I needed to make “a story” out of all the material, and provide the drawings.
You could think that those 40 hours are one work week – but when in your life have you been able to work on one single task for 40 hours? Not helping out students, not replying mails, not running a little calc for your supervisor, …? You can’t be on a single task for an entire week, unfortunately – not in graduate school, and definitely not once you become a professor. That’s why I added that this time is spaced out over 2 – 3 weeks. Now that I’m lecturing, that would probably become 4 – 5 weeks, but for a graduate student 2 – 3 weeks seems reasonable to me.
Drawing figures takes a huge amount of time. For the second chapter of my dissertation (the literature review), I spent more time on drawing the figures than on writing the actual chapter. I don’t like drawing, I’m not very skilled at it, and I tend to have a hard time staying focused (and not going off to see random stuff online) when I have to do it. So I totally hear you in terms of that laziness!
As a sideline: implementing the reviewers’ comments takes me about 40 hours as well – and this observation is consistent with my measurements for thesis writing : 1/3 of your time goes into the first full draft, 2/3 goes into polishing and taking into account the comments of the committee.
Let’s get back to the laziness issue. I consider myself an organized person, I never work too close to a deadline, and I’m known to submit material ahead of deadlines always. I’ve had to study deep into the night before exams during my first year of university, and I felt so miserable that I had to revert to planning to make sure that I have the afternoon before an exam to refresh my mind, go to sleep on time and be rested for the test. But that doesn’t mean I don’t fall prey to Random Mindless Internet Surfing. Or Hanging Around the Kitchen to Avoid Work. We all do it in one way or the other , in small or maybe larger amounts. Here is what helps for me:
1. Plan your time : know what you want to achieve every single day. If it helps, write down your 3 Most Important Tasks for the day, and knock ’em off before you do anything
2. Plan short chunks of time : If I put 4 hours for writing on a paper in my schedule, I won’t stay on task for 4 hours. I’ll start to reply email, look up recipes online, and so on. I’m still trying to find the right amount of time to stay focused, but 90 minutes seems like a reasonable guess. Know what you need to do in these 90 minutes – it will help you stay on track. Allow buffer time in between your 90 minute chunks – distractions always happen: students come in to ask questions, you get a phone call, …
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique : 2 pomodoros for drawing this figure. Ready, set, and go! I’m still using the Pomodoro technique many times to get work done, although it is much harder to do my pomodoros in the office without getting disturbed. I might need to revert to working more hours at home so that I can be free from distractions during my research time.
Well, dear reader, I hope that helped and I wish you all the best. Further questions? Just shoot ’em at me and I’ll do my very best to give you my insights.
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