11 Commonly Confused Aspects of a Research Paper

Writing a research paper requires a proper understanding of what each section should capture. This will help you avoid repetition or providing the wrong details in the various parts of your research paper. Here are 11 commonly confused elements of a research paper and details of what they should be about:

  1. Aim of Research and Research Objectives. The “aim” is about the intended outcome whereas “objectives” highlight steps towards realizing that aim.
  2. Implications, limitations and recommendations for future research. Implications are the research conclusions made from the study stating the usefulness of the research. Research limitations define the context within which the research findings should be interpreted and applied. Limitations are based on things like unavailability of needed resources, methods used or inefficient research design.  Recommendations on the other hand are based on the current research for certain actions to be taken.
  3. Introduction and problem statement.  The introduction comes first in your research paper to give a background of your study. The problem statement explains the issue under study or the research gap that the study seeks to address.
  4. Research methods and research methodology.  Research methods are the actual procedures and techniques applied in research whereas research methodology is a wide set of principles that act as the basis for the methods of research.
  5. Research Background and Literature review. The background of a study highlights the importance of the research. The Literature review seeks to show progress made in past studies relating to your current research.
  6. Research problem and research question. The research problem is a broad issue under study. However, the research questions are specific concerns that will be answered in an effort of addressing the problem.
  7. Abstract vs Introduction. A research paper abstract is a summary of your writing providing key findings, methods used in the work and research conclusion.  The introduction section on the other hand introduces the readers to the topic of your research, stating its significance and why it is important for study.
  8. Footnotes and endnotes. Footnotes are explanatory notes and comments added at the bottom of the page and marked with a superscript number within the text. Endnotes add supplementary information too but at the end of the research paper. However, they are also marked with a superscripted number.
  9. Results and discussion. Results are a representation of your study findings from the methods applied. The discussions are a summary and interpretation of the findings.
  10. Figure captions, Legends and labels. These three are used to provide details of illustrations in your research. Captions are titles for tables, figures or illustrations hence tell what they contain.Legends are brief descriptions of the tables and figures and help interpret the information presented therein. On the other hand, labels highlight and name parts of a diagram.
  11. Citations, references and bibliography. Citations are exact ideas from other sources used in your research either as paraphrased information or quotes. References and bibliography are a list of sources used in writing your research paper that come at the end of the work. However, a bibliography is a collection of resources used to develop the research topic and may not necessarily be used in the main text.

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand the different elements of a research paper before writing it. This information will guide you to write a high-quality paper.

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