11 Steps to Write a Research Paper in Kenya

11 Steps to Write a Research Paper in Kenya

When students think of research papers, they imagine their eyes glazing over, their cramped fingers clacking on the keyboard, and their laptop emitting the only light left in the library.

But writing a research paper doesn’t have to be miserable. A simple and painless process exists, and we have all the steps waiting for you below.

In this blog post, we’ll give you a straightforward guide on how to write a research paper.

We’ll outline the purpose of this type of academic writing as well as break down the steps needed to produce an authoritative paper your professor will rave about.

Before we dive into the world of sources and citations, let’s first define what a research paper is.

What Is a Research Paper?

A research paper is a form of academic writing that examines one topic at length and makes an argument backed by empirical evidence.

Research papers differ from analytical essays because of their longer length, emphasis on data, and stringent citation requirements.

They also differ from research proposals. While a research paper summarizes research conducted to support an argument, a proposal simply suggests an idea for future research.

Most people encounter research papers in college. Students often write them to demonstrate their information-gathering skills and cement their understanding of course material.

However, professors, scientists, and engineers also examine topics and publish detailed papers about their findings.

What is the Format of a Research Paper?

Citation style dictates the format of a research paper.

The most popular citation styles include the Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS).

Each of them has distinct formatting guidelines. However, most guidelines require:

  • 1-inch page margins
  • 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Double line spacing
  • Page numbers
  • ½ indentations for every new paragraph
  • Works cited or references page

Like other pieces of writing, a research paper typically follows a three-part structure: an introduction, body section, and conclusion.

However, APA papers reporting on the results of an experiment also feature an abstract. Their body section will contain headings for the methods, results, and discussion of the experiment.

11 Simple Steps for How to Write a Research Paper

A research paper may have a straightforward structure, but writing one can be challenging.

To simplify the process, we have 11 effective steps geared specifically toward students.

1) Understand the Assignment

Before you begin your paper, ensure you have a firm grasp of the assignment.

Read and re-read the instructions your professor provided.

Highlight key details like the deadline, page count, preferred citation style, specific topics students should avoid, submission method, and recommended resources.

Also, analyze the rubric so you know what components your professor will scrutinize. Don’t assume your instructor will only deduct for mechanical errors.

Some professors may take off points for failing to include a specific number of sources.

With that being said, ask your professor if you need clarification on the assignment or how it will be graded. That way, you don’t submit a paper that overlooks an important criterion.

2) Select a Topic

Once you’ve clarified what the assignment entails, choose a relevant topic.

Your professor may have provided a topic or specified ones to avoid. In that case, choose a subject that meets your instructor’s approval.

If your professor didn’t assign a topic, then begin brainstorming a list of subjects you would enjoy researching and writing about.

From there, refine your ideas and choose one feasible topic.

A feasible topic is clear, specific, and researchable.

For example, a research paper on the role of early 20th-century African-American photographers in promoting racial equality satisfies that criteria.

However, a paper on African-American photographers in the early 20th century, though likely to have ample scholarship to cite, is too broad.

3) Conduct Preliminary Research

You’ve chosen a feasible topic. Now, you can proceed to preliminary research.

Instead of poring over every article or book, you’re simply finding out what kind of scholarship exists on your topic.

Consult databases provided by your university. Skim through pertinent academic journals, reputable news websites, and digital or physical books.

To expedite your pre-research process, browse sections that summarize potential sources like the abstracts, introductions, and conclusions of academic papers.

Based on this information, quickly determine whether the material is useful and then save it for future reading.

When collecting potential sources, aim for a mixture of primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of a topic like speeches, interviews, datasets, and original research.

Secondary sources interpret and analyze the topic like books on the subject, scholarly articles, and documentaries.

4) Write a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement summarizes an author’s argument in one to two sentences.

It usually appears at the end of the introduction and before the first body paragraph.

The success of your research paper depends largely on your thesis statement, so write a clear and concise opinion on your topic.

A successful thesis statement might resemble this one:

“Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly addresses salient social themes that put it in conversation with the liberatory objectives of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

On the other hand, an unsuccessful thesis statement would look like this:

“Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly addresses social themes and so does the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The latter thesis lacks a debatable position. It may state the general topic the paper will address, but the thesis doesn’t advance an argument. It simply makes an observation.

5) Review Your Research for Supporting Evidence

After you’ve refined your thesis, you can revisit your earlier research.

This time, you want to comb through all of the sources you collected. Focus on the information supporting your thesis statement and ignore any extraneous details.

As you gather strong supporting points, take notes on the material.

Write down source names, page and section numbers, statistical figures, quotations, and ideas on how you will tie the information to your thesis.

Doing so will save you time. You won’t have to fumble through files searching for a quote because you’ve already copied it down and noted where to find it.

Organizing and taking notes on your research will also prevent accidental plagiarism.

You’ll know when the words you’ve pasted into a document come from you or another scholar. That way, you won’t forget to cite that information once you begin creating your citations page.

6) Outline Your Paper

An outline divides your arguments and supporting evidence into distinct headings.

Outlining gives you a bird’s eye view of your paper and ensures it follows a logical flow. It also helps you identify unnecessary or under-researched sections.

When creating an outline, put your thesis statement at the top. Add your headings (introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion) underneath. If you have specific titles for each, include them.

Next, put a main point under each heading. Follow that with a few supporting points. Then, underneath those points, add links to or descriptions of the type of evidence you’ll use.

Though you’ll likely add or remove sections, your outline should look similar to this one: 

11 Steps to Write a Research Paper in Kenya

7) Write the Introduction

A firm understanding of your topic coupled with a clear structure simplifies the writing process.

You’ll usually start by writing the introduction. This should capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to continue through the paper.

To hook readers, open with an anecdote. If your paper examines how science fiction programs inspired actual innovations, then vividly describe a scene where Star Trek’s Captain Kirk uses his communicator, which inspired the real-life invention of the cell phone.

However, not all research paper assignments permit such creativity. In that case, give an intriguing overview of the subject or state a surprising fact relevant to the topic.

Remember to include a strong and succinct thesis statement at the end of your introduction.

8) Write the Body Paragraphs

Your body paragraphs form the bulk of your essay. The majority of your analysis and evidence will appear in this section.

Normally, a research paper contains three to five body paragraphs. Each paragraph should have five to seven sentences. This ensures you adequately explain and support your argument.

When writing your body section, think of how it relates to your thesis statement. You may want to copy and paste your thesis before each paragraph so you don’t lose sight of your stance.

Also, remember to follow the TTEB method for constructing good body paragraphs:

  • Transition sentence: Uses transition words to link one sentence to another.
  • Topic sentence: Tells readers what to expect from a paragraph.
  • Specific Evidence and analysis: Supports your argument and expounds on your topic sentence.
  • Brief wrap-up sentence: Explains how the information connects to your thesis statement.

9) Write the Conclusion

The conclusion wraps up your paper and restates the thesis.

You should avoid introducing new information in this section. Instead, summarize your argument and supporting evidence without repeating prior sections word-for-word.

Make sure the conclusion demonstrates the value of your research. Discuss how your paper adds to existing scholarship on the topic or contributes an original perspective.

You could also address the limitations of your paper.

Scholars with opposing arguments may have offered valid points, which you could acknowledge. This would also allow you to summarize any counterarguments you made earlier in the paper.

Either way, remember to keep your conclusion focused and concise. Information in this section should only reinforce your findings, offer relevant insight, and bring your assertions full circle.

10) Cite Your Sources

One of the more tedious parts of the research paper writing process is citing sources.

Citation rules vary depending on the style you use.

Humanities departments use MLA. Education, psychology, and science departments follow APA. Finally, business, history, and fine arts departments often use the Chicago Manual of Style.

Your research paper will feature both in-text citations and either a works cited or reference page.

In-text citations appear throughout your paper and distinguish your original thoughts from information you’ve gathered from other sources.

The works cited or references page appears at the end of your paper. It indicates where you found the external information mentioned throughout the piece.

11) Revise and Proofread

The revision and proofreading stages conclude the research paper writing process.

Revision involves examining your paper for major and minor flaws and then correcting them.

Global revision takes a more structural approach. It focuses on the quality of your arguments, organization, and evidence. Global revision questions include:

  • Is the thesis statement clear?
  • Does the writer focus on the topic?
  • Do sections flow logically and seamlessly?
  • Does the writer anticipate and address the reader’s questions?

Local revision scrutinizes sentence-level details like spelling, grammar, and mechanical errors.

Questions for local revision include:

  • Are sentences too long?
  • Does the writer use hedging language?
  • Are there misspellings or typos?
  • Does the writer use vague words?

After you’ve revised your paper, step away from it for a few hours. Then, read it aloud.

You can also print it or change the font size to catch any mistakes you missed the first time.

Still Wondering How to Write a Research Paper? Just Start!

A research paper doesn’t have to make your skin crawl and fingers freeze. In fact, writing one can be as simple as the 11 steps in this guide.

We’ve already broken down each of those steps. It’s now up to you to craft an A-worthy paper.

Remember: the most challenging part isn’t finding or citing sources. It isn’t even the writing itself.

The hardest part is starting.

This guide can take you by the hand and walk you to a publishable piece of academic writing. But only if you commit to the process and choose to go forth.

So trust yourself and the actionable insights enclosed in this guide. Then, make that first move.

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Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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