The best way to begin a research paper is reading and understanding what the assignment is all about; most research topics are too general therefore the writer needs to have a clear outline of what is expected of them.The writer has to bear in mind instructions given by the teacher, for instance, the formats expected and the terms to use e.g  if one has been asked to define, describe,compare, classify etc. If unsure of what is required of them, one should always ask their lecturer for guidance. Understanding the assignment helps anyone to focus on other aspects of the assignment hence avoiding wasting time.

Choosing a topic is the first step to writing a research paper and it calls for the student to choose one which interests and challenges them. One's choice topic determines the dedication and enthusiasm towards the research; therefore one should choose the topic they will enjoy and  be passionate about. After focusing on a the topic, one should narrow it down to a limited aspect, e.g narrow it down from “Drought” to “Drought in Africa”to “Drought in West Africa.”

After successfully choosing the topic, finding information comes next. Information can be obtained on-line, from school libraries, government agencies or people who are knowledgeable about the topic one is researching on. One must ensure that bibliographical information is available from the sources they gather information from, since any source of information cannot be cited unless it has bibliographic information. When sourcing information from the web, one should pay attention to links since they open avenues for more information; however,the writer must beware of incidences of political bias especially when gathering information from government sites.

Plagiarism must be checked on and it calls for the writer to write in their own words. A research paper writer has to cite any content gotten from an outside source. Plagiarism is also eliminated by the writer quoting phrases, sentences or statements from other texts, however it must be borne in mind that research calls for analyzing and synthesizing information and not compiling other writer's thoughts.

After information has been gathered, a thesis statement is made. It is always a sentence which serves as the basis of the entire research content. It touches on the major elements of the research paper and it makes a firm point to which the whole research revolves around. It helps one to sift through the information they have gathered and discard what is not relevant to the thesis statement. A thesis statement also helps in determining the best way of relating information such that one doesn't stray from the main topic.

Writing the rough draft falls after determining the thesis statement, it calls for one to follow implicitly the research topic and the thesis statement, otherwise the final copy will be without purpose and direction. It should also be kept in mind the lecturer's requirements, the number of sources to be used, and one should avoid general topics. One should read through the draft after sometime to make sure whether they have written the right thing, for instance if the main point is clear,if ideas and paragraphs flow smoothly, if points have enough support etc. After revising one must look for mechanical errors example spellings, sentence construction, punctuation etc before publishing the final draft.