Research Paper Format: Know How to Structure Your Paper

  • ManagementPaper
  • Apr 14, 2021

Writing a research paper is a big task. But without properly organising and structuring the various elements of a research paper, it would be impossible to draft an efficient paper. Being a student, you cannot skip formatting your paper as a paper with a wrong format is equally a failed assignment.

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Basics About A Research Paper Format or Structure

A format or structure of a paper refers to the chronological order in which all the various parts of a research paper would be arranged. Everything has a specific decorum in which the things have to be done and performed. Similarly, a research paper is just not writing an academic piece, but before it involves extensive research work and analysis to be done.

A proper research paper outline will guide you through the formatting style and you can get ideas about the various from various other research paper examples also.

The format varies from one research paper to another. Suppose in an essay or report, you do not have to mention the various methods to conduct the research whereas in case of a dissertation you have to mention the research methodology and data analysis too.

The research paper format for a dissertation is as follows:

Abstract or executive summary

Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 Research background

1.2 Research problem

1.3 Research rationale

1.4 Research aim

1.5 Research objectives

1.6 Research questions

1.7 Research hypotheses

1.8 Scope of the research

1.9 Structure of the dissertation

Chapter 2. Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Headings and subheadings as per the topic of the paper





2.15 Literature gap

2.16 Conceptual Framework

2.17 Summary

Chapter 3. Methodology

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Research philosophy

3.3 Research approach

3.4 Research design

3.5 Data collection method

3.6 Data analysis method

3.7 Data analysis techniques

3.8 Sample size

3.9 Sampling technique

3.10 Ethical consideration

3.11 Research limitations

3.12 Timeline

3.13 Summary

Chapter 4. Data Analysis

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Data Analysis

4.2.1 Quantitative analysis (survey)

4.2.2 Qualitative analysis (interview)

4.3 Discussion

4.3.1 Survey responses

4.3.2 Interview responses

4.4 Summary

Chapter 5. Research paper Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Conclusion

5.2 Recommendation

5.3 Limitation of the study

5.4 future scope of the study

The format of an essay is as follows:

Abstract or executive summary

1. Introduction

     Thesis statement:

2. Discussion: the various headings and the subheadings of the paper related to the variables of the research paper topic.

4. Conclusion (along with recommendation)

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APA style research paper format

APA style is a formatting and writing style for academic papers such as scholarly reports, journals, articles, dissertations and books. It is being described in the style guide of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is also titled as the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual. It is widely used in various academic fields and gives your paper an organised look.

  1. Page header: The page header in APA style formatting includes the title or topic of the research paper and is placed on the Top left corner of the page. Before the title name, you also have to write “Running Head” too in italics. This lets all the characters in the title be in the capital letters. The page number is placed on the top right corner of the page.


Running head: THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS                                                                                        1.                                     OF THE PANDEMIC

This running head will only be written on the first page of the research paper, and you have to market ‘different first page’ in the header and footer dialog box. From the second page onwards, you will not write the ‘running head’.

  1. Headings and subheadings: The Heading 1, that is the initial headings, should be middle -aligned and in bold font. Whereas the Heading 2, the sub-heading should be left aligned and written in bold plus italics. Also before each paragraph, click on Tab, to make prominent paragraph divisions.
1. Introduction

1.1 What is a Pandemic?
         Pandemic refers to a serious kind of illness that is widely spread, often across the globe. This affects a lot of people and causes a terrible amount of deaths and casualties…  
1.2 Coronavirus
         The coronavirus pandemic is caused by a deadly virus named the covid-19 virus which is quite deadly and fast spreading in nature…..    
1.2.1 Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic
          This virus attacks the immune system of a human body and stars quick mutations inside the body. So it is very hard to detect how it would affect each of the human bodies individually…  
2. What is an Epidemic?  
  1. Font: In general, the font size used for the Normal text is 12. The font style used is Times New Roman or Arial. The colour for the fonts is black. Alignment is always justified. And the line spacing is mostly kept as 1.5. The Heading 1 font size is 14, the Heading 2 font size is 13 and the Heading 3 font size is 12. You can modify the headings 1,2 and 3 from the top ‘headings’ bar and change the style and size accordingly. Generally this is the universal font rules, but it may change if the requirements of the assignment are said beforehand.
  2. Referencing: In the APA reference list, the author, year, source and title of the cited work should be provided by the researcher in an alphabetical order for the references. Any reference that is not cited in the paper or in the theory part should not be included in the paper’s reference list. The format of the references differs depending on the type of the document (e.g. Article, journals, edited book chapter, webpage, blog post), but generally follows the same pattern of date, author title, source. The referencing list should also be in the hanging style, that is, press Ctrl+T to get that.

For example:

  • Journal with a DOI – Author, 1., & Author, 2. (year). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume (Issue), page range. DOI
  • An entire book – Author, 1., & Author, 2. (year). Title of book. Publisher.
  • A chapter of an edited book – Author, 1., & Author, 2. (year). Title of chapter. In E. Editor & A. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xx-xx). Publisher. DOI
  • A particular website – Author, 1., & Author, 2. (year). Title of page. Site Name. URL
  • Group Author. (year). Title of page. URL
  1. The title ‘Table of Contents’ should be middle aligned. It should not contain the listing of executive summary as well.

Some dos and don’ts of the referencing in APA:

  1. You must mention the DOI of a work, if it is given in that article. But if the work is not having a proper DOI, and instead has a URL which can be used to refer or retrieve the work, give the URL. Never state a URL that will not be used or work.
  2. The publisher must always be included in the source element for reference works and books; but exceptions are there when the publisher and author are the same, and in such a scenario you must omit the name of the publisher from your list of reference.
  3. The title of a webpage will always be in the italics in the seventh edition of APA.
  4. The journal’s issue number will be listed in a reference citation if one is available. Also mention the volume number if that’s available too.

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