Understanding The Parts Of A Research Paper: A Guide For Students

Research papers are one of the most common types of papers that you will be assigned as a student. An important part of learning how to write them well is to learn their different parts, how they should be written, and what they should include, and what they should achieve. Follow this easy guide for students to understand the key parts of a research paper:

  • Introduction
  • The introduction is the part of the paper where you will introduce the general area of topic you will be writing about and zoom into the specific topic area that you will focus on. While you can think of the introduction like a funnel—moving from general to specific—it is important not to start your paper at too large a scale with sweeping universal statements. The conclusion should end with your thesis statement which will tell your reader exactly what you plan to accomplish in your paper and what point you will be making.

  • Background
  • It is common to include a background section in your paper where you will provide general information or background about that topic that your reader will need to know to be able to understand the rest of your paper. While it is good to present interesting and relevant information about the general topic in this section, be careful not to go overboard and give too much information.

  • Synthesis
  • The most important part of this kind of paper is to provide some sort of synthesis, not just to restate what your sources said. While the bulk of your paper will be finding information from sources and essentially restating it, what sets a great paper apart is your ability to synthesize that information to tell your reader something that they wouldn’t necessarily know by reading the sources that you’re citing. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it will benefit your paper immensely. Make sure that the thesis statement included in your introduction primarily reflects this synthesis.

  • Conclusion
  • The final section of the paper is the conclusion, which should go back and summarize the main points in the rest of the paper. One of the common mistakes that students make in their conclusion is to introduce new information or analysis in the conclusion, rather than just summarizing what they have already said. The conclusion is also a good opportunity to remind your reader why the topic is important.

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