Research Paper Format Introduction:
To basically understand the format of a research paper, it is important to answer this question first: What is a research paper? A research paper is an academic writing that is based on the author’s original research pertaining to a specific topic. In addition, analyzing and interpreting the findings of the research are also essential components of a research paper. A research paper can be in different forms including a term paper, a doctoral dissertation, a master’s thesis, or any other research work in a given field. Writing a good research paper is fundamental when it comes to earning good grades in different courses including upper-level undergraduate course, graduate courses, and diploma courses, among other courses. It is therefore important to understand the logical and generally acceptable format of a research paper so as to gain supreme perfection and excellence in writing research papers.
Research papers may differ based on the academic level, for instance a dissertation written in the doctorate academic level will differ from a research paper written for an undergraduate course. Nonetheless, the format does not differ significantly. As such, learning how to write every page of a research paper is essential for all learners, researchers, experienced scientists, and young professionals. The goal of any research paper is to observe a relevant issue so as to find solutions to the issue and provide future forecasts. If a researcher covers a problem that has not been discussed recently, it could be difficult to demonstrate the implication of the research. All professional require the skills of writing a good research paper, and it is therefore important to understand and memorize the format and the major sections of a research paper.
The Format of a Research Paper and its Contents
There is a common structure that can be used in writing a research paper, and this format has a number of sections as listed below:
- Preliminary section
- Main Body
- Literature Review
- Study Design
- Data Analysis
- Summary and Conclusions
- Reference Section
This is the first section of a good research paper, and this section has various elements that include the title page, the table of contents, acknowledgements, list of figures, list of tables, and the abstract. Information in the title page may differ, but basically the title of the research paper, the name of the researcher, date, the institution, as well as other relevant information is included here. Precisely, the title talks about what, where, when, etc, and it gives a clear direction of what the paper is set to investigate. If there is a page of acknowledgement, the researcher recognizes persons that were involved for his or her successful completion of the research work. Table of contents is a list of all chapters and elements in those chapters in the research paper in their order and page numbers. List of figures and tables are lists that include all figures and table in the research paper, in their order from the first to the last. An abstract is a paragraph summarizes the contents of the research paper including the hypothesis, the major findings, and the procedures.
This is the second part of a research paper and it include contents such as the introduction, problem statement, significance of the problem, purpose, research questions, objectives of the study, assumptions, limitations, ethical considerations, and definition of terms. Within the introduction the researcher offers a background of his or her study. The background basically pertains to the observations that the researcher has made regarding the research topic leading him or her to undertake a research on that subject. Problem statement is a general introduction of the topic under research. The significance of the problem is a section that tries to comment on why the topic or problem being researched deserves investigation. The purpose refers to the goal of that the researcher will gain from understanding the topic under research. For instance, the purpose of a research project would be to gain further knowledge of the topic or to develop solutions to a given problem. In any research paper, there are a number of assumptions that a researcher makes so as to undertake the study. Therefore, assumptions section explains all assumptions made. Limitations refer to the restrictions that the researcher faced, and these restrictions could invalidate the research or make it less accurate. An example of limitations could be time where the researcher may have less time to carry out his research on a wider geographical extent. Definition of terms pertains to clarification of concepts or terms used in the research in a different way from its basic use or in a specific way if it has many interpretations. Ethical considerations is a section that talks about the ethical issues pertaining to the study, and the section explains the status and processes of the Institutional Review Board’s review.
This section enables the researcher to search for sources search as books, academic papers, journals, as well as other sources of information pertaining to his topic of research. After identifying these sources, the researcher reviews them so as to have a background towards understanding the study. Literature review enables a researcher to cite the findings and investigations of past researchers and documents and this builds upon the researcher’s preparation and knowledge to investigate the problem.
This is a section that includes the description of research procedures and design, sampling procedures, sources of data, instruments and methods of gathering data, and statistical treatment. Study design gives readers information that is essential in repeating the study with new data so as to duplicate the results. Description of research procedures and design exhaustively explains what was done step by step. Source of data provide information regarding what, who, where, when, and how data was collected. Sampling procedures help in explaining how a sample was achieve, and whether all or only part of data collected was used in the study. Instruments and methods of gathering data try to explain the procedure that were undertaken to obtain the data that was collected, including all ways through which this data was recorded. Finally, statistical treatment explicates the mathematical procedures that were utilized in data analysis, and it also entails the determination of the significance of the results obtained.
This is the fifth constituent of a research paper, and it includes a section of text with appropriate figures and tables. Data analysis describes observable patterns with regard to data collected, and to have a better understanding of this observation figures and tables are used to help in clarifying material where possible.
This section contains various elements that include restating the problem, description of procedures, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for further research. The overall section of summary and conclusions contracts al other previous sections, concisely presents all results pertaining to the hypothesis, and suggest anything that could be done in the study. Problem restatement is a brief reiteration of the problem. On the other hand, description of procedures refers to a short repetition of essential elements of the study design. Major findings are the results that are developed from the analysis of data as well as the literature review. Conclusion pertains to making comments about the implication of the findings developed by the study. Finally, recommendations for further research arise from the experience and knowledge gained from conducting this research work. As such, these recommendations refer to comments concerning how future studies could be improved or other related concepts or questions could be studies or investigated.
This is the last section of a good research paper. This section includes end notes, literature cited, and appendix. End notes are similar to footnotes but the difference is that end notes are located at the back instead of being located at the bottom of each page. End notes include references of all works cited during literature review, or other sections such as the background of the study, as well as the references for any direct or indirect quotations taken from other sources. End notes are listed in numerical order as presented within the text. This section is however optional, and it is normal to find research papers that lack this section. On the other hand, literature cited includes a list of bibliographic references for all works cited in the end notes. Finally, the appendix is a section that includes any figures, tables, forms, or other materials that are not key to the analysis but need to be included. The appendix also includes items such as questionnaires if any were used.
Essentially, a good research paper should include all the above sections, but as earlier said the format of a research paper generally depends on its purpose, the academic level of the researcher, among other factors. There are other research papers that do not have a general format or structure given the extent of research required. Otherwise, a research paper with all the sections addressed here can generally be ranked as a quality and distinguished research paper.