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Perfect Guide on How to Properly Write and Structure a Research Paper

Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Unwana Akpan

Writing a good and well structured research paper is tedious but we have got you covered; from questions you should ask yourself before you write your outline, to components of your outline and how to develop your outline into a full research paper technically.

What is a Research Paper ?

This is the central part of a research that describes hypotheses, data and conclusions intending to instruct the reader.

Tips on how to write a research paper

Choose the journal you would like to submit your work to; this will allow you the leverage of following their author’s guidelines and you can focus on reading publications by them in order to see their style.

If your final draft of work does not cite the journal of interest fairly enough, consider changing for the most cited journal.

Author’s guidelines will include information such as maximum length of work, author listing sequence, corresponding author, coverage of journal, and structure of paper .

Allow sufficient time for revision.

If your native language is not English, consult someone to help you translate or pay a company that can do that for you or better still use software that can help check spellings and grammatical errors.

Avoid undefined abbreviations

Your journal’s editor will not correct grammatical errors

There is no need of supporting every statement with a citation; if your references exceed 40 you may be doing something wrong unless you are writing a review article.

Do not use nouns as adjectives

The word “this” must always be followed by a noun to make it explicit

Describe experimental results in past tense

Use active voice whenever it is necessary

Use double line spacing

Cite most important results first, then others can follow

Write an outline for your paper, then develop it into an article

Approval of local ethics committee is required and should be specified in the manuscript or covering letter

Journal editors can make their own ethical decisions, so read their guidelines

Questions you should ask before writing your outline

  • Why did I do this work?
  • What does it mean?
  • What hypotheses did I mean to test?
  • Which ones did I actually test?
  • What were the results?
  • Did the work yield a new product; what are the characteristics?
  • Did I invent a new method successfully?
  • What measurements did I make?
  • Why does it make a difference?
  • What did I learn?

Sort all your ideas into three major heaps;

  • Introduction; it answers questions 1 – 4
  • Results and Discussion; It answers questions 5 – 8
  • Conclusions; It answers questions 2, 9 and 10

Components of a Research Paper

  • Title
  • Keywords
  • Authors
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Results
  • Methods
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

Structure or Outline of a Research Paper


Meaning and Context of Each Component of a Research Paper

1) Title

This is the heading that describes your entire work or content.

  • It must be clear and short
  • It must be specific, remove all redundancies such as “ observations on “, “ the nature of “ etc.
  • Describes content and identifies main issue
  • Do not use rarely – used abbreviations

2) Author(s);

These are people that contribute to the conception & design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data.

Draft the article or revise it critically for important intellectual content; and
Give their approval of the final full version to be published

All three conditions must be fulfilled
Others would qualify as “ acknowledged Individuals “

3) Abstract

This is what is called advertisement; imagine a movie advert, how does it make you feel? Either excited & interested in the movie or the opposite. Same is applicable here; this will determine if a reader will go on to read your article or not.



  • Make it interesting and understandable
  • It must be accurate and specific
  • Make it brief
  • A clear abstract strongly influences acceptance of your work
  • It must include the summary of your result
  • It must contain your keywords

4) Keywords

These are relevant words used by indexing and abstracting services. When your work is published, it will help search engines index and present your work in search results when related terms are searched.


Article title;

An experimental study on evacuated Tube solar collector using Supercritical CO2.


  • solar collector,
  • supercritical CO2,
  • solar thermal utilization,
  • solar energy

5) Introduction

This is a brief context for your reader. It should consist of;


Objective(s) of the work; address the problem
Why the work is important; justification of objectives

Background; who else has done what? How did they do it? Or What you have done previously?
Guidance to the reader; highlights the reader should watch out for; the strategy employed.
Summary/conclusion; what you hope to be achieved what the reader should expect to end up with.

You should indicate all sections that will be in the experimental region and what information will be in concluding part.

6) Methods

You know what method means; you have to be very specific here.

  • Tell the reader how the problem was studied
    Include detailed and concise information
  • Identify equipment and materials used; describe them.
  • Don’t describe previously published, just state it and move on to something else.

7) Results

This component highlights the main findings .

  • You can feature unexpected findings too if available.
  • Provide statistical analysis
  • Include illustrations and figures but not diagrams; Equations, tables, graphs, etc
  • Be clear and easy to understand
  • Avoid to much coloration of graphs
    Line graphs are most preferred
  • Do not use long boring tables

8) Discussions

To me it is just the meaning of the results.

  • Compare published results with yours
  • Make it correspond to the results.

9) Conclusion

It should be clear and brief. Advance the present state of knowledge.

  • Provide suggested future experiments
  • Provide justification for the work done. It should state the significance of the work.

10) Acknowledgement

State those that your vote of thanks goes to;

  • Advisors
  • Funders & financial supporters
  • Proof readers & typists
  • Suppliers of materials etc.

11) References

This is the full version of your in-text citations.

  • Be sure not to make use of too many references
  • Avoid excessive self-citations
  • Don’t cite too much publications from same region
  • Conform strictly to the style given in author’s guide.

12) Supplementary Data

Any other information like lists of tables, graphs, illustrations etc., write descriptions of all of them; e.g titles of each graph and tables. Supporting materials which was not fully absorbed in the research.

Manuscript Cover Letter

A manuscript Cover Letter is a letter of publication proposal to a journal of choice; you write such letters when you want your work to be considered for publication by your favourite journal.


Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Preparing Your Manuscript Cover Letter.

  • Is it new and interesting?
  • Is the topic current and hot?
  • Have I provided solution(s) to some difficult problems?
  • Am I ready to publish at this point?

Only if your answer to the questions is yes, should you write!

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