How to write a research paper fast

The day inevitably comes; you need to submit your assignment. You have been procrastinating on writing your paper until the last minute. You have two options, either give up or figure out how to write a research paper fast.

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Do not worry; it is possible to write your research paper with minimal time left for submission. All you need is a strategy and some structure. There are certain tricks that you can use to effectively write a research paper.

In this article, we will do a step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper fast from start to finish. You may use some alternative steps and procedures of your own during writing, this is just a guide.

How to write a good research paper fast

There are a few things you need to do before writing your paper. These help the writing of the paper become seamless with minimal hurdles.

1.      Understand the assignment

Before anything else, read the assignment and grasp the requirements of your research paper. Make sure you understand all the guidelines that come with your assignment. These include format to use for the paper, length (number of words), and special instructor instructions.

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If you have not been assigned a topic read the prompt carefully on the subject of your research paper. Understand the scope of your research subject.

If you do not understand what you need to write, ask for some clarification from your instructor. It doesn’t matter how good your research paper is if you end up writing something that doesn’t answer what your instructor asked. You may spend hours researching a different topic than the one assigned only to get a bad grade.

2.      Select a topic

Coming up with a topic is not an easy task. Your topic must suit your subject and the contents of your research paper.

You may use mind-mapping techniques to search for a topic

Select a broad topic on your assigned subject to eliminate the research constraints that may come with picking a narrow topic. Be careful, however, not to select a topic that is too broad and has too much content to cover on.

3.      Do some research efficiently

It is finally time for you to start researching your assignment. You must, however, be careful not to spend so much time on research as this may be a form of procrastination as you go through endless sources.

To overcome the possibility of procrastinating unconsciously, there is an approach you can use. Set a time limit for your research. A general rule of thumb to follow is setting 30 minutes for research per page. Thus, if you are writing say 3 pages, your maximum research time should be one hour and thirty minutes.

Do not be worried about not getting enough information on your topic of research. During your writing, if you feel like you need more information, embark on some more research. The goal of the research is to initially get you some material to write.

You need to review all the sources used, evaluate them, and find a context to include them in your research paper. Remember to make all citations to your sources.

4.      Create a flat outline

The traditional outline writing process may not work if you trying to figure out how to write a research paper fast. Instead create a flat research paper outline as follows:

  • Write a list of the topics you want to explore in the order you want instead of writing a hierarchical outline
  • Do more research on the topics that need more information
  • Include all the relevant findings from your sources under your chosen topics
  • Write your paper while referring to your topic-level outline

The flat outline mirrors the writing process hence why it is so easy. This is because we only discover what we want to write after we start writing rather than staring at a blank paper. The flat outline serves as a roadmap for writing your research paper.

5.      Work on your thesis

Your thesis statement should not be too broad. It should capture the main problems related to your research paper. Hence, your thesis statement should be clear and concise.

You should not limit what goes into your thesis statement but it needs to remain specific. Your thesis statement should act as a guide for your research paper’s arguments.  It should be the last part of the paragraph in your introduction.

6.      Switch to a suitable writing environment

After understanding your assignment, selecting a topic, creating a flat outline, and writing down your thesis it’s now time to do the actual writing. Your surroundings, however, determine how fast and well you will write your research paper.

Distractions may keep you from finishing your paper as quickly as you need to. Here are a few tips on the best practices to make the best writing environment:

Go to a place set aside for study. You need a quiet place where people won’t disturb you. This could be the library, your dorm room, or the local cafeteria.

Make sure your sitting area is comfortable. Physical comfort ensures you can study or write for long without getting tired.

Block digital distractions. You may be a chronic phone addict or can’t leave YouTube on your laptop. Close all unrelated programs to your personal computer and put your phone on airplane mode if you have to. You may use distraction block sites such as Cold Turkey Writer or Freedom.

Put up all your stationery. The realization you have left your pen or one of your sources say in your dorm room while you are writing at the cafeteria could be a major mood killer. Assemble all your stationery beforehand to get right into writing once you are settled.

research paper

7.      Employ a standard writing structure

Following the normal writing structure for your research paper is the best way to finish your assignment fast. It should not feel like you are trying something new. Do not bend over backward to impress your instructor.

Remember your assignment is to research not make groundbreaking discoveries or re-invent the English language. Maintain simplicity.

Going through your class readings could give you an idea of the academic conventions you need to employ in your papers. Alternatively, you may use a template from the internet to make your work easier.

8.      Draft and edit your paper separately

Drafting and editing your paper simultaneously may be inefficient. Focus all your attention and energy on writing your paper, and then edit it.

Avoid looking up anything while you are writing. If you don’t know something write it down and look it up after. You may end up surfing the internet for hours just from one simple search of a word.

9.      Finish with the introduction and conclusion

Starting your paper with an introduction could pose a barrier to effective and fast writing. How can you introduce something you have no idea about?

It’s counterintuitive to get on with your paper before writing the introduction but it’s a very effective method. You should try it.

Finally, write the conclusion after you are done with your paper. You can’t conclude something non-existent.

10.  Ask for some help while editing

You may not be aware of mistakes in your finished research paper. Thus, it is prudent to ask someone else to help you edit it. This could be a friend, your college’s writing center, or your professor.

11.  Cite your sources

Remember to make a bibliography for all your citations. An easy way to do this is using a citation generator.  This may save you hours of editing your citations in your required writing format.

How to write a cover page for a research paper

You may have written an excellent research paper. A mistake on the cover page of your paper could however give the impression that the rest of the paper is not up to standard. Let us identify how to make the perfect cover page in APA and MLA styles below.

Cover page in APA style

This part of your paper requires double space as does the entire paper. Set the font to Times New Roman, font size 12 with the margin being at 1 inch.

The title of your paper should be 1/3 way through your page. Do not use punctuations or extra words as your title needs to be precise. Capitalize the first letters of all-important words.

The name of the author(s) should be written below the title of the paper. Use your full name, including middle name initials but do not include titles.

Indicate your institution of study; it could be school/college/university. If you co-author a paper with someone from the same institution, put the institution’s name after your name. If, they are from a different institution, write your names separately with your respective institutions after each name.

Ensure that your heading is centered within the research paper title page. The running head should appear at the top of your page in capital letters.  

Cover page in MLA style

Start your title at the top left part of the page and capitalize the first letters of all-important words. Place your name under the title using ‘and’ if there was more than one author for the research paper. Indicate your class name and course below your name, followed by your instructor’s name, and the date below all of that. Adjust your font to 12-pt Times New Roman. Do not forget to set all margins at 1 inch. 

How to write an abstract for a research paper

An abstract is a summary of a research paper (published or unpublished). It is usually about 150-250 words long. An abstract serves a few purposes:

  • An abstract gives the reader an overview of the research paper, it helps the reader decide to read the whole paper
  • An abstract prepares your audience to follow information, analysis, and arguments in your paper
  • An abstract summarizes key points of your research paper

Identification of key terms for indexing a published paper is executed by search engines and bibliography databases. Search engines and bibliography databases use abstracts and titles of published papers. It is, therefore, crucial to be mindful of what you include in your abstract to enable other researchers to find your work.

Your instructor may give you specific guidelines on how your paper is organized and what to include in your paper. Additionally, academic journals mostly have precise requirements for abstracts.

What are the contents of an abstract?

An abstract should be tailor-made for the specific kind of paper you are writing. Here are the general kinds of information found in an abstract:

  • Contextual information for your research, the broad subject under study, and the specific topic of research
  • The problem statement or central question of your research
  • Previous work and research available about the topic under research
  • The goals of research and what you aim to achieve through it
  • Research and analytic methods used
  • Your main arguments, results, and findings
  • The implication of your findings or results
  • Conclusion of your abstract by showing whether your research has answered your central question or not

Your abstract should be comprehensible without your reader having to go through the entire paper. Do not cite your references in the abstract.

You might be tempted to write your abstract first since it appears first in your research paper. But how can you write an abstract if you have no idea what you are summarizing? Write the abstract after you have created an outline and drafted your whole paper to get an overview of what you need to summarize.

Research paper topics

Writing a research paper is quite difficult for most students. For complex subjects, the task becomes much harder. During your student life, you will need to write countless research papers on various topics based on your area of study.

Sometimes, your instructor may give you a topic to research but often the instructor will leave you to pick a topic of your choice. In case you are stuck on coming up with a research paper topic you may seek the services of research paper writers. The steps to coming up with a research paper topic are as follows:

  • Choose an area that holds interest to you within your area of study
  • Analyze the materials available to research your chosen area
  • Create a research question to focus your work and come up with a thought-provoking concept
  • Brainstorm research ideas and identify areas of exploration in your research area
  • Create a thesis statement for your research paper

Here are examples of research paper topics:

  1. What has made anime so popular over the world? Discuss its evolution
  2. Is diversity within an organization a good thing?
  3. Discuss various ways and techniques of dealing with procrastination
  4. Do older people always make the best decisions and offer the best advice?
  5. Do an investigation of the psychological process of group dynamics with regards to the emergence of leaders and compliance of followers
  6. Is self-image influenced by culture?
  7. Discuss the theme of betrayal and tragedy in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
  8. Investigate the impact of social media on business promotion and marketing
  9. Detail how the music and film industry around the world has dealt with piracy
  10. What are modern issues in Human resources? Discuss the evolution of the workplace in relation to employees and employers
  11. What are the various aspects of discrimination in the workplace
  12. Electric vehicles. Are they safer and better for the environment?
  13. Why is the skin on the face more sensitive than any other part of the body?
  14. Who are the greatest and most influential businessmen of the 21st century?
  15. What are the differences and similarities between Catholics and Orthodox Christians?
  16. Make a list of the all-time romantic songs and their main themes
  17. Explore the working of night vision devices ( cameras and binoculars)
  18. Aspects of cultural conflict in globalization. What are the techniques for establishing a presence in a foreign culture?
  19. Corporate crime. Discuss the various avenues that corporations break laws and no action is taken against them
  20. What are the hazards and dangers of using nuclear power?
  21. Should state and national governments around the world regulate the information available on the internet?
  22. Describe how a search engine works
  23. What are the symptoms, causes, and types of hoarding? Discuss various intervention and treatment strategies
  24. Discuss the various communication styles between men and women ( in dating, the workplace, and social settings)
  25. How is internet censorship used in the Far East and various countries around the globe?
  26. Are there solutions and better-charging policies to hacking crimes?
  27. Discuss various issues concerning third-world debt, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank
  28. Discuss the impact of Julius Caesar on Roman leadership
  29. Research and discuss the use of powers of the pope for political and military advantage in the 15th and 16th centuries
  30. What is the scientific, cultural, and political significance of the first moon landing?
  31. Should assisted suicide be allowed?
  32. What would be the consequences of extreme demand for natural resources around the world and low supply?

research paper

How to include pictures in a research paper

Including no-textual elements in your research paper can be a very smart decision to make. Non-textual elements include images, charts, bars, pictures, etc.

It is quite easy to include non-textual elements in your research paper. You, however, need to follow some rules and recommendations while using non-textual elements in your research paper.

Non-textual elements are not necessary for your research paper. They however can be very useful. Here are a few reasons why you might want to include non-textual elements in your research paper:

  • To explain a process that is inexplicable by words
  • To visualize statistics (graphs and charts)
  • To show an example of a certain cause and effect or to support evidence
  • To attract attention

You need to cite all your non-textual elements correctly. This makes the research paper more understandable. Non-textual citations are made depending on the academic style of the paper.

How to cite a picture in APA format

You need to include the information below in your non-textual citations:

  • Name of owner/ creator of the picture
  • Date of publishing in full
  • Location of publishing
  • Title of the image
  • Publisher

For example; Hendricks, N. (photographer). (2008, July 29). Reconstruction of a building. Retrieved from

How to cite a picture in MLA format

Include the following information in your non-textual citations:

  • Name of owner/ creator of the picture
  • Title, name, or description of the image
  • Site or source the image was published from
  • Names of contributors (if available)
  • Version/serial number of the image
  • The name of the image’s publisher
  • Full date of publishing
  • The link to the original image

For example;  Austeur, Henry. “Abandoned gardens, Potawatomi Ontario.”  Historical Museum, Reproduction no. QW-YUJ78-1503141, 1989,

How long is a research paper?

Students often have a hard time figuring out how long their research paper should be. This is a huge challenge for students who are new in college and hence are not used to writing research papers.

The average research paper should be five to seven pages. Different sections in your research paper have different functions and lengths too.

The introduction and the conclusion only need one paragraph each. They should mirror each other in structure but have different words.

The background information should be a maximum of two paragraphs. Its main function is to help the readers understand what your paper is all about.

The body section of your research paper is the largest part. It should typically be four-five pages (or more) depending on the length of your arguments. Each paragraph should contain a topic sentence, supporting argument, and evidence of your arguments. Remember, each paragraph should only cover one idea.

Styles of writing research papers

It is important to understand your assignment and establish the type of research paper most suitable for your assignment. There are different types of research papers, and each type requires a different style of writing and preparation.

Argumentative research paper

An argumentative paper discusses two sides of a controversial subject. It aims at getting the reader to your point of view. Your arguments and citations should be on both sides of the argument. You, however, should favor one side of the argument and get your audience to your side.

You should maintain logic and use statistical evidence to back up your arguments. Your arguments should not make a display of emotion.   

Analytic research paper

An analytic research paper serves the function of analyzing issues, ideas, events, or phenomena. The research paper discusses various points of view regarding the research problem. All the defined points are analyzed and finally, a conclusion is made.

An analytic research paper should not be biased but must remain neutral. You could find a cheap writing research paper service to help you with your analytic research paper homework in case you are stuck.

Cause and effect research paper

The main aim of this paper is to help a student understand how to write a research paper. As a writer, you should describe a situation, present the causes and effects of the situation, and draw a conclusion based on your analysis.

A cause and effect research paper includes:

  • A comprehensive study of different research topics
  • Definition of the writing process
  • Application of textual styles to the written text
  • Citations and references

Experimental research paper

There are three major steps to writing an experimental research paper:

  • Conduct the experiment
  • Write observations
  • Make an analysis of your observations, provide statistical data, and make a conclusion

You must make a description of the experiment in detail. All data related to the experiment as well as expected outcomes should be included in your writings. Finally, make an experimental analysis of your observations and sum them up.

Report paper

A report paper gathers all the information about a research topic, makes a description and interpretation of all available data, and concludes your findings. A report paper aims to describe all the information available about a particular topic.

Research paper methodology

While writing a research paper you need to include the various methods of research you used for your assignment. These are usually within the dissertation or thesis. The methodology chapter includes:

  • The type of research performed
  • Methods of data collection
  • Methods of data analysis
  • Tools and materials used during research
  • The basis of using the implemented research methods

Scientific research paper format template

Scientific research papers enable scientists to communicate with the public and other scientists about the findings of their research. A standard format is used to present scientific research papers.

This format allows an author to present his/her work logically and coherently. The template below could be used as a qualitative research paper format.


Your title should be specific, clear, and understandable to anyone who reads the paper. The title should be suitable for its intended audience. You may consider choosing a title that summarizes the contents of the research paper.  


List the author, co-author, and all other contributors to your research paper in this section. This applies to both written and published papers.


An abstract is the summary of the research paper. Your abstract should be between 150-250 words.


The introduction contains the most fundamental question of what your research paper is addressing. The thesis statement is found in the introduction part of your paper.

Methods and materials

This part of your research paper clarifies how you came to the information in your research paper. Do not include the results or findings of your paper in this section.


In this section include all your findings and results. A great technique would be to include the results with the most impact rather than all your findings. Present your results using tables and graphs where appropriate.

Graphs and tables

Include descriptions of the information within your graphs and tables. If you can summarize your findings in a few sentences, avoid using tables or graphs. 


The discussion is an analysis of your results. It should state how your results relate to the question being addressed in the research paper.


This section is usually optional. You get to thank all those people that contributed to your research paper. 


This is a list of your sources. Your references should be a reflection of the citations made within the research paper.

Research paper rubric

A rubric is a tool that instructors use to communicate expectations, grade assignments, and provide feedback. Here are the major steps to writing a rubric that may help you get more insight on how to write a research paper fast. 

  1. Define the goals of your assessment
  2. Define your rubric type; analytic or holistic rubric
  3. Determine the criteria of your learning objectives
  4. Establish different performance levels
  5. Create descriptions for each level of performance for your rubric

APA research paper format

To concisely write about the results and findings of your research, you need to understand the rules of formatting a research paper. The main sections of an APA research paper are:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Body
  4. Citations and references

Writing a research paper in APA format might seem difficult, especially for new students who are not exposed to writing research papers. If this is the case you should consider seeking research paper help to aid you in finishing your research assignment.

In summary

Figuring out how to write a research paper fast is an invaluable skill to any student that comes quite in handy when the deadline to submit an assignment is fast approaching. Writing a good research paper requires a few skills and techniques. You need to learn how to write a cover page, abstract, and the best ways of selecting a topic for your research paper.

Do not wait until the deadline to submit a research assignment is catching up with you to start working on your paper. Start your work early in advance. If you however find yourself in such a situation, just follow the guidelines in this article.

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