8 Parts of a Research Paper

A research paper is a form of academic work written by students to present an original analysis and interpretation of the study question, after a comprehensive and independent research process.

It’s among the rites of passage for both high school and higher-education students, which makes it unavoidable. To sail through it like a pro and leave your professor wowed, present your ideas in a well-organized, easily readable format.

To do this, you need to know what are the different parts of a research paper and how they relate. Luckily, you don’t have to face the learning curve alone. This step by step guide takes you through the components of a research paper, so your next research writing process can be a breeze.

What are the Different Parts of a Research Paper?

You may complete the most accurate research project, but if your research paper doesn’t follow the required framework, your professor won’t even look at it. Following the necessary research, paper structure not only keeps your project well-organized but also makes your work easy to navigate and gives your work a professional outlook. So, what are the different parts of a research paper? They are as discussed below;

The Title Page

The title page is the simplest of all sections of a research paper. It succinctly describes the contents, and depending on the subject you are handling; it should be between 10 and 15 words. Make it descriptive such that the reader can identify the context of your study without even reading the paper itself. Make sure your title follows the required format as well. For instance, if your professor expects you to follow APA guidelines in your research paper structure, all contents in your title page should be centered and double spaced. Your title page should have;

  • The paper title
  • Author’s name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Program or department name
  • Date of completion

Remember, the title name is the first part of a research paper structure your supervisor or reader will come across and is also the most read of all components of research. It should be engaging, informative, and self-explanatory. In a nutshell, your title should;

  • Accurately describe the topic and scope of the study
  • Incorporate words that create a positive first impression, and capture the reader’s interest
  • Suggest a relationship between the study subject and topic variables
  • Use proper grammar and capitalization
  • Not have exclamation marks and abbreviations

The Abstract

The abstract is the second of the parts of a research study. It summarizes the entire paper in about 100 to 300 words.

 The word count varies based on the scope of your research and project-specific requirements. It describes the significance of your research, thesis statement, materials, methods, as well as the findings, and conclusion of the study. Given its short length and the role it plays, you should be as concise as possible. Do no use tables or statistical figures, and do not cite or include references in the abstract. Also, avoid defining terms or adding new information or facts. Go straight to the point, but use an appealing style of writing, so the reader is confident that your research will answer their question.

The Introduction

The introduction is the section of a research paper where the writer acquaints the reader with the study’s background.  It sets the tone for the research by clearly telling the reader the problem you plan on addressing in your research. Similar to the first parts of a research paper, your introduction should not give too many details.  To achieve a clear and concise introduction without giving away too much information and, at the same time, delivering what the reader needs to know, think of the entire research paper as an hourglass. Your introduction is the top part of the hourglass, that is, it’s broad enough for anyone, including non-experts, to understand the hypotheses easily. A practical introduction should do the following;

  • Describe the significance of the argument
  • Defend the methodology, for instance, discuss why you used a particular subject, organism, or system for your study.
  • Clearly state the hypotheses

To create an impressive introduction, also do the following;

  • Use past tense except when highlighting facts. Past tense is ideal since you’re discussing something that you’ve already done.
  • Pay attention to your grammar, punctuation, and language appropriateness.
  • Briefly present background information.

The Methodology

The materials and methods are one of the most straightforward parts of a research study. This is because it mainly involves introducing the elements, and the procedural steps you took in carrying out the research. The primary aim of the methodology components of a research paper is to demonstrate the rationale of your results. You’re essentially proving to the reader that all your findings were obtained after hours of researching and experimenting.

The methodology components of a research paper also make your work easy to replicate. If, in the future, another researcher wants to build on your study, they’ll review your methodology section to see how exactly you carried out the research and repeat it using steps they deem best to refine the findings further.

If you carried out multiple experiments, you’re allowed to create subsections for each of your tests. However, make sure that you use similar paragraphs in your results and discussion components of research. To ace the methodology section, make sure you do the following;

  • Describe materials comprehensively, and separately.
  • Avoid common and standard research supplies and, instead, use unique supplies to make your research stand out.
  • Use visual elements
  • Always use the word “participants” to describe those who partook the study.

Results/Findings

In the result sections of a research paper, you are supposed to summarize the findings of the experiments you did in the materials and methodology parts of a research study. Inform the reader of your conclusions with figures, tables, graphs, and other visual elements if appropriate. Use short descriptive sentences to relate the findings to the methodology section. If you carried a series of experiments and organized them into subsections as explained earlier, make sure your results components of research paper also follow the same sequence.

Note, there’s a difference between the results and the discussion components of research. In the research paper structure, the results section is entirely objective, and it only highlights the findings of your experiments. The discussion part, on the other hand, interprets the findings. It ties the methodology and results sections of a research paper together so they make sense to the reader.

Discussion

Here is where you finally interpret the findings. You explain the connection between the thesis statement, the methodology used, and the results. The discussion sections of a research paper tie together the rest of the document. Discuss patterns observed and the relationship between subject and study variables.

Explain, how and why the results may differ from your hypotheses. Tell the reader how your study relates to existing studies on the subject area. Any limitations that arose during your experiments or discovered during the literature review should also be highlighted in the Discussion parts of a research study.

Conclusion

The conclusion is the last of the descriptive components of a research paper. Here is where you put everything together, take your stand on the thesis statement, and discuss the essence of your study. Again, you should highlight the limitations of your research, so if any researcher wants to build on your work in the future, they can find ways to overcome them. But keep in mind, the conclusion is the last parts of a research study your reader sees before the reference list.

 You want them to walk away with your accomplishments in mind and not the shortcomings of your research. Whatever you do, don’t highlight the limitations last.  Remember, the research paper structure should be like an hourglass. So, once again, generalize your perspective such that any reader can understand the context of your research.

Reference List

To avoid plagiarism, you are expected to document the sources you used for your information. You should format your reference list based on the style of writing used in your research paper structure.

Types of Research Project Papers

Now that you know what are the different parts of a research paper, note, not all types of research projects are the same. They are classified into two broad categories; basic and applied research papers. These are further broken down into the following;

  • Case Studies; this type of research focuses on a single subject.
  • Correlation research:  as the name implies, a correlational research study aims at explaining the relationship between variables.
  • Longitudinal research; a longitudinal study gives more information about the growth of the subject study over time. In this type of research, the researcher follows a group of people for a set period.

Discover More on Research Writing

To write a persuasive research paper, there’s a need to ensure the different components of a research paper flow well. You can only achieve this if you know parts of a research paper, and how they connect. Still feel like you need a little more professional help? Do not hesitate to get in touch with our professional writers today. Check out the research topics on hospitality management, anorexia and bulimia eating disorders, early childhood education, and music & art.

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