How to Structure a Research Paper Step-by-Step Guide

posted by Laura Callisen 09 Dec 2021
Table of contents:

Sooner or later a moment when student wonders how to structure a research paper comes. This guide is meant to make students who left searching for the last day before submission feel secure and prepared. Understanding what paper parts are expected allows thinking less about huge total word count and worrying about one thing at a time. As the result, the work gets done, and you enjoy observing a very good grade received for a perfect research paper.

Major Parts of a Research Paper

You probably already know everything about standard academic structure with introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. This is a basic layout that helps organize one’s thoughts and existing information on the topic that everybody in college knows about.

But what if a Sociology instructor requests you to conduct the original research, then write the report on it? Yes, just like all those scholars who wrote tons of scientific articles located in a library. Start thinking that hiring writing services for research papers is the best option, and you’ll be right since writing experts also wrote thousands and thousands of various academic papers and they know how to cope with this challenge. Though, understanding what exact research paper components are expected is beneficial in any case.

  • Title Page. The very first page of your manuscript must contain all essential information such as your name, instructor’s name, course, university name, date of completion, maybe even author’s note. This is easy, and the trick is to follow the unified formatting standards precisely.
  • Abstract. Even though it is located at the beginning, an abstract should be done after you covered all other sections of a research paper because it should reveal purpose, methods, results, and your interpretations’ summary.
  • Introduction. Use this section as an opportunity to present general background for your research such as historical data and key terms’ explanations. It may be oftentimes followed by a separate Literature Review section that describes what other scholars know about your subject and what studies have been conducted so far. 
  • Methods. Pretty much a self-explanatory section that includes a description of how everything was done. Methods can be qualitative and quantitative in nature and this is truly among the most important parts of a research article where study design, participants, and procedure are presented. Make sure your reader understands exactly what did you do and how.
  • Results. Now logical train of thought leads us to obtained results. This section should simply describe what you have found and present collected data. Remember, just present it, do not analyze it yet.
  • Discussion. And here is a section that many students think of the first once asked what does a research paper consist of. They are absolutely correct, as results’ interpretation and substantial analysis must be presented here. Do not forget about limitations and emphasize your study results’ significance for the field of study.
  • References. This section is obligatory regardless of its type and nature. Academic writing always presupposes relying on experts and information that is already known in your field to find out something new and valuable.
  • Tables And Figures. There is a recommendation to include all such long elements at the end of the paper including in-text references to needed parts. This makes a paper easier to read and look more organized. Please note that these components of a research article are not obligatory, your research might require only a few short tables that can be embedded in main body or there might be no need for this section whatsoever.
  • Appendix. All additional information that is not directly related to your study, should you decide to include it, must be placed in this section. It can be information that is useful for a better understanding of your topic but is not relevant enough to be included in the paper itself. Again, this section is not a must, you should think about adding it in case it is explicitly requested or you really need it. 

Importance of Structuring Research Paper According to Academic Styles

One might think that research paper structure APA is different from other styles such as MLA or Chicago. In fact, formatting styles have little connection to specific structure and parts. You’ll describe the same Methods section whether your text is formatted in MLA or APA style. The only difference is how you do this.

Let’s take a Literature Review section. Presented information is always the same but in MLA research paper example you should use Author-Page reference when acknowledging sources of information. In case your paper follows APA, Author-Date system of in-text references is needed. You should learn how to insert and format footnotes properly in case your instructor wants to see Chicago-style paper. 

Template and general layout will be different parts of a research report but presented information and content itself should not be changed if you apply different formatting styles. What’s the point in all that? The answer is simple: different styles are needed for papers in different fields, for example, your sociological experiment should be formatted in APA, historical research looks great presented in Chicago, and humanitarian subjects require MLA. A final decision on required style is up to instructor anyway so don’t worry about it, just make sure to follow the latest edition and pay attention to details. 

Research Paper Structure Example

What if you know about required components of research paper but have no idea what actually should be written in each of them? The solution could be just to pay for research paper and receive perfectly designed and completed research. Though it might not be as beneficial for one’s knowledge as writing such a complex project personally.

Let’s review a hypothetical and very brief research paper example that could help you understand the process and connection between components better. Assuming your topic is “The impact of workplace bullying”, the introduction should discuss what this particular type of bullying is, mention downwards and upwards subtypes, discuss known phases of it. This is a general background that leads to narrowed-down scope of your research focused on consequences for people. Make sure to include in-text references when you refer to previous studies.

Your next section should describe the actual method you are using, it is a guideline for the entire project. It might be an interview or anonymous survey completion. Describe the method of data collection, inform readers about participants, and how the process of data collection was organized.

Then proceed to one of the other parts to a research paper named Results section and present numbers or qualitative data that you have gathered during interviews or checking surveys’ results. A hypothetical example would be simply reporting that out of 30 participants 12 mentioned that bullying jeopardizes their safety, 8 consider quitting the job, 3 experience constant depression, and 7 feel that their welfare suffers as they are afraid to apply for a new position. Just present the gathered data without interpretations.

Finally, it is time to work on Discussion, do science, and interpret the obtained results in terms of impact on employees. Maybe your research revealed that workplace bullying has long-term consequences for its victims? This section depends on properly designed Methods section so that objective data is gathered. Do not forget to discuss implications and recommendations such as more substantial involvement of a human resource department on an informal level. Make sure that this section’s length is appropriate in terms of total count of words since very short Discussion section will undermine the quality of the entire paper. 

Revision Of Research Paper Sections

Hopefully, you already feel much better because you already know what obligatory parts of a research study must be included and what is expected in every section. Though remember that it is impossible to complete such complex projects in one sitting. You should distribute workload evenly and focus on separate sections separately. It is important to allocate enough time not only for research and writing process itself but for additional revisions as well.

You could follow suggested research paper structure precisely but it doesn’t mean some important factual information gets omitted or phrasing prevents readers from understanding main ideas. Always read and reread your papers several times before submission as it will help to eliminate all possible errors.

Even if you asked professionals to write my research papers, you should not leave submitting final papers till the last minute before deadline. We highly recommend reading provided deliverables for two reasons. Firstly, you learn how the task should be done by getting acquainted with the professionally written paper that follows all the requirements. Secondly, you may notice some drawbacks that writing experts overlooked. It is always a good idea to polish a paper before submission as additional points will be beneficial for your grade. 

Good Luck Structuring Your Research Paper

You may always leave searching the Internet and looking for how to write a conclusion for a research paper for the last stage of your research paper completion. Once you review our guide and know what exact research paper parts are needed, conclusion is no longer a problem. There might be some peculiarities such as the need to discuss implications for future researchers but the major part of work is done: you have conducted the experiment, gathered data, analyzed it, and completed a research paper based on obtained information. Congratulations! Now you know that being a scholar is not particularly easy but very rewarding as well as useful experience.

Laura Callisen

Blog writer for GrabMyEssay


Hello there! I am Laura Callisen, and I fancy myself to be a modern “Renaissance person.” I suppose my 30-something self began my incredible journey after having been born in Stavanger, Norway and then immigrating to the U.S. (Utah, actually) at the age of 5. I am certain that this change was more of a cultural “shock” for my parents than for me, because I quickly mastered the language and was clever enough to “play the game” of public education in America. After graduating from Skyline High School, where I spent two years as the school newspaper editor, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from the University of Utah was a natural culmination of my love for writing.

My inclination to be socially conscious led me to lots of community outreach and volunteering during my college years, especially in the areas of educational and housing improvement for the poor and a number of environmental crusades. My passion for philosophy and travel have now taken over, and I am enthralled with the widely varied value systems of all cultures in which I can immerse myself, if only temporarily. My life as a freelance writer allows a freedom I never want to sacrifice for a stuffy office!

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