What Are the Sections of a Research Paper?


A research paper is organized differently than a standard essay -- it is split into several sections representing different stages of the research process. All stages of the experimental process should be articulated clearly in one of these categories: abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion. This method of organization allows your readers to follow your document with clarity and ease.


  • The abstract is the overall summary of the entire paper. Located before the introduction, the abstract informs the reader of the discoveries or observations of a the topic before the in-depth discussion with specific details is given. Abstracts are a vital part of scientific research documents. Although included first in the paper, the abstract is usually composed after the rest of the sections are completely written.


  • The introduction, although similar to the abstract, acts as a blueprint for the research paper. The introduction poses a question or problem to the audience and briefly mentions how it will be answered. Emphasis on the importance of the topic of the paper should be clearly stated in this section. Your introduction may detail failed previous attempts, urgency or reason for testing and, possibly, the success of the venture.

Materials and Methods

  • This section of the paper is used to describe the formulas, methods and tools used to achieve the results. For example, science projects may include lab experiment data and procedures while business papers may include specifics about economic data. This section of the paper will directly state the mechanics of the experiment to articulate how the results were settled.


  • The results section is devoted to proving the data recorded. Scientific graphs or charts are often used within the body of the paragraphs to visually express the cause and effect of the procedures used. This section should provide factual data information and leave any comments or interpretation open for the last section of the paper.


  • The discussion section of the paper is essentially the conclusion to the paper; it refers back to ideas throughout the document and restates the primary focus listed in the introduction. This section may encourage readers to pursue further investigation or call them to action in an effort to improve or diminish the effects of the data. In this conclusion, the results and reasons for the study or construction of the paper are addressed and explained.

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