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Research Paper Structure

Research Paper Structure: How to Make a Perfect Research Paper

Sep 29, 2012 - Posted to  Research Paper Writing
The research paper can be a highly intimidating and stressful requirement for most students. It demands a great amount of effort, accuracy and accumulation of data from a variety of sources. For this reason students often seek assistance in constructing research papers. In this article we will discuss the basic structure and format of a research paper as well as the crucial steps involved in sculpting it from beginning to end.
The framework of a research paper is simple. Just like any other paper it includes an introduction, body and conclusion. First we will look at the ingredients of a great introduction.

1. Introduction

The opening or introduction of your paper contains vital information that will set the tone for what follows. One of the most important components of the introduction is a thesis statement. The thesis statement is the one sentence (or two) that clearly states your purpose for writing and what objectives you plan to achieve in your paper. Your reader will be looking for this statement to be informed the questions discussed and presented in the paper. After you are confident about the clarity and precision of your thesis statement the next area of concern is your opening. How alluring is your first sentence?
The topic or opening sentence of your paper should engage the reader in such a way that they are enticed to continue on with the rest of your work. Regardless of the subject matter a strong introduction can make even the most mundane topics appealing. Also its good to include some brief background information on your topic to ease the reader into your main argument. Depending on your audience a great amount of detail may not be warranted but if your topic is rare or unknown to most, you should provide sufficient background information to properly acquaint the reader with the subject.

2. Body

In research writing, your purpose is to inform or explain. The body of the paper should satisfy these objectives. Your paper should present clear and carefully organized research information with support details and evidence to sustain your main argument. To ensure a compelling, well-organized, and accomplished body, a few things need to be in place; a detailed outline (as a guiding post), sufficient support and proper revisionary efforts.
*A citations section is also included in the revision subtopic.

Proper organization

To support your thesis you need to identify how you will organize your paper. Research papers can be formatted in many ways. Some examples include, chronological, cause and effect, problem and solution, and order of importance.

An outline for direction

After you've chosen an organizational technique you can now create an outline. Don't be afraid to make a lot of revisions. Its likely that you'll make changes to your thesis statement, organizational structure and outline during the process of writing your research paper. After you delve into your first draft hopefully you'll learn what works and what doesn't. Your outline should include subtopics followed by main points and further details for each point. For example:
Sample research topic: The impact of World War I on Australia
  • I. Australian Society
    • A. Women
      • 1. Change in roles; women replaced men in the workforce
This example relates to the sample research topic by highlighting one area of impact: Australian Society. It then further specifies the affect on women in the society and provides one clear example of how women were affected.

Support details

Your support details can come from a wide range of sources. Support details may be examples, statistics, facts, interviews, summarized or paraphrased information and so on. For a successful paper you must prove the validity of your points. For example, if you want to inform the reader about the impact of the war on Australian society your details must show a clear link from the war to an aspect of Australian society that was affected. If clear connections are not made and your evidence is not substantial your paper may suffer considerably.

Revise, revise, revise!

This step definitely takes time and patience but is well worth the effort. Revisions are at the heart of good writing. Fine tuning is what makes good papers great. For your research paper you want to look for a few things during your review.
Support details. Did you provide the reader with an array of sources? Are your supporting details all from one genre? Do your details thoroughly cover the topic addressed? Are there any empty holes? Do you leave your readers with unanswered questions about your topic?
Research papers need to be thorough. So try to make sure you cover each and every angle to the best of your ability.
Structure. Are your paragraphs properly organized? Does each have a clear topic sentence and conclusion? How is your sentence fluency? Is your paper easy to read? Do you provide a variety of sentence lengths to engage the reader?

Check citations

Citing your sources can be a painful and tedious process-nonetheless it is required! Since you are conducting so much research, the question is, where did you get all of this information from? All of your sources must be verifiable, reputable and properly documented within your paper.
Try to keep a tab on your sources early on using source cards to eliminate any anxiety when it comes time to create your work cited page. Also be sure to follow the requested formatting style (APA and MLA are common writing styles for research papers).

3. Conclusion

Conclusions are difficult to muster. Part of writing them includes thinking of the final or lasting impression you want to leave with the reader. It may be helpful to ask yourself; What do I want the reader to take away from my developments? What is the final most important aspect of all of my research?
Likewise, avoid introducing new ideas in this section but rather focus on what you presented thus far and the significant factors associated with it. Overall, closing statements should (1) restate your main objective or thesis and (2) provide considerations for future developments, (3) summarize your main points, and (4) give the reader a satisfying conclusion to the arguments presented.
Keep the format of your research paper simple by maintaining these easy to remember divisions. Though you may approach your paper in different ways, starting off with the body first and then moving on to the introduction and conclusion is generally the best method of construction.
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