How to Begin a Research Paper – Guide to Structure and Style

Let’s be frank: a research paper is an assignment that drives you loopy. The papal tone of voice you have to use to convey your arguments seems outright ridiculous. That, in a nutshell, is how everyone feels about the task. Yet, millions of students still manage to write their papers. And with a few tricks up your sleeve so would you.

Let us show you how to start a good research paper.

This article is well worth a browse because we detail actionable strategies for writing an opening paragraph for any kind of research paper. We will also provide you with examples and formatting tips. Buckle up, it’s about to get wonky.

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How to Start Writing a Research Paper for College

First things first, no matter how humdrum your topic is, you must approach it with an inquisitive state of mind. Research writing is a priceless learning experience, and you should make the most of it. Now that we’ve put that behind us, let us consider how to begin writing a research paper.

  • How to Choose a Topic
  1. Pick a topic you are curious about or have a burning interest in. Make sure your instructor approves of it.
  2. If you don’t know where to start, enter random words into an academic database or Google. Explore the suggestions appearing on the screen, and eventually, you will arrive at a topic you like.
  3. Take your time to find a decent research idea. Avoid choosing the first topic that pops into your head. Mull it over.
  • Topics to Avoid
  1. Don’t settle for a topic that is too big to handle. Although it is ambitious to process data from dozens of sources, you may have a difficult time bringing your project to completion.
  2. Don’t cut corners to choose a trite topic because soon enough, you will pay in frustration and boredom. For example, instead of writing a paper on a person, explore their influence on their field of excellence.
  3. Your research paper must be based on the opinions of different authorities, which is why it is sensible to avoid topics dominated by the views of a single scholar.
  4. Avoid topics that may annoy or offense your audience.
  • Conduct Research
  1. Once you’ve chosen a topic, conduct research. To this end, use the Internet, university’s databases and libraries, scholarly periodicals, and online public-access catalogs.
  2. It is recommended to avoid blogs and social networks in your research as information found there cannot be deemed reliable.
  • Evaluate Your Sources
  1. When evaluating web sources, opt for ones that have either .edu or .gov domains. The sources with these domains are produced and maintained by reputable organizations and, therefore, are likely to be impartial and correct.
  2. Investigate the writer’s background and make sure to check a publisher. Most online publishers are not characterized by editorial evenhandedness, which is a must for scholarly research.
  3. As a rule of thumb, stick with peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals.
  • Introduce Your Research Topic
  1. The opening sentences of the first paragraph should introduce your research theme. Start by presenting general information and then narrow it down.
  2. State your rationale for conducting the research.
  3. Explain key terms early in the opening paragraph to avoid confusion later.
  • Cite Your Sources

You should use relevant sources to support your arguments in the introduction. In case you don’t know how to format citations, request assistance of a reliable research paper writing service.

  • Write a Thesis
  1. A thesis statement is a focal sentence that summarizes the key ideas of your paper. It serves several functions: to establish a research boundary, to chart a course for the research paper, and to provide the readers with a general idea of what to expect.
  2. A properly written thesis contains a single line of argument. Also, your thesis shouldn’t contain figurative language, which undermines clarity.
  3. Place the thesis in the last sentence of the opening paragraph.

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How to Start a Research Paper Examples

Ahead is an example of how to start off a research paper.

Ever since Norris (1997) popularized the notion of “soft annihilation” to analyze sexism in visual media, a large body of evidence has been amassed to quantify and qualify numerous transgressions against women. While the trivialization and exclusion remain important reference points in understanding the depiction of gender in the media, it, nevertheless, must be re-conceptualized to better reflect the cultural realities of the 21st century. This paper’s focus is on women’s political power as it is framed by the media. Is there any evidence that in our visually-oriented society the female political power has increased along with the better representation of women in movies and television? The paper attempts to answer this question with reference to the US media’s construction of gender. It will discuss the recent news coverage in order to analyze the portrayal of gender stereotypes and understand possible implications for journalists and female politicians. It will be argued that although the women’s representation in quantitative terms has been influenced by their increased political status, the structural gendering has remained unaffected.

 

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