The Anatomy of a Research Paper
A research paper encompasses many things. It may be a paper due at the end of a term or class. It may be the result of weeks, months or years of research. During the course of completing this type of academic writing assignment, you examine an issue to write an analytical or argumentative paper that is a summary of research and your conclusions.It is the combining of your thoughts with the thoughts of others.
Term papers are often considered this type of paper, and the term “term paper” is used interchangeably with research paper. However, the traditional definition of a term paper does not always require research, so if your assignment is a term paper, make sure the requirements are in line with what a paper involving research entails.
The anatomy of a research paper consists of four main parts:
- The introduction, including background information, history and outstanding research questions
- The body paragraphs, where research that includes current data and statistics is presented
- The discussion section, where problems within data are identified and solutions to them are identified
- The conclusion, where you sum up your research, findings and any drawn conclusions and make recommendations
Introduction of a research paper
The purpose of the research paper introduction is to set the stage for your paper. Setting the stage involves doing the following:
- Giving an explanation of what you are researching and the reason
- Identifying the issues you intend to examine
- Stating what you aim to prove
- Asking any relevant research questions that are outstanding and pertinent to your topic
In addition, the start of your research paper may also include a background or history section if the topic requires it. Providing this information is not a mandatory part of a paper involving research, but it is sometimes necessary to explain the development of a particular problem or issue to put your topic within context. Only use this section if it applies to your topic; do not force it into a topic where the information is unnecessary.
Body paragraphs of a research paper
The body paragraphs of a research paper focus on research. These are the body of your research, and this section is usually broken into multiple subsections. Each subsection focuses on a particular aspect of your research. The goals you should aim for with the body paragraphs include the following:
- Incorporation of current and relevant research as it pertains to your topic
- Presentation of evidence objectively and in a balanced manner
- Avoidance of drawing any conclusions about the research
Discussion or analysis section of a research paper
In the discussion or analysis section of a research paper, you focus on a thorough analysis of the research you presented as it pertains to your topic. Areas you might cover include the following:
- Any problems your research identifies
- Solutions to those problems
- Analyses of how the research you presented as it is relevant to your topic
The analysis section is usually the most crucial section of your research paper. Without an analysis or discussion, you are simply restating the research and opinions of others without any personal contributions in the form of the conclusions you draw and your opinion or thoughts.
Conclusion of a research paper
The conclusion of a research paper addresses your thesis statement by synthesizing the research you presented in your paper and should show how you accomplished what you set out to do or analyze. A good conclusion includes the following:
- Your thesis statement restated, not simply repeated
- The results of your research are summarized and synthesized
- Recommendations for further study or implications based off your research and analysis
A conclusion never introduces new material. If you have new material to introduce, it should be included in the body or discussion section of your research paper.
While the structure of a research paper is pretty straightforward, you must take care to ensure you are following the scope and purpose of your assignment to write a good paper. Proofreading and evaluating your paper are important steps in ensuring you tackle a research project with success. Likewise, finalizing your paper to ensure the best quality is vital to completing an effective research paper. By utilizing these steps, you improve your paper from the first word of the introduction to the last word of the conclusion.