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How to write a good research paper


14 January 2014

It is important when writing a research paper, extended essay or other coursework requirement to research the paper’s rubric requirements. The rubric is just a fancy way of saying the marking criteria or “what the examiner wants”.

In order to get that precious “A” for your research paper you simply need to give the examiner what they want. To begin with, a major requirement is to clearly state the purpose, introduction, body and conclusion of your piece of work in a clear and concise manner. It is also extremely important to make your writing clear, which means it must be well organized and include varied sentence structure, correct grammar, good word choice, accurate spelling and the proper transitions.

Moreover, it is very important to stick to the rules of correctly quoting your sources. So let us now consider some of these points in more depth.

The purpose of your piece of work

One of the best ways to meet any marking rubric is to ensure that you have written a clear purpose or argument that is easily apparent to a reader in the introduction of your piece of work. A poor start to a paper is one way to lose the marker’s sympathy very quickly.

The Introduction

Your introduction should be impressive and grab the reader’s attention. This is important in order to encourage or induce the reader to continue. Of course the examiner is obliged to continue but you are much better off if he or she wants to continue. As far as the rubric requirements of most research papers are concerned, the introduction should be clear and show relevance to the area or topic you are writing about.

Body of the work

It is important to try and ensure that the body of your work is a smooth continuation of the introduction. As much as possible try to ensure a similar rhythm, pace and tone.

When writing your paper take care with the construction of paragraphs. A paragraph should focus on a central idea and develop that idea with several supporting sentences. Ensure that paragraphs are arranged in a logical manner and avoid being repetitive. Word limits are strictly enforced so every word is precious. Do not waste words saying the same thing more than once.

Content of paper

In order to achieve an “A” level piece of work, the content of the paper should have a balanced presentation of relevant, accurate and legitimate information that is offered in clear support of the central purpose of the argument that you are presenting. This should also show thoughtful and in-depth analysis of the topic you are researching.

Clarity of writing

For each of your subheadings make sure your writing is clear and concise. It is important not to become sidetracked. Attempt to stick to the main ideas which need covering under each subheading and develop them in logical succession.

In order to improve your grades try to develop a variety of thoughtful transitions. Transitions need to clearly show how the central ideas or themes of your work are connected. It is very important that the paper’s ideas flow in a smooth and logical manner from one to another. This is necessary to ensure the reader can follow the line of reasoning that you are presenting.

Sentences need to be both well written and well phrased so try to vary the length and structure. The choice of words can be very important. Where possible try to go beyond the generic term and find a more precise and effective word. It is important that your choices are concise and meaningful.

Spelling and grammar mistakes should never be made. It is a very basic requirement to get your paper proofread by a competent person before submitting it. If you are aiming for an “A”, numerous spelling and grammar mistakes in your work can distract the reader and make them consider you inattentive and careless.


Most rubrics place great emphasis on conclusions and recommendations (where appropriate). The conclusions reached should be well supported by the body of your work. Try to ensure that the conclusion gives appropriate insights into the research paper topic. It is essential to check that the conclusions, questions raised or suggested solutions are strongly supported within the report.

Use of References

The references in your paper are of critical importance. This is often the area that results in students not receiving the “A”. In order to support the claims you have made in your paper, try to give preference to compelling evidence or professional and legitimate sources. It is important to ensure that the evidence presented in your paper can be trusted.

Double check that your list of references does not contain mistakes. This is even more important when quoting sites off the internet.

When referencing something you have read and are using in your work. be it print (book, journal etc.) or electronic, use the Harvard system. Here is a great guide from De Montfort University.



[1] How to write a good research paper, course work or extended essay by considering the rubric requirements

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