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How to start a research paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Getting started on a research paper is arguably the hardest part. Before you start, you have so many questions, thoughts, and doubts. This causes a lot of students to delay their writing – not willfully, just because they simply don’t know how to start a research paper. This could be down to experience (or lack thereof), writer’s block, or just simply not knowing which topic to choose.

Many students in this predicament seek support from professional writers, even if this is just for help with an introduction to a research paper to get them going. In this article, we’ll discuss how to begin a research paper and how to write a research paper introduction.

7 Steps on How to Begin a Research Paper Easily

Before we go over how to start writing a research paper, you need to know that it all begins before any writing is done at all. It begins with thoughts and ideas and moves on to outlines before the actual writing begins. Here are seven steps on how to begin:

  1. Read through all of the paper guidelines. In general, professors and teachers are very clear about what they want and how they want it to look. They will usually provide you with guidelines. You will, of course, be expected to work hard on the style as well as the content. They might, for example, say you need to write in APA format, but they won’t tell you how to start a research paper APA style.
  2. When you’ve read the guidance, you need to choose your research paper topic. This is where many students struggle because they seek the best topic possible, and it becomes impossible to decide. The topic will be set up in your introduction and is the theme of your thesis statement. There are many resources online to help you decide on a topic. Here are some ideas:
    • Choose something that is interesting both to you and others
    • Make sure it’s a feasible topic
    • Make sure it’s not too broad so that you have lots of sources but are not overwhelmed with too much to write about
    • Seek approval from the professor once you’ve decided. Usually, professors will be more than happy to discuss your topic with you.
  3. Carry out your research – find examples and facts. The most exhausting part of coming up with a thesis statement is finding reliable information. You need to be clear that your thesis statement is relevant and that there are sources out there to support it. You don’t have to have the wording right just yet.
  4. Create an outline for your research paper. With the first steps done, it’s time to do an outline. This is an essential step as it helps you get your ideas down without thinking of the language and style (this comes in the writing part). When you create an outline, you’re planning and organizing your main ideas. You should include what you would reference and think about how the paragraphs flow on from each other.
  5. Finalize your thesis. Make this detailed and strong and something that will keep you on track when writing. Remember everything you write needs to be relevant to this statement.
    Before finalizing your thesis, formulate and brainstorm several different ones and make sure you have a clear hypothesis. Doing this is vital as it allows your audience to understand your work and evaluate it.
  6. Make your introduction brilliant. Writing your opening paragraph is often frustrating and time consuming. So much so that many people go back to it and re-write it after they’ve drafted their entire paper! However, if you have prepared well and written a decent outline, it will be a lot easier. You’ll already have your thesis, background research and research question, so all you need is an attention-grabbing hook to draw in the readers and organize it into a great paragraph.
  7. Write the research paper – it’s surprising to many that our seventh (and final) step is to actually write the research paper. You see, there are so many things to do before you write but if you do them, the writing comes easier and quicker. Don’t forget that all sources must be cited and referenced properly according to the style and format of your guidelines.

What is a Research Paper Introduction?

The introduction is a key component of a research paper. It sets the scene, introduces your topic, and grabs your reader’s attention so that they want to read the whole paper. The research paper writer will introduce their topic, the purpose of the research and their thesis. Having a perfect introduction is crucial. When the opening lines are impressive, the rest of the paper will follow suit.

If you were to not include and introduction – or include a poorly-written one – your readers will be lost. They wouldn’t know why you’re writing the paper, nor its purpose. When writing an academic paper, order is valued. If everyone wrote in their own format, it would be very difficult to distinguish excellence.

A research paper introduce has key elements to it. These form your research paper’s backbone. You have the hypothesis, your ‘hook’ and your thesis statement. Your hypothesis describes the idea you are trying to persuade your audience to believe or not. In your introduction, you can state the hypothesis and show that you support or oppose it. After such an introduction, the rest of your paper will explain the research findings, supported by your evidence.

Introduction Paragraph Outline

A decent research paper introduction will follow a specific structure. You’ll need to mention certain things, which each have their own goal. In general, this is what you should include:

  • Start with a general sentence to introduce your topic and its background.
  • The next two sentences should talk about the related issue and focus in on the exact question and research point of your research paper thesis.
  • The final sentences in the introduction should state your research paper writing these. It should summarize the entire paper in a single sentence.

The thesis needs to highlight the topic as well as the problem to be discussed. Your readers should be kept engaged with this thought in their minds as they’re reading. It shouldn’t be confusing or easy to forget.

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Introduction Writing Tips for Students

Given the importance of the introduction in a research paper, it’s not surprising that many students worry about theirs. If you’re struggling with it, here are some more writing tips.

  1. Ensure the introduction is on point and doesn’t contain any “fluff.”
  2. Choose your words and phrases carefully.
  3. Use a catchy and relevant hook. Make this engaging. It could contain an interesting or surprising fact, significant and unique background information, an anecdote, or statistics, for example. Ultimately, the hook contains anything that entices your audience and grabs their attention.
  4. Remember that the key points made in the introduction will be elaborated as you work through the main body – that is where you will present and analyze research to support your thesis statement.

Research Paper Introduction Example

If you’ve never written a research paper, you might like to look for some examples of what a good introduction paragraph looks like. Here is one on the topic of climate change that shows how to start a research paper intro well:

How to start a research paper example

The Example “hook”

In this example, the hook is the question “Are cows the cause of global warming?” It’s bold and somewhat radical, which means the reader is more likely to be drawn in to read more. This sort of hook is best way to start a research paper introduction. There are other good ways to start a research paper and the hook could also be a bold statement, an interesting statistic or fact, or a quick anecdote.

The Example Background information

After catching the attention of the reader, the writer provides context and narrows down the topic. Only background information that is relevant is presented here and it doesn’t go into too much depth:

How to start a research paper examples

This background information provides a great introduction paragraph for research paper; it is interesting but not too detailed.

The Example Research Problem

In this example, the research problem is clarified by the following sentences:


Though efforts are under way to mitigate such emissions, there is a reluctance amongst policymakers to deal with the large scale of this problem.

This clearly emphasizes the importance and originality of the argument that the paper will present.

The Example Thesis Statement

As you can see, the thesis statement in this research paper is presented clearly in the sentence:


This essay argues the government in the Netherlands must subsidize and stimulate livestock farmers – particularly cattle farmers – so they can transition to the more sustainable activity of vegetable farming.

It states the writer’s position directly and clearly but doesn’t provide arguments for it yet.

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The Example Paper Overview

The final part of this introduction is dedicated to a short overview of what the body of the paper will contain:


Firstly, it will establish how the current measures in place to mitigate the problem are inadequate. Then it will discuss the numerous advantages of the proposed results. Finally, it will address any potential objections in terms of economic grounds.

It is concise and direct so that the reader knows what to expect.

Concluding thoughts on starting your research paper

Now you know how to start an introduction to a research paper and what your introductory paragraph should look like, you’re ready to begin. Simply follow the processes in this article and you’ll produce something that’s certainly worthy of reading. Good luck!

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