Parts of a Research Paper




The abstract should summarize:
· area of interest
· methodology
· principal results of the work

It usually is less than 300 words and lets the reader get a good impression of what the paper contains. It provides -

· brief background on the topic
· concise description of the findings of the study
· relates those findings to the field of study

The introduction presents the background information needed to understand why the findings of the paper advance the knowledge of the field.
· reflects the planning of the research project
· describes the state of knowledge in the relevant area
· references to work already published
· shows why the more data and the work described in the paper was necessary
· clearly states the hypotheses being tested in the paper
· describes why the chosen research method is appropriate
· provides a brief description of the major answers to questions posed by the study
The methods section describes how the research was carried out. It is usually compressed information. However, it should cover everything relevant to the actual study procedure, how the data was collected and analyzed.

An important criterion when assessing the methods section is to ask, 'does the author(s) give enough information to allow me to repeat the study?' If the answer to this is no, then the methods section is not detailed enough.

Often this section refers to previous work of the author.

The results represent a summary and analysis of the data, which follows logically from the introduction.

Usually the results section should simply present the results of the work described, without discussing them. Results are both given and interpreted when they need to refer to findings not in the paper.

Sometimes charts, graphs, and tables will be included here, if they make presentation of the data clearer. At other times they will be in a separate section.


The discussion is where the author(s):
· draw conclusions from the work described
· explain what they think the data show
· acknowledge limitations of the data
· show how findings contribute to knowledge
· correct errors of previous work

Points of discussion include:
· the initial aims of the investigation been achieved?
· the hypotheses of interest been tested?
· do the results fit-in with other people's work, and what further work needs to be done?

last updated: August 29, 2005 Marti Lindsey