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Analysis Section Of A Research Paper

Structure of a Research Paper

While academic disciplines vary on the exact format and style of journal articles in their field, most articles contain similar content and are divided in parts that typically follow the same logical flow.  Following is a list of the parts commonly found in research articles.  

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • References/Bibliography

Research papers are organized so that the information flow resembles an hourglass in that it goes from general  to specific and then back to general again.  The introduction and literature review sections will introduce the problem and provide general information. The methods and results will provide specific, detailed information about this research project and the discussion/conclusion will discuss the findings in a larger context. The following section will describe each of these parts in more detail.  Additional information can be found in the Resources section of this module and in the Suggested Readings.

Title

The title should be specific and indicate the problem the research project addresses using keywords that will be helpful in literature reviews in the future.

Abstract

The abstract is used by readers to quickly review the overall content of the paper.  Journals typically place strict word limits on abstracts, such as 200 words, making them a challenge to write.  The abstract should provide a complete synopsis of the research paper and should introduce the topic and the specific research question, provide a statement regarding methodology and should provide a general statement about the results and the findings.  Because it is really a summary of the entire research paper, it is often written last.

Introduction

The introduction begins by introducing the broad overall topic and providing basic background information.  It then narrows down to the specific research question relating to this topic.  It provides the purpose and focus for the rest of the paper and sets up the justification for the research.

Literature Review

The purpose of the literature review is to describe past important research and it relate it specifically to the research problem.  It should be a synthesis of the previous literature and the new idea being researched.  The review should examine the major theories related to the topic to date and their contributors.  It should include all relevant findings from credible sources, such as academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Methods

The methods section will describe the research design and methodology used to complete to the study.  The general rule of thumb is that readers should be provided with enough detail to replicate the study.

Results

In this section, the results of the analysis are presented.  How the results are presented will depend upon whether the research study was quantitative or qualitative in nature.  This section should focus only on results that are directly related to the research or the problem. Graphs and tables should only be used when there is too much data to efficiently include it within the text.  This section should present the results, but not discuss their significance.

Discussion/Conclusion

This section should be a discussion of the results and the implications on the field, as well as other fields. The hypothesis should be answered and validated by the interpretation of the results.  This section should also discuss how the results relate to previous research mentioned in the literature review, any cautions about the findings, and potential for future research.

References/Bibliography

The research paper is not complete without the list of references. This section should be an alphabetized list of all the academic sources of information utilized in the paper.  The format of the references will match the format and style used in the paper.  Common formats include APA, MLA, Harvard and so forth.

The Anatomy of a Research Paper

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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.

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