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  • 1 Parts of a Research Paper: Definition
  • 3 Research Paper Structure
  • 4 Research Paper Examples
  • 5 Research Paper APA Formatting
  • 6 In a Nutshell

Parts of a Research Paper: Definition

The point of having specifically defined parts of a research paper is not to make your life as a student harder. In fact, it’s very much the opposite. The different parts of a research paper have been established to provide a structure that can be consistently used to make your research projects easier, as well as helping you follow the proper scientific methodology.

This will help guide your writing process so you can focus on key elements one at a time. It will also provide a valuable outline that you can rely on to effectively structure your assignment. Having a solid structure will make your research paper easier to understand, and it will also prepare you for a possible future as a researcher, since all modern science is created around similar precepts.

Have you been struggling with your academic homework lately, especially where it concerns all the different parts of a research paper? This is actually a very common situation, so we have prepared this article to outline all the key parts of a research paper and explain what you must focus as you go through each one of the various parts of a research paper; read the following sections and you should have a clearer idea of how to tackle your next research paper effectively.

What are the main parts of a research paper?

There are eight main parts in a research paper :

  • Title (cover page)


  • Literature review
  • Research methodology
  • Data analysis
  • Reference page

If you stick to this structure, your end product will be a concise, well-organized research paper.

Do you have to follow the exact research paper structure?

Yes, and failing to do so will likely impact your grade very negatively. It’s very important to write your research paper according to the structure given on this article. Follow your research paper outline   to avoid a messy structure. Different types of academic papers have very particular structures. For example, the structure required for a literature review is very different to the structure required for a scientific research paper.

What if I'm having trouble with certain parts of a research paper?

If you’re having problems with some parts of a research paper, it will be useful to look at some examples of finished research papers in a similar field of study, so you will have a better idea of the elements you need to include. Read a step-by-step guide for writing a research paper , or take a look at the section towards the end of this article for some research paper examples. Perhaps you’re just lacking inspiration!

Is there a special formatting you need to use when citing sources?

Making adequate citations to back up your research is a key consideration in almost every part of a research paper. There are various formatting conventions and referencing styles that should be followed as specified in your assignment. The most common is APA formatting, but you could also be required to use MLA formatting. Your professor or supervisor should tell you which one you need to use.

What should I do once I have my research paper outlined?

If you have created your research paper outline, then you’re ready to start writing. Remember, the first copy will be a draft, so don’t leave it until the last minute to begin writing. Check out some tips for overcoming writer’s block if you’re having trouble getting started.

Research Paper Structure

There are 8 parts of a research paper that you should go through in this order:

The very first page in your research paper should be used to identify its title, along with your name, the date of your assignment, and your learning institution. Additional elements may be required according to the specifications of your instructors, so it’s a good idea to check with them to make sure you feature all the required information in the right order. You will usually be provided with a template or checklist of some kind that you can refer to when writing your cover page .

This is the very beginning of your research paper, where you are expected to provide your thesis statement ; this is simply a summary of what you’re setting out to accomplish with your research project, including the problems you’re looking to scrutinize and any solutions or recommendations that you anticipate beforehand.

Literature Review

This part of a research paper is supposed to provide the theoretical framework that you elaborated during your research. You will be expected to present the sources you have studied while preparing for the work ahead, and these sources should be credible from an academic standpoint (including educational books, peer-reviewed journals, and other relevant publications). You must make sure to include the name of the relevant authors you’ve studied and add a properly formatted citation that explicitly points to their works you have analyzed, including the publication year (see the section below on APA style citations ).

Research Methodology

Different parts of a research paper have different aims, and here you need to point out the exact methods you have used in the course of your research work. Typical methods can range from direct observation to laboratory experiments, or statistical evaluations. Whatever your chosen methods are, you will need to explicitly point them out in this section.

Data Analysis

While all the parts of a research paper are important, this section is probably the most crucial from a practical standpoint. Out of all the parts of a research paper, here you will be expected to analyze the data you have obtained in the course of your research. This is where you get your chance to really shine, by introducing new data that may contribute to building up on the collective understanding of the topics you have researched. At this point, you’re not expected to analyze your data yet (that will be done in the subsequent parts of a research paper), but simply to present it objectively.

From all the parts of a research paper, this is the one where you’re expected to actually analyze the data you have gathered while researching. This analysis should align with your previously stated methodology, and it should both point out any implications suggested by your data that might be relevant to different fields of study, as well as any shortcomings in your approach that would allow you to improve you results if you were to repeat the same type of research.

As you conclude your research paper, you should succinctly reiterate your thesis statement along with your methodology and analyzed data – by drawing all these elements together you will reach the purpose of your research, so all that is left is to point out your conclusions in a clear manner.

Reference Page

The very last section of your research paper is a reference page where you should collect the academic sources along with all the publications you consulted, while fleshing out your research project. You should make sure to list all these references according to the citation format specified by your instructor; there are various formats now in use, such as MLA, Harvard and APA, which although similar rely on different citation styles that must be consistently and carefully observed.


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Research Paper Examples

When you’re still learning about the various parts that make up a research paper, it can be useful to go through some examples of actual research papers from your exact field of study. This is probably the best way to fully grasp what is the purpose of all the different parts.

We can’t provide you universal examples of all the parts of a research paper, since some of these parts can be very different depending on your field of study.

To get a clear sense of what you should cover in each part of your paper, we recommend you to find some successful research papers in a similar field of study. Often, you may be able to refer to studies you have gathered during the initial literature review.

There are also some templates online that may be useful to look at when you’re just getting started, and trying to grasp the exact requirements for each part in your research paper:


Research Paper APA Formatting

When you write a research paper for college, you will have to make sure to add relevant citation to back up your major claims. Only by building up on the work of established authors will you be able to reach valuable conclusions that can be taken seriously on a academic context. This process may seem burdensome at first, but it’s one of the essential parts of a research paper.

The essence of a citation is simply to point out where you learned about the concepts and ideas that make up all the parts of a research paper. This is absolutely essential, both to substantiate your points and to allow other researchers to look into those sources in cause they want to learn more about some aspects of your assignment, or dig deeper into specific parts of a research paper.

There are several citation styles in modern use, and APA citation is probably the most common and widespread; you must follow this convention precisely when adding citations to the relevant part of a research paper. Here is how you should format a citation according to the APA style.

In a Nutshell

  • There are eight different parts of a research paper that you will have to go through in this specific order.
  • Make sure to focus on the different parts of a research paper one at a time, and you’ll find it can actually make the writing process much easier.
  • Producing a research paper can be a very daunting task unless you have a solid plan of action; that is exactly why most modern learning institutions now demand students to observe all these parts of a research paper.
  • These guidelines are not meant to make student’s lives harder, but actually to help them stay focused and produce articulate and thoughtful research that could make an impact in their fields of study.

Discover more useful articles:


What is works cited? We will give you some information:


In this article we give you information about thesis format:


What you should know about an APA format title page:


This article gives some information about a thesis defense:

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Parts of a Research Paper

One of the most important aspects of science is ensuring that you get all the parts of the written research paper in the right order.

This article is a part of the guide:

  • Outline Examples
  • Example of a Paper
  • Write a Hypothesis
  • Introduction

Browse Full Outline

  • 1 Write a Research Paper
  • 2 Writing a Paper
  • 3.1 Write an Outline
  • 3.2 Outline Examples
  • 4.1 Thesis Statement
  • 4.2 Write a Hypothesis
  • 5.2 Abstract
  • 5.3 Introduction
  • 5.4 Methods
  • 5.5 Results
  • 5.6 Discussion
  • 5.7 Conclusion
  • 5.8 Bibliography
  • 6.1 Table of Contents
  • 6.2 Acknowledgements
  • 6.3 Appendix
  • 7.1 In Text Citations
  • 7.2 Footnotes
  • 7.3.1 Floating Blocks
  • 7.4 Example of a Paper
  • 7.5 Example of a Paper 2
  • 7.6.1 Citations
  • 7.7.1 Writing Style
  • 7.7.2 Citations
  • 8.1.1 Sham Peer Review
  • 8.1.2 Advantages
  • 8.1.3 Disadvantages
  • 8.2 Publication Bias
  • 8.3.1 Journal Rejection
  • 9.1 Article Writing
  • 9.2 Ideas for Topics

You may have finished the best research project on earth but, if you do not write an interesting and well laid out paper, then nobody is going to take your findings seriously.

The main thing to remember with any research paper is that it is based on an hourglass structure. It begins with general information and undertaking a literature review , and becomes more specific as you nail down a research problem and hypothesis .

Finally, it again becomes more general as you try to apply your findings to the world at general.

Whilst there are a few differences between the various disciplines, with some fields placing more emphasis on certain parts than others, there is a basic underlying structure.

These steps are the building blocks of constructing a good research paper. This section outline how to lay out the parts of a research paper, including the various experimental methods and designs.

The principles for literature review and essays of all types follow the same basic principles.

Reference List

give the different parts of a research paper

For many students, writing the introduction is the first part of the process, setting down the direction of the paper and laying out exactly what the research paper is trying to achieve.

For others, the introduction is the last thing written, acting as a quick summary of the paper. As long as you have planned a good structure for the parts of a research paper, both approaches are acceptable and it is a matter of preference.

A good introduction generally consists of three distinct parts:

  • You should first give a general presentation of the research problem.
  • You should then lay out exactly what you are trying to achieve with this particular research project.
  • You should then state your own position.

Ideally, you should try to give each section its own paragraph, but this will vary given the overall length of the paper.

1) General Presentation

Look at the benefits to be gained by the research or why the problem has not been solved yet. Perhaps nobody has thought about it, or maybe previous research threw up some interesting leads that the previous researchers did not follow up.

Another researcher may have uncovered some interesting trends, but did not manage to reach the significance level , due to experimental error or small sample sizes .

2) Purpose of the Paper

The research problem does not have to be a statement, but must at least imply what you are trying to find.

Many writers prefer to place the thesis statement or hypothesis here, which is perfectly acceptable, but most include it in the last sentences of the introduction, to give the reader a fuller picture.

3) A Statement of Intent From the Writer

The idea is that somebody will be able to gain an overall view of the paper without needing to read the whole thing. Literature reviews are time-consuming enough, so give the reader a concise idea of your intention before they commit to wading through pages of background.

In this section, you look to give a context to the research, including any relevant information learned during your literature review. You are also trying to explain why you chose this area of research, attempting to highlight why it is necessary. The second part should state the purpose of the experiment and should include the research problem. The third part should give the reader a quick summary of the form that the parts of the research paper is going to take and should include a condensed version of the discussion.

give the different parts of a research paper

This should be the easiest part of the paper to write, as it is a run-down of the exact design and methodology used to perform the research. Obviously, the exact methodology varies depending upon the exact field and type of experiment .

There is a big methodological difference between the apparatus based research of the physical sciences and the methods and observation methods of social sciences. However, the key is to ensure that another researcher would be able to replicate the experiment to match yours as closely as possible, but still keeping the section concise.

You can assume that anybody reading your paper is familiar with the basic methods, so try not to explain every last detail. For example, an organic chemist or biochemist will be familiar with chromatography, so you only need to highlight the type of equipment used rather than explaining the whole process in detail.

In the case of a survey , if you have too many questions to cover in the method, you can always include a copy of the questionnaire in the appendix . In this case, make sure that you refer to it.

This is probably the most variable part of any research paper, and depends on the results and aims of the experiment.

For quantitative research , it is a presentation of the numerical results and data, whereas for qualitative research it should be a broader discussion of trends, without going into too much detail.

For research generating a lot of results , then it is better to include tables or graphs of the analyzed data and leave the raw data in the appendix, so that a researcher can follow up and check your calculations.

A commentary is essential to linking the results together, rather than just displaying isolated and unconnected charts and figures.

It can be quite difficult to find a good balance between the results and the discussion section, because some findings, especially in a quantitative or descriptive experiment , will fall into a grey area. Try to avoid repeating yourself too often.

It is best to try to find a middle path, where you give a general overview of the data and then expand on it in the discussion - you should try to keep your own opinions and interpretations out of the results section, saving that for the discussion later on.

This is where you elaborate on your findings, and explain what you found, adding your own personal interpretations.

Ideally, you should link the discussion back to the introduction, addressing each point individually.

It’s important to make sure that every piece of information in your discussion is directly related to the thesis statement , or you risk cluttering your findings. In keeping with the hourglass principle, you can expand on the topic later in the conclusion .

The conclusion is where you build on your discussion and try to relate your findings to other research and to the world at large.

In a short research paper, it may be a paragraph or two, or even a few lines.

In a dissertation, it may well be the most important part of the entire paper - not only does it describe the results and discussion in detail, it emphasizes the importance of the results in the field, and ties it in with the previous research.

Some research papers require a recommendations section, postulating the further directions of the research, as well as highlighting how any flaws affected the results. In this case, you should suggest any improvements that could be made to the research design .

No paper is complete without a reference list , documenting all the sources that you used for your research. This should be laid out according to APA , MLA or other specified format, allowing any interested researcher to follow up on the research.

One habit that is becoming more common, especially with online papers, is to include a reference to your own paper on the final page. Lay this out in MLA, APA and Chicago format, allowing anybody referencing your paper to copy and paste it.

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give the different parts of a research paper

What are the Different Parts of a Research Paper?

The four main parts of a research paper are the introduction, body, conclusion, and reference page. These parts can be broken down further into smaller parts depending upon the type of research paper that is being written. Some papers require an abstract, experiment methods, and results, for example. The best research paper is thorough and provides the reader with as much information as possible on a specific topic.

The introduction is the first paragraph and may be the most important part of the paper. It should state the main point or the question that is being researched. It should also include what the author or researcher expected to find during the research, which is called a hypothesis .

The body of a research paper contains the bulk of information. The body can be separated into three parts, including the experimental methods, the results, and a discussion. The experimental methods are the steps the researcher took to answer the proposed research question. The results are the actions and reactions that took place during the experiment or the answer to the question. The discussion section is where the researcher writes about the experimental findings and how those findings relate to the original hypothesis.

The conclusion is the final section and should tie all of the parts of a research paper together. It should explain why the research conducted was important and how it relates to other research that has already been published. The conclusion is usually only one or two paragraphs in a short research paper.

The reference page should list each of the books, journals, websites, and any other publications that were used to write the paper. The reference page can also be called a bibliography. Most follow specific guidelines depending on what kind of paper is being written.

Some research papers require an abstract. It is a brief paragraph that explains the overall research. An abstract is often used to give the reader an overview of the researched question and then a short summary of the experiment methods and results. Often, abstracts require a specific word count. Even though the abstract is placed in the beginning of a research paper, it can be easier to write once the entire paper is completed.

It is important for the writer to know the preferred style before beginning to write the paper. Some popular writing styles include the Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), or the Chicago writing style . Each has its own set of guidelines and formatting rules.

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  • By: greenstockcreative Some research papers require a brief paragraph that explains the overall research.
  • By: a4stockphotos Research papers often include a works cited page which lists different websites and materials used when crafting a research paper.
  • By: Minerva Studio The reference page should list each of the books, journals, websites, and any other publications that were used to write the paper.
  • By: Igor Mojzes Within a research paper, a student tries to prove an argument using research and factual examples from other sources.
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Writing Research Papers

  • Research Paper Structure

Whether you are writing a B.S. Degree Research Paper or completing a research report for a Psychology course, it is highly likely that you will need to organize your research paper in accordance with American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines.  Here we discuss the structure of research papers according to APA style.

Major Sections of a Research Paper in APA Style

A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. 1  Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices.  These sections are detailed as follows (for a more in-depth guide, please refer to " How to Write a Research Paper in APA Style ”, a comprehensive guide developed by Prof. Emma Geller). 2

What is this paper called and who wrote it? – the first page of the paper; this includes the name of the paper, a “running head”, authors, and institutional affiliation of the authors.  The institutional affiliation is usually listed in an Author Note that is placed towards the bottom of the title page.  In some cases, the Author Note also contains an acknowledgment of any funding support and of any individuals that assisted with the research project.

One-paragraph summary of the entire study – typically no more than 250 words in length (and in many cases it is well shorter than that), the Abstract provides an overview of the study.


What is the topic and why is it worth studying? – the first major section of text in the paper, the Introduction commonly describes the topic under investigation, summarizes or discusses relevant prior research (for related details, please see the Writing Literature Reviews section of this website), identifies unresolved issues that the current research will address, and provides an overview of the research that is to be described in greater detail in the sections to follow.

What did you do? – a section which details how the research was performed.  It typically features a description of the participants/subjects that were involved, the study design, the materials that were used, and the study procedure.  If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Methods section.  A rule of thumb is that the Methods section should be sufficiently detailed for another researcher to duplicate your research.

What did you find? – a section which describes the data that was collected and the results of any statistical tests that were performed.  It may also be prefaced by a description of the analysis procedure that was used. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Results section.

What is the significance of your results? – the final major section of text in the paper.  The Discussion commonly features a summary of the results that were obtained in the study, describes how those results address the topic under investigation and/or the issues that the research was designed to address, and may expand upon the implications of those findings.  Limitations and directions for future research are also commonly addressed.

List of articles and any books cited – an alphabetized list of the sources that are cited in the paper (by last name of the first author of each source).  Each reference should follow specific APA guidelines regarding author names, dates, article titles, journal titles, journal volume numbers, page numbers, book publishers, publisher locations, websites, and so on (for more information, please see the Citing References in APA Style page of this website).

Tables and Figures

Graphs and data (optional in some cases) – depending on the type of research being performed, there may be Tables and/or Figures (however, in some cases, there may be neither).  In APA style, each Table and each Figure is placed on a separate page and all Tables and Figures are included after the References.   Tables are included first, followed by Figures.   However, for some journals and undergraduate research papers (such as the B.S. Research Paper or Honors Thesis), Tables and Figures may be embedded in the text (depending on the instructor’s or editor’s policies; for more details, see "Deviations from APA Style" below).

Supplementary information (optional) – in some cases, additional information that is not critical to understanding the research paper, such as a list of experiment stimuli, details of a secondary analysis, or programming code, is provided.  This is often placed in an Appendix.

Variations of Research Papers in APA Style

Although the major sections described above are common to most research papers written in APA style, there are variations on that pattern.  These variations include: 

  • Literature reviews – when a paper is reviewing prior published research and not presenting new empirical research itself (such as in a review article, and particularly a qualitative review), then the authors may forgo any Methods and Results sections. Instead, there is a different structure such as an Introduction section followed by sections for each of the different aspects of the body of research being reviewed, and then perhaps a Discussion section. 
  • Multi-experiment papers – when there are multiple experiments, it is common to follow the Introduction with an Experiment 1 section, itself containing Methods, Results, and Discussion subsections. Then there is an Experiment 2 section with a similar structure, an Experiment 3 section with a similar structure, and so on until all experiments are covered.  Towards the end of the paper there is a General Discussion section followed by References.  Additionally, in multi-experiment papers, it is common for the Results and Discussion subsections for individual experiments to be combined into single “Results and Discussion” sections.

Departures from APA Style

In some cases, official APA style might not be followed (however, be sure to check with your editor, instructor, or other sources before deviating from standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association).  Such deviations may include:

  • Placement of Tables and Figures  – in some cases, to make reading through the paper easier, Tables and/or Figures are embedded in the text (for example, having a bar graph placed in the relevant Results section). The embedding of Tables and/or Figures in the text is one of the most common deviations from APA style (and is commonly allowed in B.S. Degree Research Papers and Honors Theses; however you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first). 
  • Incomplete research – sometimes a B.S. Degree Research Paper in this department is written about research that is currently being planned or is in progress. In those circumstances, sometimes only an Introduction and Methods section, followed by References, is included (that is, in cases where the research itself has not formally begun).  In other cases, preliminary results are presented and noted as such in the Results section (such as in cases where the study is underway but not complete), and the Discussion section includes caveats about the in-progress nature of the research.  Again, you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first.
  • Class assignments – in some classes in this department, an assignment must be written in APA style but is not exactly a traditional research paper (for instance, a student asked to write about an article that they read, and to write that report in APA style). In that case, the structure of the paper might approximate the typical sections of a research paper in APA style, but not entirely.  You should check with your instructor for further guidelines.

Workshops and Downloadable Resources

  • For in-person discussion of the process of writing research papers, please consider attending this department’s “Writing Research Papers” workshop (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).

Downloadable Resources

  • How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
  • Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – empirical research) [ PDF ]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

  • Writing Research Paper Videos

APA Journal Article Reporting Guidelines

  • Appelbaum, M., Cooper, H., Kline, R. B., Mayo-Wilson, E., Nezu, A. M., & Rao, S. M. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for quantitative research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 3.
  • Levitt, H. M., Bamberg, M., Creswell, J. W., Frost, D. M., Josselson, R., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for qualitative primary, qualitative meta-analytic, and mixed methods research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 26.  

External Resources

  • Formatting APA Style Papers in Microsoft Word
  • How to Write an APA Style Research Paper from Hamilton University
  • WikiHow Guide to Writing APA Research Papers
  • Sample APA Formatted Paper with Comments
  • Sample APA Formatted Paper
  • Tips for Writing a Paper in APA Style

1 VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (pp. 41-60).  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

2 geller, e. (2018).  how to write an apa-style research report . [instructional materials]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.

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Research Paper Structure – Main Sections and Parts of a Research Paper

PhD students are expected to write and publish research papers to validate their research work and findings. Writing your first research paper  can seem like a daunting task at the start but must be done to validate your work. If you are a beginner writer new to academic writing or a non-native English speaker then it might seem like a daunting process at inception. The best way to begin writing a research paper is to learn about the research paper structure needed in your field, as this may vary between fields. Producing a research paper structure first with various headings and subheadings will significantly simplify the writing process. In this blog, we explain the basic structure of a research paper and explain its various components. We elaborate on various parts and sections of a research paper. We also provide guidance to produce a research paper structure for your work through word cloud diagrams that illustrate various topics and sub-topics to be included under each section. We recommend you to refer to our other blogs on  academic writing tools ,   academic writing resources , and  academic phrase-bank , which are relevant to the topic discussed in this blog. 

1. Introduction

The Introduction section is one of the most important sections of a research paper. The introduction section should start with a brief outline of the topic and then explain the nature of the problem at hand and why it is crucial to resolve this issue. This section should contain a literature review that provides relevant background information about the topic. The literature review should touch upon seminal and pioneering works in the field and the most recent studies pertinent to your work. 

Research paper structure for introduction section

The  literature review  should end with a few lines about the research gap in the chosen domain. This is where you explain the lack of adequate research about your chosen topic and make a case for the need for more research. This is an excellent place to define the research question or hypothesis. The last part of the introduction should be about your work. Having established the research gap now, you have to explain how you intend to solve the problem and subsequently introduce your approach. You should provide a clear outline that includes both the primary and secondary aims/objectives of your work. You can end the section by providing how the rest of the paper is organized.  When you are working on the research paper structure use the word cloud diagrams as a guidance.

2. Material and Methods

The Materials and methods section of the research paper should include detailed information about the implementation details of your method. This should be written in such a way that it is reproducible by any person conducting research in the same field. This section should include all the technical details of the experimental setup, measurement procedure, and parameters of interest. It should also include details of how the methods were validated and tested prior to their use. It is recommended to use equations, figures, and tables to explain the workings of the method proposed. Add placeholders for figures and tables with dummy titles while working on the research paper structure.

Research paper structure for material and methods section

Suppose your methodology involves data collection and recruitment. In that case, you should provide information about the sample size, population characteristics, interview process, and recruitment methods. It should also include the details of the consenting procedure and inclusion and exclusion criteria. This section can end with various statistical methods used for data analysis and significance testing.

3. Results and Discussion

Results and Discussion section of the research paper should be the concluding part of your research paper. In the results section, you can explain your experiments’ outcome by presenting adequate scientific data to back up your conclusions. You must interpret the scientific data to your readers by highlighting the key findings of your work. You also provide information on any negative and unexpected findings that came out of your work. It is vital to present the data in an unbiased manner. You should also explain how the current results compare with previously published data from similar works in the literature. 

Research paper structure for results and discussion section

In the discussion section, you should summarize your work and explain how the research work objectives were achieved. You can highlight the benefits your work will bring to the overall scientific community and potential practical applications. You must not introduce any new information in this section; you can only discuss things that have already been mentioned in the paper. The discussion section must talk about your work’s limitations; no scientific work is perfect, and some drawbacks are expected. If there are any inconclusive results in your work, you can present your theories about what might have caused it. You have to end your paper with conclusions and future work . In conclusion, you can restate your aims and objectives and summarize your main findings, preferably in two or three lines. You should also lay out your plans for future work and explain how further research will benefit the research domain. Finally, you can also add ‘Acknowledgments’ and ‘References’ sections to the research paper structure for completion.

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Too lazy to read this article? Get Your Research Paper Written By An Expert . Our experts can write both APA style research paper format and MLA style research paper format. If you have a specific format, let us know, we will help you with that as well.

Before we begin, let us understand what is a research paper and why is it needed?

A research paper is a kind of essay in which you have to explain what you have learned after understanding and exploring your topic in depth. In a research paper, you include information from sources such as books, interviews, Internet blogs, and articles. You can also use your own thoughts, creativity, knowledge, and opinions. It basically means that more than 75% of your data has to be in your own words.

In other words

The research paper is a part of academic writing that provides review, description, and reasoning based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to educational essays, but they are usually longer and more detailed, designed to evaluate not only your writing skills but also your skills in educational research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong awareness of your topic, take part in a variety of sources, and make an original contribution.

What are the Most Important Sections of a Research Paper?

Research papers start with a question in mind. A paper that describes a particular study clearly states the query, procedure, discoveries, and other relevant information. Read below for explanations and standards of research paper sections. The main sections of a typical APA research paper include the following:

The Cover page/Title page

The first page of the research paper is always a cover page. This includes the name of the paper, a running head , a list of authors, and the institutional affiliation of the authors.

What is a running head in APA format example?

A running head is also called a page header. It is a phrase at the top of each page of a document that gives the reader important details. For APA format, the running head includes the title of the paper in the upper-case, along with the page number.

The institutional affiliation is often listed in an Author Note. The Author’s note is placed towards the bottom of the cover page.  In some cases, the Author Note also contains an acceptance of any financial support and of any individuals that helped with the research project. This page also contains the date of writing the paper.

Here are two examples of a basic APA cover page:

Criminal psychology

Samantha and Eric

University of Los Angeles

5 August 2020

Impact of Digital Marketing on Society

Stacy Carpenter


16 January 2018

A one-passage summary of the entire research – typically no more than 240 words in length (and in many cases, it is well brief than that), the Abstract provides an overview of the study.

An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a theory. A good abstract is short — about one hundred sixty to two hundred forty words — and is written in an unbiased, neutral style. Your writing voice will not be as plain here as in the body of your research paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and encapsulate your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

Table of Contents

The table of contents is placed on the third page, includes the list of headlines for all the sections with the page numbers mark. A short essay or research paper requires no table of contents.

If your written report or research paper is very long, it may be helpful to include a table of contents showing the page number where each section starts.

For those writing an extensive document, i.e. a book, here is the suggested order for placing items in a Table of Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Commencement/Introduction
  • Body (sections I, II, III, IV…)
  • Descriptive Notes
  • Postscripts
  • Contact Organizations
  • Terminology
  • Bibliography

A less difficult Table of Contents may simply include the following parts: Introduction, Body, Conclusion (or Summary), References, along with the matching page number where each part begins.

Table of Content in a research paper could be like:

Introduction…………………………………………..……….1 Politics……………………………………………………………….5 Economical Growth…………………………………..8 Arts and Music……………………………………………..15 Conclusion……………………………………………………..18 References………………………………………………………22


The introduction is the first major section of the text in the paper. Here you can point out the reasons why you have started to write your paper and entitle thesis as well.

The Introduction commonly expresses the topic under exploration, outlines or discusses relevant previous research, identifies unanswered issues that the current research will address, and provides a summary of the research that is to be described in greater detail in the parts.

The research paper commencement or start should address these three questions: What, how, and why?

What?  Be particular about the subject of the paper, introduce the grounding, and define key concepts.

How?  To let the reader know what to anticipate from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “chart” of what will be considered, briefly presenting the key components of the paper in sequential order.

Why?  This is the most predominant, but also the hardest, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new stuff or insight are you offering? What important concerns does your essay help define or answer?

Body paragraphs (research description and methods)

The body of a research paper reveals the essence of the work. The major difficulty faced by most writers is how to arrange the information presented in the paper.

One way to stay on track is to use your theory statement and subject sentences. Check:

  • subject sentences against the theory statement;
  • subject sentences against each other, for resemblance and logical arrangement;
  • and each sentence against the subject sentence of that paragraph.

Be well informed of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something alike, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transformations between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

Methods that can be written in body of research paper:

  • Procedure: Describe data collection or participant selection.
  • Prototype: Describe the prototype or dataset, including basic enumerations.
  • Setting: Describe the setting, if applicable (generally only in subjective designs)
  • Investigation: If applicable, describe, in detail, how you implemented the investigation
  • Instrument: Describe, in detail, how you executed the instrument; Describe the loyalty and validity linked with the instrument
  • Data Inspection: Describe the type of course of action (tests, meetings, etc.) and software (if used)

This section describes the data that was gathered and the outcomes of any statistical assessments that were performed.  It may also be introduced by a description of the analysis method that was used. If there were numerous experiments, then each experiment may require a separate results section such as:

Example of writing results in a research paper

  • Research Query 1 (Quantitative)
  • Outline of the results
  • Research Query 2 (Qualitative)
  • Describe the results

Discussion is the final major section of work in the research paper. The discussion often features a synopsis of the results that were acquired in the study, expresses how those results communicate the topic under examination and/or the complications that the research was designed to address, and may stretch upon the suggestion of those results.

Discussion in research papers may include:

  • Recapitulate overall research query
  • Express how the results, when taken together, acknowledge the main question
  • Describe how the results explain or contradict the writings you reviewed

Conclusion in a research paper implies the evaluation of results acquired during the research and the quick review of the whole work.

It might include following:

  • A quick summary of all of the major facts stated in the body
  • Recapitulate the thesis statement
  • Ending remark or idea.

The research paper conclusion is tailored to help your reader out of the paper’s logic, giving them a sense of decisiveness. Track down the course of the work, highlighting how it all comes together to prove your theory statement. Give the paper a sense of decisiveness by making sure the reader recognizes how you’ve resolved the issues aroused in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general outcomes of the argument, outline what the paper offers to upcoming students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument brings up but cannot or does not attempt to answer.

While writing the conclusion you should not do the following:

  • Offer new differences of opinions or important information
  • Take up any more expanse than necessary
  • Begin with ancestry phrases that indicate you are ending the paper (for example “In conclusion”)

Bibliography/reference list

Bibliography in a research paper means the record of backing literature and other information sources. Academicians often ask to create an explained bibliography.

The bibliography can also include a list of clauses and any references from books – an indexed list of the sources that are cited in the research paper (by the surname of the first author of each reference). Each reference should follow specific APA instructions regarding author names, dates, article subjects, journal subjects, journal book numbers, page numbers, book producers, publisher locations, websites, and so on.

Appendix (if any add-ons were available)

Appendix in a research paper includes additional information (which is optional) – in some cases, additional information that is not evaluative to understanding the research paper, such as a list of experiment encouragement, details of a secondary scanning, or programming code, is provided.  This is often placed in an Appendix.

APA Research Paper Format Example

apa research paper format example title page

MLA Research Paper Format Example

mla research paper format example 1

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Research Paper

3 September 2023

last updated

A research paper is a product of seeking information, analysis, human thinking, and time. Basically, when scholars want to get answers to questions, they start to search for information to expand, use, approve, or deny findings. In simple words, research papers are results of processes by considering writing works and following specific requirements. Besides, scientists research and expand many theories, developing social or technological aspects of human science. However, in order to write relevant papers, they need to know a definition of the research, structure, characteristics, and types.

Definition of What Is a Research Paper and Its Meaning

A research paper is a common assignment. It comes to a situation when students, scholars, and scientists need to answer specific questions by using sources. Basically, a research paper is one of the types of papers where scholars analyze questions or topics , look for secondary sources , and write papers on defined themes. For example, if an assignment is to write a research paper on some causes of global warming or any other topic, a person must write a research proposal on it, analyzing important points and credible sources . Although essays focus on personal knowledge, writing a research paper means analyzing sources by following academic standards. Moreover, scientists must meet the structure of research papers. Therefore, writers need to analyze their research paper topics , start to research, cover key aspects, process credible articles, and organize final studies properly.

The Structure of a Research Work

The structure of research papers depends on assignment requirements. In fact, when students get their assignments and instructions, they need to analyze specific research questions or topics, find reliable sources , and write final works. Basically, the structure of research papers consists of the abstract , outline , introduction , literature review , methodology, results , discussion, recommendations, limitations, conclusion , acknowledgments , and references. However, students may not include some of these sections because of assigned instructions that they have and specific types of research papers. For instance, if instructions of papers do not suppose to conduct real experiments, the methodology section can be skipped because of the data’s absence. In turn, the structure of the final work consists of:

research paper

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🔸 The First Part of a Research Study

Abstract or an executive summary means the first section of a research paper that provides the study’s purpose, research questions or suggestions, main findings with conclusions. Moreover, this paragraph of about 150 words should be written when the whole work is finished already. Hence, abstract sections should describe key aspects of studies, including discussions about the relevance of findings.

Outline serves as a clear map of the structure of a research study.

Introduction provides the main information on problem statements, the indication of methodology, important findings, and principal conclusion. Basically, this section of a research paper covers rationales behind the work or background research, explanation of the importance, defending its relevance, a brief description of experimental designs, defined research questions, hypotheses, or key aspects.

🔸 Literature Review and Research or Experiment

Literature Review is needed for the analysis of past studies or scholarly articles to be familiar with research questions or topics. Hence, this section summarizes and synthesizes arguments and ideas from scholarly sources without adding new contributions. In turn, this part is organized around arguments or ideas, not sources.

Methodology or Materials and Methods covers explanations of research designs. Basically, techniques for gathering information and other aspects related to experiments must be described in a research paper. For instance, students and scholars document all specialized materials and general procedures. In this case, individuals may use some or all of the methods in further studies or judge the scientific merit of the work. Moreover, scientists should explain how they are going to conduct their experiments.

Results mean the gained information or data after the research or experiment. Basically, scholars should present and illustrate their findings. Moreover, this section may include tables or figures.

🔸 Analysis of Findings

Discussion is a section of a research paper where scientists review the information in the introduction part, evaluate gained results, or compare it with past studies. In particular, students and scholars interpret gained data or findings in appropriate depth. For example, if results differ from expectations at the beginning, scientists should explain why that may have happened. However, if results agree with rationales, scientists should describe theories that the evidence is supported.

Recommendations take its roots from a discussion section where scholars propose potential solutions or new ideas based on obtained results in a research paper. In this case, if scientists have any recommendations on how to improve this research so that other scholars can use evidence in further studies, they must write what they think in this section.

Limitations mean a consideration of research weaknesses and results to get new directions. For instance, if researchers found any limitations of studies that could affect experiments, scholars must not use such knowledge because of the same mistakes. Moreover, scientists should avoid contradicting results, and, even more, they must write it in this section.

🔸 The Final Part of a Conducted Research

Conclusion includes final claims of a research paper based on findings. Basically, this section covers final thoughts and the summary of the whole work. Moreover, this section may be used instead of limitations and recommendations that would be too small by themselves. In this case, scientists do not need to use headings for recommendations and limitations. Also, check out conclusion examples .

Acknowledgments or Appendix may take different forms, from paragraphs to charts. In this section, scholars include additional information on a research paper.

References mean a section where students, scholars, or scientists provide all used sources by following the format and academic rules.

Research Characteristics

Any type of work must meet some standards. By considering a research paper, this work must be written accordingly. In this case, the main characteristics of research papers are the length, style, format, and sources. Firstly, the length of research work defines the number of needed sources to analyze. Then, the style must be formal and covers impersonal and inclusive language. In turn, the format means academic standards of how to organize final works, including its structure and norms. Finally, sources and their number define works as research papers because of the volume of analyzed information. Hence, these characteristics must be considered while writing research papers.

Types of Research Papers

In general, the length of assignments can be different because of instructions. For example, there are two main types of research papers, such as typical and serious works. Firstly, a typical research paper may include definitive, argumentative, interpretive, and other works. In this case, typical papers are from 2 to 10 pages, where students analyze research questions or specific topics. Then, a serious research study is the expanded version of typical works. In turn, the length of such a paper is more than 10 pages. Basically, such works cover a serious analysis with many sources. Therefore, typical and serious works are two types of research papers.

Typical Research Papers

Basically, typical research works depend on assignments, the number of sources, and the paper’s length. So, a typical research paper is usually a long essay with the analyzed evidence. For example, students in high school and colleges get such assignments to learn how to research and analyze topics. In this case, they do not need to conduct serious experiments with the analysis and calculation of data. Moreover, students must use the Internet or libraries in searching for credible secondary sources to find potential answers to specific questions. As a result, students gather information on topics and learn how to take defined sides, present unique positions, or explain new directions. Hence, typical research papers require an analysis of primary and secondary sources without serious experiments or data.

Serious Research Studies

Although long papers require a lot of time for finding and analyzing credible sources, real experiments are an integral part of research work. Firstly, scholars at universities need to analyze the information from past studies to expand or disapprove of researched topics. Then, if scholars want to prove specific positions or ideas, they must get real evidence. In this case, experiments can be surveys, calculations, or other types of data that scholars do personally. Moreover, a dissertation is a typical serious research paper that young scientists write based on the research analysis of topics, data from conducted experiments, and conclusions at the end of work. Thus, serious research papers are studies that take a lot of time, analysis of sources with gained data, and interpretation of results.

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A Complete Guide on Components of A Research Paper In 2023

components of a research paper

Want to know the components of a research paper, don’t worry you are at the right place. Here in this post we will tell you a complete guide on the components of a research paper. A research paper is a written document that is created by a researcher, in which they present their findings on a particular topic. The primary aim of a research paper is to communicate the results of a study or investigation to an audience in a clear and concise manner. 

A well-written research paper follows a specific structure that helps the reader to understand the content easily. In this article, we will discuss the components of a research paper that are necessary to create a successful and effective document.

What is a Research Paper?

Table of Contents

A research paper is a written document that presents the findings of a study or investigation conducted by a researcher or group of researchers. 

The purpose of a research paper is to communicate the results of the study to a specific audience, such as academics, practitioners, or policymakers, in a clear and concise manner. 

Research papers are often used to contribute to the knowledge in a particular field or to provide solutions to a particular problem. They are typically based on primary or secondary research and may involve various methods, such as surveys, experiments, case studies, or literature reviews. 

Research papers follow a specific structure and formatting guidelines and are often published in academic journals, conferences, or other scholarly publications. 

This will be clear once we will understand the components of a research paper.

Significance of Research Paper

Research papers have significant importance in various fields and disciplines. Some of the key significance of research papers are:

Advancing knowledge: Research papers contribute to the advancement of knowledge by providing new insights, perspectives, and discoveries in a particular field. They often build upon previous research and provide a foundation for future studies.

Validating theories: Research papers provide empirical evidence that supports or refutes existing theories, which helps to establish their validity or accuracy.

Providing solutions: Research papers may provide practical solutions to real-world problems or challenges in various fields, such as healthcare, education, or business.

Enhancing critical thinking: Research papers require critical thinking and analysis, which helps researchers develop their analytical skills and improve their ability to evaluate information objectively.

Improving decision-making: Research papers can provide decision-makers, such as policymakers or business leaders, with evidence-based insights and recommendations to inform their decisions.

Establishing credibility: Research papers help researchers establish their credibility and reputation within their field by demonstrating their expertise, knowledge, and contributions to the field.

Understanding of the components of a research paper will give a better overview of its significance.

Components of A Research Paper – That You Must Know

Here is the complete list of the components of a research paper that you must know:

The title of a research paper is the first thing that readers see. It should be clear, concise, and informative. A good title should provide the reader with an idea of what the paper is about. The title should also be relevant to the research topic and capture the attention of the reader. The title should be centered on the page and in bold letters.

2. Abstract

The abstract is a brief summary of the research paper. It is usually a paragraph or two that provides a summary of the study’s purpose, methods, results, and conclusions. The abstract should be informative, clear, and concise. It should include the research question, the methodology used, the findings, and the conclusions drawn from the study. The abstract should be written in a way that is easy to understand for readers who may not have a background in the field.

3. Introduction

The introduction is the first section of the research paper. It provides background information on the research topic and establishes the context for the study. The introduction should provide an overview of the research question, the purpose of the study, and the significance of the research. It should also include a brief review of the literature on the topic and a statement of the hypothesis or research question.

4. Literature review

The literature review provides an overview of the existing research on the topic. It summarizes and synthesizes the relevant literature to establish the need for the current study. The literature review should include a critical analysis of the literature, highlighting any gaps in the research that the current study will address. It should also provide a theoretical framework for the study.

5. Methodology

The methodology section describes the methods used in the study. It provides a detailed description of the study design, sample selection, data collection, and data analysis procedures. The methodology should be written in a way that is clear and concise, allowing other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the study. It should be written in a way that is clear and easy to understand. The results should be presented in a logical and organized manner, using tables, graphs, and charts where appropriate. The results should also be discussed in relation to the research question and the literature review.

7. Discussion

The discussion section interprets the results and draws conclusions based on the findings. It should relate the results to the research question and the literature review. The discussion should also highlight the implications of the findings for future research in the field. It should be written in a way that is clear and concise, presenting the key points of the study.

8. Conclusion

The conclusion provides a summary of the research findings and the implications of the study. It should also provide recommendations for future research in the field. The conclusion should be written in a way that is clear and concise, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

9. References

The references section provides a list of all the sources cited in the research paper. The references should be formatted according to the guidelines provided by the journal or publication.

10. Appendices

The appendices section contains any additional information that is relevant to the study but not included in the main body of the paper. This may include raw data, additional tables or graphs, or survey instruments used in the study.

  • Elements of Research
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How To Effectively Write A Research Paper?

After understanding the components of a research paper, let us determine the proper way of writing a research paper which can be a challenging task. But, there are some key steps you can take to help ensure that you write an effective paper. Here are some tips on how to write a research paper:

1. Choose a topic

Select a topic that is interesting and relevant to your field of study. Make sure that your topic is specific and well-defined, and that there is enough research available on the topic to support your paper.

2. Conduct research

Once you have chosen a topic, conduct thorough research using a variety of sources, including books, scholarly articles, and online databases. Make sure that you take detailed notes on the sources you consult, including the author, title, and publication date.

3. Create an outline

Organize your research into a logical structure by creating an outline for your paper. This will help you to ensure that your paper is well-organized and flows logically.

4. Write a strong introduction

Your introduction should grab the reader’s attention and provide background information on your topic. It should also clearly state your research question or thesis statement.

5. Develop your argument

Use the body of your paper to develop your argument and provide evidence to support your thesis statement. Make sure that you use clear and concise language and avoid jargon or overly technical terms.

6. Use proper citation

Make sure that you cite all of your sources properly using the appropriate citation style for your field of study. This will help you to avoid plagiarism and ensure that your paper is credible and well-researched.

7. Revise and edit

Once you have completed a draft of your paper, take the time to revise and edit it thoroughly. Make sure that your paper is well-organized, free of grammatical errors, and that your argument is clear and compelling.

A research paper is a complex document that requires careful planning and attention to detail. Each component of a research paper plays a crucial role in communicating the findings of the study to the audience. The title, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, references, and appendices are all necessary components of a research paper.

The title and abstract provide a brief summary of the research topic and the key findings of the study. The introduction and literature review establish the context for the research and highlight the need for the study. The methodology section provides a detailed description of the methods used in the study, and the results section presents the findings in a clear and organized manner. The discussion section interprets the findings and draws conclusions, while the conclusion provides a summary of the study and recommendations for future research.

The references section and appendices provide additional information that supports the findings of the study. Proper formatting of these components is crucial to ensure that the research paper adheres to the guidelines provided by the journal or publication.

In summary, a well-written research paper follows a specific structure that includes several components. Each component plays an essential role in communicating the findings of the study to the audience. By paying careful attention to each component of the research paper, researchers can create an effective document that contributes to the field’s knowledge and advances future research.

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  1. How Do You Make an Acknowledgment in a Research Paper?

    To make an acknowledgement in a research paper, a writer should express thanks by using the full or professional names of the people being thanked and should specify exactly how the people being acknowledged helped.

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    The sample methodology in a research paper provides the information to show that the research is valid. It must tell what was done to answer the research question and how the research was done.

  3. What Is a Good Title for My Research Paper?

    The title of a research paper should outline the purpose of the research, the methods used and the overall tone of the paper. The title is important because it is the first thing that is read. It is important that the title is focused, but ...

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    The four main parts of a research paper are the introduction, body, conclusion, and reference page. These parts can be broken down further

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    A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results

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    A research paper consists of 10 parts: cover page, table of content, abstract, introduction, methodology, data analysis, findings and discussion

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    Research Paper Structure – Main Sections and Parts of a Research Paper · 1. Introduction · 2. Material and Methods · 3. Results and Discussion.

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    The basic parts of a research paper include the title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references.

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