Research Paper Structure

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Research Paper Structure – Know the Elements

When writing a research paper, one of the most important duties of the student is to ensure that every required part of the paper is included and that each part is in the correct order. The required elements are all part of the research paper structure. The reason that research papers must follow a certain pattern is to make it easier for the reader to follow the student's research and the information and viewpoints being presented. All research papers, no matter what the topic or thesis, have basic and mandatory structural elements.

The research paper abstract, is the first part of any decent research paper, especially at the college level. It allows anyone reading the paper to quickly learn about what will be contained within the pages of the research paper. As others may eventually use the paper for their own research purposes, including the abstract is a matter of courtesy. It ensures that somebody doesn't spend excess time reading a paper, only to realize that it does not address the right issues. An abstract for research paper does not need to be lengthy. It should be a short and concise blurb that the reader can quickly peruse, in order to determine relevancy.

The methods section of research paper is another important consideration for students. In order for the conclusions reached in the body of a research paper to be taken seriously, the research methods must be subject to study and scrutiny. This is why the methods section is so important. It is where students describe the research methodologies they have used. Scientific research papers especially need to have a solid methodology section. Without this, there is no way for the writer's peers to duplicate the research. Without the ability to duplicate and expand upon existing studies, a research paper is essentially useless. A solid methods section is the writer's chance to prove that they are researching with the goal of finding an answer, not researching with the goal of proving a predetermined outcome.

The research paper conclusion is the final paragraph or section of the research paper. It is that structural element in which the student has the opportunity to repeat the thesis statement and to indicate how the research proved or disproved that statement. It is very important the concluding remarks don't simply sum up what the research question posited in the introduction. Instead, the writer should refer back to the bits and pieces of evidence that were gathered during research and described in the body paragraphs or sections of the research paper. Ultimately the reader should finish reading the conclusion paragraph and be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are the primary pieces of data that support the thesis statement?
  • What are the primary pieces of data that contradict the thesis statement?
  • Would I use this research paper as a reference if I was researching this topic?

Ideally, the answer to the third question would be yes, because that answer indicates a trust in the author's research, writing, and the conclusions that he or she has drawn. In fact, the ultimate compliment of a research paper is having peers regard it with enough respect that they would refer to it in their own studies.

One part of the research paper that does not get enough consideration is the cover page research paper. Attention to detail matters in the world of academics. A sloppily thrown together cover page that doesn't adhere to format rules, or has a title that doesn't make sense is going to make the reader question whether or not they can trust the author's methodologies or his/her accuracy with information. Students should take the time to craft a cover page that is formatted correctly, contains all of the necessary information, and has a title that is relevant.