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Standard Parts Of A Research Paper: Tips For College Students

Writing a research paper in college is tremendously different from the assignments you likely saw in high school and middle school. They take a lot longer to complete, they involve a lot more research and they contain a lot more standard parts that you probably aren’t used to seeing. Here are some tips to help you compose a great research paper for any college course:

Title Page

For most disciplines you will need to include a separate title page which lists your work’s title, your name, your instructor’s name, and your course information. There are different format rules depending on your discipline, so be sure to check with the appropriate style guide for accurate formatting.


The abstract section is usually a single paragraph of about 200 words or less which concisely summarizes your work. Generally, academics or anyone else reading your work should know whether or not it is of use to his or her own academic study. Write this section after you have completed all others to ensure you focus on just what you were able to accomplish.


The main purpose of the introduction is to familiarize the reader with the main reasons you have taken on this work. You may bring up issues with the topic or questions posed by other academics. Aim to put your work in a sort of theoretical context; this will help the reader appreciate your intents.


Most students find this section to be the easiest one to write, yet many struggle with understanding its purpose. Generally, this section should document all of your procedures and any special materials so that if someone else were to take up this research project they would ideally arrive at the same conclusion.


This section is pretty straightforward. It requires you present and provide a simple explanation of your findings. This portion of your research paper should remain completely objective, with absolutely no indication of an interpretation in support or contrary to your thesis statement.


The discussion section is a place where you can interpret your results and make a case for all of the conclusions. Use direct evidence from your study and in some cases generally accepted knowledge to support your findings.

Works Cited

Lastly, the works cited section should list all of the resources you consulted and cited during your experiment. This includes all academic or government works. The more related and appropriate your works are the more respectability your work will receive from peers.

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