Research Paper Guidelines and Helps

The content of a research paper is always the most important part of a good paper. However, presentation matters. Typos, poor sentence structure, and incomprehensible wandering cause the reader to lose the flow and forget those great points which took long hours of thought to create. Great content will never be read without a great presentation to match. This page is to help with the paper’s presentation allowing the reader to concentrate on the content and meaning.

Follow these steps to writing a good research paper:

  • Pick a topic
  • Do some brainstorming
  • Research online
    • Include pros and cons to your ideas.
    • Find articles and quotes you want to use.
  • Write a thesis statement. The thesis should be clear and concise—it should let the reader know exactly what you are planning to argue.
  • Figure out your outline –
    • This allows you to set up your paper so it flows well.
    • It should cover all parts of your thesis, and include dissenting arguments and how you will deal with them.
    • Follow your outline. Don’t just wander through your writing aimlessly.
  • Write your paper
    • Make sure you have footnoted every direct quote and any original idea you have taken from other’s research.
    • Check the layout, font size, required pages, etc.
      • Times New Roman
      • 12 Font
      • One-inch margins
      • Entirely double spaced
      • Indent paragraphs and no extra space between paragraphs
      • Footnotes, single-spaced and numbered
      • Turn in on Canvas or in email as Docx      
      • Page numbers in top right-hand corner of every page:
        Last name #
      • Top left corner of first page:
        • Name
        • Class
        • Teacher
        • Date
    • Citation styles: MLC does not care which style you choose, MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. What is important is that you remain consistent throughout the paper.
  • Once the paper is done, go back through it and make sure you have discussed all the parts of the thesis statement. Remember, do not discuss other topics or ideas not included in the thesis. If you want to keep extra items, make sure and add them to your thesis.
  • Add a conclusion to your paper; this should be a restatement of your thesis.
  • Always have someone else proofread your paper for typos, inconsistencies, awkward sentence structure, etc. It’s hard to see those yourself since you did the writing.

**Sometimes your professor might change things a bit just for their class. For example, requiring a single-spaced rather than double-spaced paper. Please look at each syllabus and follow the instructions provided. If no instructions are given, follow the guidelines on this page.

Examples to use for reference:

Other Writing helps:

Writing Resource:

All Writing Helps: This resource from Purdue University will help with all features of writing including research, writing an outline, avoiding plagiarism, creating a thesis, etc. Even getting over writer’s block is discussed. Check it out.


This is a great resource. It can be a holding area for articles gathered during research. It will also help in arranging and creating footnotes and a bibliography (Works Cited).

This app is great for help with writing in any program or app. It notes misspellings and grammar issues and gives choices for how to fix them. This will minimize typoes and other issues.