Your 7-step research paper checklist so you meet the grading criteria

Based on personal experience, I can matter-of-factly tell you that research paper grading criteria can vary among college professors. So how do you figure out if your paper will meet the criteria your professor is looking for?

Our checklist will lead you to a successful research paper. (Credit: Marketing Land)

Our checklist will lead you to a successful research paper. (Credit: Marketing Land)

Different topics will be more important to different professors, so you’d be wise to initially review the research paper grading rubric and ask your instructor questions about their criteria to gauge what the priority is.

According to’s “Dread Writing Your Research Paper? It’s Easier Than You Think!” the first guideline to help you create a professional research paper is “Start by choosing a topic- one that you are passionate about, interested in, or that challenges you in some way. Concentrate on one specific aspect of your topic ex-eating disorders narrow it down to bulimia, anorexia etc…” From there you should gather relevant information on your topic by surfing the Internet, use almanacs, encyclopedias and search engines for generalized information.

7 steps of a research paper

1. Introduction: Your introduction should be clear, provocative and provide a road map to your research paper. It doesn’t have to be as specific as detailing what each section will contain, but it should certainly describe what you’ll be examining, analyzing, and proving. Readers begin forming judgments about a research paper after just viewing the introduction, which is why it’s so important to make it shine.

2. Clear Thesis: A good thesis statement expresses your main idea, perspective or position. It is not a statement of known fact. For extra help with writing a thesis statement, visit Questia’s 9-step writing guide.

3. Organization:Writing Papers Grading Criteria” from suggests that your paper be checked for: presentation of references, clarity of language style, spelling, punctuation, grammar, length and overall presentation.

4. Integrating Sources: Professors expect sources—that’s what puts the “research” in “research paper.” Moreover, they expect you to integrate those sources and fuse them with your ideas, equally. If you have 10 sources and only use two, for example, a professor will notice and grade you down.

Just as important, make sure you are using reliable research sources. Ask your professor ahead of time whether your sources are okay—most will not accept sources such as Wikipedia or blog entries; some will only accept sources from approved journal databases.

5. Be Concise: Wordy, bombastic writing will impress no one, especially not your professor. The longer it takes them to understand what you’re saying, the less clear you’ll be and the quicker your grade will drop. If you think you might be rambling, consider having a roommate, peer, or friend read your research paper and offer feedback.

6. Originality: Your writing should be your own. In other words, anything not in quotations should be your ideas and analyses, not anyone else’s. It’s not uncommon for students to pursue the same research topic, but most professors will try to ensure that each one is unique. Many instructors request the thesis ahead of time so they can evaluate it, as well as verify that each student is working on a different research paper. To avoid plagiarism, check out the tips Loraine Blaxter offers in How to Research.

7. Editorial Style: Many professors require a certain research paper format such as APA, MLA, or Chicago. This isn’t a suggestion, and your professor may lower your grade if you don’t follow the correct style. Some grade more harshly than others, but style is especially important in your parenthetical references and on your works cited page. Questia helps you to format your citations, bibliographies and works cited pages in multiple writing styles to help you do well on your research paper.

Are there any other items you’d recommend including in our research paper checklist? Share them with us in the comments.

10 replies
    • Nicole Reinard says:

      Hi Suhair,

      I went to the Questia website and typed in the keyword “biosecurity” and had numerous books and periodic articles come up on the subject. You can view them by clicking HERE. Best of luck on your research!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish I would have had this information available when I was writing my College papers!

    Thank you for the guidance & clarity you are giving. It is great!

  2. Ackson M. Kanduza says:

    Excellent guide for research. One thing to highlight: The introduction must be a plan and a road map. It must clearly indicate themes for discussion. In an examination/class test situation, candidate should return to introduction to pick points of discussion. In normal writing such as an assignment, research report, introduction is written at the end and it is easy to bring out what I observed.

  3. Kasaye Gemechu says:

    Hello Dear/ sir you show me good way thank you very much .in the future i will expect sample research prepared on logistic chain management for masters program .

    thank you
    Kasaye Gemechu

  4. Wadi says:

    good staff and very helpful. i have a paper to discuss and the topic is the influence of advertising messages on children and adolescents. may be one can help with an outline.


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