Writing is a fantastic outlet for creativity, it gives you a chance to weave stories and create worlds. Sometimes, though, you will have to step outside of the realm of fiction and use your writing to share technical knowledge with your readers.

In your academic life, you are going to write a lot of papers, they will vary in topics from current events to research papers and more. Today, though, we will focus on the idea of research papers. Research papers may seem daunting at first, but once you know the key components, they aren’t anywhere near as intimidating.

These research papers differ from the less formal structure that you would use when you are writing creatively. However, once you know what structure to follow, it is easy to fill in the outline and create the best research paper that you can here.

Structure

The first thing that you need to know about writing a high-level research paper is the structure of it. While the exact content of your article will vary depending on the topic of the paper, you will follow the same structure when you are writing each one.
The general structure is as follows:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References

The idea of this structure is that you start with your general information. The abstract, introduction, and literature review will introduce your audience to what your research is.

Then, with the implementation of sections such as literature review, methods, and results, you will explain to your audience exactly what you did in the experiment, how you tested your hypothesis, and what the results of the research were.

Once you get to your discussion section, you are going to go back to general information. For this reason, this structure is often referred to as the hourglass structure of writing a research paper. You start broad, get more specific, and then work toward more general information again.

In the following sections, we will go over exactly what these components are and some tips for how to construct them.

Title

The title of your paper is crucial. It is the first thing that your readers will see and will tell them what to expect from your writing. Your claim needs to be slightly short, but it also needs to be specific and portrays precisely what your paper is about.

When you are creating a research title – according to two scholars, Hairston and Keene – you should ask yourself four questions:

  • Does it predict the content of your paper?
  • Is it unusual to the reader?
  • Does it reflect the tone of your writing?
  • Does it contain keywords that would make it easy to find in a database?

Writing a title can be more difficult than it seems so many writers tend to write their paper first and then come back and give it a title to fit the content.

Abstract

Next up, you need to write your abstract. This part of your paper is usually short – usually a couple of hundred words at most. It is made to give your readers a quick overview of what your paper is about.

When writing your abstract, you need to include not only the topic of your paper but a general statement about methods and findings as well. You are going to want to add four aspects in your abstract.

A motivation/problem statement. What problem is your research solving or question is it answering?

Methods. How did you get your results?

Results. What did you learn/create your methods?

Conclusion. What are the broader implications of your research?

Much like the title, since it should encompass the entirety of your research paper, many people wait until they have written the bulk of their research paper to write it.

Introduction

The first part of the mass of your paper is the introduction. This is the top of your “hourglass” so, naturally, it is going to start out generally.

You need to first introduce your reader to what your paper is. First, you will enter your topic broadly and give the reader background information that they will need to know to understand your research. Then, you will narrow this broad information down to the specific research question that you are proposing.

Literature Review

Before you get into your research, you need to explain the study that came before yours. In your literature review, you are going to discuss previous research, highlight those researchers findings, and even identifying gaps in the research.

Your literature review will also examine the methodologies of previous researchers and explore where the research can move forward. In this way, you will be using your literature review to highlight where previous research was lacking and set your paper up to explain how your research fills in those gaps.

Methods

The next part of your paper is rather straightforward. You are going to describe the methods of your research – how you got the results you ended up with.

Generally speaking, you are going to want to make this part detailed enough that someone reading your paper can repeat the study precisely the way that you did to test your results.

Results

After you discuss your methods, you are going to introduce the results of your research. Remember, this section is for blatantly stating your results, but you aren’t going to discuss them yet.

Exactly how you disclose your results will depend on if they are qualitative or quantitative.

Discussion

This is the section where you get the chance to discuss and interpret the results of your study. For example, tell your reader the implications that this study has and how the results answer the hypothesis. You should also take the time to relate your results and studies to the ones you discussed in your literature review.

References

Finally, you are going to want to create your bibliography. You should be careful to follow the format of the style you are using in your paper (MLA, APA, etc.).

Conclusion

There is a specific structure that needs to be followed when you are writing a research paper. However, once you know what the format is, it isn’t as daunting. If you are still stuck, though, you can always consult a “write my research paper” service for tips and tricks.

Bio
Carol Bull
Freelance writer and experienced content distributor interested in culture, management and psychology. Also a job search enthusiast, career advice blogger, Bauhaus fan. Today an active member of various writing websites and blogs.