The Most Difficult Part of Writing a Research Paper: Identifying the Main Research Question

Choose the part you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 5, 2024 06:40
Struggling with your research paper? You're not alone! At StrawPoll, we understand that every step of the writing process can be a challenge. That's why we've created a ranking of "What is the most difficult part of writing a research paper?" for you to explore and vote on. From narrowing down a topic to polishing the final draft, we've got all the tricky aspects covered. Join our community of fellow writers by sharing your thoughts, voting for your most challenging aspect, or even suggesting a missing option. Together, let's unravel the mysteries of research paper writing and make it a little less daunting for everyone. Head over to our ranking now and let your voice be heard!

What Is the Most Difficult Part of Writing a Research Paper?

  1. 1
    This can be difficult because the topic needs to be interesting, relevant, and feasible. It is important to choose a topic that you are passionate about and that has enough research material available.
    Choosing a topic is often considered the most difficult part of writing a research paper. It involves the process of selecting a subject or area of study that is both interesting and relevant to your research goals. This step is crucial as it sets the foundation for the entire research process.
    • Importance: Crucial for the overall success of the research paper
    • Relevance: The topic should align with the research goals and objectives
    • Originality: Choosing a unique and fresh topic can enhance the value of the research
    • Manageability: The chosen topic should be manageable within the scope of the research paper
    • Interest: Selecting a topic that is personally interesting can motivate the researcher throughout the writing process
  2. 2
    Conducting Research
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    Conducting Research

    This can be a daunting task as it involves reading through numerous articles, books, and other sources to gather relevant information. It can also be challenging to sift through the information and determine what is important and relevant to the topic.
    Conducting research is the process of gathering relevant information and data to support the development of a research paper. It involves locating and evaluating various sources, such as books, scholarly articles, and online resources, to obtain credible and accurate information that will contribute to the arguments and findings of the paper.
    • Task Complexity: High
    • Time-Consuming: Yes
    • Critical Thinking: Essential
    • Source Evaluation: Important
    • Information Organization: Crucial
  3. 3
    After gathering the necessary information, it can be difficult to organize it in a way that makes sense and flows well. This is where outlining can be helpful.
    Organizing Information is the process of arranging and categorizing research data and findings in a logical and coherent manner for a research paper. It involves structuring the information to facilitate understanding and ensure a smooth flow of ideas throughout the document.
    • Clarity: Organizing Information must ensure that the research paper is concise and clear, with well-defined sections and paragraphs.
    • Coherence: It should establish connections between ideas and concepts, ensuring that thoughts and arguments are logically connected.
    • Structure: The information should be organized in a structured manner, such as following an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion format.
    • Relevance: Organizing Information requires selecting and including only relevant and significant data that supports the research paper's thesis and objectives.
    • Main Points: It involves identifying and highlighting the main points of the research paper, ensuring they stand out and are easily understood.
  4. 4

    Writing the Introduction

    Research Paper Writers
    The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper and it can be difficult to write an attention-grabbing and informative introduction that accurately reflects the purpose of the research.
    Writing the introduction is one of the most difficult parts of writing a research paper. It requires setting the stage for the research topic, providing background information, formulating a research question or thesis statement, and engaging the reader to continue reading the paper.
    • 1: Sets the stage for the research topic
    • 2: Provides background information
    • 3: Formulates a research question or thesis statement
    • 4: Engages the reader to continue reading
    • 5: Introduces the research objectives and significance
  5. 5
    The thesis statement is the foundation of the research paper and it can be challenging to craft a clear and concise statement that accurately represents the research.
    Writing the Thesis Statement is one of the most difficult parts of writing a research paper. The thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or argument of the paper. It serves as a roadmap for the entire research paper, guiding the reader and informing them about the purpose and direction of the paper.
    • Clear and concise: The thesis statement should be clear, specific, and concise, conveying the main point of the paper in a straightforward manner.
    • Argumentative: The thesis statement should present an argument or a claim that the rest of the paper will support and explore.
    • One sentence: Ideally, the thesis statement should be a single sentence that clearly addresses the research question or topic.
    • Debatable: A good thesis statement should not be obvious or universally agreed upon but should provoke discussion and argument.
    • Supported by evidence: The thesis statement should be supported by relevant evidence, which will be further explored and discussed in the paper.
  6. 6

    Writing the Body

    This is the main part of the research paper and it can be difficult to write a coherent and cohesive body that effectively communicates the research and supports the thesis statement.
    Writing the Body refers to the main part of a research paper that presents the key arguments, findings, and analysis. It is the longest and most substantial section of the paper, where the author supports their thesis statement and demonstrates their knowledge on the topic.
    • Length: Typically ranges from several paragraphs to multiple pages, depending on the scope of the research.
    • Structural Flow: Body must have a logical structure, utilizing sections and subsections as necessary.
    • Topic Sentences: Each paragraph should start with a clear topic sentence that introduces the main idea.
    • Paragraph Unity: Ensuring coherence within each paragraph, using appropriate transitions and maintaining a consistent focus.
    • Cohesive Arguments: Developing coherent and well-supported arguments that align with the research question and thesis statement.
  7. 7
    It is important to properly cite all sources used in the research paper. This can be challenging as there are various citation styles and it can be difficult to determine which style is appropriate for the research paper.
    Citing Sources is an essential aspect of writing a research paper. It involves acknowledging and referencing the works of other authors or sources used in the paper. This process ensures the credibility and integrity of the research paper by giving due credit to the original creators of the information and ideas.
    • APA Style: American Psychological Association (APA) provides rules for citing sources in social sciences.
    • MLA Style: Modern Language Association (MLA) offers guidelines for citing sources in humanities and liberal arts.
    • Chicago Style: The Chicago Manual of Style presents rules for citing sources in various disciplines.
    • Harvard Referencing: Harvard referencing system is widely used, providing guidelines for multiple disciplines.
    • IEEE Style: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) offers a citation style primarily for engineering and computer science.
  8. 8
    Plagiarism is a serious offense in academic writing and it can be difficult to ensure that all information is properly cited and that the research paper is original and not plagiarized.
    Avoiding Plagiarism involves crediting the original authors and properly citing their work to ensure that one's research paper is original and does not infringe on intellectual property rights.
    • Consequences: Plagiarism can result in academic penalties, disciplinary actions, and damage to one's reputation.
    • Recognizing Plagiarism: Students should understand what constitutes plagiarism, including direct copying, paraphrasing without proper citation, and self-plagiarism.
    • Citing Sources: The proper use of citations and references enables researchers to acknowledge the original sources of information and ideas.
    • Plagiarism Detection Tools: Various software tools are available to check for potential plagiarism by comparing the text against a vast database of published materials.
    • Ethical Considerations: Avoiding plagiarism is not only a matter of adhering to rules but also an ethical responsibility to give credit to the creators of ideas.
  9. 9

    Editing and Proofreading

    Writers and researchers
    After completing the research paper, it is important to edit and proofread the paper to ensure that it is free from errors and is well-written.
    Editing and Proofreading is a crucial stage in the process of writing a research paper. It involves carefully reviewing and refining the content to ensure clarity, coherence, and accuracy. This step helps to enhance the overall quality of the paper and ensure that it meets the intended objectives.
    • 1: Correction of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors
    • 2: Checking for consistency in formatting and citation styles
    • 3: Clarifying confusing or ambiguous language
    • 4: Eliminating repetitive or redundant information
    • 5: Ensuring proper sentence structure and logical flow
  10. 10
    Research papers often have strict deadlines and it can be challenging to manage time effectively and ensure that the research paper is completed on time.
    Meeting Deadlines is the process of adhering to specific time constraints and submitting a research paper within the designated timeframe.
    • Organization: Requires planning and scheduling
    • Accountability: Individual responsibility
    • Adaptability: Flexible approach to manage time effectively
    • Importance: 1
    • Challenging aspect: Yes

Missing your favorite part?


Ranking factors for difficult part

  1. Topic selection
    Choosing a suitable, relevant, and interesting topic can be challenging, as it sets the foundation for your entire research paper.
  2. Literature review
    Finding appropriate sources and reviewing the work of previous researchers can be time-consuming and requires a solid understanding of the subject matter.
  3. Developing a research question or hypothesis
    Formulating a strong research question or hypothesis that is specific, focused, and feasible is crucial for a successful research paper.
  4. Research methodology
    Designing a proper research methodology, including selecting appropriate research methods and techniques, is essential for valid and reliable results.
  5. Data collection
    Gathering and organizing relevant data can be challenging, particularly if it involves primary data collection (e.g., conducting surveys, interviews, or experiments).
  6. Data analysis
    Analyzing and interpreting data can be complex, particularly if it involves advanced statistical techniques or qualitative analysis methods.
  7. Writing style and organization
    Crafting a well-written and logically-structured paper requires strong writing skills and attention to detail for organizing information.
  8. Proper citation
    Ensuring that all sources are properly cited and that your work doesn't unintentionally plagiarize others' works can be time-consuming but is necessary to maintain academic integrity.
  9. Time management
    Balancing the demands of research, writing, and other responsibilities can be difficult for students with limited time and multiple deadlines.
  10. Critical thinking
    Applying critical thinking skills in synthesizing literature, designing research strategies, evaluating data, and drawing conclusions is essential for achieving a high-quality research paper.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult part of writing a research paper. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or part is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 191 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each part once every 24 hours. The rank of each part is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult part of writing a research paper

Writing a research paper can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to the process. It requires a great deal of time, effort, and dedication to produce a high-quality paper that meets the standards of academic excellence. While different people may struggle with different aspects of the writing process, there are a few common challenges that most students face. These include choosing a topic, conducting research, organizing ideas, and formatting the paper according to the required style guidelines. In this article, we will explore some of these challenges in more detail and offer some tips and strategies to help you overcome them.

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