What is a research paper?

  • A research paper is a written discussion based on an analytical thesis and supported by a collection of ideas and information. (Click here and here for more information on how to find a research topic)
  • It is a way of presenting ideas and facts you have found through the reading of various materials.

Why do we write a research paper?

  • As part of our academic assignments
  • To relate information and study findings in a professional manner
  • To find answers to academic/ scholarly questions.
  • For master’s and doctorate’s theses.
  • A well-written research paper is composed by the use of a variety of outside sources with high credibility.
  • You should use quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing techniques along with your own words.
  • You should follow a style guide while writing your paper like APA* or MLA style.

Mainly, a research paper includes the parts below:

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Literature Review
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Conclusion
  9. References
  10. Appendices

1- Title Page:

  • Choose a comprehensive title for your study.
  • Write your title in the middle of the page.
  • Below the title, write your name, the name of your instructor, the name of your institution and the year.
  • Somewhere above the title, you write the running head*.
  • The running head should be as clear and short as possible.
  • The running head should appear on every page with the page number.
  • Click here to see a sample title page.

2- Abstract*:

  • Your abstract should be as short and clear as possible.
  • While writing your abstract:
    • Give a brief introduction of the general topic of the study.
    • Explain the exact research questions and the aims
    • Give a brief description of the methodology.
    • Give a brief description of the results.
    • Give a brief description of the discussion.
    • In other words, you answer the following questions in your abstract:
      • Why did you do the study?
      • What is the problem being addressed?
      • What did you do?
      • What did you find out?
      • What conclusions do you have?
      • Click here to see a sample abstract.
      • Click here for the "How to Write an Abstract" Wiki

3- The introduction:
  • This is the part where you start with a broad basis and then narrow down to the particular field of study, explaining the rationale* behind each step.
  • You give some background information, the importance of the study, the limitations of the study and your assumptions.
  • Specifically;

1- Set the scene,
  • by giving your paper a context.
  • by showing how your study fits in with the previous research in the field.

2- Give the rationale behind the research,
  • by justifying why your study is an essential component of research in the field.

3- State the limitations,
  • by saying what you could have improved.

4- State your assumptions,
  • by giving the reasons.

4- Literature Review:
  • It is a process of gathering and documenting information from other sources.
  • It is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research.
  • A GOOD literature review...
    • integrates the previous research together.
    • explaines how it integrates into the proposed research program.
    • highlights areas of agreement and disagreement.

  • A Literature Review is NOT a chronological catalog of all of the sources,
  • a collection of quotes and paraphrasing from other sources;
  • it is an evaluation of the quality and findings of the previous research.
  • If your literature review can answer the questions below, it is a good one!

research paper_sema.png

  • Click here for the "How to Write a Literature Review" Wiki.

5- Methodology:
  • This part is the core of your paper as it is a proof that you use the scientific method.
  • You give a completely accurate description of the equipment and the techniques for collecting the data.
  • You explain how the raw data was collected and analyzed.

  • Describe the materials and equipment that you used in the research.
  • Explain how you gathered the sample:
    • Did you use any randomization techniques?
    • How did you prepare the samples?
  • Explain how you made the measurements:
    • What calculations did you make?

  • Describe the statistical techniques that you used upon the data.

  • You can write this section in subgroups like setting, participants, instruments and procedure if it is applicable for your study.

6- Results:

  • Writing the results section is announcing your findings to the world.
  • In this part, present your findings without interpreting or evaluating.
  • Include graphs, figures and tables to make your point clear.
  • You make a commentary of exactly what you observed and found.
  • It is a link to the discussion section.

7- Discussion:
  • It is the part where you add interpretations to your work.
  • Comment on the data and your findings.
  • Criticize your methodology.
  • Suggest any modifications or improvements for your design.
  • Give recommendations for future researchers.
  • Ask and answer “Do your results agree or disagree with previous research?”
  • Ask and answer “Has the experiment contributed to knowledge in the field?”

8- Conclusion:
  • It is the final part of your research paper.
  • You should consider the following questions while writing your conclusion:
    • What has your research shown?
      • Give a brief description of the results
      • Give a brief summary of the discussion

  • How has your study added to what is known about the subject?
    • Point out the significance of your study
    • Discuss how your study relates to the field

  • What were the shortcomings?
    • Explain how any deficiencies may affect your results
  • Has your research left some unanswered questions?
    • Do the findings open up any suggestions for future research?
  • Are the results of any use in the real world?
    • Can you suggest any practical uses for the findings?

  • This part is also called “the citation list”.
  • It is very important because it helps you...
    • prevent any accusations of plagiarism.
    • give fair credit to the work of previous authors in the field.
  • It must include all of the direct sources referred in the body of the paper.

ENJOY your writing!
”Writing is easy: All you have to do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler.