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"Research has formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose."

– Zora Neale Hurston

Organizing a Research Paper: How to Structure Your Ideas

Writing a research paper is tedious for many students. And as you have to write one college-level research paper before you graduate, there is no escaping the assignment.

The entire writing process can be daunting because of the many steps involved in creating a meaningful research paper. An essential aspect of that process is organizing your writing via the elements of the research paper.

This is easier said than done, though. This guide walks you through the entire process of organizing a research paper. You will also learn the important elements of a paper and how to structure your ideas. If you’re on board, let’s begin!

Organizing a research paper

The primary reason why many students struggle with research papers is hidden in the organizational process. Some spend months, and others just a few weeks to develop a good research paper.

Getting the organization right is one of the early steps that speed up the entire process. A well-organized research paper Is adequately able to answer a particular research question. However, research paper organizations require knowledge of every element of a research paper, which we’ll discuss below.

Elements of a research paper

The elements of a research paper form the structure and outline of the work. It is divided into several components. In a dissertation, for example, you are asked to present the research framework at the end of the introductory chapter. Most research articles follow a similar framework, but others can have additional elements.

But first, the writer must ensure that the paper’s information has been properly gathered and analyzed extensively. This process is critical for correctly structuring the paper and beneficial for gaining a deeper grasp of a specific topic. The primary goal of research paper elements is to offer a transparent background for structure and organization.

The common elements of a research paper include:

  • Title page

The title page helps readers identify the headline by reading the title. It is the initial page a reader sees on a research paper. The table of contents for a research paper usually follows afterward. A title page consists of the author’s name, the field of study, the instructor’s name, the completion date, and a page number.

  • Abstract

The abstract of the research is a concise summary of its contents. It is typically less than 250 words and contains the purpose of the study, the main results, and the conclusion. It can be called the general overview of the paper.

  • Introduction

As the name describes, this element gives the reader all the primary information about the paper. It explains the idea of the main topic and indicates why the research was done in the first place.

  • Materials and methods

The element describes how the study was conducted. Generally, it offers the reader demographic information like – sampling methods, instruments, data collection processes, and analysis strategies. This section of a paper is usually descriptive and detailed.

  • Results

This element focuses on the results of the work described in the paper. It gives direct information on findings, value, and data to back up such information. Numerical figures, graphs, and percentages are usually used as well.

  • Discussion

This section is like the body of an essay. It is usually the most challenging to write, and it is written after a result analysis. It answers the most pressing questions of the paper and explains what the results mean for the entire research work.

  • Conclusion

The conclusion provides the final thoughts of the research work. It is a concise explanation of the overall discussion in a research paper. With just an average of 100 to 200 words, it requires all the main keywords and points on the paper.

  • References

The reference page is an element that cites all the sources used in gathering information. Reference to any online source that isn’t easily accessible shouldn’t be used.

  • Acknowledgments

This is usually the last element in a research paper. The section thanks any individuals or institutions that help the research process. The author can extend their gratitude to different people that supported the research along its way.

How to organize a research paper

Organizing ideas in writing can be difficult with a sound structure. That’s why you must know the research paper elements, their arrangement, and the information they carry. Things like proper planning, using an outline, and organizing research notes can help the entire organization process.

Below let’s discuss how to structure your ideas and organize a research paper:

  • Organize your thoughts

Your thoughts should be balanced and focused. Also, you can ask yourself the idea you want to convey to the reader and what you want such information to represent. This will help you already have a structure in mind before starting the writing process.

  • Focus on clarity

Maintaining a clear tone and writing contests makes the organization process much easier. However, if you write information that is too complicated, you may find it hard to organize and establish ideas in the paper.

  • Understand keywords

Keywords are beneficial for indexing and help organize and convey the main topic arguments in different paragraphs. They are also helpful in assisting in recognizing valuable pieces of information.

  • Use research notes and follow an outline

Research notes are helpful for cataloging and categorizing urine formation during the research process. This would help you organize the writing process and adequately include the right information in your work. Also, following a predetermined outline makes the message of your work straightforward and organizes each element for the reader. 


Most research papers usually have the same elements and follow similar structures. By following these guides and understanding the functions of each section, you can easily succeed at organizing ideas in writing.