Structure of a Research Paper: Five Rules from Experts

Structuring a research paper can be one of the most difficult elements of finalizing your paper. Making sure that you follow the right style guide and all of your instructor’s guide posts are only two elements to making sure your paper has a proper structure. Here are five rules to follow when structuring your research paper.


Use Your Style Guide

If you are using APA, MLA or Chicago style formatting make sure you reference the current formatting guide published by those associations. Those style guides have everything that you need to know from heading margins to font point. The style guides even include how to format your headings, the font style as well as color. The style guides are irreplaceable when it comes to learning how to format a research paper.


Follow Instructor Specific Directions

Your instructor may provide you with specific directions on how they want you to format your research paper. If they give you a grading rubric that includes formatting guidelines you need to make sure that you follow the guidelines to get the highest grade possible.


Create a Strong Opening

One of the most universal formatting and structural elements of a research paper is to create a strong opening that has a good thesis statement. Failing to include a thesis statement in your opening paragraph of your research paper will mean that your paper has less focus and emphasis. The lack of focus comes from the lack of a central idea that you are trying to prove.


Support Your Thesis Statement

Once you have a thesis statement created in your opening paragraph, you need to make sure you spend the rest of your research paper supporting your thesis statement. If you have points that counter your thesis statement or do not support them well, you may consider deleting those points from your research paper. Including irrelevant information, or information that does not pertain to your thesis statement will surely lead to a lower grade.


No New Information in the Closing

The final piece of structural advice is that when you are working on a research paper do not include new information in the closing paragraph. You would be surprised how many students include new information in the closing paragraph without any support being given in the body. There is no reason to have any information in your closing paragraph that was not previously mentioned in the body of your research paper. Do not make this mistake.

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