An abstract is a self-contained and short synopsis that describes a larger work. The abstract is the only part of the paper that is published online and in most conference proceedings. Hence abstract constitutes a very important section of your paper. Also, when you submit your paper to a journal, potential reviewers only see the abstract when invited by an editor to review a manuscript. The abstract should include one or two lines briefly describing the topic, scope, purpose, results, and conclusion of your work. The abstract is indexed by search engines, so make sure that it has all the right words that a fellow researcher in the same field will be using while searching for articles online. Also, make sure it is rich with data and numbers to demonstrate the scientific rigor of your article. Be very clear and confident about your findings. Keep it punchy and straight to the point.
The abstract section of your research paper should include the following:
Introduction section comes after the abstract. Introduction section should provide the reader with a brief overview of your topic and the reasons for conducting research. The introduction is a perfect place to set the scene and make a good first impression. Regarding word count, introduction typically occupies 10-15% of your paper, for example, if the total word count of your paper is 3000, then you should aim for an introduction of around 600 words. It is often recommended that the introduction section of the paper is written after finishing the other sections of the paper. This is because it is difficult to figure out what exactly to put in the introduction section of the paper until you have seen the big picture. Sound very confident about your chosen subject area and back up your arguments with appropriate references. After reading the introduction, the reader must have a clear idea of what to expect from the rest of your research paper.
The introduction section of your research paper should include the following:
- General introduction
- Problem definition
- Gaps in the literature
- Problems solution
- Study motivation
- Aims & objectives
- Significance and advantages of your work
3. Literature review
The literature review should clearly demonstrate that the author has a good knowledge of the research area. Literature review typically occupies one or two passages in the introduction section. A well-written literature review should provide a critical appraisal of previous studies related to the current research area rather than a simple summary of prior works. The author shouldn’t shy away from pointing out the shortcomings of previous works. However, criticising other’s work without any basis can weaken your paper. This is a perfect place to coin your research question and justify the need for such a study. It is also worth pointing out towards the end of the review that your study is unique and there is no direct literature addressing this issue. Add a few sentences about the significance of your research and how this will add value to the body of knowledge.
The literature review section of your research paper should include the following:
- Previous literature
- Limitations of previous research
- Research questions
- Research to be explored
4. Materials and Methods
The methods section that follows the introduction section should provide a clear description of the experimental procedure, and the reasons behind the choice of specific experimental methods. The methods section should be elaborate enough so that the readers can repeat the experimental procedure and reproduce the results. The scientific rigor of the paper is judged by your materials and methods section, so make sure you elaborate on all the fine details of your experiment. Explain the procedures step-by-step by splitting the main section into multiple sub-sections. Order procedures chronologically with subheadings. Use past tense to describe what you did since you are reporting on a completed experiment. The methods section should describe how the research question was answered and explain how the results were analyzed. Clearly explain various statistical methods used for significance testing and the reasons behind the choice.
The methods section of your research paper should include the following:
- Experimental setup
- Data collection
- Data analysis
- Statistical testing
- Remit of the experiment
5. Results and Discussion
The results and discussion sections are one of the challenging sections to write. It is important to plan this section carefully as it may contain a large amount of scientific data that needs to be presented in a clear and concise fashion. The purpose of a Results section is to present the key results of your research. Results and discussions can either be combined into one section or organized as separate sections depending on the requirements of the journal to which you are submitting your research paper. Use subsections and subheadings to improve readability and clarity. Number all tables and figures with descriptive titles. Present your results as figures and tables and point the reader to relevant items while discussing the results. This section should highlight significant or interesting findings along with P values for statistical tests. Be sure to include negative results and highlight potential limitations of the paper. You will be criticized by the reviewers if you don’t discuss the shortcomings of your research. This often makes up for a great discussion section, so do not be afraid to highlight them.
The results and discussion section of your research paper should include the following:
- Comparison with prior studies
- Limitations of your work
- Casual arguments
- Deductive arguments
6. Conclusion and Future Work
A research paper should end with a well-constructed conclusion. The conclusion is somewhat similar to the introduction. You restate your aims and objectives and summarize your main findings and evidence for the reader. You can usually do this in one paragraph with three main key points, and one strong take-home message. You should not present any new arguments in your conclusion. You can raise some open questions and set the scene for the next study. This is a good place to register your thoughts about possible future work. Try to explain to your readers what more could be done? What do you think are the next steps to take? What other questions warrant further investigation? Remember, the conclusion is the last part of the essay that your reader will see, so spend some time writing the conclusion so that you can end on a high note.
The conclusion section of your research paper should include the following:
- Overall summary
- Further research
7. Acknowledgements and Appendix
There is no standard way to write acknowledgements. This section allows you to thank all the people who helped you with the project. You can take either formal or informal tone; you won’t be penalized. You can place supplementary materials in the appendix and refer to them in the main text. There is no limit on what you can place in the appendix section. This can include figures, tables, costs, budget, maps, etc. Anything that is essential for the paper but might potentially interrupt the flow of the paper goes in the appendix.