How to Structure a Research Paper: Steps on the Way to Success

No matter what subject you’re studying, you’ll have to learn how to structure a research paper. Some students want to find out everything about it as soon as possible, but others linger, hoping their essay will look good anyway. Unfortunately, it won’t, and the lack of proper structure might lead to a low grade or even to a total failure. Why? It’s simple: structure holds everything together. It inspires a writer and gives them additional ideas, helping them stick to their main points. Standard research at college level has three major parts. Sounds simple, but the thing is, each of these parts has its own nuances. After you learn them, writing academic essays will look like a piece of cake.

Major Parts of a Research Paper: What They Are and How to Build Them

Those who wonder how to write a research paper should start with identifying all components separately and understanding how they work together. If you have no idea where to start, don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Just look at the list below: it outlines each part of an essay and explains its relevance. We’ll discuss a template for an in-depth research paper and for a more standard essay.

1.Title page. Most college-level papers should have a title page. In most cases, it needs to mention a subject, your name, date of submission, as well as a title of an essay itself. Note that the title page is not needed in MLA format, but we’ll discuss these specifics later.

2.Abstract. This section is optional in general research paper structure. In more serious work, professors require abstracts: this is a short description of an essay. It should be no longer than 100 words unless required otherwise, and it must mention the main goal of your paper, explaining what you did from the third person’s point of view.

3.Introduction. Any paper, be that research or dissertation requires an introduction. This part makes readers familiar with the topic and shares some of its background with them. Many students dismiss introduction as unimportant, thinking they’ll be able to easily write a couple of sentences, but in reality, it has several components that you have to follow. First, remember its length: it has to be no longer than 10% from the word count. In short papers, it needs at least three sentences. Also, include the following:

a) Hook. This is the first and one of the most vital parts of a research article. Readers see the first sentence when they start reading, and it either impresses them or it doesn’t. Your task as a writer is to make certain it produces a good impression. It could be a funny joke in a less serious context, a shocking fact, or a bold claim that will stir people’s emotions.

b) Background. Here, the goal is to introduce the subject you’re planning on exploring. You need to show where it came from and mention what other people are saying. Its length depends on the size and depth of your work. Usually, several sentences are more than enough.

c)Thesis. From all components of a research article, students misunderstand thesis most often. It is an argumentative claim that states the point of an essay & explains its relevance. You should never use phrases like “this paper is…”, “I will…”, “The goal of this essay lies in…”, and so on. Start with the point itself — be bold and give your audience something that you’ll have to defend and explore in other parts of an essay. As an example: “Studying in university is more promising than interrupting education after high school because it results in more knowledge, better-paying jobs, and enhanced opportunities.”

4.Methods. This section belongs in dissertations mostly, but it could be among the components of research paper at times. Methods should describe ways in which you did your research. This includes listing sample size, techniques of collecting info, aims, and other qualities.

5.Results. All best research paper writers should share results of their work in a clear and objective manner. Their opinions should not be present in this section: it’s for facts alone. Convey everything you’ve achieved like you would in a report.

6. Discussion. This is among the more subjective parts of a research study. You should discuss your results and relate them to a position you’ve presented back in your thesis. Underline their relevance and explain what they mean to your audience.

7.Conclusion. Restate thesis, main aspects, and findings in your paper, and offer recommendation. For instance, discuss limitations of your work and inform future researchers on what they should focus on next.

8.References. A reference list comes in every paper. It should mention books, articles, and other sources you used when writing. They should be situated according to the rules of your chosen formatting style.

9.Tables & Figures. If you need any tables or figures to illustrate your points, put them in here. Add references to that page in the text of a paper.

10.Appendix. Same here: if you relied on any extra materials, you could mention them in this section. For example, interview questions you sent to your sample population could go here.

For students who are working on less serious essays, research paper parts are going to look even simpler. Introduction and thesis, as well as references and conclusion, stay the same. Body looks different. It’s divided into paragraphs of around 100-200 words, with topic sentences that state one point from thesis and closing sentences that sum the content up. Quotes should be followed by explanations, and it is better to include paraphrases rather than direct quotes unless your professor prefers the latter.

What Role Academic Style Plays in Research Essays

Apart from research paper components, another vital thing is formatting style. It comes in different shapes: there is MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and many others. Some colleges prefer a specific one, and they demand it from every student. Others ask for styles depending on a subject. This way, APA covers social science, MLA is for humanities, and so on. It doesn’t mean they can’t be used interchangeably, which is why it is better to learn all their rules.

What makes formatting important? The system of quotes. If you mix them up, you might engage in plagiarism even by accident. We recommend double-checking them very carefully. MLA demands using an author’s last name and a page number from a source you’re quoting from. Research paper structure APA asks for a name and a date. If you use direct quotes, a page number should be present as well. Harvard has a unique system of punctuation while Chicago needs careful arrangement with footnotes. Check templates each time you start working because mistakes in formatting are dangerous.

How Research Paper Structure Looks Like: Direct Example

Theory is good, but seeing a research paper example directly is better. We already told you everything about the parts of complex research, so now you know how to structure methodology, results, discussion, references, and other sections. It is time for showing you what simpler papers look like. You’ve seen intro, thesis, and conclusion — now we’ll be discussing research essay body.

  • Topic sentence. With a thesis about university education being a better option than what students get in high school, the first topic sentence would be something like this: “Universities provide students with more knowledge than high schools because they have more complex and in-depth programs.” It addresses the first thesis point, offers some evidence for supporting it, and produces ideas for further discussion.
  • Quotes & explanations. What does a research paper consist of? Quotes from trustworthy sources. They serve as evidence that helps prove the writer’s points. But there is a secret you should keep in mind. Let’s imagine you quoted, ““55% of people who did not apply to university expressed their regret” (Smith 56).” It isn’t enough to drop this topic here and start talking about something else. You need to explain the quote to justify its inclusion. This is how you could do this: “Based on this observation by Smith, the majority of students who interrupted their education regretted it with time.” Do the same with other quotes or paraphrases.
  • Closing sentence. Each paragraph must have closing parts of a research report. You could do it in two ways. The first one is concluding information you’ve just discussed: “Thus, by entering university, students access complex programs that enhance their knowledge as well as give them an idea about what they enjoy studying most.” The second way is creating a link to the next point: “More than that, bigger knowledge helps expand available job opportunities.”

Rely on these examples as template. You could build your thesis, opening & closing sentences in similar ways, enjoying knowing that you did everything correctly. Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask them — we’d be more than happy to help you directly.

Revising Research Paper Sections: Why & How to Do That

After students figure out layout along with complete research, they might be compelled to think that their work is over and they can submit it for their professor’s evaluation. Alas, it’s not that simple. Revision is a vital stage that you might want to skip, but it’ll never lose its relevance. When you’re writing, your ideas are overflowing and mix together; even if you’re being careful, you are making grammar, content, as well as formatting mistakes. You’ll notice them only in case you decide on re-reading what you wrote. We suggest doing that at least several hours later — preferably after several days. Your text would look differently then, and mistakes would stand out. Another good option is re-reading it aloud or printing a copy. Every error is going to appear much clearer this way.

If you don’t like the idea of editing a paper by yourself, you could always hire research paper editing services from professionals. Respectable academic companies provide this kind of help: they read, add parts to a research paper if needed, or remove some unnecessary bits. You could dictate your own preferences, and experts would follow them. We recommend this service in instances where students aren’t confident about their fluency, aren’t English native speakers, or just aren’t in a mood to do any re-reading or even editing. Many of them are busy and don’t have enough time for any extra work, especially after they’ve completed lengthy and time-consuming research.

Follow Guidelines & Build Academically Correct Papers

We hope our examples and explanations were useful to you. Follow each guideline when working on your essay research, structure it like we’ve pointed out, and you’ll never get a low grade for it. Topics are essential, too: if you have a choice, choose something you’re really interested in. Check research paper topics in 2022 for ideas and don’t forget that structure means everything. Thesis helps you remember what main ideas you’re set on exploring, opening sentences refine them, and closing sentences conclude your thoughts. Build sections of a research paper like this and enjoy excellent results.

Posted by Chris M., March 21, 2022

How to Cite a Research Paper

Discover how to cite a research paper in all academic citation styles. Learn about APA, MLA, ASA, Chicago, and Turabian.

Posted by Chris M., May 30, 2022 Read more
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