Research Paper Format Tips for Ultimate Writing Success

Most of the times, there is the same research paper format for different types of research. This makes it easy to learn the correct research essay format, no matter what you are writing.

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But here’s the kicker:

You need to be organized and on top of things. You have to get the research done promptly, so you have time to write the best paper possible. Not only that, but you need to understand how to write an outline for research paper, how to start a research paper, how to write a methodology, and how to write a conclusion for a research paper.

Don’t worry, though. We will go through every aspect of the research paper format (by the way, do not hesitate to ask us for professional writing help when you need it), and by the end of this article, you will be able to master writing the best paper imaginable.

🔎 What Is a Research Paper?

Before you can write a great research paper, you need to know what a research paper is. Suny Empire State College refers to a research paper as an “expanded essay.” Essentially, you are to present your interpretation of, evaluation of, or argument regarding a specific aspect of your topic of study.

What Does This Mean for You?

You will conduct research that will reveal the best information in your field of choice. This will require you to conduct a thorough literature review and it might require you to conduct your own study. The purpose of your paper will be to provide one of the following:

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  • An argument for a certain point
  • An analysis from a certain perspective

Ultimately, the purpose of your research paper will depend on the type of research paper you are required to write. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the different types of papers—there are only two!

📋 Types of Research Papers

When it comes to writing a research paper, you have two approaches. Your paper will either be analytical or argumentative. When it comes to an analytical paper, you will pull together all the pertinent information, study it closely, come to your conclusions regarding the information, and present the information and conclusions in a logical manner.

In contrast, when writing an argumentative paper, your goal is one of persuasion. You will present pertinent arguments on a specific topic and prove your arguments or point of view.

When presented like this, writing a research paper seems pretty simple and straightforward. Now let’s take a look at choosing a topic for your paper.

🎯 Selecting a Research Topic

Sometimes, you will be assigned a certain topic for your paper. In this case, your goal is already set and you can get to work researching that topic. However, there are times when you can choose your topic from a list of good research topics or you are required to narrow down a broader topic to something that is more manageable. These are the best research paper topics.

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Essentially, when choosing from the various research paper topics, you don’t want your topic to be too broad or too narrow. If it is too broad, you will have a hard time sifting through all the information about the topic; if it is too narrow, you will have a hard time finding enough information.

The best thing to do is come up with a specific research question that will help you focus on your topic. Finding the answer to the question is your goal and coming up with that answer will require close investigation and study. To do this, you need to:

  • Be familiar with the topic
  • Understand the challenges or problems faced within the topic
  • Be able to comb through the literature if you are having trouble finding a solid research question

☝️ Choosing a Title

It is all too common for students to choose a title for their paper after they have finished writing it, but this is not the best way to do it. The title of your paper will be based on the type of paper you write and the research question you have chosen and it is wise to come up with the title before you dive into the work.

Your paper can have a working title, one that:

  • Is not carved in stone and can be changed as your research progresses
  • Can provide you with a general idea of what to research

When it comes to finalizing the title of your paper, you will want it to be unique so that it will stand out and be noticed. The title should:

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  • Make a positive impression
  • Inspire the interest and curiosity of your readers
  • Include the primary keywords of your research
  • Be a maximum of 20 words
  • Include the subject of your research

With the above in mind, let’s take a look at how to write your paper.

🏁 How to Start a Research Paper

When it comes to how to begin a research paper, you need to be organized. Start early and make sure you give yourself enough time to get it done. Plan your work time, get rid of distractions, and take breaks as needed when working. Remember, this is a long project and breaking it up into manageable chunks of time is best when writing a research paper step by step.

Aside from getting organized, you will need to have a solid understanding of the process of writing a paper. We already discussed the first step above, which was choosing your topic. Once you have that done, you will need to do the following:

  1. Search for sources relevant to your topic. Check your library catalog, bibliographies, periodical indices, and your professor’s recommendations to get started. You will want to use primary sources (not secondary sources, in which they reference the original information). You can find them in professional journals, professional online sources, books, and government documents.
  2. Document all information and be sure to group it or sequence it in a logical manner. Take notes as you read, organize all material in order of most to least relevant, and make use of bibliography cards to keep track of your sources.
  3. Create an outline.
  4. Write the paper.
  5. Revise as needed. This requires giving your paper a thorough proofread to ensure it is well-organized; the information is laid out in a logical manner; and that spelling, grammar, and syntax are all good.

The University of Wisconsin provides a great look at the process of writing a research paper. Now, it’s time to discuss the actual writing, which will expand on step 4 from above.

🗒 The Research Paper Format

The outline for a research paper is fairly straightforward. You will want the layout of a research paper such that the parts of it follow this structure:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendices (if required)
  • Acknowledgements

When creating your outline, start with each of the above sections and write in point-form the major points you will be covering in each of them. Walden University provides an excellent description of how to outline a paper. Now, let’s talk about each of these sections in detail.

Title Page

We have already talked about coming up with a great title. This is where you include that unique and informative title, as well as a subtitle (if using one), the author’s full name, submission statement, and the date.


An abstract is more than a simple summary of a paper. It should present the most important data and findings, providing the reader with a solid understanding of the information presented in the paper.Even though this is where the abstract is placed in terms of the order of the paper, it is usually written after the paper is finished. When writing an abstract, keep the following in mind:

  • It should be a concise paragraph of no more than 250 words.
  • It should be able to stand alone and provide information about the paper without the reader having to refer to the paper (abstracts are usually read independently of the paper), including the methods, primary results, and conclusion.
  • It should correctly reflect all information reported in the paper.
  • It is to be written in past-tense.
  • Do not use acronyms, trade names, symbols, or abbreviations that require explanation, as there is insufficient room.

The University of Toronto provides a great explanation of what an abstract is and how to write one.


This is where you introduce the reader to your paper. It should be a maximum of two pages in length and you should present your research question and briefly tell the reader what to expect. In the introduction, you should provide:

  • The topic of the paper and your purpose for conducting the research
  • Background information and contextual material for the reader (you can even use a thesis statement generator for research paper to come up with relevant content)
  • A definition of terms and concepts if applicable
  • Your research plan

Materials and Methodology

Here you will provide readers with adequate information,so they understand the topic and primary research objectives. Specifically, you will present the type of research design, research methods you have used (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed), sampling, and participants.

When it comes to materials used, you will describe in detail all supplies and special equipment you used during your research. However, it is the methodology that will require your undivided attention. When learning how to write a methodology, you need to keep in mind that this is a critical part of your paper.

When considering your methodology, you need to determine whether you will:

  • Use primary research or secondary research
  • Conduct qualitative or quantitative research
  • Use representative or convenience sampling

When presenting your methodology, you will:

  • Present methods chronologically
  • Provide detailed descriptions of each method used
  • Describe all procedures you used in enough detail that the reader could reproduce your work

Your methodology section should tell the reader the following:

  • How you collected the information
  • How you analyzed the information
  • Why you chose the methods you used

When it comes to the “why” you need to go into detail to justify the methods. Here are examples of how to present these explanations:

  • A qualitative research method was used to determine the relationship between…
  • Statistical analysis was employed to identify a statistically significant relation between…
  • Convenience sampling was utilized to gather the required data and save time…

You should also discuss any limitations you might have dealt with in terms of your study design.


This is where you present all of the data you gathered, including all analyses, statistics, graphs, tables, and figures. Everything should be presented in an objective manner and will be referred to in the discussion when you present the interpretation of the data. Refer to the following when you present your results:

  • Present them in a logical order
  • Label figures as “Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” etc.
  • Number all tables
  • Present all information once
  • Do not present raw data or intermediate calculations in your paper (this can be included in the appendices)
  • Describe each result independently and present the most significant aspects of them, but do not offer explanations in this section
  • Keep it short and sweet


This is where you discuss the results you presented in the previous section. You will want to support your results and discuss your findings. When writing your discussion, remember the following:

  • Present a summary of the work that has been done
  • Use present tense when referring to facts and principles that are commonly accepted and past tense when referring to work conducted by other researchers
  • Be sure to provide sufficient detail when presenting data
  • Discuss whether or not each hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if you are uncertain
  • Put your focus on the mechanism in order to explain your observations
  • Present alternative explanations if there are any
  • Discuss any potential error in your work and describe any mistakes you made and how you could have avoided them or corrected for them


This is the paragraph with which you wrap things up. Here, you present a summary of what you presented throughout the paper. No new information should be included in the conclusion. In your conclusion, do the following:

  • Repeat your topic/research question
  • Restate the reason your research is important
  • Restate your thesis statement/hypothesis
  • Provide a brief summary of key findings
  • Explain how your findings can be employed
  • Present options for further research

When it comes to writing your conclusion, there are also some common errors you should be aware of and from which you should stay away. These include:

  • This is not the time to throw in a twist. You want your conclusion to be logical and predictable. It should reiterate what you have already presented and you should avoid including new information or changing your argument with regards to your research question.
  • Don’t use cliché phrases, such as ‘In conclusion’, ‘To sum it up’ or ‘In summary.’
  • You aren’t merely providing a summary. You want to put some emphasis on your primary findings and how these can be used in your field of study.
  • There is no need to sound apologetic. Act like the expert you are and present your conclusion with the air of a professional, someone who has done the research and has come to appropriate conclusions.


This where you present a list of sources you used for your paper. When providing your references, do the following:

  • Document all sources properly.
  • Use the required/requested citation style (such as APA, MLA, and Chicago).
  • Ensure all sources are listed in alphabetical order.
  • If you did not need to consult other works when writing your paper, then state “No references were consulted.”


The inclusion of an appendix is optional, but it can serve as a valuable addition to a research paper. Essentially, the appendices are where you can include material that will help the reader visualize your findings and increase their knowledge of the topic. This is particularly the case when it comes to people working specifically in your field.

Appendices include:

  • List of tables
  • List of figures
  • Raw data, such as surveys, transcripts, and interviews

You can refer to the appendices in the discussion.


There are always people who help you write your research paper. You might have a professor, tutor, librarian, grad student, or someone else who was instrumental in helping you complete your research and write your paper. Be sure to thank each person individually.

The National Institutes of Health and offers great information on how to write a paper.

📝 Example of a Research Paper

With all of the information presented above, you might be feeling at somewhat of a loss at how to write a college research paper. That’s where a good old college research essay sample comes into the picture.

And here’s the best part!

What follows is a series of research paper examples with different parts of them so you can see exactly how to write the various sections.

But first:

Do you want to know the first secret of writing a research paper? No matter whether you need to see an APA style research paper sample or an MLA research paper sample, the guidelines are very similar. Here, you’ll find both general tips and specific guidelines for each style! Are you ready to start out on this journey?


First in the line of research paper examples is the abstract!

Writing a good abstract is very similar to writing an essay—on your research. Here is a good research paper example of an abstract for linguistics.

Multilingualism is one of the most mysterious abilities of a human being. The ability of a single person to speak two or more languages with equal and excellent skill is quite baffling. During the last decade, there have been more and more cases of multilingualism, which is why this phenomenon deserves attention.

It is suggested that there is no direct limit on how many languages a person can speak with exceptional skill. This is attributed to the process of learning a language, which is a continuous and lifelong process. The results of this research suggest that the number of languages a person can master depends only on the person’s lifespan.


When writing your research paper, remember there is a slight difference between MLA and APA formats—so make sure you follow the correct research paper outline format!

Example of APA Research Paper Format Example of MLA Research Paper Format

I. Multilingualism as a phenomenon

A. Definition of the issue

1. First definition of multilingualism

a. Common misconceptions

(1) multilingualism is acquired

(2) multilingualism is the same as multilingualism involves two languages

b. Actual definition

(1) necessary elements

(2) aspects of the issue

2. Second definition of multilingualism

B. Classification

1. Accepted nomenclature of multilingualism

a. Main elements

(1) Age

(2) Languages

b. Descriptions

(1) Age

(2) Languages

2. An alternative classification

a. Main elements

(1) Skills

(2) Languages

b. Descriptions

(1) Skills

(2) Languages

II. (You’ve got the idea)

I. Marketing management

A. Definition

1. Main elements

a. Elements of growth

(1) Materials

(2) Costs

b. Elements of promotion

(1) Commercials

(2) Advertising

2. Variations

B. Examples

1. Examples of promotion strategies and targeting

a. Promotion for the upper class

(1) Issues

(2) Solutions

b. Promoting for the middle class

(1) Issues

(2) Solutions

2. Examples of organization types

a. Types of organizational structure

(1) Matrix structure

(2) Divisional structure

b. Types of leadership

II. (You’ve got the idea)


Here is an example of a research paper introduction for a paper on football.

Issue: Football has gained a great reputation around the world over the past few years.

Thesis statement: In spite of the seeming superiority of football, there is much controversy about the game.

Goal: Shattering the myth of a “noble” sport, it can be proven that football, with all its competitiveness, is nothing more than a mere form of entertainment.

Methods: Both qualitative and quantitative analysis will be used in this research paper.

Hypothesis: It is proposed that the status of football is being enhanced so that youth are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle.


Here is a fabulous example of a conclusion for a research paper in agriculture:

Repeat the results of the research:

Based on the results above, it is exceptionally profitable to use corn to synthesize ethanol, which would solve the fuel problem.

Restate the thesis statement:

With the aid of corn ethanol, more fuel will be readily available, reducing the price of petrol.

Comment on the prospects for additional research:

Improving the production of corn ethanol makes it possible to solve the greatest problem of the century. However, it is questionable whether corn crop production can be increased to the amount required, indicating that future research should focus on this issue.

The examples above are examples of various aspects of a research paper. You can also watch the following videos for more information on how to create your research paper format in APA, MLA, and Chicago style.

Ultimately, getting the research paper format down and writing your paper is not as daunting as it might appear, but if you are still having trouble and are sitting there saying “I need someone to write my research paper,” don’t go looking for free research papers or a free research paper generator. You don’t know what you will end up with.

The best plan is to get the help of a custom writing company. The best research paper writing service is one that guarantees original work. That way, you will be able to turn in the best research paper, one that is guaranteed to make a good grade.

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🔗 References

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