In general terms, a research paper presents the writer’s viewpoint of a particular topic. Students might be required to submit a research paper (thesis/dissertation) for acquiring some professional qualification or degree. Researchers need to submit their original research or review results to be published in journals. A particular format needs to be followed while writing a research paper. The format might vary depending on the respective journal guidelines.
Problems in Writing a Research Paper
Writing a research paper is considered a complex process by many. They have no idea as to how and from where to start. The most common difficulty is not doing enough research about the study topic. Before you think about how to write a research paper, you need to first decide what to write. So, give yourself ample time to analyze the study topic thoroughly. Another major problem that is frequently faced is proper organization of a research paper. Presenting the facts in an organized manner is of utmost importance. There is often a lack of knowledge of the basic structure of a research paper. Different journals have different formats. That adds to the confusion of the students/researchers. To make things easier, the general format of a research paper is discussed below.
Basic Format of a Research Paper
Frame a suitable title for your research paper based on your research objective. It should not be too lengthy. Some journals specify a word limit for titles. Mention the author(s) name(s) with the respective institutional details. Full postal details of the corresponding author should also be mentioned. A short running head may or may not be specified depending on the target journal guidelines.
Abstract is a brief summary of the entire paper. Although small, it is a vital aspect of your research paper. People decide whether they want to go through the entire paper or not after reading the Abstract. It should present the research objective, methodology, results and conclusions of the research in brief. Generally, an Abstract can be of 200–300 words. But, some journals specify specific word limits for it.
The introduction gives an insight about your research topic to the reader. It should provide the complete background information about your topic. Explain the key terms of your research, and cite relevant information and findings from previous studies. Mention your research objective and hypothesis in this section. You can also list the remaining sections of your paper and mention what they present at the end of this section. This section is generally written in present tense.
This section should provide sufficient information about the materials and methods that were used to conduct the research. The study environment, strategies, instruments/equipments, data collection and analysis techniques that you used should be listed.
All the results that were obtained in relevance to the research question should be presented in detail. Use figures and tables to illustrate your findings, wherever applicable. Ensure that the results are presented systematically in a sequence, including the figures and tables.
In this section, you need to describe the implications or significance of your findings. You have to present your facts that support and refer to the statements made in the Introduction. It should be properly organized as is relevant to your research. You should avoid putting forth new ideas in this section. The effect and contribution of the study should also be mentioned here. Interpret your results properly and mention the supporting data for your conclusion.
This is an overall summary of the paper. Mention your research objective and discuss the points that you covered during your research. Generally, while writing a research paper, it is considered that Conclusion is much easier to write compared to Introduction because, in the former, the memory of the results is still fresh.Your Conclusion should relate directly to the statements that you made in the Introduction. Like Introduction, this section is usually kept in the present tense.
In this section, you can thank the individuals or institutions who made your research possible.
This section should contain a list of all the references cited in the paper. Ensure that you have cited only credible sources in your paper.