What is a Research Paper?

In a college writing course, as in many disciplines, you may be asked to write a research paper. Read this article that explains the components of a research paper.

What is a research paper?

  • A research paper is a written discussion based on an analytical thesis and supported by a collection of ideas and information.
  • It is a way of presenting ideas and facts you have found through the reading of various materials.


Why do we write research papers?

  • As part of our academic assignments
  • To relate information and study findings in a professional manner
  • To find answers to academic and scholarly questions
  • For master's and doctorate theses


A research paper includes the following parts:

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Literature Review
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Conclusion
  9. References
  10. Appendices


1: Title Page

  • Choose a comprehensive title for your study.
  • Write your title in the middle of the page.
  • Below the title, write your name, the name of your instructor, the name of your institution, and the year.
  • Somewhere above the title, you write the running head*.
  • The running head should be as clear and short as possible.
  • The running head should appear on every page with the page number.
  • Click here to see a sample title page.


2: Abstract

  • Your abstract should be as short and clear as possible.
  • While writing your abstract:
    • Give a brief introduction to the general topic of the study.
    • Explain the exact research questions and the aims
    • Give a brief description of the methodology.
    • Give a brief description of the results.
    • Give a brief description of the discussion.
    • In other words, you answer the following questions in your abstract:
      • Why did you do the study?
      • What is the problem being addressed?
      • What did you do?
      • What did you find out?
      • What conclusions do you have?


3: Introduction

  • This is the part where you start with a broad basis and then narrow down to the particular field of study, explaining the rationale behind each step.
  • You give some background information, the importance of the study, the limitations of the study, and your assumptions.
  • Specifically:
    • Set the scene by giving your paper a context and by showing how your study fits in with the previous research in the field.
    • Give the rationale behind the research by justifying why your study is an essential component of research in the field.
    • State the limitations by saying what you could have improved.
    • State your assumptions by giving the reasons.


4: Literature Review

  • This is a process of gathering and documenting information from other sources.
  • It is a critical, in-depth evaluation of previous research.
  • A good literature review:
    • integrates the previous research together.
    • explains how it integrates into the proposed research program.
    • highlights areas of agreement and disagreement.


  • A Literature Review is NOT a chronological catalog of all of the sources,


  • a collection of quotes and paraphrasing from other sources;


  • it is an evaluation of the quality and findings of the previous research.
  • If your literature review can answer the questions below, it is a good one!


5: Methodology

  • This is the core of your paper and demonstrates how you used the scientific method.
  • Here, give an accurate description of the equipment and the techniques you used to collect data.
  • Explain how your raw data was collected and analyzed.


  • Describe the materials and equipment that you used in the research.
  • Explain how you gathered the sample:
    • Did you use any randomization techniques?
    • How did you prepare the samples?
  • Explain how you made the measurements:
    • What calculations did you make?
  • Describe the statistical techniques that you used upon the data.
  • You can write this section in subgroups like setting, participants, instruments, and procedure if it is applicable for your study.


6: Results

  • This announces your findings to the world.
  • In this part, present your findings without interpreting or evaluating them.
  • Include graphs, figures, and tables to make your point clear.
  • Describe exactly what you observed and found.


7: Discussion

  • Here, you add interpretations to your work and comment on the data and your findings.
  • Here, you would also criticize your methodology, suggest any modifications or improvements for your design, and give recommendations for future researchers.
  • Ask and answer "Do your results agree or disagree with previous research?"
  • Ask and answer "Has the experiment contributed to knowledge in the field?"


8: Conclusion

  • This is the final part of your research paper.
  • You should consider the following questions while writing your conclusion:
    • What has your research shown?
      • Give a brief description of the results
      • Give a brief summary of the discussion
    • How has your study added to what is known about the subject?
      • Point out the significance of your study
      • Discuss how your study relates to the field
    • What were the shortcomings?
      • Explain how any deficiencies may affect your results
    • Has your research left some unanswered questions?
      • Do the findings open up any suggestions for future research?
    • Are the results of any use in the real world?
      • Can you suggest any practical uses for the findings?


9: Reference

  • This part is also called "the citation list".
  • It is very important because it helps you:
    • prevent any accusations of plagiarism.
    • give fair credit to the work of previous authors in the field.
  • It must include all of the direct sources referred to in the body of the paper.

Enjoy your writing!


Adapted from https://yuwritingcenter.wikispaces.com/How+to+Write+a+Research+Paper
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2021, 2:19 PM