What are the parts of a research paper?

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What are the parts of a research paper?

You cannot learn how to write a research paper if you do not know which sections you should include in the paper. There are 5 basic parts of a research paper that every paper should include. These parts can be subdivided into other sections depending on the research paper format that you are using.

The five basic parts of a research paper are; Introduction, Literature review, Methodology, Results, and Discussion. The paper can also include an Abstract, Conclusion, Acknowledgements, References page, and Appendix. It all depends on the format and the instructions given with the research paper.

The Parts of a Research Paper Explained

The Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of the research paper. It provides an overview of the research and is usually just one paragraph of about 200 to 250 words long. The abstract tells the reader of the rationale behind the topic, the approach to the research and pertinent findings.

The Introduction

The introduction section is a concise and brief overview of the research paper. This provides the reader with the objectives of the study. It also details the hypothesis and tells the reader why you chose to discuss or research on that topic. Also, the introduction should provide a brief explanation of the design used in the research and how it was able to achieve the desired objectives. The introduction is usually about two pages.

The Literature Review

A literature review follows the introduction. A literature review provides both a summary of the paper and a synthesis of the information presented. However, it should not be confused with an annotated bibliography. It is usually organized using subheadings.

A literature review should contain the following;

  • Background information which introduces the reader to the topic of research
  • Recent research conducted on the topic. All the recent research that relates to your paper should be included and arranged in a chronological or thematic manner. This will provide the basis for your paper.
  • Provide a comparison of different studies also to ground your paper
  • Provide an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the previous papers so you can show the gap that your research is trying to fill.

The Methodology

What methods did you use to conduct the research? This is what this part of a research paper entails. Here you provide details on what was done and how it was done when conducting research. Here you will include information such as;

  • The type of research you did – qualitative or quantitative
  • How you collected data that you are going to present in your paper
  • How you analyzed the data collected during the research
  • The tools and materials that you used in the research process
  • Why you chose the methods you decided to use in your research

When writing the methodology avoid presenting explanations. The explanations will be given in the discussions.

The Results / Findings

In the results section, you report the data found. Figures and tables can be used where necessary to present the data obtained more effectively. This section should only serve for presentation of the findings. Again the explanations should be saved for the discussions section. The length of this section basically depends on the amount of data or information you have to present.

The results should be described in text to take the reader to what is most important. It is not only a section to present numbers and tables. Texts should also be used when writing the results section. If the figures and tables are not used in the results section, they can be attached in the appendix section at the end of the paper. It is either one or the other.

Discussions

One of the most important parts of a research paper is the discussion. This is where you present the explanations or interpretations of the results and findings you have presented. Here you can also present the significance of the findings. The discussion should be clear and coherent leaving no doubt in the mind of the reader about what you have presented.

You should ensure that all the data is discussed comprehensively. Give the decision as to whether the data has supported or rejected your hypothesis. The data might not also not be enough for you to make a decision. However, avoid dismissing it as “inconclusive.” Always draw conclusions from your data and treat it as completed work.

Here you can also present recommendations for future studies. You should also present the limitations to your study if any. Keep the limitations very brief.

Conclusion

Here you give a brief closing summary of the paper. The summary can tie together the research hypothesis and the data you have provided to leave the reader with a lasting impact.

References

For research papers you have borrowed from other sources. These sources should be cited in the text and they should also be listed in the references page. Of all the parts of a research paper, this one gives credibility to your research and helps you to avoid plagiarism by recognizing the authors of the information you have used.

Appendix

The Appendix is the last part of the paper. It is the part where you present detailed information that might become obstructive or distracting when used in the main body of the paper. It is where you present figures, tables, graphs, questionnaire, lists of words, mathematical proofs, and pictures.  

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