Eight Tips on How to Write a Decent Research Paper

Writing a research paper is typically a requirement for most secondary level English or Social Studies classes.  For many students, the thought of writing a research paper is overwhelming.  Rather than tackling the paper step by step, procrastination kicks in and the paper is written last minute and under a great amount of stress.

Do you have a research paper due?  Follow these tips and you may find that you actually enjoy the writing experience.

Tip #1.  Narrow your topic and have it approved.  Sometimes your teacher will provide you with a list of topics to choose from.  If a list isn’t provided and you have to come up with your own topic, then avoid being too broad.  For example, you want to research “mental retardation”.  Rather than researching this broad topic, research “Down’s Syndrome” or “Special Education for MR Students”.  Make sure your teacher approves your project before you begin your research.

Tip #2.  Devise a timeline.  Provide yourself with ample time to do your research and write the paper.  It’s better to schedule a few different days to work on the paper than to think you can just get it all done in one weekend.


Tip #3.  Use reliable sources.  Most of your research should be done at the library.  A lot of internet sites are not reliable sources.  Your teacher will possibly provide guidance regarding what type of internet resources are permissible.

Tip #4.  Make an outline.  Outline the key points that you hope to cover in your paper.  Be sure to also include an introduction and a conclusion.

Tip #5.  Utilize index cards.  As you begin to research the different components of your outline, write down the information on index cards.  At the top of the card, write down the key point.  Then write down the information.  On the back of the card, write down the source information.

Tip #6.  Write or type a rough draft.  Using the information from the index cards, write or type your paper.  Don’t get too caught up on grammar, punctuation and spelling.  This is just your rough draft and you can always correct it afterwards.

Tip #7.  Type your final draft.  Most research papers are to be typed.  Find out from your teacher what he or she requires.  Read through your rough draft and make corrections.  You might discover that some of the content needs to be moved around.  After you type your final draft, read it through one more time.  Make sure there is a good flow in how you’re presenting the information.

Tip #8.  Follow the guidelines for quotes, paraphrasing, bibliography, etc.  Your teacher will probably provide you with sample writings of how to use footnotes or endnotes.  Be sure to document your information based on the rules given to you.


By following these tips, you’ll be able to write a decent research paper.  Since you won’t be wasting time procrastinating, you might discover once the paper is done you have plenty of time to do fun things.

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