Writing a good research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic and advance an original argument. To convincingly communicate your ideas, you need a logical structure and a clear style that follows the conventions of academic writing.
When you’ve finished writing your paper, use this checklist to evaluate your work.
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The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation, appearing right after the table of contents. Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant topic.
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The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation. It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question.
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A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation. You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order. Don’t include subjective interpretations of why you found these results or what they mean—any evaluation should be saved for the discussion section.
The discussion section is where you delve into the meaning, importance, and relevance of your results.
It should focus on explaining and evaluating what you found, showing how it relates to your literature review and paper or dissertation topic, and making an argument in support of your overall conclusion. It should not be a second results section.
There are different ways to write this section, but you can focus your writing around these key elements:
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An appendix is a supplementary document that facilitates your reader’s understanding of your research but is not essential to your core argument. Appendices are a useful tool for providing additional information or clarification in a research paper, dissertation, or thesis without making your final product too long.
Appendices help you provide more background information and nuance about your thesis or dissertation topic without disrupting your text with too many tables and figures or other distracting elements.
We’ve prepared some examples and templates for you, for inclusions such as research protocols, survey questions, and interview transcripts. All are worthy additions to an appendix. You can download these in the format of your choice below.
An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis, dissertation or research paper). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.
Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.
One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:
When you apply for graduate programs or scholarships, the admissions committee is looking for more than just a list of grades. The statement of purpose (also known as a statement of intent or motivation letter) is your chance to stand out from the crowd and showcase your motivation, skills and potential. It should:
Outline your academic or professional interests and goals
Discuss relevant skills, experience and achievements
Demonstrate why you’d be a good fit for the program