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How to format a research paper step by step

Discover many styles for producing your research paper, how to correctly arrange and format your research paper in this easy-to-read article.

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Whatever form of research you conduct, if you are writing a paper, an outline will help you organize your thoughts and also serve as a model for the rest of your work.

A research paper’s layout should not take longer than the research itself and should aid in making it visually simpler to read. A research paper outline acts as a visual reminder to include all important parts of your chosen subject. It’s simply a skeleton version of the actual document that you can utilize throughout the writing process. 

Understanding the many styles and structures that you may use to outline your research paper will help you learn how to format a research paper properly. This guide will walk you through the steps and help you complete them more quickly.

Research Paper Structure

Before understanding and learning how to format a research paper, it is critical to comprehend the proper structure and how to write it appropriately.

Your research paper, like any other paper you produce, requires a cover page with the title of your study. It also requires the names and institutional affiliations of you and any co-writers.


The introduction part informs the reader about the problem that your research is aiming to tackle. You can also discuss the study’s importance and uniqueness here. In the form of a thesis statement, clearly define the research question.

You can learn more about How to write an introduction for a research paper in our recent article.

Background Information

In the background section, you might provide historical facts or clarify previous theories that provide context for your research. It’s also an excellent place to discover your audience and what information they’ll need to understand the rest of your piece.

Literature Review

The literature review part takes research papers or books from the background section and examines them in further depth.

Understanding your study requires knowing if you utilized qualitative or quantitative methodologies. You can mention all of the methods you used to obtain data, such as experiments, surveys, or research.

What conclusions has your research drawn? In this area, you should present your results and data. Use an objective viewpoint here; leave the evaluation until your closing section, the conclusion.

In conclusion, explain why your findings are noteworthy. This part allows you to assess your outcomes and reflect on your process.

We also have an article in the blog about How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper .

Reference Page

The reference list includes information for readers who want to access the sources you cited in your work. Your reference page is located at the bottom of your article.

Make sure to mention all of the used references in the proper citation format; there are many formats presently in use, such as MLA and APA, which, while similar, rely on distinct citation styles that must be followed consistently.

How to format a research paper

General formatting.

Some formats may not require an abstract; check with your format style to see whether it is required.

writing introduction for a research paper

A quote’s specific format is determined by its length and the research style applied. It is vital to avoid plagiarism by quoting and referencing sources correctly.

If you want to learn how to avoid Plagiarism in your research, there’s an article that explains everything you should know.

Styles of research papers

Here are some instances and distinctions between some research paper styles. Other styles that may be used include Turabian, AIP, ACS, CSE, and many others.

Level up your research paper with infographics!

Make your research paper more aesthetically appealing by including visually appealing elements. Learn about Mind The Graph, a tool for communicating information using infographics.

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How to Write a Research Paper?

"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

Gene Fowler

Are you struggling to write an academic paper, such as a research paper, thesis or a term paper? The guide ‘How to Write a Research Paper' will show you how to construct, style and format your paper. It will teach you how to avoid common pitfalls and mistakes when writing an academic essay.

Most students are buzzing with ideas and energy, and they look forward to writing a perfect assignment. However, once faced with a blank page, the mental block sets in, and they have difficulty transferring ideas from their head onto the paper.

Formatting and laying out academic papers is an art, and many budding scientists can't seem to get to grips with the complex techniques, or wade through the volumes of information online.

To bridge this gap, the Explorable's ‘How to Write a Research Paper' was born. This intuitive guide is a gentle, friendly introduction into the esoteric world of academic writing. Whether you are an academic novice, or you simply want to brush up your skills, this book will take your academic writing skills to the next level.

The Book Will Show You How To:

An Introduction to Academic Writing

Avoid the most common mistakes when writing research papers

Construct an academic essay

Academic writing styles

Get to grips with the various academic writing styles

Layout and format pages

Use hypothesis or thesis statements to create strong foundations

Write citations and a bibliography, to avoid accusations of plagiarism

Plan the writing process, saving time and avoiding frustration

Let your writing flow, making your paper readable and concise

Here is What You Get:

An introduction to writing research papers and academic essays

Easy to read and user friendly layout

Tips for writing a Thesis, Term Paper, or other academic papers

Information for novices, PhD candidates, and aspiring scientists with little training in writing academic papers

Updated information on the latest guidelines in scientific writing

You can download the guide right away and start reading instantly or order the convenient paperback-guide

Table of Contents


Academic Writing Styles, Page Layout and Formatting

Research Paper Question: Thesis and Hypothesis Statements

The Writing Process

Research Paper Format

Citations and Bibliography

Tips on Research Writing

Additional Information

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writing introduction for a research paper

How to Write a Research Introduction: from Pure Title to Hook Sentence

research paper introduction

It is not a secret that most people judge a book by the cover, so if you want your research paper to be read from A to Z, it is important to write a powerful introduction in research paper.

The first paragraph of your work must be catchy, inspiring and interesting, motivating the audience to go on reading. In this article you will learn everything about writing a research paper introduction and achieving outstanding writing results!

Following tips from AssignmentPay's expert team will help you to understand how a research paper introduction should look like and how to help readers enjoy your paper. In case you don’t have enough time or energy to write a research paper introduction, you can always pay for research paper - just contact and get outstanding assistance within a chosen period of time!

What is introduction in research paper?

A good introduction should lead the reader from a generalized topic to a particular aspect. It helps to establish the main idea, context, research importance and summarizes background data on the topic, providing the main goal of the work. In addition it contains hypothesis, a set of discussed questions and used methodology.

Your introduction should also highlight potential results or explain research structure and organization.

If you want to learn how to write a research paper introduction , you should answer three general questions:

What should be in the introduction of a research paper?

Research paper introduction can be one of the most difficult parts to complete. The size of this section depends on the work type you are asked to complete.

Your introduction should define the topic, consist of a context and rationale, as well as of a hypothesis and research questions. A thoughtful introduction sets a tone for the whole paper, grabs attention of the reader and provides thesis statement and hypothesis.

3 Overarching Goals of a Good Introduction

How to write an Introduction?

The best way to get started if you lack information or ideas on writing an introduction is to learn about it online. Following tips of professional writers and tutors you will be able to create an outstanding work, which won’t leave anyone indifferent.

Below you will find the most relevant tips for writing a great research paper introduction.

Select the Topic

This step may be obvious but it plays a crucial part in writing a great research paper. If you select an irrelevant, boring or too general topic, you risk losing motivation and dropping the assignment somewhere in the middle.

Make a list of the matters you are interested in, conduct a research to see whether chosen variants have much credible data online. Cross out options, which can’t be backed with reliable sources or don’t stir up your interest.

Background Information

As any book or movie, introduction aims to set the background and give your assignment a certain context, allowing the reader to see how your work complements previous researches on the similar topic.

That is why first paragraphs of the introduction should explain historical background, describing the first work in the field and other researches that influenced the modern situation.

However, huge amounts of information can make it difficult to fit into several paragraphs, so be careful and provide only the most important information.

Rationale for your work

Rationale is an explanation why you are using a certain film, book or method in your work. The basic elements of a rationale are:

Hook Sentence

A hook sentence is your chance to catch interest of the reader and make him want to learn more after reading the introduction in research paper. Your hook may include:

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Writing a Thesis Statement

If you want to understand how to write an introduction, you should remember about including a thesis statement to your work. Actually, without it your introduction will be meaningless and your teacher will surely ask you to rewrite the whole section.

You need to write a thesis statement, when you are working on the outline. In such a way, you will be able to understand what arguments and sources to use. These few sentences may predetermine the whole course of your future work.

A good thesis statement includes such qualities, as:

‘Downloading books online without any fee is bad and you need to avoid it’. It is a very weak example of a thesis statement, which is not able to stir interest of the audience and prevents from continuing reading.

‘Every time you download a book online without paying for it, huge work and efforts of authors remain unrecognized and make them lose thousands of dollars. It may eventually harm economy and overall wellbeing of the society’.

This example is much better, because it dives deeper into the problem and explains why the issue is relevant not only to a regular person but to the nation as a whole.

Tips for writing Good introduction

Importance of a good introduction is impossible to overestimate, because you will never have another chance to make a positive first impression.

First paragraphs of your research paper give the audience information on quality of chosen arguments, your personal style, as well as on validity of conclusions. If your introduction is weak and lacks structure, it may make the reader want to put your research paper aside.

On contrary, a concise and properly structured introduction will surely make the readers notice your writing and analytical skills, and make them want to go on reading.

Below you will find a few most important tips on writing a powerful introduction, engaging the reader and arising interest of the audience.

Once your introduction is ready, you can proceed with conclusions and bibliography.

Research Paper Introduction Examples

Some students don’t know how to get started or are scared to fail, so they don’t want to try. One of the most simple and free solutions is getting familiar with examples online.

You can download samples of research paper introductions, choose the one you like and write your own paragraphs with ease!

example of research-paper introduction

Not every student can boast writing skills, so there is absolutely nothing wrong in searching for tips online. If you lack time or don’t want to risk your grades, Assignmentpay.com experts are always there to help. Place an order, providing us with specific guidelines and receive a flawless research paper introduction before the indicated deadline.

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Writing Introduction for a Research Paper – A Detailed Guide

how to start an research essay

The introduction or the beginning of the blog is really important. It is the only thing that will convince the reader to read on or leave it right away! Keeping the importance in mind below is a detail of all things that you need to keep in mind when writing an introduction of a Research Paper :

Table of Contents

What is an Introduction of a Research Paper?

An introduction is the beginning part of a research paper and this is the part that a reader would like to read first at least when he wants to read the paper in detail. So, the definitions, notions, and other significant important information is needed for proper understanding are listed here along with the best research paper examples .

Note that every research paper requires a context so that readers can understand the reason behind the creation of content. This is exactly the reason due to which you have to write an introduction and it is the most complex part of your paper that should be written first. Keeping all this in mind, it is best to take your time and do the best.

In more simple words, the introduction of writing is like the identity of the paper that will make it different from others. With this, your readers can know what they are going to read ahead and will it be interesting for them or not!

Things to Include in Writing an Introduction to a Research Paper

writing introduction for a research paper

You might be wondering, what you need to include in your introduction ? Below is of the point that should be included in your research paper introduction outline and you should follow them during your writing:

Parts of Introduction in Research

The introduction of a research paper is having the following parts and it will be good for you to also see the best research paper examples :

1. Announcing Your Topic in Start

Your topic is basically the fundamental part of the writing you are going to prepare. This will be your point of view and it will be telling the reader about the different aspects. It is always important to capitalize letters properly to make it look better.

Remember that you should start by outlining your topic . There is no secret starting a research paper introduction. However, just write your topic and add some of the relevant topic issues that are bothering you a lot. This is the perfect strategy for engaging your reader.

It is suggested to start with the general info and then narrow down the things to get some concrete aspects. Don’t explain the things in detail in the beginning but do explain your point of view about the topic.

2. Do Review the Literature

writing introduction for a research paper

For creating a statement in the main body, you will require some literature sources to refer to them. There is a possibility that your idea can sound a bit subjective if you are maintaining it with citations extracted from the works of authors or philosophers, famous scientists, and you will have to prove your point.

It is best not to neglect the modern time scholars as they are very much concerned about the issue or opinion you have stated and don’t ignore using an online plagiarism checker to ensure that your paper is original. An introduction should be briefly stating what the literature is all about!

3. Do Stress on Rationale

The rationale is a significant element of your beginning. Once you have stated the topic, now it’s time to prove that it is very relevant and it will be giving the readers food for thought. The rationale will be serving as the indicator of the importance of your essay and the attitude to the issue.

Remember that the rationale should be precise to show the importance of your research to our reader.

4. Stating Your Thesis

A thesis statement will mark the conclusive part of the introduction for a research paper or the research summary. This sentence will be supporting all the things that you have written before and will collect all your ideas in a logical and concise way. Moreover, if your subject is complex, you need to make the thesis statement comprehensible with it.

The thesis is the things that will be running through your complete essay. Due to this, the intro where the thesis is stated, it will be setting the tone for your entire paper.

Your thesis should have the following things:

If all the above things are ready, the only thing left is the outline for the research paper structure.

5. Concluding with the Outline

Once all the important work is done, it’s time to prepare an outline of the research paper’s structure . It is important to note that not every mentor will need an essay structure overview in the introduction however, sometimes students are asked to pay more stress on a few aspects of their future research. The outline is a short paragraph that consists of 3 or 4 sentences and it will be representing the plan of the entire paper.

Best Research Paper Examples

Below are the best research paper examples to give you a better understanding:

writing introduction for a research paper

Writing Tips for Students About Introduction

As a student, wondering, how you are going to write the introduction for a research paper? Keep the following points in your mind:

1. Defining and Explaining your Concepts

It is important to ensure that you include the concepts that will be difficult for some of the readers to understand. You need to take out some time and do make your introduction easy to understand. If there are any technical terms, tell them about it before they read your analysis and findings.

2. Begin with a Quotation

writing introduction for a research paper

If you want to grab the attention of your readers, then do it from the start. It is best to start with a quotation. It will be best if your essay is for social subjects like History, English, and Humanities.

The addition of a quotation will help you to create a picture of the research in the reader’s head.

3. Tell Your Research Structure

Readers want to know the reasons behind your research and how you are going to do this? Here you need to set out the structure that should be followed in the article. This will be allowing the readers to easily navigate between the different parts of research and ensure that this is going to make sense.

This was a brief about writing the introduction for a research paper, tips that students should follow, and the best research paper examples to give you a precise understanding.

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How to write an introduction for a research paper?

It’s vividly clear that nowadays, most people judge everything, even research paper, by its appearance. So, if you want the audience to peruse your research paper from beginning to end, You have no choice but to write a very interesting introduction to attract the reader’s attention at first glance.

The first paragraph of each article plays an essential role. When you start reading an article, the first part of the article you encounter is the introduction. As a result, if the introduction is grasping and attractive enough, it will encourage the audience to read on.

Do you not have enough information on how to write a research paper introduction? By reading this text, you can learn the most effective ways to write a good introduction. Furthermore, after reading this article, you will reach notable writing results.

Recommended article : How to write the perfect outline for a research paper

The following tips will assist you with seeing what a research paper introduction should look like and how to engage perusers with the paper. But it’s easier said than done. However, this information is really useful; in the modern world, most people are too busy and don’t have enough time and energy to write a research paper introduction. You can pay for a research paper and simply get exceptional help if you don’t have enough time.

How to write an introduction for a research paper?

Table of contents

What is the importance of an introduction in a research paper, how to write an introduction for a scientific research paper, what should the introduction paragraph include, tips for writing a research paper introduction.

As mentioned earlier, the introduction is the first part of a research paper, which most likely every reader will begin reading the article with this part. Consequently, the introduction must contain data to help readers to understand the article easier, such as the definitions and notions of the paper.

The first question that every pursuer will ask is why you wrote this paper and what was your reason for choosing this subject. So, each paper must have a section describing the aim of writing the article. This can indicate how difficult it is to write an introduction. Eventually, it is worth investing time and energy to ensure you wrote this part in the best possible way. Everyone is interested in a particular field of research. In the introduction, the author should state the paper’s main idea clearly so that the reader can decide from the beginning whether or not to read the article.

If you want to attract the audience to your research paper from the beginning and to be eager to continue reading your article and findings, writing a good introduction is inevitable. Also, you must assert a hypothesis and your speculation about how the conclusion of the article would be.

Recommended article : How to write a thesis statement for a research paper

There are a plethora of ways to write a research paper introduction. On the one hand, you could write the body of your paper first and afterward write the introduction. On the other hand, you would write the thesis statement first and then bring the foundation data. For instance, I’m personally keen to write a thesis statement at first, write the body of the paper, and afterward the conclusion. Finally, I would return and write the remains of the introduction. Others like to write the introduction in the other way. Generally, you should use a method to write the research paper introduction that best suits your writing style.

Recommended article : How to write a literature review for a research paper

What questions should you answer in the introduction of a Research Paper?

In the introduction, you have to respond to two main inquiries: 

Recommended article : How to identify gaps in research paper?

If you assume that all the information and knowledge in a scientific field is part of a puzzle, the missing pieces are the “gaps.” These gaps are currently undiscovered. This is what the author is trying to explain and complete the gaps.

Therefore, initially, you must identify and specify this knowledge gap in the introduction. In the next step, you should explain the importance of this gap and why it should be filled. Finally, state your research method that how you want to fill the gap.

The introduction contains fundamental data about the subject that the author examined and the reasons for doing this research; key references (to fundamental work or firmly related papers showing up somewhere else); an explanation of significant terms, definitions, or contractions to be utilized in the paper; and a survey of related investigations wherein you give a brief however sharp examination of work that vigorously concerns your review, whether a similar or a supportive one.

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on November 29, 2022.

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

and your problem statement

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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  1. How to write an introduction for a research paper

    Hence, definitions, notions, and other information required for understanding the paper are presented/listed here. Every research paper needs context so that readers can understand why you have created it. This

  2. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction: Tips & Examples

    A thoughtful introduction sets a tone for the whole paper, grabs attention of the reader and provides thesis statement and hypothesis. To make sure you provide a clear and understandable summary of previous

  3. Writing Introduction for a Research Paper

    There is no secret starting a research paper introduction. However, just write your topic and add some of the relevant topic issues that are bothering you a lot

  4. How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper: scientific tips and ways

    Consequently, the introduction must contain data to help readers to understand the article easier, such as the definitions and notions of the paper. The first question that every pursuer will ask is why you

  5. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources