An effective manual for writers of research papers, theses and dissertations

When writing a research paper or a thesis or even a dissertation make sure you follow the sections below:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Literature review
  5. Methods and results
  6. Conclusion and discussion
  7. References
  8. Appendix

Title Page

When you are writing a research paper you will need to first include a title page. This should include the title of your paper as well as the name of the author and the date you submitted the piece or the date it was due.


Once you have the title page the next page should include the abstract. The abstract is a stand alone piece which should explain in concise terms the information that is in your paper. It is not like an introduction because it does not open with a broad statement and then whittle its way to the thesis. It explains everything that is contained in your essay. There should be one line for every section of the paper. The abstract is also short…between 200-300 words which makes the challenge even greater.

In one short paragraph the reader should be able to learn the rationale behind your study as well as your approach to it and the results and conclusions you drew from it.

How to write the abstract

Your abstract is more or less a summary which means it should be written last. You cannot summarize a paper if you haven’t finished the paper. For this part of your paper economy of words is truly the most important thing to look out for. You should not sacrifice complete sentences though in exchange for brevity. Keep your wording concise. Summarize your entire study and make sure that you have a single sentence for the following sections:

  • The purpose of your study-- your objective or your overall scientific study
  • The experiment or system you used
  • The results. Make sure this is quantitative and includes specific data. Many students neglect this because they want to keep that surprise for the end but the abstract is a very different beast and you must include it.
  • The conclusions following your experiment

When writing a research paper the style of your abstract needs to be concise. It should be written in the past tense. It should not refer to any figures or data in your text and in that it should be able to stand on its own. It should focus primarily on summarizing the results. It needs to of course be consistent with the things that you report within your paper.