• Find a bachelor's degree

    Bachelors Degree Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

If you’re a col­lege stu­dent, you will like­ly write numer­ous research papers in addi­tion to your senior the­sis. You must then mas­ter the basics of writ­ing research papers since these have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on your over­all aca­d­e­m­ic performance! 

In our bach­e­lor’s pro­gram research and writ­ing guide, we offer prac­ti­cal strate­gies for com­plet­ing well-craft­ed col­lege research papers. We under­stand that col­lege stu­dents, whether in their fresh­man year or senior year, can encounter anx­i­ety-induc­ing chal­lenges in their aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing. These prac­ti­cal strate­gies are intend­ed to decrease the anx­i­ety asso­ci­at­ed with writ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers, includ­ing research papers. 

A col­lege research paper is dif­fer­ent from a senior the­sis! Both are types of aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing. A research paper pro­vides an ana­lyt­i­cal eval­u­a­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion made by its author of a spe­cif­ic top­ic sup­port­ed by research stud­ies and expert opin­ions. A the­sis is a schol­ar­ly research paper that con­tains a propo­si­tion, an argu­ment and evi­dence of the argu­ment, and is usu­al­ly writ­ten as a cul­mi­nat­ing aca­d­e­m­ic require­ment in your senior year. 

Keys to Writing Research Papers in College - fact

While the bach­e­lor’s degree paper writ­ing strate­gies dis­cussed below are specif­i­cal­ly writ­ten for research papers, many can also be applied for writ­ing your senior the­sis and oth­er types of aca­d­e­m­ic writing. 

Relat­ed Articles:

Understand the Assignment

Every research paper comes with spe­cif­ic instruc­tions regard­ing its top­ic, style and sub­stance, struc­ture and for­mat­ting style, and length. You must read and under­stand the assign­ment before start­ing your research! 

You should also ask: 

  • When is it due?
  • What is the process for sub­mit­ting it?
  • Is it an indi­vid­ual project or a group project? You should know this to sched­ule and assign the tasks. 

If you have clar­i­fi­ca­to­ry ques­tions, you should­n’t hes­i­tate to ask your pro­fes­sor. You will find that the clear­er the instruc­tions from your per­spec­tive, the bet­ter your research paper will like­ly be. 

Create a Schedule

Be sure to take note of the spe­cif­ic dead­line for sub­mis­sion of the research paper on your cal­en­dar or plan­ner. You can then make a SMART — spe­cif­ic, mea­sur­able, attain­able, rel­e­vant and time-bound — sched­ule. Essen­tial­ly, you can break down the large goal — write a good research paper — into small­er tasks that can be done between now and its sub­mis­sion deadline. 

We sug­gest allot­ting at least two days for every step in the research paper writ­ing process. But you must also con­sid­er the time blocks for study­ing your text­books, attend­ing class­es, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in extracur­ric­u­lars when cre­at­ing your research paper-relat­ed schedule. 

Let’s say you have four weeks to sub­mit a research paper. Your week­ly sched­ule can look like the following: 

  • Week 1: Preliminaries 
  • Under­stand the guide­lines, require­ments and deadlines. 
  • Write down your pos­si­ble topics. 
  • Per­form pre­lim­i­nary research on the select­ed topic.
  • Week 2: The­sis and Out­line Devel­op­ment and Research 
  • Define your research ques­tion and make your the­sis statement. 
  • Write the research out­line with an intro­duc­tion, body and conclusion. 
  • Per­form your research. 
  • Weeks 3–4: Writ­ing, Edit­ing and Proofreading 
  • Write a draft based on the outline. 
  • Check for com­pli­ance with the guide­lines relat­ed to struc­ture, style and sub­stance. Con­sid­er cita­tion, pla­gia­rism and grammar.
  • Revise your draft upon edit­ing and proof­read­ing. Ask your peers and pro­fes­sors for feedback. 

Per­form a final read­ing of your research paper before sub­mit­ting it. You may have missed a few errors that you can eas­i­ly fix.

Select and Research Your Topic

Your pro­fes­sor can pro­vide spe­cif­ic top­ics from which you and your class­mates can choose or allow you and your class­mates to choose rel­e­vant top­ics on your own. 

Keep these tips in mind when select­ing a research topic:

  • Choose a top­ic that is based on your inter­ests and intel­lec­tu­al­ly challenging. 
  • Choose a top­ic that is rel­e­vant to your pro­gram course. 
  • Use cur­rent events and trends to research paper more engag­ing and relevant.
  • Keep a unique tone to empha­size originality.

For your research process, fol­low these steps:

  • Use cred­i­ble sources like text­books, peer-reviewed jour­nals, news­pa­pers and dig­i­tal articles.
  • Read and cite your sources prop­er­ly. Don’t just copy-paste.
  • Cre­ate a run­ning doc­u­ment for your data points, cita­tion sources, and poten­tial quo­ta­tions. Use ref­er­ence man­age­ment tools like End­Note and Zotero. 
  • Keep the points orga­nized based on your outline. 

We sug­gest stick­ing to the rel­e­vant sources for your research top­ic instead of being dis­tract­ed by relat­ed top­ics. You will then find it eas­i­er to focus on your research paper and its time­ly completion.

Make a Research Paper Outline

Your research paper out­line ensures a log­i­cal flow of your analy­sis, eval­u­a­tion and con­clu­sion regard­ing your top­ic. There may be a spe­cif­ic style and struc­ture required.

In gen­er­al, stu­dents use this out­line with appro­pri­ate subheadings: 

I. Intro­duc­tion

II. Lit­er­a­ture Review

III. Method­ol­o­gy

IV. Results

V. Dis­cus­sion

VI. Con­clu­sion

VII. Ref­er­ences

VIII. Appen­dices 

Start Writing

Sit down and write your research paper! You will be cre­at­ing a draft at this point, so no edit­ing or proof­read­ing will be required yet. The idea is to flesh out your out­line and the­sis based on your style.

  • Make a com­pelling intro­duc­tion. State a clear research ques­tion and add back­ground details. 
  • Write strong body para­graphs. Focus on a sin­gle argu­ment that sup­ports your the­sis. Use sup­port­ing evi­dence and appro­pri­ate citations.
  • Make a log­i­cal flow and smooth tran­si­tions between para­graphs and head­ings. It will keep your read­ers engaged. 
  • Pro­vide a prop­er analy­sis of your research top­ic and find­ings. State your inter­pre­ta­tions and insights clearly. 
  • Address dis­agree­ments and counterarguments.
  • Make your conclusion.
  • Write the prop­er ref­er­ences and appendices.

If you don’t write or type fast, you can use a dic­ta­tion app.

Edit and Proofread

Your first draft should nev­er be your final sub­mis­sion! You will spot errors in gram­mar, spelling and syn­tax. Edit and proof­read your research paper as many times as possible.

Cer­tain writ­ing apps can make your edit­ing and proof­read­ing faster. AI tools are a great help, but they can­not com­pare with human intel­li­gence and judg­ment. AI isn’t always error-free, so ver­i­fy your data at all times.

Get Feedback and Welcome Criticism

Your mul­ti­ple edits and writ­ing apps do not guar­an­tee 100% accu­ra­cy. A fresh per­spec­tive helps you point out errors and defi­cien­cies in your style, struc­ture, and sub­stance. Before sub­mit­ting, do the following: 

  • Have a class­mate or school­mate read your research paper. 
  • Ask for assis­tance from your col­lege’s writ­ing center.
  • Request your pro­fes­sor or their teach­ing assis­tant for feedback. 

Give these peo­ple suf­fi­cient time to read your research paper. A cou­ple of days to a week should be enough.

After receiv­ing feed­back, per­form your sec­ond round of edit­ing and proof­read­ing while keep­ing the feed­back in mind. 

Learn about Citations, Plagiarism and Use of Resources

These research and writ­ing tips for bach­e­lor’s stu­dents are only a part of the process. Pay atten­tion not only to the struc­ture but also to the sub­stance of your research paper!

By tap­ping into a wide vari­ety of research sources, your research papers will be bet­ter in struc­ture and sub­stance. Look into these resources when­ev­er you’re writ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers, both for infor­ma­tion and guidance. 

  • Phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal library cat­a­logs includ­ing col­lege libraries, Project Guten­berg, and the Dig­i­tal Pub­lic Library of America
  • Gov­ern­ment or insti­tu­tion­al websites 
  • Peer-reviewed arti­cles and journals
  • Pro­fes­sion­al soci­eties or associations 
  • Pub­lic Library of Sci­ence and oth­er open-access journals
  • Pur­due OWL and oth­er online writ­ing guides
  • Google Schol­ar, PubMed, and Web of Science

There’s no greater crime in writ­ing papers in bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams than copy­ing your sources word-for-word! Be mind­ful of cita­tions and pla­gia­rism. Always prac­tice aca­d­e­m­ic integrity!

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Under­stand the dif­fer­ent cita­tion styles Chica­go, MLA, APA and Harvard. 
  • Use cita­tion man­age­ment tools like End­note and Zotero.
  • Use quo­ta­tion marks for quot­ing sources. Include a com­plete citation.
  • Express ideas using your own words but cite your sources.
  • Make a bibliography,
  • Use pla­gia­rism detec­tion software.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good college research paper?

Learn the right strate­gies and go from there! Fun­da­men­tal­ly, a good research paper should be prop­er­ly researched. It should be free from the basic errors. You need to cite your sources accurately.

What are the steps of writing a research paper?

Start by under­stand­ing the assign­ment and then choos­ing your top­ic, cre­at­ing an out­line, and per­form­ing research, as men­tioned above. You can start writ­ing once your research sources are complete. 

What are important tips for writing a research paper title?

Many things make up a well-craft­ed research title. Here’s how you make one:

  • Be clear and con­cise in your use of words. Research papers are usu­al­ly for­mal and objec­tive. Write accordingly. 
  • Use rel­e­vant key­words, espe­cial­ly if you’re writ­ing for pub­li­ca­tion in online databases.
  • Be spe­cif­ic in your choice of title and headings.
  • Con­sid­er your audi­ence and the ter­mi­nol­o­gy used by the field.
  • Fol­low guide­lines includ­ing cita­tions, struc­ture and num­ber of pages.

How can I make my research strong?

A strong research boils down to these to-dos:

  • For­mu­late a clear research question.
  • Per­form a com­pre­hen­sive lit­er­a­ture review. 
  • Ver­i­fy the accu­ra­cy and qual­i­ty of the data you gather.
  • Use accept­ed methodologies.
  • Make a robust analy­sis of your findings.
  • Devel­op a defin­i­tive conclusion.

What should I know before writing a research paper?

As a col­lege stu­dent, you should view aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing with the right mind­set. Writ­ing a research paper demands plen­ty of time and ener­gy, so make sure to take your time mak­ing one. Explore the right top­ics and find ways to enhance your writ­ing skills. A research paper can be tedious, but with the right process, you will fin­ish strong and in no time.

Make an excel­lent research paper that you can make a ref­er­ence to through­out your career and in pur­su­ing grad­u­ate degrees. By earn­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers in bach­e­lor’s pro­grams now, you’re paving the way for your pro­fes­sion­al suc­cess in the future!


Col­lege Raptor 

Uni­ver­si­ty of Minnesota