research paper

Research Paper: Format and Techniques with Examples

A research paper is a formal academic work that presents an investigation meant to explore or analyze the author’s chosen topic or question. Writing a research article is a practice used in high school and higher education settings as well as some jobs that require an analysis of topics such as scientists in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and more. The basic structure of most papers begins with a title, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and references.

 

Research Paper Title

A title must be concise and informative that reflects the main focus of one’s research. The typical title which encompasses the paper is around five to 15 words. Additionally, the title must be comprehensible to non-experts. Dependent on the writing style that is required (e.g. MLA, APA, or Chicago) the title may need its own page—also known as the title page for APA and Chicago style. A title page consists of the title in bold followed by the author’s name, date, author’s institution, and/or school course. In MLA format, the title may exist on the same page as the introduction and body.

 

Abstract

An abstract is a brief paragraph summary of the research document that includes the main objective, methodology, and key findings. Typically used in APA and Chicago style, an abstract follows the title page. Similarly to the title page, the single summary paragraph does not share the page with the body paragraphs. Below is an example of an abstract in APA 7th edition format.

 

Introduction

The introduction may vary in length as one might need more or less information to establish the content of the research paper. It must introduce the topic and its significance, provide background information and context, state the research question or thesis statement, and explain the scope of the research and the structure of the paper. Introductions begin broad and gradually narrow in information to address the paper’s subject. For example, if one were to write

 

peace-based research paper

an article on stem cell research, one should begin with a brief history of stem cells, where the field is today, and what are current findings that are related to the thesis statement. After making the connection from the background to the article, the introduction should explain what the author’s research is about while providing a concise guideline for the paper. In other words, the audience must know what the paper is about in broad strokes.

 

Literature Review

A literature review is the start of the article’s body paragraphs, and it is an essential part of a research paper. This portion is an overview of credible published work on the subject at hand. Scholarly work and credible sources are crucial in research as it is used to address relevant theories, methodologies, and gaps in the field. A literature review helps the author identify themes and debates of the research topic through a collection of evaluated sources. Consequently, this section of the paper demands the author to search, read, evaluate, and transcribe relevant literature into something useful and applicable to one’s research paper. It is common for the author to spend some time finding, reading, and annotating various scholarly works before beginning the section. Citing sources in the correct formatting (i.e. dependent on the writing style being used) will be necessary for this portion as the majority of the information will not be your work. Failure to correctly cite a different author’s work may result in plagiarism. Below is an example of a literature review section in APA 7th edition format.

 

research paper: reviewing the literature

Methodology

Following the literature review, the methodology section is where the author explains the research methods they used and justifies why these methods are appropriate for the research. Research methods include surveys, experiments, interviews, and secondary data analysis. This portion of the paper invites the author to be very literal about their steps in conducting their research design. It’s important to give as many details as possible for future researchers to be able to replicate your design and yield results. The author should include sampling methods used, tools (e.g. online/paper/phone surveys, interviews, scales, lab tools such as test tubes, pipets, burners, etc.), collection methods, procedures, analysis of data, and ethical considerations.

 

Next, the author must present the findings of their research in clear and concise language. If applicable, the author may use charts, graphs, and tables to enhance the presentation of the data. Similar to the methodologies section, the results should be expressed in a literal sense as those were the findings of the research. The author can explain the results in the discussion section of the paper.

 

Discussion

The discussion portion is where the author interprets results and links them to the research question or thesis statement. Also, a discussion of the limitations of one’s study is necessary. For example, the sample of a study could include 10 people, a limitation as there is not enough people to make generalizable findings to the world population. The section is a discussion on the author’s findings and what are the implications of these results—why is it important? For instance, one finds that stem cell research has promising results to help improve cancer treatments and this is important because companies should invest money to further explore and implement this research into hospitals and clinics. Noting the significance is a perfect transition into suggestions for future research avenues to further the literature.

 

Conclusion

Finally, the conclusion is the summary of the main points of the research paper. Restating the thesis statement or research question will provide a reminder and clarity to the readers. The author should emphasize the importance of the results and potential impact of the new information. Lastly, on a separate page, a reference list or works cited page must be included when referencing sources that are not original thoughts of the author. Different writing styles of various rules and ways to display references which must be accounted for in a research paper. List all the sources that are cited in the research paper following a specific citation style as required by your teacher or institution.

 

The most crucial part of writing a research paper is selecting an interesting and manageable topic. Picking a topic that aligns with your interest and your instructor’s guidelines will make a strong foundation for your academic research writing.

 

Author: Maerie Morales

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