How To Structure a Research Paper

Just as in any form of exam or validation, a well-structured research paper allows you to make your research as detailed and comprehensive as possible. A research paper is different from other types of papers such as a book report, term paper, persuasive essay, college essay or general essay writing. A research paper has a definite structure and a more rational flow of thought.  Here are some important things to remember in structuring your research paper.

1.    The most important part in structuring your research paper is to keep your objectives and purpose for the paper as its guiding point. A research paper aims to collect and analyze raw data and information. It should also include the arguments of other contributors or scholars who are knowledgeable in that area. By keeping these things in mind, you are now ready to branch out into the other details of your paper.

2.    The first part of a research paper is the Introduction. The introduction may be the most difficult and elaborate part of the paper. Others even suggest that you write the introduction last in your paper. An introduction can be broken down into three parts, which are:

  • Thesis. In the thesis, a question or a statement of the problem is given. In the first part of the introduction, clearly state the problem or the research inquiry. Then, provide additional information or resources such as previous writings as to why this is a relevant research or thesis, and subsequently provide an idea of the main results or outcome you expect from your research.
  • Purpose of the paper. In the second part, you can fully explore your thesis and present the ‘bigger picture’ as to why you are researching it and later on provide recommendations.
  • Summary or recommendation of the writer. This is based on the facts and arguments. The third part allows the transition from the thesis to the main body of the paper.

3.    The body of your research paper should be organized as each main topic smoothly flows from one topic sentence to the supporting sentences and the concluding sentence. Allow enough of an idea on the first topic that would introduce the next topic, so that readers will not jump from one topic to another. 

4.    The conclusion summarizes all your main points. Any new thought or evidence should not be placed here.

Overall, a research paper gives the general idea of the paper first, then moves into details or its specifics, and flows back to the general or overall theme of the paper. It moves from a general presentation of the topic, to then discuss it in detail and even include recommendations for the specific details, then captures all of these to bring you back to the general theme.

It is important to remember that no matter how good your research is, poor structure will obscure your facts. You must put extra effort into structuring your paper well so as to really bring out the essence of your paper. 


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