The structure of a research paper

Present the research enquiry or problem to the reader. This tells the reader what your research paper is all about, but doesn’t tell the reader the answer. It may indicate what type of answer you are going for, or how thoroughly you intend to search for this answer.

Show people the focus or purpose of the paper. In your own mind you need a clear view of exactly why you chose this topic, to be researched in this way, to point to a conclusion that will tell you what. Know this and you can give people a correct look at the focus or purpose of your paper.

An overview or summary of the writer’s findings, position or arguments can be added to the introduction. You may call this the thesis, but it doesn’t have to be a thesis statement. You can simply ask or state a question or problem in your introduction, to which your thesis involves finding the answer through your research paper.


As mentioned, you do not need to make a specific statement. You can tell people your research paper will prove or disprove something, but you can also approach the problem with a view to you being unsure of the answer. Your research paper thesis is then the pursuit of that answer.

Is the research being done for a reason? Ask yourself this as you write your thesis question or statement. What will the world gain after you have finished your work?

Is the research to prove or disprove a thesis theory? You do not have to write a thesis to prove or disprove something, but if you have very good reason to believe your research will turn out one way or another, then you can use your thesis statement to point that out.

Is a thesis needed or is this new and/or uncharted territory for the writer? If you have absolutely no idea what the results will be, or if you are sure there is so much contradiction in the subject area that your results will be inconclusive, you can basically tell the reader you do not know the answer, and only hope to bring the reader slightly closer to it (without actually answering it).


How it was done? How did you do your research and to what ends? Were the methods you used helpful and productive? You need to include methodologies that are specific to you subject or field of study. For example, if you went around interviewing people, this is one of your methodologies that you need to include in your research paper.


Show your quantitative information and your qualitative information.


Generalize what you have learned from your research. Explain the meanings of your results and the consequences.


This is the part of your research paper that will unify your research results and the discussion. These two elements of your research paper are unified in this section so you can see the significance of your work. You can also see how your thesis relates to your findings and your discussion.

Conclusion & recommendations

Does your work help you provide recommendations and/or insight? If your conclusions create findings or an insight that could be used as a recommendation, then you can put that into your conclusion too.

Reference List

You need to list all of your resources, within reason, in order to show you did not make up anything on your research paper. It also allows the reader to conduct further study based on your work.

You are only showing your resources within reasons. If you interviewed 600 people, then you cannot list their names and addresses, but you do need to show where this sort of information may be gained, or where proof that these interviews happened may be found.