Research Methods

Chapter 2 introduction.

Maybe you have already gained some experience in doing research, for example in your bachelor studies, or as part of your work.

The challenge in conducting academic research at masters level, is that it is multi-faceted.

The types of activities are:

  • Finding and reviewing literature on your research topic;
  • Designing a research project that will answer your research questions;
  • Collecting relevant data from one or more sources;
  • Analyzing the data, statistically or otherwise, and
  • Writing up and presenting your findings.

Some researchers are strong on some parts but weak on others.

We do not require perfection. But we do require high quality.

Going through all stages of the research project, with the guidance of your supervisor, is a learning process.

The journey is hard at times, but in the end your thesis is considered an academic publication, and we want you to be proud of what you have achieved!

Probably the biggest challenge is, where to begin?

  • What will be your topic?
  • And once you have selected a topic, what are the questions that you want to answer, and how?

In the first chapter of the book, you will find several views on the nature and scope of business research.

Since a study in business administration derives its relevance from its application to real-life situations, an MBA typically falls in the grey area between applied research and basic research.

The focus of applied research is on finding solutions to problems, and on improving (y)our understanding of existing theories of management.

Applied research that makes use of existing theories, often leads to amendments or refinements of these theories. That is, the applied research feeds back to basic research.

In the early stages of your research, you will feel like you are running around in circles.

You start with an idea for a research topic. Then, after reading literature on the topic, you will revise or refine your idea. And start reading again with a clearer focus ...

A thesis research/project typically consists of two main stages.

The first stage is the research proposal .

Once the research proposal has been approved, you can start with the data collection, analysis and write-up (including conclusions and recommendations).

Stage 1, the research proposal consists of he first three chapters of the commonly used five-chapter structure :

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • An introduction to the topic.
  • The research questions that you want to answer (and/or hypotheses that you want to test).
  • A note on why the research is of academic and/or professional relevance.
  • Chapter 2: Literature
  • A review of relevant literature on the topic.
  • Chapter 3: Methodology

The methodology is at the core of your research. Here, you define how you are going to do the research. What data will be collected, and how?

Your data should allow you to answer your research questions. In the research proposal, you will also provide answers to the questions when and how much . Is it feasible to conduct the research within the given time-frame (say, 3-6 months for a typical master thesis)? And do you have the resources to collect and analyze the data?

In stage 2 you collect and analyze the data, and write the conclusions.

  • Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Findings
  • Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

This video gives a nice overview of the elements of writing a thesis.

Grad Coach

How To Structure Your Literature Review

3 options to help structure your chapter.

By: Amy Rommelspacher (PhD) | Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | November 2020 (Updated May 2023)

Writing the literature review chapter can seem pretty daunting when you’re piecing together your dissertation or thesis. As  we’ve discussed before , a good literature review needs to achieve a few very important objectives – it should:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the research topic
  • Identify the gaps in the literature and show how your research links to these
  • Provide the foundation for your conceptual framework (if you have one)
  • Inform your own  methodology and research design

To achieve this, your literature review needs a well-thought-out structure . Get the structure of your literature review chapter wrong and you’ll struggle to achieve these objectives. Don’t worry though – in this post, we’ll look at how to structure your literature review for maximum impact (and marks!).

The function of the lit review

But wait – is this the right time?

Deciding on the structure of your literature review should come towards the end of the literature review process – after you have collected and digested the literature, but before you start writing the chapter. 

In other words, you need to first develop a rich understanding of the literature before you even attempt to map out a structure. There’s no use trying to develop a structure before you’ve fully wrapped your head around the existing research.

Equally importantly, you need to have a structure in place before you start writing , or your literature review will most likely end up a rambling, disjointed mess. 

Importantly, don’t feel that once you’ve defined a structure you can’t iterate on it. It’s perfectly natural to adjust as you engage in the writing process. As we’ve discussed before , writing is a way of developing your thinking, so it’s quite common for your thinking to change – and therefore, for your chapter structure to change – as you write. 

Need a helping hand?

how to write chapter 2 in research paper

Like any other chapter in your thesis or dissertation, your literature review needs to have a clear, logical structure. At a minimum, it should have three essential components – an  introduction , a  body   and a  conclusion . 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1: The Introduction Section

Just like any good introduction, the introduction section of your literature review should introduce the purpose and layout (organisation) of the chapter. In other words, your introduction needs to give the reader a taste of what’s to come, and how you’re going to lay that out. Essentially, you should provide the reader with a high-level roadmap of your chapter to give them a taste of the journey that lies ahead.

Here’s an example of the layout visualised in a literature review introduction:

Example of literature review outline structure

Your introduction should also outline your topic (including any tricky terminology or jargon) and provide an explanation of the scope of your literature review – in other words, what you  will   and  won’t   be covering (the delimitations ). This helps ringfence your review and achieve a clear focus . The clearer and narrower your focus, the deeper you can dive into the topic (which is typically where the magic lies). 

Depending on the nature of your project, you could also present your stance or point of view at this stage. In other words, after grappling with the literature you’ll have an opinion about what the trends and concerns are in the field as well as what’s lacking. The introduction section can then present these ideas so that it is clear to examiners that you’re aware of how your research connects with existing knowledge .

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

2: The Body Section

The body of your literature review is the centre of your work. This is where you’ll present, analyse, evaluate and synthesise the existing research. In other words, this is where you’re going to earn (or lose) the most marks. Therefore, it’s important to carefully think about how you will organise your discussion to present it in a clear way. 

The body of your literature review should do just as the description of this chapter suggests. It should “review” the literature – in other words, identify, analyse, and synthesise it. So, when thinking about structuring your literature review, you need to think about which structural approach will provide the best “review” for your specific type of research and objectives (we’ll get to this shortly).

There are (broadly speaking)  three options  for organising your literature review.

The body section of your literature review is the where you'll present, analyse, evaluate and synthesise the existing research.

Option 1: Chronological (according to date)

Organising the literature chronologically is one of the simplest ways to structure your literature review. You start with what was published first and work your way through the literature until you reach the work published most recently. Pretty straightforward.

The benefit of this option is that it makes it easy to discuss the developments and debates in the field as they emerged over time. Organising your literature chronologically also allows you to highlight how specific articles or pieces of work might have changed the course of the field – in other words, which research has had the most impact . Therefore, this approach is very useful when your research is aimed at understanding how the topic has unfolded over time and is often used by scholars in the field of history. That said, this approach can be utilised by anyone that wants to explore change over time .

Adopting the chronological structure allows you to discuss the developments and debates in the field as they emerged over time.

For example , if a student of politics is investigating how the understanding of democracy has evolved over time, they could use the chronological approach to provide a narrative that demonstrates how this understanding has changed through the ages.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you structure your literature review chronologically.

  • What is the earliest literature published relating to this topic?
  • How has the field changed over time? Why?
  • What are the most recent discoveries/theories?

In some ways, chronology plays a part whichever way you decide to structure your literature review, because you will always, to a certain extent, be analysing how the literature has developed. However, with the chronological approach, the emphasis is very firmly on how the discussion has evolved over time , as opposed to how all the literature links together (which we’ll discuss next ).

Option 2: Thematic (grouped by theme)

The thematic approach to structuring a literature review means organising your literature by theme or category – for example, by independent variables (i.e. factors that have an impact on a specific outcome).

As you’ve been collecting and synthesising literature , you’ll likely have started seeing some themes or patterns emerging. You can then use these themes or patterns as a structure for your body discussion. The thematic approach is the most common approach and is useful for structuring literature reviews in most fields.

For example, if you were researching which factors contributed towards people trusting an organisation, you might find themes such as consumers’ perceptions of an organisation’s competence, benevolence and integrity. Structuring your literature review thematically would mean structuring your literature review’s body section to discuss each of these themes, one section at a time.

The thematic structure allows you to organise your literature by theme or category  – e.g. by independent variables.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when structuring your literature review by themes:

  • Are there any patterns that have come to light in the literature?
  • What are the central themes and categories used by the researchers?
  • Do I have enough evidence of these themes?

PS – you can see an example of a thematically structured literature review in our literature review sample walkthrough video here.

Option 3: Methodological

The methodological option is a way of structuring your literature review by the research methodologies used . In other words, organising your discussion based on the angle from which each piece of research was approached – for example, qualitative , quantitative or mixed  methodologies.

Structuring your literature review by methodology can be useful if you are drawing research from a variety of disciplines and are critiquing different methodologies. The point of this approach is to question  how  existing research has been conducted, as opposed to  what  the conclusions and/or findings the research were.

The methodological structure allows you to organise your chapter by the analysis method  used - e.g. qual, quant or mixed.

For example, a sociologist might centre their research around critiquing specific fieldwork practices. Their literature review will then be a summary of the fieldwork methodologies used by different studies.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when structuring your literature review according to methodology:

  • Which methodologies have been utilised in this field?
  • Which methodology is the most popular (and why)?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various methodologies?
  • How can the existing methodologies inform my own methodology?

3: The Conclusion Section

Once you’ve completed the body section of your literature review using one of the structural approaches we discussed above, you’ll need to “wrap up” your literature review and pull all the pieces together to set the direction for the rest of your dissertation or thesis.

The conclusion is where you’ll present the key findings of your literature review. In this section, you should emphasise the research that is especially important to your research questions and highlight the gaps that exist in the literature. Based on this, you need to make it clear what you will add to the literature – in other words, justify your own research by showing how it will help fill one or more of the gaps you just identified.

Last but not least, if it’s your intention to develop a conceptual framework for your dissertation or thesis, the conclusion section is a good place to present this.

In the conclusion section, you’ll need to present the key findings of your literature review and highlight the gaps that exist in the literature. Based on this, you'll  need to make it clear what your study will add  to the literature.

Example: Thematically Structured Review

In the video below, we unpack a literature review chapter so that you can see an example of a thematically structure review in practice.

Let’s Recap

In this article, we’ve  discussed how to structure your literature review for maximum impact. Here’s a quick recap of what  you need to keep in mind when deciding on your literature review structure:

  • Just like other chapters, your literature review needs a clear introduction , body and conclusion .
  • The introduction section should provide an overview of what you will discuss in your literature review.
  • The body section of your literature review can be organised by chronology , theme or methodology . The right structural approach depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your research.
  • The conclusion section should draw together the key findings of your literature review and link them to your research questions.

If you’re ready to get started, be sure to download our free literature review template to fast-track your chapter outline.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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Literature review 101 - how to find articles

27 Comments

Marin

Great work. This is exactly what I was looking for and helps a lot together with your previous post on literature review. One last thing is missing: a link to a great literature chapter of an journal article (maybe with comments of the different sections in this review chapter). Do you know any great literature review chapters?

ISHAYA JEREMIAH AYOCK

I agree with you Marin… A great piece

Qaiser

I agree with Marin. This would be quite helpful if you annotate a nicely structured literature from previously published research articles.

Maurice Kagwi

Awesome article for my research.

Ache Roland Ndifor

I thank you immensely for this wonderful guide

Malik Imtiaz Ahmad

It is indeed thought and supportive work for the futurist researcher and students

Franklin Zon

Very educative and good time to get guide. Thank you

Dozie

Great work, very insightful. Thank you.

KAWU ALHASSAN

Thanks for this wonderful presentation. My question is that do I put all the variables into a single conceptual framework or each hypothesis will have it own conceptual framework?

CYRUS ODUAH

Thank you very much, very helpful

Michael Sanya Oluyede

This is very educative and precise . Thank you very much for dropping this kind of write up .

Karla Buchanan

Pheeww, so damn helpful, thank you for this informative piece.

Enang Lazarus

I’m doing a research project topic ; stool analysis for parasitic worm (enteric) worm, how do I structure it, thanks.

Biswadeb Dasgupta

comprehensive explanation. Help us by pasting the URL of some good “literature review” for better understanding.

Vik

great piece. thanks for the awesome explanation. it is really worth sharing. I have a little question, if anyone can help me out, which of the options in the body of literature can be best fit if you are writing an architectural thesis that deals with design?

S Dlamini

I am doing a research on nanofluids how can l structure it?

PATRICK MACKARNESS

Beautifully clear.nThank you!

Lucid! Thankyou!

Abraham

Brilliant work, well understood, many thanks

Nour

I like how this was so clear with simple language 😊😊 thank you so much 😊 for these information 😊

Lindiey

Insightful. I was struggling to come up with a sensible literature review but this has been really helpful. Thank you!

NAGARAJU K

You have given thought-provoking information about the review of the literature.

Vakaloloma

Thank you. It has made my own research better and to impart your work to students I teach

Alphonse NSHIMIYIMANA

I learnt a lot from this teaching. It’s a great piece.

Resa

I am doing research on EFL teacher motivation for his/her job. How Can I structure it? Is there any detailed template, additional to this?

Gerald Gormanous

You are so cool! I do not think I’ve read through something like this before. So nice to find somebody with some genuine thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

kan

I’m asked to do conceptual, theoretical and empirical literature, and i just don’t know how to structure it

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How to Write a Research Paper: Parts of the Paper

  • Choosing Your Topic
  • Citation & Style Guides This link opens in a new window
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating Information
  • Parts of the Paper
  • Writing Tips from UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Librarian Contact

Parts of the Research Paper Papers should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your introductory paragraph should grab the reader's attention, state your main idea, and indicate how you will support it. The body of the paper should expand on what you have stated in the introduction. Finally, the conclusion restates the paper's thesis and should explain what you have learned, giving a wrap up of your main ideas.

1. The Title The title should be specific and indicate the theme of the research and what ideas it addresses. Use keywords that help explain your paper's topic to the reader. Try to avoid abbreviations and jargon. Think about keywords that people would use to search for your paper and include them in your title.

2. The Abstract The abstract is used by readers to get a quick overview of your paper. Typically, they are about 200 words in length (120 words minimum to  250 words maximum). The abstract should introduce the topic and thesis, and should provide a general statement about what you have found in your research. The abstract allows you to mention each major aspect of your topic and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Because it is a summary of the entire research paper, it is often written last. 

3. The Introduction The introduction should be designed to attract the reader's attention and explain the focus of the research. You will introduce your overview of the topic,  your main points of information, and why this subject is important. You can introduce the current understanding and background information about the topic. Toward the end of the introduction, you add your thesis statement, and explain how you will provide information to support your research questions. This provides the purpose and focus for the rest of the paper.

4. Thesis Statement Most papers will have a thesis statement or main idea and supporting facts/ideas/arguments. State your main idea (something of interest or something to be proven or argued for or against) as your thesis statement, and then provide your supporting facts and arguments. A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. It also points toward the paper's development. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.

Students often learn to write a thesis as a first step in the writing process, but often, after research, a writer's viewpoint may change. Therefore a thesis statement may be one of the final steps in writing. 

Examples of Thesis Statements from Purdue OWL

5. The Literature Review The purpose of the literature review is to describe past important research and how it specifically relates to the research thesis. 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. You will want  to:

  • Explain how the literature helps the researcher understand the topic.
  • Try to show connections and any disparities between the literature.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.

More about writing a literature review. . .

6. The Discussion ​The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe what you have learned from your research. Make the reader understand why your topic is important. The discussion should always demonstrate what you have learned from your readings (and viewings) and how that learning has made the topic evolve, especially from the short description of main points in the introduction.Explain any new understanding or insights you have had after reading your articles and/or books. Paragraphs should use transitioning sentences to develop how one paragraph idea leads to the next. The discussion will always connect to the introduction, your thesis statement, and the literature you reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange the introduction. You want to: 

  • Demonstrate critical thinking, not just reporting back facts that you gathered.
  • If possible, tell how the topic has evolved over the past and give it's implications for the future.
  • Fully explain your main ideas with supporting information.
  • Explain why your thesis is correct giving arguments to counter points.

7. The Conclusion A concluding paragraph is a brief summary of your main ideas and restates the paper's main thesis, giving the reader the sense that the stated goal of the paper has been accomplished. What have you learned by doing this research that you didn't know before? What conclusions have you drawn? You may also want to suggest further areas of study, improvement of research possibilities, etc. to demonstrate your critical thinking regarding your research.

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7 Writing the Research Paper

Writing in a formal, academic, and technical manner can prove a difficult transition for clinicians turned researchers; however, there are several ways to improve your professional writing skills.  This chapter should be considered a collection of tools to consider as you work to articulate and disseminate your research.

Chapter 7: Learning Objectives

This is it! You’re ready to tell the world of the work you’ve done. As you prepare to write your research paper, you’ll be able to

  • Discuss the most general components of a research paper
  • Articulate the importance of framing your work for the reader using a template based on the research approach
  • Identify the major components of a manuscript describing original research
  • Identify the major components of a manuscript describing quality improvement projects
  • Contrast the specifications of guidelines and protocols
  • Identify the major components of a narrative review

Guiding Principles

Although it is wise to identify a potential journal or like avenue as you begin to write up you research, this is not always feasible. For this reason, it is a good idea to have an adequate understanding of the general expectations of what is required of written research articles and manuscripts. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Consider the articles you read

As you begin to research potential research interests, pay close attention to the style of writing found in peer-reviewed and academic journals.  You will notice that the ‘tone’ of ‘voice’ is often formal and rarely uses the first-person narrative.  You will be expected to develop writing of this caliber in order to be published in a reputable peer-reviewed forum.  One of the most difficult concepts for novice researchers to understand is that professional or technical writing is very different from casual or conversational writing.  There is little room for anecdotes, opinions, or overly descriptive narratives.  Keep your writing succinct and focused.

Keep it simple, silly! (KISS)

Recall when you were first introduced to writing a paper in an early English Composition course.  It is likely that you were told that the key components of a paper are the introduction, body, and conclusion.  This is truly the foundational structure of any good paper.  Consider the following outline for your writing assignments:

Introduction

  • Brief overview of the topic which identifies the gap of understanding about a particular topic that you hope to address (why is it important?)
  • Statement of problem (what issue are you going to address?)
  • Purpose statement/thesis statement (what is the objective of this paper?)

Typically the body of the paper will be broken down into themes or elements outlined in the introduction.  Occasionally rather than themes or topics to be addressed, the ‘body’ of the paper will have specific components such as a literature review, methodology, data analysis, discussion, and/or recommendation section.  Each of these sections may have specific requirements within that section. Later in this chapter, you will be introduced to specific requirements of different types of research papers.

The body of any paper is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the work.  That is, this is the section wherein you both present and explain your ideas in support of the purpose of the paper (described in the introduction).  The body of your paper, regardless of specific structure, is where the majority of your evidentiary base should be included.  That is, many of the statements you make in these sections will require substantiation from outside resources.  It is vital to include appropriate citations of all references used. To save yourself time, cite and reference correctly as you write. Doing so will help ensure that you stay organized as your work evolves.

Sections such as methods or data analyses, will not require as much substantiation and should be considered very ‘cut and dry’. That is, there will be little to no discussion or interpretation of the evidence here. Results sections, similarly, should be focused on the presentation of results specific to your investigation, including statistical analyses. When reporting results of your work consider the format and whether it makes sense to summarize results in a table, figure, or appendix. The appropriate method will depend on both the type and amount of information that you are trying to convey.

The discussion section is the point at which you should frame your results in the context of your interpretation of the existing literature and how your work addresses the gap in knowledge. You’ll work to substantiate your interpretation by utilizing references to present evidence to support your rational. Pay close attention to your approach as you discuss your results and the impact of your work. Be careful not to make declarative statements if your data does not support a cause-and-effect relationship. Additionally, be careful not to draw inference as a result of bias. That is, use caution in skewing the evidence to support your hypothesis.

The conclusion is exactly that.  This is your opportunity to wrap your thoughts up succinctly.  A good conclusion will remind the reader of the point or focus of the paper, reiterate the arguments outlined in the body as well as summarize any discussion or recommendations posed in those respective sections, and articulate what the content of the paper added to the knowledge base of the subject.  This is not a time to introduce new arguments, concepts, or evidence.  The reader should be able to finish the paper understanding the purpose of the paper, the main arguments, and the impact of the work on the subject.

References should be cited correctly in text as well as appropriately formatted at the end of each body of work. The format of your references will depend on the guidelines required of the intended journal or forum you’re submitting to. For example, papers written utilizing the American Psychological Association (APA) formatting standards will include reference pages which are organized on a separate page, titled ‘References’, and organized alphabetically by author surname. If you’re not quite sure of where you’ll be submitting your paper for publication, it may be best to write using APA format; because the references are listed in ascending alphabetical order, adding or removing references during the revision process will be minimally impactful on the designation of subsequent references. Altering your references can then be done once you identify a method of dissemination and review specific guidelines.

Understanding how to present your work can be difficult. It’s one thing to plan and do the research; it’s quite another to put it down on paper in a logical and articulate way. As we discussed in chapters 1 and 2, planning is essential to the success of your research. Similarly, planning the layout of your manuscript will help ensure that you stay both organized and focused. Although most articles can be generalized as having an introduction, body, and conclusion; the specific components within each of those sections varies depending on the approach to research.

Original Research

Although many journals may outline specific requirements for how your manuscript or research paper is to be formatted, there are some generally acceptable formats. One of the most generalizable formats is referred to as IMRaD. IMRaD is an acronym and includes the following elements:

  • Introduction- 25%
  • Methods- 25%
  • Results- 35%
  • Discussion/conclusion- 15%
  • Clearly state the focus for the work. Provide a brief overview of the issue and the gap in knowledge identified; including both a problem and purpose statement in the context of what is currently understood about the topic. This is where you ‘reel’ the reader in and also highlight the important themes which are consistently addressed in the existing literature.
  • General and specific approaches
  • Participant selection/randomization
  • Instrumentation/measurements utilized
  • Here is where you report specific findings and outcomes of your work. There should be very little discussion in this section. Rather, you should present your results and comment, briefly, on how this may relate to the existing literature and state the bottom line. That is, what do these findings suggest. These succinct comments should frame the lens of the discussion section.
  • In the discussion section you can further elaborate on your interpretation, based in the evidence, of how your findings relate to what other researchers have found. You can discuss flaws in your work as well as suggestions for direction of future research. You should address each of the main points you presented in your introduction section(s).

QI Projects

When presenting your QI project; a systematic reporting tool, such as the SQUIRE method , is helpful to ensure that you appropriately present the information in a way that both adds to the understanding of the problem as well as a descriptive approach to solving the issue.

SQUIRE Method

Titling your QI project

  • Your title should indicate that the project addresses a specific initiative to improve healthcare.

Example of QI Project title

Quality Improvement Initiative to Standardize High Flow Nasal Cannula for Bronchiolitis: Decreases Hospital and Intensive Care Stay

  • Addresses specific initiative to improve healthcare
  • Directly identifies the bounds and focus of the project
  • Provide enough information to help with searching and indexing of your work
  • Summarize all key findings in the format required by the publication. Typical sections include background (including statement of the problem), methods, intervention, results, and conclusion
  • Include a description on the nature and significance of the problem
  • Summary of what is currently understood about the problem
  • Overview of framework, model, concepts and/or theory used to explain the problem. Include an assumptions, delimitations, or definitions used to both describe the problem as well as develop the intervention and why the intervention was intended to work.
  • Describe the purpose of the project
  • Describe the contextual elements relevant to both the problem and intervention (e.g. environmental factors contributing to the problem)
  • Include team-based approach, if applicable
  • Describe the approach used to assess the impact of the intervention as well as what approach was used to evaluate/assess the intervention
  • What tools did you use to study both the process and intervention and why?
  • What tools are in place for ongoing assessment of efficacy of the project?
  • How is completeness and accuracy of the data measured?
  • Describe the quantitative/qualitative methods used to draw inference from the data collected
  • Describe how ethical considerations were addressed and whether the project was overseen by an Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Initial steps of intervention and evolution over time; including modifications to the intervention or project
  • Details of the process measures and outcome
  • Key findings including relevance to the rational and specific aims
  • Strengths of the projects
  • Nature of the association between intervention and outcome
  • Comparison of the findings with those of other publications
  • Impact of the project
  • Reasons for differences between observed and anticipated outcomes; include contextual rationale
  • Costs and strategic implications
  • Limits to the generalizability of the work
  • Factors that may have limited internal validity (e.g. confounding variables, bias, design)
  • Efforts made to minimize or adjust for limitations
  • Usefulness of the work
  • Sustainability
  • Potential for application to other contexts
  • Implications for practice and further study
  • Suggested next steps
  • This section would be included if you received funding for the projects.

Narrative Reviews

As mentioned in chapter 2, development of either guidelines or protocols is an intensive process which often requires a systematic team approach to ensure that the scope and purpose of the work is as generalizable as possible. The best approach for the development of guidelines can be found by reviewing the World Health Organization handbook for guideline development .

Presenting a narrative review of a topic is an excellent way to contribute to the knowledge base on a particular subject as well as to provide framework for development of a protocol or guideline. The elements included in presentation of a narrative review are not all that different from those of traditional research studies; however, there are some notable differences. Here is a brief outline of what should be included in a quality narrative review, adapted from Green, Johnson, and Adams (2006) and Ferarri (2015):

  • Objective: State the purpose of the paper
  • Background: Describe why the paper is being written; include problem statement and/or research question
  • Methods: Include methods used to conduct the review; including those used to evaluate articles for inclusion into your work
  • Discussion: Frame the findings of the review in the context of the problem
  • Conclusion: State what new information your work contributes as a result of your review and synthesis
  • Key words: List MeSH terms and words that may help organize and/or locate your work
  • Clearly state the focus for the work. Provide a brief overview of the issue and the gap in knowledge identified; including both a problem and purpose statement
  • Provide an overview of how information related to the review was located. This includes what terms were searched and where as well as why studies were included in your review. Delimiting your search is important to describe the scope of the review
  • Themes or constructs should be identified throughout the review of the literature and arranged in a way such that the discussion of the theme and the link to the evidence should directly address the purpose of your inquiry
  • What sets a review apart from an annotated bibliography is synthesis of the evidence around major points identified consistently throughout the research (i.e. themes). Both consensus and diverging approaches should be included in the discussion of the evidence. This should not be considered simply a comparison of the existing evidence, but should be framed through the lens of the author’s interpretation of that evidence.
  • Tie back to the purpose as well as the major conclusions identified in the review. No new information should be discussed here, apart from suggestions for future research opportunities

An extremely important part of disseminating your work is ensuring that you have correctly attributed thoughts and content that you did not create. Depending on the nature of your research, discipline, or intended publication, the format by which you list your references or outline resources utilized may differ. Regardless of referencing formatting guidelines, it is imperative to keep your references organized as you draft different iterations of your work. For example, it may be easier to draft your work utilizing American Psychological Association (APA) formatting guidelines, which arrange references by author’s last name, in ascending alphabetical order, than in other formats which require that references be numbered in order of appearance in the text. As you add, delete, or rearrange references within the text of your manuscript, it may be both difficult and time consuming to constantly re-number each of your references. Note : Depending on the reference guidelines for your intended journal, you may be required to list the abbreviated names of journals. Finding this information can be difficult. Consider this resource for locating and identifying how best to list journal titles within a reference.

Key Takeaways

  • Identifying an appropriate outline for the research approach you selected is essential to developing a publishable manuscript
  • Academic writing is formal in both voice and tone
  • Academic writing is technical
  • Refrain from the use of the first person narratives, including anecdotes, or interjecting your unsubstantiated opinion
  • All research papers have an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Specific components of the introduction and body will vary depending on the approach
  • Proper citation, referencing, or attributing must be included in all work

Green, B.N., Johnson, C.D., & Adams, A. (2006). Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: Secrets of the trade. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 3 (5), 101-117.

Ferrari, R. (2015). Writing narrative style literature reviews. The European Medical Writers Association, 2 4(4), 230-235. doi: 10.1179/2047480615Z.000000000329

SQUIRE. (2017). Explanation and elaboration of SQUIRE 2.0 guidelines . SQUIRE. http://www.squire-statement.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&pageId=504

World Health Organization. (2020). WHO handbook for guideline development, 2nd Ed . World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/145714

Practical Research: A Basic Guide to Planning, Doing, and Writing Copyright © by megankoster. All Rights Reserved.

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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

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  • Targeting Your Audience
  • Classic Strategies
  • Traditional Journalist’s Questions
  • Multiple Perspectives
  • Brainstorming
  • Webbing and Chaining
  • Keeping a Journal

Doing Exploratory Research

Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea

  • Outlining What You Will Write
  • Freewriting
  • Summarizing Your Ideas
  • Getting Feedback
  • Being Your Own Critic
  • Creating a Revision Strategy
  • The Final Draft

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Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing

Chapter 1: College Writing

How Does College Writing Differ from Workplace Writing?

What Is College Writing?

Why So Much Emphasis on Writing?

Chapter 2: The Writing Process

Getting from Notes to Your Draft

Prewriting - Techniques to Get Started - Mining Your Intuition

Prewriting: Targeting Your Audience

Prewriting: Techniques to Get Started

Prewriting: Understanding Your Assignment

Rewriting: Being Your Own Critic

Rewriting: Creating a Revision Strategy

Rewriting: Getting Feedback

Rewriting: The Final Draft

Techniques to Get Started - Outlining

Techniques to Get Started - Using Systematic Techniques

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Freewriting

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Summarizing Your Ideas

Writing: Outlining What You Will Write

Chapter 3: Thinking Strategies

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone: Style Through Vocabulary and Diction

Critical Strategies and Writing

Critical Strategies and Writing: Analysis

Critical Strategies and Writing: Evaluation

Critical Strategies and Writing: Persuasion

Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis

Developing a Paper Using Strategies

Kinds of Assignments You Will Write

Patterns for Presenting Information

Patterns for Presenting Information: Critiques

Patterns for Presenting Information: Discussing Raw Data

Patterns for Presenting Information: General-to-Specific Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Problem-Cause-Solution Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Specific-to-General Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Summaries and Abstracts

Supporting with Research and Examples

Writing Essay Examinations

Writing Essay Examinations: Make Your Answer Relevant and Complete

Writing Essay Examinations: Organize Thinking Before Writing

Writing Essay Examinations: Read and Understand the Question

Chapter 4: The Research Process

Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Ask a Research Question

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Cite Sources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Collect Evidence

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Decide Your Point of View, or Role, for Your Research

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Draw Conclusions

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Find a Topic and Get an Overview

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Manage Your Resources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Outline

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Survey the Literature

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Work Your Sources into Your Research Writing

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Human Resources

Research Resources: What Are Research Resources?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Electronic Resources

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Print Resources

Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure

Structuring the Research Paper: Informal Research Structure

The Nature of Research

The Research Assignment: How Should Research Sources Be Evaluated?

The Research Assignment: When Is Research Needed?

The Research Assignment: Why Perform Research?

Chapter 5: Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

Giving Credit to Sources

Giving Credit to Sources: Copyright Laws

Giving Credit to Sources: Documentation

Giving Credit to Sources: Style Guides

Integrating Sources

Practicing Academic Integrity

Practicing Academic Integrity: Keeping Accurate Records

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Paraphrasing Your Source

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Quoting Your Source

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Summarizing Your Sources

Types of Documentation

Types of Documentation: Bibliographies and Source Lists

Types of Documentation: Citing World Wide Web Sources

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - APA Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - CSE/CBE Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - Chicago Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - MLA Style

Types of Documentation: Note Citations

Chapter 6: Using Library Resources

Finding Library Resources

Chapter 7: Assessing Your Writing

How Is Writing Graded?

How Is Writing Graded?: A General Assessment Tool

The Draft Stage

The Draft Stage: The First Draft

The Draft Stage: The Revision Process and the Final Draft

The Draft Stage: Using Feedback

The Research Stage

Using Assessment to Improve Your Writing

Chapter 8: Other Frequently Assigned Papers

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Article and Book Reviews

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Reaction Papers

Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Adapting the Argument Structure

Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument

Writing Arguments: References to Consult for Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Anticipate Active Opposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Determine Your Organization

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Develop Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Introduce Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - State Your Thesis or Proposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Write Your Conclusion

Writing Arguments: Types of Argument

Appendix A: Books to Help Improve Your Writing

Dictionaries

General Style Manuals

Researching on the Internet

Special Style Manuals

Writing Handbooks

Appendix B: Collaborative Writing and Peer Reviewing

Collaborative Writing: Assignments to Accompany the Group Project

Collaborative Writing: Informal Progress Report

Collaborative Writing: Issues to Resolve

Collaborative Writing: Methodology

Collaborative Writing: Peer Evaluation

Collaborative Writing: Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members

Collaborative Writing: Writing Plan

General Introduction

Peer Reviewing

Appendix C: Developing an Improvement Plan

Working with Your Instructor’s Comments and Grades

Appendix D: Writing Plan and Project Schedule

Devising a Writing Project Plan and Schedule

Reviewing Your Plan with Others

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Home » Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

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Research Paper

Research Paper

Definition:

Research Paper is a written document that presents the author’s original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue.

It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute new knowledge or insights to a particular field of study, and to demonstrate the author’s understanding of the existing literature and theories related to the topic.

Structure of Research Paper

The structure of a research paper typically follows a standard format, consisting of several sections that convey specific information about the research study. The following is a detailed explanation of the structure of a research paper:

The title page contains the title of the paper, the name(s) of the author(s), and the affiliation(s) of the author(s). It also includes the date of submission and possibly, the name of the journal or conference where the paper is to be published.

The abstract is a brief summary of the research paper, typically ranging from 100 to 250 words. It should include the research question, the methods used, the key findings, and the implications of the results. The abstract should be written in a concise and clear manner to allow readers to quickly grasp the essence of the research.

Introduction

The introduction section of a research paper provides background information about the research problem, the research question, and the research objectives. It also outlines the significance of the research, the research gap that it aims to fill, and the approach taken to address the research question. Finally, the introduction section ends with a clear statement of the research hypothesis or research question.

Literature Review

The literature review section of a research paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. It includes a critical analysis and synthesis of the literature, highlighting the key concepts, themes, and debates. The literature review should also demonstrate the research gap and how the current study seeks to address it.

The methods section of a research paper describes the research design, the sample selection, the data collection and analysis procedures, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data. This section should provide sufficient detail for other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the research, using tables, graphs, and figures to illustrate the data. The findings should be presented in a clear and concise manner, with reference to the research question and hypothesis.

The discussion section of a research paper interprets the findings and discusses their implications for the research question, the literature review, and the field of study. It should also address the limitations of the study and suggest future research directions.

The conclusion section summarizes the main findings of the study, restates the research question and hypothesis, and provides a final reflection on the significance of the research.

The references section provides a list of all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style such as APA, MLA or Chicago.

How to Write Research Paper

You can write Research Paper by the following guide:

  • Choose a Topic: The first step is to select a topic that interests you and is relevant to your field of study. Brainstorm ideas and narrow down to a research question that is specific and researchable.
  • Conduct a Literature Review: The literature review helps you identify the gap in the existing research and provides a basis for your research question. It also helps you to develop a theoretical framework and research hypothesis.
  • Develop a Thesis Statement : The thesis statement is the main argument of your research paper. It should be clear, concise and specific to your research question.
  • Plan your Research: Develop a research plan that outlines the methods, data sources, and data analysis procedures. This will help you to collect and analyze data effectively.
  • Collect and Analyze Data: Collect data using various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments. Analyze data using statistical tools or other qualitative methods.
  • Organize your Paper : Organize your paper into sections such as Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. Ensure that each section is coherent and follows a logical flow.
  • Write your Paper : Start by writing the introduction, followed by the literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and follows the required formatting and citation styles.
  • Edit and Proofread your Paper: Review your paper for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that it is well-structured and easy to read. Ask someone else to review your paper to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Cite your Sources: Ensure that you properly cite all sources used in your research paper. This is essential for giving credit to the original authors and avoiding plagiarism.

Research Paper Example

Note : The below example research paper is for illustrative purposes only and is not an actual research paper. Actual research papers may have different structures, contents, and formats depending on the field of study, research question, data collection and analysis methods, and other factors. Students should always consult with their professors or supervisors for specific guidelines and expectations for their research papers.

Research Paper Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health among Young Adults

Abstract: This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults. A literature review was conducted to examine the existing research on the topic. A survey was then administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Introduction: Social media has become an integral part of modern life, particularly among young adults. While social media has many benefits, including increased communication and social connectivity, it has also been associated with negative outcomes, such as addiction, cyberbullying, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults.

Literature Review: The literature review highlights the existing research on the impact of social media use on mental health. The review shows that social media use is associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems. The review also identifies the factors that contribute to the negative impact of social media, including social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Methods : A survey was administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The survey included questions on social media use, mental health status (measured using the DASS-21), and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Results : The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Discussion : The study’s findings suggest that social media use has a negative impact on the mental health of young adults. The study highlights the need for interventions that address the factors contributing to the negative impact of social media, such as social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Conclusion : In conclusion, social media use has a significant impact on the mental health of young adults. The study’s findings underscore the need for interventions that promote healthy social media use and address the negative outcomes associated with social media use. Future research can explore the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health. Additionally, longitudinal studies can investigate the long-term effects of social media use on mental health.

Limitations : The study has some limitations, including the use of self-report measures and a cross-sectional design. The use of self-report measures may result in biased responses, and a cross-sectional design limits the ability to establish causality.

Implications: The study’s findings have implications for mental health professionals, educators, and policymakers. Mental health professionals can use the findings to develop interventions that address the negative impact of social media use on mental health. Educators can incorporate social media literacy into their curriculum to promote healthy social media use among young adults. Policymakers can use the findings to develop policies that protect young adults from the negative outcomes associated with social media use.

References :

  • Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 15, 100918.
  • Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barrett, E. L., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., … & James, A. E. (2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1-9.
  • Van der Meer, T. G., & Verhoeven, J. W. (2017). Social media and its impact on academic performance of students. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 16, 383-398.

Appendix : The survey used in this study is provided below.

Social Media and Mental Health Survey

  • How often do you use social media per day?
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • 1 to 2 hours
  • 2 to 4 hours
  • More than 4 hours
  • Which social media platforms do you use?
  • Others (Please specify)
  • How often do you experience the following on social media?
  • Social comparison (comparing yourself to others)
  • Cyberbullying
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Have you ever experienced any of the following mental health problems in the past month?
  • Do you think social media use has a positive or negative impact on your mental health?
  • Very positive
  • Somewhat positive
  • Somewhat negative
  • Very negative
  • In your opinion, which factors contribute to the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Social comparison
  • In your opinion, what interventions could be effective in reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Education on healthy social media use
  • Counseling for mental health problems caused by social media
  • Social media detox programs
  • Regulation of social media use

Thank you for your participation!

Applications of Research Paper

Research papers have several applications in various fields, including:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research papers contribute to the advancement of knowledge by generating new insights, theories, and findings that can inform future research and practice. They help to answer important questions, clarify existing knowledge, and identify areas that require further investigation.
  • Informing policy: Research papers can inform policy decisions by providing evidence-based recommendations for policymakers. They can help to identify gaps in current policies, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and inform the development of new policies and regulations.
  • Improving practice: Research papers can improve practice by providing evidence-based guidance for professionals in various fields, including medicine, education, business, and psychology. They can inform the development of best practices, guidelines, and standards of care that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • Educating students : Research papers are often used as teaching tools in universities and colleges to educate students about research methods, data analysis, and academic writing. They help students to develop critical thinking skills, research skills, and communication skills that are essential for success in many careers.
  • Fostering collaboration: Research papers can foster collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers by providing a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas. They can facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships that can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

When to Write Research Paper

Research papers are typically written when a person has completed a research project or when they have conducted a study and have obtained data or findings that they want to share with the academic or professional community. Research papers are usually written in academic settings, such as universities, but they can also be written in professional settings, such as research organizations, government agencies, or private companies.

Here are some common situations where a person might need to write a research paper:

  • For academic purposes: Students in universities and colleges are often required to write research papers as part of their coursework, particularly in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Writing research papers helps students to develop research skills, critical thinking skills, and academic writing skills.
  • For publication: Researchers often write research papers to publish their findings in academic journals or to present their work at academic conferences. Publishing research papers is an important way to disseminate research findings to the academic community and to establish oneself as an expert in a particular field.
  • To inform policy or practice : Researchers may write research papers to inform policy decisions or to improve practice in various fields. Research findings can be used to inform the development of policies, guidelines, and best practices that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • To share new insights or ideas: Researchers may write research papers to share new insights or ideas with the academic or professional community. They may present new theories, propose new research methods, or challenge existing paradigms in their field.

Purpose of Research Paper

The purpose of a research paper is to present the results of a study or investigation in a clear, concise, and structured manner. Research papers are written to communicate new knowledge, ideas, or findings to a specific audience, such as researchers, scholars, practitioners, or policymakers. The primary purposes of a research paper are:

  • To contribute to the body of knowledge : Research papers aim to add new knowledge or insights to a particular field or discipline. They do this by reporting the results of empirical studies, reviewing and synthesizing existing literature, proposing new theories, or providing new perspectives on a topic.
  • To inform or persuade: Research papers are written to inform or persuade the reader about a particular issue, topic, or phenomenon. They present evidence and arguments to support their claims and seek to persuade the reader of the validity of their findings or recommendations.
  • To advance the field: Research papers seek to advance the field or discipline by identifying gaps in knowledge, proposing new research questions or approaches, or challenging existing assumptions or paradigms. They aim to contribute to ongoing debates and discussions within a field and to stimulate further research and inquiry.
  • To demonstrate research skills: Research papers demonstrate the author’s research skills, including their ability to design and conduct a study, collect and analyze data, and interpret and communicate findings. They also demonstrate the author’s ability to critically evaluate existing literature, synthesize information from multiple sources, and write in a clear and structured manner.

Characteristics of Research Paper

Research papers have several characteristics that distinguish them from other forms of academic or professional writing. Here are some common characteristics of research papers:

  • Evidence-based: Research papers are based on empirical evidence, which is collected through rigorous research methods such as experiments, surveys, observations, or interviews. They rely on objective data and facts to support their claims and conclusions.
  • Structured and organized: Research papers have a clear and logical structure, with sections such as introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. They are organized in a way that helps the reader to follow the argument and understand the findings.
  • Formal and objective: Research papers are written in a formal and objective tone, with an emphasis on clarity, precision, and accuracy. They avoid subjective language or personal opinions and instead rely on objective data and analysis to support their arguments.
  • Citations and references: Research papers include citations and references to acknowledge the sources of information and ideas used in the paper. They use a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Peer-reviewed: Research papers are often peer-reviewed, which means they are evaluated by other experts in the field before they are published. Peer-review ensures that the research is of high quality, meets ethical standards, and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • Objective and unbiased: Research papers strive to be objective and unbiased in their presentation of the findings. They avoid personal biases or preconceptions and instead rely on the data and analysis to draw conclusions.

Advantages of Research Paper

Research papers have many advantages, both for the individual researcher and for the broader academic and professional community. Here are some advantages of research papers:

  • Contribution to knowledge: Research papers contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field or discipline. They add new information, insights, and perspectives to existing literature and help advance the understanding of a particular phenomenon or issue.
  • Opportunity for intellectual growth: Research papers provide an opportunity for intellectual growth for the researcher. They require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which can help develop the researcher’s skills and knowledge.
  • Career advancement: Research papers can help advance the researcher’s career by demonstrating their expertise and contributions to the field. They can also lead to new research opportunities, collaborations, and funding.
  • Academic recognition: Research papers can lead to academic recognition in the form of awards, grants, or invitations to speak at conferences or events. They can also contribute to the researcher’s reputation and standing in the field.
  • Impact on policy and practice: Research papers can have a significant impact on policy and practice. They can inform policy decisions, guide practice, and lead to changes in laws, regulations, or procedures.
  • Advancement of society: Research papers can contribute to the advancement of society by addressing important issues, identifying solutions to problems, and promoting social justice and equality.

Limitations of Research Paper

Research papers also have some limitations that should be considered when interpreting their findings or implications. Here are some common limitations of research papers:

  • Limited generalizability: Research findings may not be generalizable to other populations, settings, or contexts. Studies often use specific samples or conditions that may not reflect the broader population or real-world situations.
  • Potential for bias : Research papers may be biased due to factors such as sample selection, measurement errors, or researcher biases. It is important to evaluate the quality of the research design and methods used to ensure that the findings are valid and reliable.
  • Ethical concerns: Research papers may raise ethical concerns, such as the use of vulnerable populations or invasive procedures. Researchers must adhere to ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants to ensure that the research is conducted in a responsible and respectful manner.
  • Limitations of methodology: Research papers may be limited by the methodology used to collect and analyze data. For example, certain research methods may not capture the complexity or nuance of a particular phenomenon, or may not be appropriate for certain research questions.
  • Publication bias: Research papers may be subject to publication bias, where positive or significant findings are more likely to be published than negative or non-significant findings. This can skew the overall findings of a particular area of research.
  • Time and resource constraints: Research papers may be limited by time and resource constraints, which can affect the quality and scope of the research. Researchers may not have access to certain data or resources, or may be unable to conduct long-term studies due to practical limitations.

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Chapter 2. Research Design

Getting started.

When I teach undergraduates qualitative research methods, the final product of the course is a “research proposal” that incorporates all they have learned and enlists the knowledge they have learned about qualitative research methods in an original design that addresses a particular research question. I highly recommend you think about designing your own research study as you progress through this textbook. Even if you don’t have a study in mind yet, it can be a helpful exercise as you progress through the course. But how to start? How can one design a research study before they even know what research looks like? This chapter will serve as a brief overview of the research design process to orient you to what will be coming in later chapters. Think of it as a “skeleton” of what you will read in more detail in later chapters. Ideally, you will read this chapter both now (in sequence) and later during your reading of the remainder of the text. Do not worry if you have questions the first time you read this chapter. Many things will become clearer as the text advances and as you gain a deeper understanding of all the components of good qualitative research. This is just a preliminary map to get you on the right road.

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Research Design Steps

Before you even get started, you will need to have a broad topic of interest in mind. [1] . In my experience, students can confuse this broad topic with the actual research question, so it is important to clearly distinguish the two. And the place to start is the broad topic. It might be, as was the case with me, working-class college students. But what about working-class college students? What’s it like to be one? Why are there so few compared to others? How do colleges assist (or fail to assist) them? What interested me was something I could barely articulate at first and went something like this: “Why was it so difficult and lonely to be me?” And by extension, “Did others share this experience?”

Once you have a general topic, reflect on why this is important to you. Sometimes we connect with a topic and we don’t really know why. Even if you are not willing to share the real underlying reason you are interested in a topic, it is important that you know the deeper reasons that motivate you. Otherwise, it is quite possible that at some point during the research, you will find yourself turned around facing the wrong direction. I have seen it happen many times. The reason is that the research question is not the same thing as the general topic of interest, and if you don’t know the reasons for your interest, you are likely to design a study answering a research question that is beside the point—to you, at least. And this means you will be much less motivated to carry your research to completion.

Researcher Note

Why do you employ qualitative research methods in your area of study? What are the advantages of qualitative research methods for studying mentorship?

Qualitative research methods are a huge opportunity to increase access, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Qualitative research allows us to engage and examine the uniquenesses/nuances within minoritized and dominant identities and our experiences with these identities. Qualitative research allows us to explore a specific topic, and through that exploration, we can link history to experiences and look for patterns or offer up a unique phenomenon. There’s such beauty in being able to tell a particular story, and qualitative research is a great mode for that! For our work, we examined the relationships we typically use the term mentorship for but didn’t feel that was quite the right word. Qualitative research allowed us to pick apart what we did and how we engaged in our relationships, which then allowed us to more accurately describe what was unique about our mentorship relationships, which we ultimately named liberationships ( McAloney and Long 2021) . Qualitative research gave us the means to explore, process, and name our experiences; what a powerful tool!

How do you come up with ideas for what to study (and how to study it)? Where did you get the idea for studying mentorship?

Coming up with ideas for research, for me, is kind of like Googling a question I have, not finding enough information, and then deciding to dig a little deeper to get the answer. The idea to study mentorship actually came up in conversation with my mentorship triad. We were talking in one of our meetings about our relationship—kind of meta, huh? We discussed how we felt that mentorship was not quite the right term for the relationships we had built. One of us asked what was different about our relationships and mentorship. This all happened when I was taking an ethnography course. During the next session of class, we were discussing auto- and duoethnography, and it hit me—let’s explore our version of mentorship, which we later went on to name liberationships ( McAloney and Long 2021 ). The idea and questions came out of being curious and wanting to find an answer. As I continue to research, I see opportunities in questions I have about my work or during conversations that, in our search for answers, end up exposing gaps in the literature. If I can’t find the answer already out there, I can study it.

—Kim McAloney, PhD, College Student Services Administration Ecampus coordinator and instructor

When you have a better idea of why you are interested in what it is that interests you, you may be surprised to learn that the obvious approaches to the topic are not the only ones. For example, let’s say you think you are interested in preserving coastal wildlife. And as a social scientist, you are interested in policies and practices that affect the long-term viability of coastal wildlife, especially around fishing communities. It would be natural then to consider designing a research study around fishing communities and how they manage their ecosystems. But when you really think about it, you realize that what interests you the most is how people whose livelihoods depend on a particular resource act in ways that deplete that resource. Or, even deeper, you contemplate the puzzle, “How do people justify actions that damage their surroundings?” Now, there are many ways to design a study that gets at that broader question, and not all of them are about fishing communities, although that is certainly one way to go. Maybe you could design an interview-based study that includes and compares loggers, fishers, and desert golfers (those who golf in arid lands that require a great deal of wasteful irrigation). Or design a case study around one particular example where resources were completely used up by a community. Without knowing what it is you are really interested in, what motivates your interest in a surface phenomenon, you are unlikely to come up with the appropriate research design.

These first stages of research design are often the most difficult, but have patience . Taking the time to consider why you are going to go through a lot of trouble to get answers will prevent a lot of wasted energy in the future.

There are distinct reasons for pursuing particular research questions, and it is helpful to distinguish between them.  First, you may be personally motivated.  This is probably the most important and the most often overlooked.   What is it about the social world that sparks your curiosity? What bothers you? What answers do you need in order to keep living? For me, I knew I needed to get a handle on what higher education was for before I kept going at it. I needed to understand why I felt so different from my peers and whether this whole “higher education” thing was “for the likes of me” before I could complete my degree. That is the personal motivation question. Your personal motivation might also be political in nature, in that you want to change the world in a particular way. It’s all right to acknowledge this. In fact, it is better to acknowledge it than to hide it.

There are also academic and professional motivations for a particular study.  If you are an absolute beginner, these may be difficult to find. We’ll talk more about this when we discuss reviewing the literature. Simply put, you are probably not the only person in the world to have thought about this question or issue and those related to it. So how does your interest area fit into what others have studied? Perhaps there is a good study out there of fishing communities, but no one has quite asked the “justification” question. You are motivated to address this to “fill the gap” in our collective knowledge. And maybe you are really not at all sure of what interests you, but you do know that [insert your topic] interests a lot of people, so you would like to work in this area too. You want to be involved in the academic conversation. That is a professional motivation and a very important one to articulate.

Practical and strategic motivations are a third kind. Perhaps you want to encourage people to take better care of the natural resources around them. If this is also part of your motivation, you will want to design your research project in a way that might have an impact on how people behave in the future. There are many ways to do this, one of which is using qualitative research methods rather than quantitative research methods, as the findings of qualitative research are often easier to communicate to a broader audience than the results of quantitative research. You might even be able to engage the community you are studying in the collecting and analyzing of data, something taboo in quantitative research but actively embraced and encouraged by qualitative researchers. But there are other practical reasons, such as getting “done” with your research in a certain amount of time or having access (or no access) to certain information. There is nothing wrong with considering constraints and opportunities when designing your study. Or maybe one of the practical or strategic goals is about learning competence in this area so that you can demonstrate the ability to conduct interviews and focus groups with future employers. Keeping that in mind will help shape your study and prevent you from getting sidetracked using a technique that you are less invested in learning about.

STOP HERE for a moment

I recommend you write a paragraph (at least) explaining your aims and goals. Include a sentence about each of the following: personal/political goals, practical or professional/academic goals, and practical/strategic goals. Think through how all of the goals are related and can be achieved by this particular research study . If they can’t, have a rethink. Perhaps this is not the best way to go about it.

You will also want to be clear about the purpose of your study. “Wait, didn’t we just do this?” you might ask. No! Your goals are not the same as the purpose of the study, although they are related. You can think about purpose lying on a continuum from “ theory ” to “action” (figure 2.1). Sometimes you are doing research to discover new knowledge about the world, while other times you are doing a study because you want to measure an impact or make a difference in the world.

Purpose types: Basic Research, Applied Research, Summative Evaluation, Formative Evaluation, Action Research

Basic research involves research that is done for the sake of “pure” knowledge—that is, knowledge that, at least at this moment in time, may not have any apparent use or application. Often, and this is very important, knowledge of this kind is later found to be extremely helpful in solving problems. So one way of thinking about basic research is that it is knowledge for which no use is yet known but will probably one day prove to be extremely useful. If you are doing basic research, you do not need to argue its usefulness, as the whole point is that we just don’t know yet what this might be.

Researchers engaged in basic research want to understand how the world operates. They are interested in investigating a phenomenon to get at the nature of reality with regard to that phenomenon. The basic researcher’s purpose is to understand and explain ( Patton 2002:215 ).

Basic research is interested in generating and testing hypotheses about how the world works. Grounded Theory is one approach to qualitative research methods that exemplifies basic research (see chapter 4). Most academic journal articles publish basic research findings. If you are working in academia (e.g., writing your dissertation), the default expectation is that you are conducting basic research.

Applied research in the social sciences is research that addresses human and social problems. Unlike basic research, the researcher has expectations that the research will help contribute to resolving a problem, if only by identifying its contours, history, or context. From my experience, most students have this as their baseline assumption about research. Why do a study if not to make things better? But this is a common mistake. Students and their committee members are often working with default assumptions here—the former thinking about applied research as their purpose, the latter thinking about basic research: “The purpose of applied research is to contribute knowledge that will help people to understand the nature of a problem in order to intervene, thereby allowing human beings to more effectively control their environment. While in basic research the source of questions is the tradition within a scholarly discipline, in applied research the source of questions is in the problems and concerns experienced by people and by policymakers” ( Patton 2002:217 ).

Applied research is less geared toward theory in two ways. First, its questions do not derive from previous literature. For this reason, applied research studies have much more limited literature reviews than those found in basic research (although they make up for this by having much more “background” about the problem). Second, it does not generate theory in the same way as basic research does. The findings of an applied research project may not be generalizable beyond the boundaries of this particular problem or context. The findings are more limited. They are useful now but may be less useful later. This is why basic research remains the default “gold standard” of academic research.

Evaluation research is research that is designed to evaluate or test the effectiveness of specific solutions and programs addressing specific social problems. We already know the problems, and someone has already come up with solutions. There might be a program, say, for first-generation college students on your campus. Does this program work? Are first-generation students who participate in the program more likely to graduate than those who do not? These are the types of questions addressed by evaluation research. There are two types of research within this broader frame; however, one more action-oriented than the next. In summative evaluation , an overall judgment about the effectiveness of a program or policy is made. Should we continue our first-gen program? Is it a good model for other campuses? Because the purpose of such summative evaluation is to measure success and to determine whether this success is scalable (capable of being generalized beyond the specific case), quantitative data is more often used than qualitative data. In our example, we might have “outcomes” data for thousands of students, and we might run various tests to determine if the better outcomes of those in the program are statistically significant so that we can generalize the findings and recommend similar programs elsewhere. Qualitative data in the form of focus groups or interviews can then be used for illustrative purposes, providing more depth to the quantitative analyses. In contrast, formative evaluation attempts to improve a program or policy (to help “form” or shape its effectiveness). Formative evaluations rely more heavily on qualitative data—case studies, interviews, focus groups. The findings are meant not to generalize beyond the particular but to improve this program. If you are a student seeking to improve your qualitative research skills and you do not care about generating basic research, formative evaluation studies might be an attractive option for you to pursue, as there are always local programs that need evaluation and suggestions for improvement. Again, be very clear about your purpose when talking through your research proposal with your committee.

Action research takes a further step beyond evaluation, even formative evaluation, to being part of the solution itself. This is about as far from basic research as one could get and definitely falls beyond the scope of “science,” as conventionally defined. The distinction between action and research is blurry, the research methods are often in constant flux, and the only “findings” are specific to the problem or case at hand and often are findings about the process of intervention itself. Rather than evaluate a program as a whole, action research often seeks to change and improve some particular aspect that may not be working—maybe there is not enough diversity in an organization or maybe women’s voices are muted during meetings and the organization wonders why and would like to change this. In a further step, participatory action research , those women would become part of the research team, attempting to amplify their voices in the organization through participation in the action research. As action research employs methods that involve people in the process, focus groups are quite common.

If you are working on a thesis or dissertation, chances are your committee will expect you to be contributing to fundamental knowledge and theory ( basic research ). If your interests lie more toward the action end of the continuum, however, it is helpful to talk to your committee about this before you get started. Knowing your purpose in advance will help avoid misunderstandings during the later stages of the research process!

The Research Question

Once you have written your paragraph and clarified your purpose and truly know that this study is the best study for you to be doing right now , you are ready to write and refine your actual research question. Know that research questions are often moving targets in qualitative research, that they can be refined up to the very end of data collection and analysis. But you do have to have a working research question at all stages. This is your “anchor” when you get lost in the data. What are you addressing? What are you looking at and why? Your research question guides you through the thicket. It is common to have a whole host of questions about a phenomenon or case, both at the outset and throughout the study, but you should be able to pare it down to no more than two or three sentences when asked. These sentences should both clarify the intent of the research and explain why this is an important question to answer. More on refining your research question can be found in chapter 4.

Chances are, you will have already done some prior reading before coming up with your interest and your questions, but you may not have conducted a systematic literature review. This is the next crucial stage to be completed before venturing further. You don’t want to start collecting data and then realize that someone has already beaten you to the punch. A review of the literature that is already out there will let you know (1) if others have already done the study you are envisioning; (2) if others have done similar studies, which can help you out; and (3) what ideas or concepts are out there that can help you frame your study and make sense of your findings. More on literature reviews can be found in chapter 9.

In addition to reviewing the literature for similar studies to what you are proposing, it can be extremely helpful to find a study that inspires you. This may have absolutely nothing to do with the topic you are interested in but is written so beautifully or organized so interestingly or otherwise speaks to you in such a way that you want to post it somewhere to remind you of what you want to be doing. You might not understand this in the early stages—why would you find a study that has nothing to do with the one you are doing helpful? But trust me, when you are deep into analysis and writing, having an inspirational model in view can help you push through. If you are motivated to do something that might change the world, you probably have read something somewhere that inspired you. Go back to that original inspiration and read it carefully and see how they managed to convey the passion that you so appreciate.

At this stage, you are still just getting started. There are a lot of things to do before setting forth to collect data! You’ll want to consider and choose a research tradition and a set of data-collection techniques that both help you answer your research question and match all your aims and goals. For example, if you really want to help migrant workers speak for themselves, you might draw on feminist theory and participatory action research models. Chapters 3 and 4 will provide you with more information on epistemologies and approaches.

Next, you have to clarify your “units of analysis.” What is the level at which you are focusing your study? Often, the unit in qualitative research methods is individual people, or “human subjects.” But your units of analysis could just as well be organizations (colleges, hospitals) or programs or even whole nations. Think about what it is you want to be saying at the end of your study—are the insights you are hoping to make about people or about organizations or about something else entirely? A unit of analysis can even be a historical period! Every unit of analysis will call for a different kind of data collection and analysis and will produce different kinds of “findings” at the conclusion of your study. [2]

Regardless of what unit of analysis you select, you will probably have to consider the “human subjects” involved in your research. [3] Who are they? What interactions will you have with them—that is, what kind of data will you be collecting? Before answering these questions, define your population of interest and your research setting. Use your research question to help guide you.

Let’s use an example from a real study. In Geographies of Campus Inequality , Benson and Lee ( 2020 ) list three related research questions: “(1) What are the different ways that first-generation students organize their social, extracurricular, and academic activities at selective and highly selective colleges? (2) how do first-generation students sort themselves and get sorted into these different types of campus lives; and (3) how do these different patterns of campus engagement prepare first-generation students for their post-college lives?” (3).

Note that we are jumping into this a bit late, after Benson and Lee have described previous studies (the literature review) and what is known about first-generation college students and what is not known. They want to know about differences within this group, and they are interested in ones attending certain kinds of colleges because those colleges will be sites where academic and extracurricular pressures compete. That is the context for their three related research questions. What is the population of interest here? First-generation college students . What is the research setting? Selective and highly selective colleges . But a host of questions remain. Which students in the real world, which colleges? What about gender, race, and other identity markers? Will the students be asked questions? Are the students still in college, or will they be asked about what college was like for them? Will they be observed? Will they be shadowed? Will they be surveyed? Will they be asked to keep diaries of their time in college? How many students? How many colleges? For how long will they be observed?

Recommendation

Take a moment and write down suggestions for Benson and Lee before continuing on to what they actually did.

Have you written down your own suggestions? Good. Now let’s compare those with what they actually did. Benson and Lee drew on two sources of data: in-depth interviews with sixty-four first-generation students and survey data from a preexisting national survey of students at twenty-eight selective colleges. Let’s ignore the survey for our purposes here and focus on those interviews. The interviews were conducted between 2014 and 2016 at a single selective college, “Hilltop” (a pseudonym ). They employed a “purposive” sampling strategy to ensure an equal number of male-identifying and female-identifying students as well as equal numbers of White, Black, and Latinx students. Each student was interviewed once. Hilltop is a selective liberal arts college in the northeast that enrolls about three thousand students.

How did your suggestions match up to those actually used by the researchers in this study? It is possible your suggestions were too ambitious? Beginning qualitative researchers can often make that mistake. You want a research design that is both effective (it matches your question and goals) and doable. You will never be able to collect data from your entire population of interest (unless your research question is really so narrow to be relevant to very few people!), so you will need to come up with a good sample. Define the criteria for this sample, as Benson and Lee did when deciding to interview an equal number of students by gender and race categories. Define the criteria for your sample setting too. Hilltop is typical for selective colleges. That was a research choice made by Benson and Lee. For more on sampling and sampling choices, see chapter 5.

Benson and Lee chose to employ interviews. If you also would like to include interviews, you have to think about what will be asked in them. Most interview-based research involves an interview guide, a set of questions or question areas that will be asked of each participant. The research question helps you create a relevant interview guide. You want to ask questions whose answers will provide insight into your research question. Again, your research question is the anchor you will continually come back to as you plan for and conduct your study. It may be that once you begin interviewing, you find that people are telling you something totally unexpected, and this makes you rethink your research question. That is fine. Then you have a new anchor. But you always have an anchor. More on interviewing can be found in chapter 11.

Let’s imagine Benson and Lee also observed college students as they went about doing the things college students do, both in the classroom and in the clubs and social activities in which they participate. They would have needed a plan for this. Would they sit in on classes? Which ones and how many? Would they attend club meetings and sports events? Which ones and how many? Would they participate themselves? How would they record their observations? More on observation techniques can be found in both chapters 13 and 14.

At this point, the design is almost complete. You know why you are doing this study, you have a clear research question to guide you, you have identified your population of interest and research setting, and you have a reasonable sample of each. You also have put together a plan for data collection, which might include drafting an interview guide or making plans for observations. And so you know exactly what you will be doing for the next several months (or years!). To put the project into action, there are a few more things necessary before actually going into the field.

First, you will need to make sure you have any necessary supplies, including recording technology. These days, many researchers use their phones to record interviews. Second, you will need to draft a few documents for your participants. These include informed consent forms and recruiting materials, such as posters or email texts, that explain what this study is in clear language. Third, you will draft a research protocol to submit to your institutional review board (IRB) ; this research protocol will include the interview guide (if you are using one), the consent form template, and all examples of recruiting material. Depending on your institution and the details of your study design, it may take weeks or even, in some unfortunate cases, months before you secure IRB approval. Make sure you plan on this time in your project timeline. While you wait, you can continue to review the literature and possibly begin drafting a section on the literature review for your eventual presentation/publication. More on IRB procedures can be found in chapter 8 and more general ethical considerations in chapter 7.

Once you have approval, you can begin!

Research Design Checklist

Before data collection begins, do the following:

  • Write a paragraph explaining your aims and goals (personal/political, practical/strategic, professional/academic).
  • Define your research question; write two to three sentences that clarify the intent of the research and why this is an important question to answer.
  • Review the literature for similar studies that address your research question or similar research questions; think laterally about some literature that might be helpful or illuminating but is not exactly about the same topic.
  • Find a written study that inspires you—it may or may not be on the research question you have chosen.
  • Consider and choose a research tradition and set of data-collection techniques that (1) help answer your research question and (2) match your aims and goals.
  • Define your population of interest and your research setting.
  • Define the criteria for your sample (How many? Why these? How will you find them, gain access, and acquire consent?).
  • If you are conducting interviews, draft an interview guide.
  •  If you are making observations, create a plan for observations (sites, times, recording, access).
  • Acquire any necessary technology (recording devices/software).
  • Draft consent forms that clearly identify the research focus and selection process.
  • Create recruiting materials (posters, email, texts).
  • Apply for IRB approval (proposal plus consent form plus recruiting materials).
  • Block out time for collecting data.
  • At the end of the chapter, you will find a " Research Design Checklist " that summarizes the main recommendations made here ↵
  • For example, if your focus is society and culture , you might collect data through observation or a case study. If your focus is individual lived experience , you are probably going to be interviewing some people. And if your focus is language and communication , you will probably be analyzing text (written or visual). ( Marshall and Rossman 2016:16 ). ↵
  • You may not have any "live" human subjects. There are qualitative research methods that do not require interactions with live human beings - see chapter 16 , "Archival and Historical Sources." But for the most part, you are probably reading this textbook because you are interested in doing research with people. The rest of the chapter will assume this is the case. ↵

One of the primary methodological traditions of inquiry in qualitative research, ethnography is the study of a group or group culture, largely through observational fieldwork supplemented by interviews. It is a form of fieldwork that may include participant-observation data collection. See chapter 14 for a discussion of deep ethnography. 

A methodological tradition of inquiry and research design that focuses on an individual case (e.g., setting, institution, or sometimes an individual) in order to explore its complexity, history, and interactive parts.  As an approach, it is particularly useful for obtaining a deep appreciation of an issue, event, or phenomenon of interest in its particular context.

The controlling force in research; can be understood as lying on a continuum from basic research (knowledge production) to action research (effecting change).

In its most basic sense, a theory is a story we tell about how the world works that can be tested with empirical evidence.  In qualitative research, we use the term in a variety of ways, many of which are different from how they are used by quantitative researchers.  Although some qualitative research can be described as “testing theory,” it is more common to “build theory” from the data using inductive reasoning , as done in Grounded Theory .  There are so-called “grand theories” that seek to integrate a whole series of findings and stories into an overarching paradigm about how the world works, and much smaller theories or concepts about particular processes and relationships.  Theory can even be used to explain particular methodological perspectives or approaches, as in Institutional Ethnography , which is both a way of doing research and a theory about how the world works.

Research that is interested in generating and testing hypotheses about how the world works.

A methodological tradition of inquiry and approach to analyzing qualitative data in which theories emerge from a rigorous and systematic process of induction.  This approach was pioneered by the sociologists Glaser and Strauss (1967).  The elements of theory generated from comparative analysis of data are, first, conceptual categories and their properties and, second, hypotheses or generalized relations among the categories and their properties – “The constant comparing of many groups draws the [researcher’s] attention to their many similarities and differences.  Considering these leads [the researcher] to generate abstract categories and their properties, which, since they emerge from the data, will clearly be important to a theory explaining the kind of behavior under observation.” (36).

An approach to research that is “multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter.  This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.  Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials – case study, personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts – that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives." ( Denzin and Lincoln 2005:2 ). Contrast with quantitative research .

Research that contributes knowledge that will help people to understand the nature of a problem in order to intervene, thereby allowing human beings to more effectively control their environment.

Research that is designed to evaluate or test the effectiveness of specific solutions and programs addressing specific social problems.  There are two kinds: summative and formative .

Research in which an overall judgment about the effectiveness of a program or policy is made, often for the purpose of generalizing to other cases or programs.  Generally uses qualitative research as a supplement to primary quantitative data analyses.  Contrast formative evaluation research .

Research designed to improve a program or policy (to help “form” or shape its effectiveness); relies heavily on qualitative research methods.  Contrast summative evaluation research

Research carried out at a particular organizational or community site with the intention of affecting change; often involves research subjects as participants of the study.  See also participatory action research .

Research in which both researchers and participants work together to understand a problematic situation and change it for the better.

The level of the focus of analysis (e.g., individual people, organizations, programs, neighborhoods).

The large group of interest to the researcher.  Although it will likely be impossible to design a study that incorporates or reaches all members of the population of interest, this should be clearly defined at the outset of a study so that a reasonable sample of the population can be taken.  For example, if one is studying working-class college students, the sample may include twenty such students attending a particular college, while the population is “working-class college students.”  In quantitative research, clearly defining the general population of interest is a necessary step in generalizing results from a sample.  In qualitative research, defining the population is conceptually important for clarity.

A fictional name assigned to give anonymity to a person, group, or place.  Pseudonyms are important ways of protecting the identity of research participants while still providing a “human element” in the presentation of qualitative data.  There are ethical considerations to be made in selecting pseudonyms; some researchers allow research participants to choose their own.

A requirement for research involving human participants; the documentation of informed consent.  In some cases, oral consent or assent may be sufficient, but the default standard is a single-page easy-to-understand form that both the researcher and the participant sign and date.   Under federal guidelines, all researchers "shall seek such consent only under circumstances that provide the prospective subject or the representative sufficient opportunity to consider whether or not to participate and that minimize the possibility of coercion or undue influence. The information that is given to the subject or the representative shall be in language understandable to the subject or the representative.  No informed consent, whether oral or written, may include any exculpatory language through which the subject or the representative is made to waive or appear to waive any of the subject's rights or releases or appears to release the investigator, the sponsor, the institution, or its agents from liability for negligence" (21 CFR 50.20).  Your IRB office will be able to provide a template for use in your study .

An administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the institution with which it is affiliated. The IRB is charged with the responsibility of reviewing all research involving human participants. The IRB is concerned with protecting the welfare, rights, and privacy of human subjects. The IRB has the authority to approve, disapprove, monitor, and require modifications in all research activities that fall within its jurisdiction as specified by both the federal regulations and institutional policy.

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods Copyright © 2023 by Allison Hurst is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Project Writers in Nigeria BSc. MSc. PhD

Research Project Writing Website

HOW TO WRITE CHAPTER TWO OF RESEARCH PROJECTS

A practical guide to research writing – chapter two.

Historically, Chapter Two of every academic Research/Project Write up has been Literature Review, and this position has not changed. When preparing your write up for this Chapter, you can title it “Review of Related Literature” or just “Literature Review”.

This is the chapter where you provide detailed explanation of previous researches that has been conducted on your topic of interest. The previous studies that must be selected for this chapter must be academic work/articles published in an internationally reputable journal.

Also, the selected articles must not be more than 10 years old (article publication date to project writing date). For better organization, it has been generally accepted that the arrangement for a good literature review write up follows this order:

2.0     Introduction

2.1     Conceptual Review

2.2     Theoretical Framework

2.3     Empirical review

Summary of Literature/Research Gap

2.0     INTRODUCTION

This serves as the preamble to the chapter alone or preliminary information on the chapter. All the preliminary information that should be provided here should cover just this chapter alone because the project already has a general introduction which is chapter one. It should only reflect the content of this chapter. This is why the introduction for literature review is sometimes optional.

Basically here, you should describe the contents of the chapter in few words

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2.1     CONCEPTUAL REVIEW

This section can otherwise be titled “Conceptual Framework”. It must capture all explanations on the concepts that are associated with your research topic in logical order. For example, if your research topic is “A study of the effect of advertisement on firm sales”, your conceptual framework can best follow this order:

2.1     Conceptual Framework

2.1.1  Advertisement

2.1.1.1        Types of Advertisement

2.1.1.2.      Advantages of Advertisement

2.1.2  Concept of Firm Sales

2.1.2.1        Factor determining Firm Sales

These concepts must be defined and described from the historical point of view. Topical works and prevailing issues globally, in your continent and nation on the concepts should be presented here. You must be able to provide clear information here that there should be no ambiguity about the variables you are studying.

2.2     THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

This can be otherwise titled “Theoretical Review”. This section should contain all previous professional theories and models that have provided explanations on your research topic in the recent past. Yes, related theories and models also falls within the category of past literature for your research write up. Professional theories that are most relevant to your topic should be separately arranged in this section, as seen in the example below:

2.2.1  Jawkwish Theory of Performance

2.2.2  Interstitial Theory of Ranking

2.2.3  Grusse Theory of Social Learning

But the most important thing to note while writing this part is that, apart from making sure that you must do a thorough research and ensure that the most relevant theories for your research topic is selected, your theoretical review must capture some important points which should better reflect in this order for each model:

The proponent of the theory/model, title and year of publication, aim/purpose/structure of the theory, contents and arguments of the theory, findings and conclusions of the theory, criticisms and gaps of the theory, and finally the relevance of the theory to your current research topic.

STEP BY STEP RESEARCH WRITING GUIDE

Best Research Writing eBook

Academic project or thesis or dissertation writing is not an easy academic endeavor. To reach your goal, you must invest time, effort, and a strong desire to succeed. Writing a thesis while also juggling other course work is challenging, but it doesn't have to be an unpleasant process. A dissertation or thesis is one of the most important requirements for any degree, and this book will show you how to create a good research write-up from a high level of abstraction, making your research writing journey much easier. It also includes examples of how and what the contents of each sub-headings should look like for easy research writing. This book will also constitute a step-by-step research writing guide to scholars in all research fields.

2.3     EMPIRICAL REVIEW

This can be otherwise titled “Empirical Framework”. This is usually described as the critical review of the existing academic works/literature on your research topic. This can be organized or arranged in two different alternative ways when developing your write up:

  • It can be arranged in a table with heading arranged horizontally in this order: Author name and initials, year and title of publication, aim/objectives, methodology, findings, conclusions, recommendations, research gap. Responses for the above should be provided in spaces provided below in the table for up to 40 articles at least.
  • The second option excludes the use of tables but still contains the same information exactly as above for tables. The information is provided in thematic text format with appropriate in-text references. Note that all these points to be included can be directly gotten from the articles except the research gap which requires your critical thinking. Your research gap must identify an important thing(s) the previous research has not done well or not done at all, which your current research intends to do. Although, you should criticize, but constructively while acknowledging areas of perfections and successes of the authors.

Note that every research you critically review must have evident/obvious gaps that your research intends to fill.

SUMMARY OF LITERATURE REVIEW/RESEARCH GAP/GAP ANALYSIS

This is the concluding part of every literature review write up. It provides the summary of the entire content of the whole Chapter. Sometimes, some institutions require that you bring the analysis of all the gaps of the existing literature under review here. Conclusions on the whole existing literature under review should briefly be highlighted in this section.

I trust that this article will help undergraduates and postgraduate researchers in writing a very good Literature Review for your Research/Project/Paper/Thesis, and will also meet the needs of our esteemed readers who has been requesting for a guide on how to write their Chapter Two (Literature Review).

Enjoy, as you develop a good Literature Review for your research!

24 comments

please i want to understand how to write a project. tutorial available?

thanks so now am able to write the chapter two of the research

Thank you for the article,it really guide and educate.

Thank you so much for this vital information which serve as a guide to me in respect to my chapter 2. With so much hope and interest this piece of information will pass across other researchers.

Very helpful, thanks for sharing this for free.

This is fantastic, I commend you for the well job done, this guiedline is so much useful for me, you’ve indeed light up my path to write a good literature review of chapter 2

I Have a doctoral dissertation research and I want to understand the help you can offer for me to move forward. Thanks.

It was indeed helpful. Thanks.

This is helpful

Good it serves a lecture delivered by notable Prof

Very helpful, thanks for be present,

Sir, am confused a bit am writing on the role of social media in creating political awareness and mobilizing political protests (in Nigeria). How my going to do conceptual framework. Thanks

Thanks for educating me better

Thank you so much, the detailed explanation has given me more courage to attain my first class degree, all the way from Gulu Uganda.

Really helpful. Thank you for this.

Sure this page realy guide me on chapter two big thanks i will request more when the need arise

thank you for this article but is this the only option for writing a chapter two for an undergraduate degree project?

Very helpful

Weldone and kudos to you guys

Thanks a lot this has surely helped me in moving ahead in my project

Thanks for this piece of information I really appreciate ✨

Pls how will i see the preamble in my journal or am i going to write it offhand

First of all thanks for the informations provided above. I want to ask is the nature and element of research also included in this chapter

Need proof reading help

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How To Write A Research Paper

Research Paper Results Section

Betty P.

How to Write the Results Section of a Research Paper - Structure and Tips

15 min read

Published on: Mar 6, 2024

Last updated on: Mar 5, 2024

how to write the results section of a research paper

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Starting on the journey of publishing your study in a prestigious journal? The results section is your platform to showcase the heart of your research – the key findings. 

It's not just about presenting data; it's about the answers to your research questions, and confirming or challenging your initial hypotheses.

In our guide, we'll break down the steps to write this section so you can share your research findings effectively. Stick around to learn how to make your results clear and valuable.

Let’s get started!

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What is the Result Section of a Research Paper?

The Results section of a scientific research paper encapsulates the primary study findings, objectively presented in a logical sequence. It avoids author interpretation, serving as a factual account of data. 

Positioned after Methods and Materials, it precedes the Discussion section. Its essence lies in breaking down data to illustrate significance in relation to research questions. 

In essence, the Results section addresses the fundamental inquiry: "What did you find in your research?"

Note: When constructing the results section, keep in mind that study outcomes don't prove anything. They can only validate or refute the research problem at the core of your study.

What is the Purpose of a Results Section?

The results section in a research paper serves the important role of presenting the outcomes of your study. Let's highlight some primary goals of the results section in your research paper: 

  • Presenting Empirical Evidence: According to ( Labani, Wadhwa, & Asthana, 2017 ). The primary purpose of this section is to display the actual data and outcomes derived from the study. 
  • Confirmation or Rejection: Clarify whether the research question was supported or refuted by the collected evidence.
  • Highlighting Significance: Emphasize the importance of the results in relation to the initial hypothesis.
  • Utilizing Visuals: Incorporate graphs, charts, and summaries for a clearer representation of the findings.
  • Objective Interpretation: Provide an unbiased analysis, letting the data speak for itself.
  • Informing Conclusions: Lay the groundwork for the following discussion and conclusion sections by setting the stage with your results.

What is Included in the Results Section?

The Results section of a scientific paper exclusively incorporates the study's findings, comprising:

  • Visual Data Presentation (Tables, charts, graphs, and figures)
  • Narrative Contextualization 
  • Central Research Question Data
  • Secondary Findings Integration  (e.g., subgroup analyses, secondary outcomes).

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How Is a Results Section Structured?

When organizing the findings section of a research paper, a systematic approach ensures clarity and coherence. Here is how to structure your results section:

Note:  In some research fields, especially qualitative studies like ethnographies, there might not be a separate results section. Instead, findings are merged within the Discussion section. Always check your target journal's guidelines for formatting.

Let's go through the steps to write a results section for your research paper in detail.

Step 1: Familiarize with Guidelines and Articles

To start with your result section for a research paper, consider the following points: 

  • Consult Journal Guidelines:

Examine the instructions provided by the target journal or publisher for authors. Understand specific requirements outlined for the results or findings section.

  • Study Published Research Papers:

Analyze research papers published by the journal, particularly those related to your study's topics, methods, or results. Extract insights from successful approaches showcased in these articles.

  • Note Content Restrictions:

Be aware of length limitations and content restrictions specified by the journal. Recognize variations, such as whether the Results and Discussion sections are separate or combined.

  • Explore Journal Aims and Scope:

Read the journal's " guide for authors " section to grasp its aims and scope. Understand the interests of the readership, gaining valuable insights for shaping your Results section.

Step 2: Catalogue Your Results

The next step is to organize your research results for clarity and understanding of the upcoming steps. Here is what to consider: 

  • Identify Key Experimental Results:

Pinpoint outcomes directly linked to your research questions and objectives. Focus on experimental findings that contribute meaningfully to your study.

  • Utilize Subheadings for Categorization:

Employ subheadings to group and classify results thematically. Facilitate a clear organizational structure for both yourself and your readers.

  • Consider Appendices for Specialized Information:

Contemplate including appendices for intricate or specialist details. Ensure these appendices cater to readers with specific interests, avoiding unnecessary length or distraction in the main text.

  • Decide on a Logical Structure:

Choose a coherent and logical order for presenting your results. Align the structure with the progression of your research questions, hypotheses, or the sequence outlined in the methods section.

Step 3: Design Figures and Tables 

Designing effective figures and tables is vital for visually representing your data. Follow these detailed steps to incorporate non-textual elements in your results section:

  • Tables and Figures Numbering:

Assign numbers to tables and figures according to the sequence they appear in the main text. Ensure a logical and consistent reference system for readers to locate visual elements easily.

  • Self-explanatory Figures:

Craft figures that are relatively self-explanatory, aided by informative captions. Include all necessary definitions and contextual information within the figure to allow readers to grasp findings without extensive reliance on the accompanying text.

  • Focal Point for Clarity:

Utilize tables and figures as focal points to narrate a clear and informative story about your research. Avoid redundancy by ensuring visual elements complement and enhance the text without duplicating information.

  • Enhancing, Not Replacing Text:

Acknowledge that while figures clarify and enrich the text, they cannot entirely replace it. Strike a balance between textual and visual elements, using each to reinforce and complement the other.

Step 4: Draft the Results Section

After gathering and organizing all the necessary data, it's time to write the results section. Here is what to consider when writing a result section: 

  • Communication Clarity:

Aim to communicate complex information with utmost clarity and precision. Employ precise and compact language for maximum effectiveness in conveying your results.

  • Opening Paragraph Focus:

In the opening paragraph, restate your research questions or aims. This refocusing helps direct the reader's attention to the specific objectives the results aim to demonstrate.

  • Summarize Key Findings:

Conclude the results section by summarizing key findings. This summary serves as a bridge, creating a logical transition to the interpretation and discussion that will follow. It provides a quick overview, helping readers grasp the main outcomes.

  • Past Tense and Active Voice:

Write in the past tense and active voice to relay the findings. Since the research has already been conducted, using the past tense adds clarity. Active voice makes the agent (performer of the action) clear, enhancing the overall coherence and logic of your explanations.

  • Definition of Specialized Terminology:

Ensure that any specialized terminology or abbreviations used in this section have been previously defined and clarified in the introduction. This practice prevents confusion and aids reader understanding, maintaining consistency throughout your paper.

Step 5: Review, Edit, and Revise

The final step is to review and revise your draft 1 or 2 times for enhanced clarity, coherence, and overall refinement.

  • Data Accuracy and Consistency:

Double-check all data for accuracy and consistency. Ensure that the information presented aligns with your research findings and is error-free.

  • Read Aloud for Language Errors:

Read your draft aloud to identify language errors, including grammar, spelling, and mechanical issues. This method helps uncover awkward phrases and ensures a smoother flow of information.

  • Optimal Presentation Order:

Evaluate the order of your results to guarantee the best presentation. Ensure that your results are strategically arranged to highlight objectives and seamlessly guide readers toward interpretations, evaluations, and recommendations in the Discussion section.

  • Consistency with Introduction and Background:

Revisit the paper's introduction and background while anticipating the discussion and conclusion sections. Confirm that the presentation of your results aligns with the overall narrative and remains consistent throughout the paper.

  • Seek Additional Guidance:

Consider seeking input from others. Invite peers, professors, or qualified experts to review your results section. External perspectives can offer valuable insights and suggestions for improvement, enhancing the overall quality of your paper.

What are the Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data?

Below is a comparison table highlighting the key differences between qualitative and quantitative data:

Keeping this information in view let's take a look at the findings section of a qualitative research paper and quantitative research paper and check out the difference practically:

Sample of Quantitative Results Section

Here's a sample of a quantitative results section to explain each part:

Sample of Qualitative Results Section 

Here's a sample results section of a qualitative research paper example with a focus on understanding the experiences of participants in a study on job satisfaction:

Results Section of a Research Paper Examples

Examples serve as effective tools for learning new concepts. We've assembled a collection of instances illustrating the results and findings in research within a PDF document. Check out: 

Results Section of a Research Paper APA

Example of Result and Discussion In Research Paper

Results Section Dos and Don'ts

Here's a table outlining what to include and what not to include while writing the Results Section of a research paper:

In conclusion, writing an effective results section requires precision and clarity. By organizing data logically, using appropriate visuals, and maintaining a balance between detail and conciseness, you can enhance the impact of your research paper. 

Remember, the results section is a vital component, laying the foundation for meaningful discussions and conclusions. If you find yourself struggling with your research paper results, don't hesitate to seek assistance. 

CollegeEssay.org is a professional writing service ready to support you with your writing assignments. Our team consists of research paper-writing experts from various disciplines.

Connect with our research paper writing service for expert guidance and ensure the success of your academic endeavors.

Commonly Asked Queries

How does a results section differ from a discussion and conclusion section.

The results section presents raw data and findings, describing what was observed. The discussion section interprets these results, explaining their meaning and significance. The conclusion section summarizes the key findings, discusses their broader implications, and suggests potential avenues for future research.

Can I include raw data in the results section?

No, the results section is not the place for raw data. Instead, present summarized and interpreted data using tables, graphs, or descriptive statistics. Raw data can be included in appendices.

Should I include both descriptive and inferential statistics in the results section?

Yes, provide a balance of descriptive statistics (e.g., means, standard deviations) and inferential statistical tests (e.g., t-tests, ANOVA) to offer a comprehensive overview of your findings.

How do I handle outliers or anomalous data in the results section?

Acknowledge outliers and anomalous data if they exist. Discuss their potential impact on the overall findings and consider conducting sensitivity analyses if necessary.

Betty P. (Literature, Natural Sciences)

Betty is a freelance writer and researcher. She has a Masters in literature and enjoys providing writing services to her clients. Betty is an avid reader and loves learning new things. She has provided writing services to clients from all academic levels and related academic fields.

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how to write chapter 2 in research paper

New Fortnite season status? Delayed, servers are down. When will update be up? What we know

how to write chapter 2 in research paper

Update: The time when the maintenance is expected to be complete has been updated.

In preparation for the new season, servers are down on Fornite, the popular game from Epic games, for scheduled maintenance.

Here's what we know.

What is the Fortnite server status?

According to  Epic Games , the server is down for scheduled maintenance (v29.00 update) ahead of the new season, which is why players may currently see an error if they try to access the game.

When will the servers be back up in Fortnite?

The maintenance was originally scheduled for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. UTC which is 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST but has since been pushed back. Fortnite Status on X , formerly Twitter, shared at 9:15 EST that another 8 hours would be needed to complete the update.

Users can continue to check the status of the update on their website status.epicgames.com .

Players of the game took to social media to respond to added time to the outage

Many users took to X to express their feelings about the scheduled maintenance and it's extension.

From genuine frustration to memes, you can find some of their responses below.

Fortnite players react to outage: Fortnite is down and people on social media reacted about how you'd expect

When does the new season of Fortnite begin?

Once the system updates are finished, Fortnite players should be able to boot up the game and access the news season:  Chapter 5 Season 2: Myths & Mortals.

Katie Wiseman is a trending news intern at IndyStar. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @itskatiewiseman .

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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
  • Ensure nothing is forgotten

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

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Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

  • Definition of measles
  • Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
  • Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
  • Symptoms and timeframes of disease
  • Risk of fatality, including statistics
  • How measles is spread
  • Immunization procedures in different regions
  • Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
  • Immunization figures in affected regions
  • High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
  • Illnesses that can result from measles virus
  • Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
  • Summary of arguments of different groups
  • Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
  • Which side of the argument appears to be correct?

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how to write chapter 2 in research paper

Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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Fortnite Chapter 5 Season 2 Map – POIs, locations, and more

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Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist…

An image of Mount Olympus in Fortnite with Zeus looking down.

Happy New Fortnite Season. The Greeks have arrived – wow, that was a surprise for everybody, after we first mentioned it was going to be the case months ago , but now, as the world frantically downloads the 22Gb update and waits to see what the new Map looks like that will have us hooked for the next few months at least. So what do we know about it?

Fortnite Chapter 5 Season 2 Map

And here is the map. as leaked by HYPEX on X. The world is anxiously waiting to see where our new Battle Royale will take us, but we do already know what is on it the new Legendary Locations and POIs will be – at least at the start of this season.

Fortnite's Chapter 5 Season 2 map.

Fortnite Chapter 5 Season 2 Legendary Locations / POIs

Epic Games tells us we have new main Season 2 POIs at this early stage and we’re sure you are looking forward to visiting them as much as we are. Let’s have a look at what we know about them,

Grim Gate To get to “The Underworld,” one way to get there is by crossing the river at Grim Gate … where the three-headed guard dog Cerberus awaits. Venture to the west of the Island to confront these canines!

The Underworld Past the hounds is the home of Hades: The Underworld. Despite its flowing streams, the land of this city is almost completely dried up.

Mount Olympus You can’t have a Fortnite season based in Ancient Greece without Mount Olympus – the fabled home of Zeus

Brawler’s Battleground The god of war, Ares always welcomes a battle. Take him up on his challenge in the Brawler’s Battleground arena south of Mount Olympus.

As we discover more about the new map in Season 2 we will update this page accordingly.

Featured Image : Epic Games

More Fortnite Chapter 5 Season 2 pages you may like:

Fortnite Chapter 5 Season 2 Battle Pass – what you get and how you get it Where to find Zeus in Fortnite Chapter 5 Season 2

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Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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How swift is staying dominant in cross-border payments.

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The Logo of The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT on a billboard ... [+] December 15, 2022 in Hong Kong, China.

With funding for fintech startups having fallen precipitously from the days of ultra-low interest rates and a focus on growth at all costs, a reality is setting in: Disrupting the giants of incumbent financial services is no easy task. In many cases, it has proven elusive.

This holds especially true for the juggernaut of international money transfers, Belgium-based Swift. In recent years, Swift has moved to address shortcoming in the speed, transparency and efficiency of its transactions while simultaneously bringing an increasing number of high-performing payments fintech into its orbit. One might say that Swift is gradually co-opting some of its key competition.

As a result, the interbank messaging network is retaining its leading position in cross-border payments and may even grow more dominant in the years to come.

The Need For Speed

One of the factors that drove so much funding into payments fintechs pre-pandemic and right up until interest rates and inflation skyrocketed was frustration with the slowness of traditional correspondent banking. Swift first responded to this trend by launching Swift gpi, which has been likened to “ an Amazon parcel tracking service ” for the financial world. According to Swift , about 50% of gpi payments are credited to end beneficiaries within 30 minutes, 40% in less than 5 minutes, and almost 100% of gpi payments within 24 hours.

In addition, in August 2023, Swift said that 89% of cross-border payments processed over its interbank messaging network are completed within an hour, placing its transaction speed ahead of the G20’s end-to-end target of 75% by 2027. In a news release , Swift said that this achievement challenges “misperceptions” that payments must often travel through chains of intermediary banks to their final destination. According to Swift data, 84% of all payments on the network are conducted directly or with a single intermediary.

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The G20’s plan for enhancing global payments recognizes the importance of these transactions in the global economy’s growth and the “and how necessary industry-wide collaboration is to achieving tangible improvements,” Swift chief strategy officer Thierry Chilosi said in the news release.

Fintech Partners

In addition to boosting the speed of transactions on its network, Swift has also moved to forge or enhance partnerships with ascendant fintechs. For instance, in September 2023, Swift joined forces with the UK’s Wise, one of the world’s most prominent fintechs in the payments segment. Unlike many of its peers, Wise was able to reach profitability early on, carry out a successful IPO and stay in the black while gradually growing its global footprint.

Under the agreement Swift and Wise reached, financial institutions will be able to route Swift payment messages directly to Wise Platform, the UK firm’s infrastructure solution for banks and major enterprises. This tie-up will likely be helpful to banks it that it will not require the embedding of technology incompatible with legacy infrastructure while allowing them to leverage the vast Swift network. Wise foresees this partnership with Swift as “making international payments more convenient, faster and lower cost for banks, without necessitating a major tech build,” Steve Naudé , managing director of Wise Platform, said in a news release.

For his part, Swift’s Chilosi said that “our collaboration with Wise illustrates how Swift can be the bedrock from which the whole industry can innovate.”

Then in Oct. 2023, U.S.-based payments and financial technology provider Fiserv FISV joined the Swift Partner Program as a platform partner. This move will allow Fiserv to enhance support for Swift gpi and provide better API connectivity for cross-border payments. The combination is a good one: It marries the breadth of Swift’s network and the strong trust it enjoys in the global financial community with Fiserv’s global technology footprint.

Web3 and CBDCs

Looking ahead, we expect Swift will accelerate its involvement in the emerging area of Web3 payments and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), even though it is still uncertain that blockchain-based transactions ultimately offer enough benefits over traditional payments to warrant the additional investments in infrastructure.

In June 2023, Web3 services platform Chainlink LINK and Swift announced that they would be working with dozens of financial institutions to test how they can connect with multiple blockchain networks. Among the participating financial institutions have been BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation and Lloyds Banking Group. While Swift said that the experiments clearly demonstrated that its infrastructure “can provide that central point of connectivity” for the whole financial ecosystem, questions remain about regulatory clarity on tokenization.

With regards to CBDCs, Swift said in September 2023 said that three central banks/monetary authorities – including the National Bank of Kazakhstan and Hong Kong Monetary Authority – are beta testing its solution for interlinking CBDCs while 30 financial institutions are experimenting with the solution in a new sandbox. Swift is concerned that current CBDC development in different countries could lead to fragmentation and thus has prioritized ensuring interoperability.

Thus far, much of the hype about digital fiat currencies has yet to translate to anything concrete, but we believe that Swift wants to ensure that it is not at a disadvantage if global adoption of CBDCs were to accelerate. To that end, Swift will be closely watching the progress of the mBridge project of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) and the central banks of mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates (UAE UAE ). MBridge’s most recent milestone occurred in January when the UAE made its first cross-border payment using the system.

According to China’s Digital Currency Research Institute (DCRI), mBridge transactions take seven seconds and cut cross-border payment costs by 50%. Some of the project’s boosters even claim that if adopted, it could cut out correspondent banking altogether.

While the speed and cost of mBridge transactions seem impressive, the project remains in a pilot phase, and any cross-border payments network that excluded the US dollar would likely face serious limitations.

Zennon Kapron

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