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How do I Choose the Best Research Paper Structure?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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To choose the best research paper structure, begin by considering the type of research paper you are writing, as well as what type of style guide you are using. You might use the Modern Language Association or the American Psychological Association style guide, for example, each of which has different requirements for research paper structure. In addition, you will generally structure the research paper so that it is read in the most logical order, with each supporting argument being presented in a logical sequence.

Most often, you will not be choosing the style guide for your research paper structure on your own, but it will be assigned by the instructor. It is best to purchase the style guide and keep it for a reference; this will help you to learn how to cite sources, for example, as well as what elements of the research paper you might need to include. In some style guides, an abstract is required, while others do not require this research paper element.

Once you have determined the style guide you will use, it is up to you to create your research paper structure. Most research papers are not simply informational, but rather present a thesis statement that functions as an argument. Within the research paper, you will then try to prove that argument using research and factual examples from other sources, or opinions from published experts.

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There are a few ways you might choose your research paper structure. You might begin by presenting all the facts that support your thesis, followed by examples of some opposing arguments. You might also choose to begin with the opposing arguments, then disprove them throughout your paper. If your research paper is less argumentative and more informational, you might choose to present all the important information in a chronological order, or any order that is easier for the reader to follow.

In general, the basic elements of a research paper are the same. These include an introductory paragraph, which provides an introduction to the paper and also includes the thesis statement. The body of the research paper follows, broken up into paragraphs, each with an individual subject per paragraph. A conclusion wraps up the paper and restates the thesis, in most cases. This is often followed by a bibliography of sources used to write the paper. Keeping it simple, and following this standard research paper structure is often the best way to go, unless otherwise instructed by a teacher or professor.

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