What are the Parts of a Research Paper?

The purpose of having clearly defined portions of a research paper is not to make your life as a student more difficult. In reality, it’s just the reverse.

The many elements of a research paper have been designed to give a structure that can be utilized regularly to make your research projects easier while also assisting you in adhering to good scientific methods.

This will aid your writing process by allowing you to concentrate on crucial areas one at a time. It will also offer you with a useful outline on which to arrange your task.

A strong framework will make your research paper easier to grasp, as well as prepare you for a prospective career as a researcher, because all current science is built on similar precepts.

Have you recently struggled with your academic homework, particularly the many elements of a research paper?

This is a very common situation, so we have written this article to outline all of the key parts of a research paper and explain what you should focus on as you go through each of the various parts of a research paper; read the following sections and you should have a better idea of how to tackle your next research paper effectively.

A research paper consists of 10 parts: cover page, table of content, abstract, introduction, methodology, data analysis, findings and discussion, conclusion, reference, and appendix section. All these parts of research paper are arranged in a way that shows flow of the paper from one section to the other.

parts of research paper

Sections of a Research Paper in APA Style

Parts of a Research Paper

1. Cover page

The cover page is the first page of an excellent research paper format. The cover page is the opening page of the research paper and includes information about the writer/author.

These information include the title of the paper, the author’s name, the name of the university/affiliated institution, the name of the professor, the year, and any acknowledgements.

A research paper’s structure is incomplete without a cover page. Writing the cover page is a simple task.

2. Table of contents

Writing a table of contents is normally done after the paper is finished, however the author might choose to update it while entering the various sections. Tables of contents and research paper sections are entirely at the discretion of the author.

After finishing a research paper, some people like to include a table of contents. Others want to have their table of contents updated often to prevent doing too much editing and feeling rushed to finish the assignment.

A table of contents lists all of the items in a research paper. All primary headings and sub-headings are included in the list of items. Headings for levels I, II, III, and IV are written in.

A research paper may include an unlimited number of layers of headers. Each document may differ in terms of heading levels depending on the formatting style used.

The table of contents, on the other hand, is frequently populated in a similar fashion.

3. Abstract

An abstract is a brief synopsis of a research study. It goes over the study technique, which includes sample procedures, data gathering, data analysis, results and findings, and conclusions.

In the abstract, a research article will typically include a one-sentence purpose or goal, followed by methodology. Depending on the topic or type of writing, the abstract length ranges from 150 to 300 words.

4. Introduction

The writer focuses on the topic of interest in the beginning portion of a research paper.

This is the section of your research paper where you are supposed to offer your thesis statement; this is basically a description of what you want to accomplish with your research project, including the issues you want to investigate and any answers or recommendations you have in mind.

5. Background/review of the literature

The background segment presents recent research findings on the topic or thesis. In this section, the researcher examines the literature to demonstrate why their planned study is necessary.

Perhaps there is a vacuum in the literature and further study is required to understand the link between the research factors. This section of a research paper is intended to offer the theoretical framework developed throughout your investigation.

You will be asked to provide the sources you researched while preparing for the job ahead, and these sources must be academically respectable (including educational books, peer-reviewed journals, and other relevant publications).

You must provide the names of the relevant authors you’ve researched as well as a correctly structured citation that specifically refers to the works you’ve examined, including the publication year (APA style citations).

6. Research Methodology

A research paper’s structure is incomplete without technique (research design). The body of a research article consists of sampling techniques, data gathering criteria, data analysis, findings, and discussion parts.

This section is often used to detail the actions you followed and the subjects you recruited to carry out the study. Varied sections of a research report have different goals, and you must specify the particular methodologies you utilized during your study. Typical approaches include direct observation, laboratory experimentation, and statistical analyses. Whatever approaches you use, you must openly state them in this area.

7. Data analysis

While all sections of a research report are significant, this one is perhaps the most relevant in terms of practical application. Out of all the sections of a research paper, this one requires you to evaluate the data you gathered during your study.

This is your opportunity to really shine by bringing new facts that may help to the common understanding of the issues you have explored. At this point, you are not expected to evaluate your data (that will be done later in the research report), but rather to present it objectively. Depending on the research design, data analysis might be qualitative or quantitative.

Analyzing data entails generating conclusions from it by manipulating it using statistical methods or any other type of data analysis. Most students believe that data analysis is the most difficult component of writing a research paper since it involves precision and dealing with complex calculations. Poor data analysis procedures may result in erroneous conclusions, compromising the validity and dependability of your study.

8. Findings and discussion/Results

When discussing the findings of a research study, the results must be compared to existing literature. Do the findings support or refute existing knowledge in the field? That is the primary goal of new study.

From all the parts of a research paper, this is the one where you’re expected to actually analyze the data you have gathered while researching. This analysis should be consistent with your previously stated methodology, and it should highlight any implications suggested by your data that may be relevant to other fields of study, as well as any flaws in your approach that would allow you to improve your results if you were to repeat the same type of research.

The authors can additionally discuss the significance of the findings. It is necessary to explain what can be drawn from the study’s findings and how they might be used in policymaking. Apart from the two mentioned difficulties, the discussion portion of a study report outlines prospective future research that new researchers may wish to examine.

It is also customarily necessary to highlight the limits of a research publication in order for other researchers to comprehend the context of the study findings. Explaining a paper’s limits demonstrates how the findings may have been influenced by other external influences and to what extent?

9. Conclusion

As you finish your research paper, you should briefly reaffirm your thesis statement, as well as your methodology and analyzed data – by bringing all of these aspects together, you will achieve the goal of your study, so all that remains is to clearly declare your findings.

The conclusion section summarizes a study’s findings and explains the researchers’ last comments.

Were the findings correct?

What is the paper’s overarching implication?

What is the next step in future research?

Could the findings influence policymaking?

These are some of the questions that a research paper conclusion must address.

10. Reference Page

Following the conclusion, the reference list is written on a new page.

The greater the number of sources listed, the longer the list and the more rigorous the investigation. More information on different referencing styles may be found here:

How to Format a Research Paper in the APA Style

The number of references in an article is determined by the journal’s publication preferences.

Individual university standards for their students can influence referencing style.

11. Appendix

For most people, the appendix is a less glamorous research paper section. The appendix is a component that contains statistics and statistical data that may have been employed in the research study.

It appears at the very end of a research study. If the study selects to incorporate the figures inside the other previous sections, a research paper structure can be completed without appendices.

What do I include in Appendix section of a Research Paper?

Tables and Figures

Graphs and data (optional in certain situations) — Tables and/or Figures may be included depending on the sort of study being conducted (however, in some cases, there may be neither).

Each Table and Figure is presented on a separate page in APA format, and all Tables and Figures are included after the References.

Tables come first, followed by figures.

Tables and Figures may, however, be embedded in the text for some journals and undergraduate research papers (such as the B.S. Research Paper or Honors Thesis) (depending on the instructor’s or editor’s policies; for further details, see “Deviations from APA Style” below).

Supplementary information (optional) — In certain situations, extra material that is not necessary for understanding the study report is supplied, such as a list of experiment stimuli, details of a secondary analysis, or programming code.

This is frequently included in an Appendix.

Differences of Research Papers in APA Style

Although the major sections described above are common to most research papers written in APA style, there are variations on that pattern.  These variations include: 

  • Literature reviews – When a study involves summarizing previously published research rather than presenting fresh empirical research (as in a review article, especially a qualitative review), the authors may omit the Methods and Results sections. Instead, a different format is used, such as an Introduction part, followed by sections for each of the many components of the body of research being evaluated, and sometimes a Discussion section. 
  • Multi-experiment papers – When there are numerous experiments, it is typical to follow the Introduction with an Experiment 1 section, which includes subsections for Methods, Results, and Discussion. Then there’s Experiment 2 with a similar structure, Experiment 3 with a similar structure, and so on until all experiments are covered. A General Discussion section follows References at the conclusion of the text. Furthermore, in multi-experiment publications, the Results and Discussion subsections for each experiments are frequently integrated into single “Results and Discussion” sections.

Departures from APA Style

Official APA style may not be followed in some circumstances (however, be sure to check with your editor, instructor, or other sources before deviating from standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Examples of such deviations include:

  • Placement of Tables and Figures – Tables and/or Figures are sometimes included in the text to make reading the document simpler (for example, having a bar graph placed in the relevant Results section). One of the most prevalent departures from APA style is the incorporation of Tables and/or Figures within the text (and is commonly allowed in B.S. Degree Research Papers and Honors Theses; however you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first). 
  • Incomplete research – In this department, a B.S. Degree Research Paper is occasionally prepared regarding research that is currently planned or in process. In such situations, simply an Introduction and Methods section, followed by References, is supplied (that is, in cases where the research itself has not formally begun). In other circumstances, preliminary data are reported and identified as such in the Results section (for example, when the study is ongoing but not completed), while the Discussion section adds disclaimers regarding the research’s ongoing nature. Again, with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first.
  • Class assignments – An assignment in some classes in this department must be written in APA format, however it is not a standard research paper (for instance, a student asked to write about an article that they read, and to write that report in APA style). In that instance, the structure of the document may resemble, but not fully, the standard sections of an APA research paper. You should consult your teacher for more information.


1.  Do you have to follow the exact research paper structure?

Yes, and failing to do so will very certainly have a negative influence on your grade. It is critical that you compose your research paper according to the framework outlined in this article. To prevent a jumbled structure, stick to your research paper plan. The architecture of various sorts of academic papers vary greatly. The framework necessary for a literature review, for example, is considerably different from the structure required for a scientific research publication.

2.  What if I’m having trouble with certain parts of a research paper?

If you’re having trouble with some portions of a research paper, check at some examples of completed research papers in a related field of study to get a better understanding of what you need to include.

Read a step-by-step guide to creating a research paper, or look at the research paper examples section at the conclusion of this page.

Perhaps you’re just out of ideas!