3 Important Stages of Research Paper Writing

When starting on a research paper project, it’s important that you get started as soon as you find out about the assignment. The reason for this is that there are three essential stages in research paper writing, each of which requires plenty of time and your full attention.

Stage 1: Research

Research can happen in many ways. You can find sources online, in academic journals, or amongst the book stacks in a university library. What’s important before starting is that you’ve narrowed your research topic so that you’re focused on no more than two or three general questions you’re interested in answering.

No matter what your questions are, it’s important that you keep your research organized by using a system to collect information – notes, quotes, facts, or anything else you will need for your paper – and easily and quickly retrieve for reference.

Stage 2: Outlining and Writing

Now that you have completed the research stage, you should have enough to write a thesis statement to guide you through your brainstorming and mapping exercises. After you’ve identified your strongest points in support of your argument, you should construct an outline to guide you through your first draft.

No matter how many drafts you write you should make sure that your writing sticks to the topic and more specifically relates to your thesis statement. It is possible to revise your thesis at any point, should you find your topic can be narrowed further, but keep your body paragraphs on topic. Before revising and editing you will benefit from writing at least another draft of your research paper, one that is even more concise and even more to the point.

Stage 3: Revising and Editing

Revising and editing are two separate exercises. Revision takes place on a larger scale and involves looking at your research paper. You want to ensure your thesis statement is defended throughout the paper, check for clear transitions to guide your reading audience from one thought to the next, and make sure all your main points are discussed clearly, without excessive or confusing content.

Editing is an exercise in precision and involves going sentence-by-sentence with a fine toothed comb looking for errors in verb tense, grammar, punctuation, typos and spelling errors. You’ll also want to look for consistency in tone.

If you’ve allowed yourself ample time you may want to set aside your research paper for a few days before re-reading one more time. Don’t think that you can ever overdo it when it comes to proofreading.