As with any written document, a research paper has to be clear, precise, and follow a logical structure. For this reason, research paper sections tend to conform to a recognized pattern; some basic elements are always included. Your particular field or instructor may have additional requirements, and you should find these out when the assignment is given.
The basic research paper sections are, in order:
- Title Page
The identifier of your paper, it includes an interesting but specific title, your name and any relevant information requested by the professor.
A very brief (about 300 words) summary of your topic, methods, results, and implications of these results.
The research paper section where you state your thesis, describe your academic qualifications in relation to the topic, the background of the issue, and why your study is relevant to the field. Identify who will benefit from it and why.
- Literature Review
The section where you prove you are up to date with the learning on your topic. Summarizes and assesses previous important studies, highlighting any gaps in the accumulated knowledge that you intend to fill. Includes basic information on the studies, like authors, titles, publications and dates.
Here the various quantitative and/or qualitative research methods you used are described, including the instruments, samples, and design of your studies.
- Data Analysis
The section in which you analyze the information collected from your designed method. Your system of analysis will be quantitative (such as functional data analysis) or qualitative (such as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) in accordance with your methodology.
This is where you present the findings from your analysis of the data collected during your research. The results may support or negate your original thesis statement. Do not alter results to support your thesis.
The research paper section in which you talk about the implications of your findings for your field and others, as well as present the limitations of your research/study. These limitations could be present from the start of your project or ones discovered during your work.
A restatement of your thesis, plus a concise summary of the other sections of your research paper, including methodology, data analysis and results.
An important research paper section that helps prove you are able to select appropriate academic sources, and gives credit for research that has been done by others. It also provides a way for your readers to check your thesis and reasoning, and can be a potential resource for future students.
Standard citation systems are used, so be sure to apply the right one for your subject. Some examples are Harvard, APA, MLA and Chicago.
The correct structure of your research paper is important, but your grade will also depend on your writing style, your choice of issue, and the thoroughness of your research. If you are familiar with these standard sections of a good paper then you will have an easier time preparing the information you need to include. You will also find it allows you to organize your time better in terms of research and writing.