The Research Paper’s Elements

Regardless of the field, research papers generally follow similar formats.  Because of this, other researchers (and your teacher!) expect you to conform to these expectations.  If not, people might not take your work seriously, thinking that you did not adhere to proper research protocols.  And if this is for school, not following the format means you’ll be getting a low grade.

1. Abstract

This gives an overview of what your paper is all about.  It briefly shows all parts of the paper, except for the reference list.  The abstract’s purpose is for other researchers (amateur and professional) to quickly see if they can use your paper in their study.

As this cannot be done until the paper is finished, it will be one of the last steps before the submission of your work.

2. Introduction

This section introduces the reader to the background of your study for a clearer understanding of why the paper was made.  It then presents the problem you seek an answer to and shows your chosen position.  Who your study will benefit is one more element in the introduction.

If the intro is not done well, the reader will not understand your paper’s purpose.  This means there will be minimal incentive to read further.

3. Literature Review

Here, the resources consulted are discussed.  This includes theories, definitions of key terms, and related studies that are both for and against your position.

4. Methodology

This part of the paper presents the process you used to answer the question of your paper.  This includes the instruments used (if any), the participants in the study (if any), the list of resources consulted (books, journals, records, school grades), the study’s theoretical framework, and the statistical methods applied (if needed).

It is crucial to know the steps involved because a wrong methodology – if it’s illogical or lacking – may mean that your results are not true.

5. Findings

In this section, the results of your research are presented and analyzed.  This is where the facts and figures are seen along with any statistical results.

6. Discussion of the results

Here, you present the analysis of the results, giving your interpretation.  Theories and researches found from your review of literature are compared and contrasted against the findings to determine what everything means, especially concerning your thesis statement.

7. Conclusion

This is where the results are summarized and then compared to other related studies.  Aside from affirming or refuting your position, the flaws and other limitations of your study are mentioned here.

Toward the end of the conclusion, you should state the implications of your research to interested stakeholders and your suggestions for them.  You should also bring up your ideas for future researchers to try.

8. References

This is the final part of the paper where all of your sources (articles, books, journals, and videos) are listed.  Aside from the references, you should also include an appendix where a copy of your data-gathering instruments (polls and questionnaires) and the tables you referred to in your findings can be found.

Summary

So that your work is taken seriously by your teacher and other interested parties, you must follow the format of a research paper.  Carefully consider the elements mentioned above so that your paper is more than acceptable to those reading your work.

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