How to Write a Research Essay


A research essay consists of the same elements that any other essay must have. A thesis statement, topic sentences, body paragraphs, transitions, conclusion, and others constitute a fundamental organizational pattern of an essay. It should also provide proper in-text citations according to the requirements set by the subject and have no grammatical, vocabulary, or sentence-structure mistakes. MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian are among the most widely used formatting styles. To make sure which style to use, you should check with the instruction the discipline provides. It is vital to remember that a research essay is different from other types of the essay as it discusses a matter relying on conclusive evidence rather than a point of view or opinion.

Basic Outline

  • This is how a standard research essay looks like:
  • Detailed investigation of research essay topics referring to specialists in the area.
  • A solid thesis arguing for a certain point of view or opinion.
  • Substantial evidence from various sources that supports the main idea.
    • Primary sources: Original documents, texts, manuscripts, and news articles
    • Secondary sources: Articles from credible scholarly journals, commentaries, and critical remarks
    • Observations and field work if appropriate
  • A reference list of cited works or a bibliography section

If you want to learn how to write a research essay, you should check out different resources about academic writing.

There are other research-like kinds of writing:

  • Abstract
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Conference Paper
  • Literature Review
  • Proposal
  • Research Essay
  • Thesis and Dissertation Writing

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Despite the fact that your research is based on the works of others, you should generate original ideas in your paper. When composing research essays, it is crucial to know how to cite the sources you have used.

  • Plagiarism occurs when you fail to recognize the author of an expressed idea or appropriate their words.
  • Summary explains the ideas of the author using your own words.
  • Direct quotes are the exact words in quotation marks that the author used.
  • In-text citation is a reference in parenthesis that refers to the author or text from the previous sentence of a summary or quote.

Citation Styles

If you study the examples of a research essay outline, you will ascertain that this type of the essay needs a proper citation style. To make sure which style to use, always consult with your instructor.

AP: journalism

APA: education, sociology, psychology, political science

Chicago/Turabian: history

CSE: science, medicine, biology

MLA: art, literature, music, English, religion, philosophy