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Writing Research Papers
- Research Paper Structure
Whether you are writing a B.S. Degree Research Paper or completing a research report for a Psychology course, it is highly likely that you will need to organize your research paper in accordance with American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. Here we discuss the structure of research papers according to APA style.
Major Sections of a Research Paper in APA Style
A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. 1 Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices. These sections are detailed as follows (for a more in-depth guide, please refer to " How to Write a Research Paper in APA Style ”, a comprehensive guide developed by Prof. Emma Geller). 2
What is this paper called and who wrote it? – the first page of the paper; this includes the name of the paper, a “running head”, authors, and institutional affiliation of the authors. The institutional affiliation is usually listed in an Author Note that is placed towards the bottom of the title page. In some cases, the Author Note also contains an acknowledgment of any funding support and of any individuals that assisted with the research project.
One-paragraph summary of the entire study – typically no more than 250 words in length (and in many cases it is well shorter than that), the Abstract provides an overview of the study.
What is the topic and why is it worth studying? – the first major section of text in the paper, the Introduction commonly describes the topic under investigation, summarizes or discusses relevant prior research (for related details, please see the Writing Literature Reviews section of this website), identifies unresolved issues that the current research will address, and provides an overview of the research that is to be described in greater detail in the sections to follow.
What did you do? – a section which details how the research was performed. It typically features a description of the participants/subjects that were involved, the study design, the materials that were used, and the study procedure. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Methods section. A rule of thumb is that the Methods section should be sufficiently detailed for another researcher to duplicate your research.
What did you find? – a section which describes the data that was collected and the results of any statistical tests that were performed. It may also be prefaced by a description of the analysis procedure that was used. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Results section.
What is the significance of your results? – the final major section of text in the paper. The Discussion commonly features a summary of the results that were obtained in the study, describes how those results address the topic under investigation and/or the issues that the research was designed to address, and may expand upon the implications of those findings. Limitations and directions for future research are also commonly addressed.
List of articles and any books cited – an alphabetized list of the sources that are cited in the paper (by last name of the first author of each source). Each reference should follow specific APA guidelines regarding author names, dates, article titles, journal titles, journal volume numbers, page numbers, book publishers, publisher locations, websites, and so on (for more information, please see the Citing References in APA Style page of this website).
Tables and Figures
Graphs and data (optional in some cases) – depending on the type of research being performed, there may be Tables and/or Figures (however, in some cases, there may be neither). In APA style, each Table and each Figure is placed on a separate page and all Tables and Figures are included after the References. Tables are included first, followed by Figures. However, for some journals and undergraduate research papers (such as the B.S. Research Paper or Honors Thesis), Tables and Figures may be embedded in the text (depending on the instructor’s or editor’s policies; for more details, see "Deviations from APA Style" below).
Supplementary information (optional) – in some cases, additional information that is not critical to understanding the research paper, such as a list of experiment stimuli, details of a secondary analysis, or programming code, is provided. This is often placed in an Appendix.
Variations of Research Papers in APA Style
Although the major sections described above are common to most research papers written in APA style, there are variations on that pattern. These variations include:
- Literature reviews – when a paper is reviewing prior published research and not presenting new empirical research itself (such as in a review article, and particularly a qualitative review), then the authors may forgo any Methods and Results sections. Instead, there is a different structure such as an Introduction section followed by sections for each of the different aspects of the body of research being reviewed, and then perhaps a Discussion section.
- Multi-experiment papers – when there are multiple experiments, it is common to follow the Introduction with an Experiment 1 section, itself containing Methods, Results, and Discussion subsections. Then there is an Experiment 2 section with a similar structure, an Experiment 3 section with a similar structure, and so on until all experiments are covered. Towards the end of the paper there is a General Discussion section followed by References. Additionally, in multi-experiment papers, it is common for the Results and Discussion subsections for individual experiments to be combined into single “Results and Discussion” sections.
Departures from APA Style
In some cases, official APA style might not be followed (however, be sure to check with your editor, instructor, or other sources before deviating from standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Such deviations may include:
- Placement of Tables and Figures – in some cases, to make reading through the paper easier, Tables and/or Figures are embedded in the text (for example, having a bar graph placed in the relevant Results section). The embedding of Tables and/or Figures in the text is one of the most common deviations from APA style (and is commonly allowed in B.S. Degree Research Papers and Honors Theses; however you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first).
- Incomplete research – sometimes a B.S. Degree Research Paper in this department is written about research that is currently being planned or is in progress. In those circumstances, sometimes only an Introduction and Methods section, followed by References, is included (that is, in cases where the research itself has not formally begun). In other cases, preliminary results are presented and noted as such in the Results section (such as in cases where the study is underway but not complete), and the Discussion section includes caveats about the in-progress nature of the research. Again, you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first.
- Class assignments – in some classes in this department, an assignment must be written in APA style but is not exactly a traditional research paper (for instance, a student asked to write about an article that they read, and to write that report in APA style). In that case, the structure of the paper might approximate the typical sections of a research paper in APA style, but not entirely. You should check with your instructor for further guidelines.
Workshops and Downloadable Resources
- For in-person discussion of the process of writing research papers, please consider attending this department’s “Writing Research Papers” workshop (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).
- How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
- Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – empirical research) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]
- Writing Research Paper Videos
APA Journal Article Reporting Guidelines
- Appelbaum, M., Cooper, H., Kline, R. B., Mayo-Wilson, E., Nezu, A. M., & Rao, S. M. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for quantitative research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 3.
- Levitt, H. M., Bamberg, M., Creswell, J. W., Frost, D. M., Josselson, R., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for qualitative primary, qualitative meta-analytic, and mixed methods research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 26.
- Formatting APA Style Papers in Microsoft Word
- How to Write an APA Style Research Paper from Hamilton University
- WikiHow Guide to Writing APA Research Papers
- Sample APA Formatted Paper with Comments
- Sample APA Formatted Paper
- Tips for Writing a Paper in APA Style
1 VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (pp. 41-60). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
2 geller, e. (2018). how to write an apa-style research report . [instructional materials]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.
Back to top
- Formatting Research Papers
- Using Databases and Finding References
- What Types of References Are Appropriate?
- Evaluating References and Taking Notes
- Citing References
- Writing a Literature Review
- Writing Process and Revising
- Improving Scientific Writing
- Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Writing Research Papers Videos
Research Paper Guide
Research Paper Example
Research Paper Example - APA and MLA Format
12 min read
Published on: Nov 27, 2017
Last updated on: Oct 25, 2023
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Do you spend time staring at the screen and thinking about how to approach a monstrous research paper ?
If yes, you are not alone.
Research papers are no less than a curse for high school and college students.
It takes time, effort, and expertise to craft a striking research paper.
Every other person craves to master the magic of producing impressive research papers.
Continue with the guide to investigate the mysterious nature of different types of research through examples.
Research Paper Example for Different Formats
An academic paper doesn't have to be boring. You can use an anecdote, a provocative question, or a quote to begin the introduction.
Learning from introductions written in professional college papers is the best strategy.
Have a look at the expertise of the writer in the following example.
Social Media and Social Media Marketing: A Literature Review
APA Research Paper Example
While writing research papers, you must pay attention to the required format.
Follow the example when the instructor mentions the APA format .
Effects of Food Deprivation of Concentration and Preserverance
Research Paper Example APA 7th Edition
Research Paper Example MLA
Once you are done with APA format, let’s practice the art of writing quality MLA papers.
Found Voices: Carl Sagan
We have provided you with a top-notch research paper example in MLA format here.
Research Paper Example Chicago
Chicago style is not very common, but it is important to learn. Few institutions require this style for research papers, but it is essential to learn. The content and citations in the research paper are formatted like this example.
Chicago Research Paper Sample
Research Paper Example Harvard
To learn how a research paper is written using the Harvard citation style , carefully examine this example. Note the structure of the cover page and other pages.
Harvard Research Paper Sample
Examples for Different Research Paper Parts
A research paper has different parts. Each part is important for the overall success of the paper. Chapters in a research paper must be written correctly, using a certain format and structure.
The following are examples of how different sections of the research paper can be written.
Example of Research Proposal
What is the first step to starting a research paper?
Submitting the research proposal!
It involves several sections that take a toll on beginners.
Here is a detailed guide to help you write a research proposal .
Are you a beginner or do you lack experience? Don’t worry.
The following example of a research paper is the perfect place to get started.
View Research Proposal Example Here
Research Paper Example Abstract
After submitting the research proposal, prepare to write a seasoned abstract section.
The abstract delivers the bigger picture by revealing the purpose of the research.
A common mistake students make is writing it the same way a summary is written.
It is not merely a summary but an analysis of the whole research project. Still confused?
Read the abstract mentioned in the following research to get a better idea.
Affirmative Action: What Do We Know? - Abstract Example
Literature Review Research Paper Example
What if a novice person reads your research paper?
He will never understand the critical elements involved in the research paper.
To enlighten him, focus on the literature review section. This section offers an extensive analysis of the past research conducted on the paper topics.
It is relatively easier than other sections of the paper.
Take a closer look at the paper below to find out.
Methods Section of Research Paper Example
While writing research papers, excellent papers focus a great deal on the methodology.
Yes, the research sample and methodology define the fate of the papers.
Are you facing trouble going through the methodology section?
Relax and let comprehensive sample research papers clear your doubts.
View Methods Section of Research Paper Here
Research Paper Conclusion Example
The conclusion leaves the last impression on the reader.
“Who cares for the last impression? It’s always the first.”
Don’t be fooled!
The conclusion sets the tone of the whole research paper properly.
A key list of elements must be present in conclusion to make it crisp and remarkable.
The Conclusion: Your Paper's Final Impression
View the sample paper and identify the points you thought were never a part of the conclusion.
Get Quick AI Research Help!
Research Paper Examples for Different Fields
Research papers can be about any subject that needs a detailed study. The following examples show how research papers are written for different subjects.
History Research Paper Sample
Many Faces of Generalisimo Fransisco Franco
Sociology Research Paper Sample
A Descriptive Statistical Analysis within the State of Virginia
Science Fair Research Paper Sample
What Do I Need To Do For The Science Fair?
Psychology Research Paper Sample
The Effects of Food Deprivation on Concentration and Preserverance
Art History Research Paper Sample
European Art History: A Primer
Scientific Research Paper Example
We have discussed several elements of research papers through examples.
Introduction in Research Paper!
Read on to move towards advanced versions of information.
Scientific research paper
Let's have a look at the template and an example to elaborate on concepts.
- Related Work
- Research Methodology
- Results and Discussion
- Conclusion & Future Work
The name itself sounds terrifying to many students. Make no mistake; it sure is dangerous when touched without practice.
Students become afraid and hence aspire to locate an outstanding essay paper writer to get their papers done.
Detailed, high-quality, and credible sources and samples are a must to be shared here.
Science Fair Paper Format
Example of Methodology in Research Paper
The words methodology, procedure, and approach are the same. They indicate the approach pursued by the researcher while conducting research to accomplish the goal through research.
The methodology is the bloodline of the research paper.
A practical or assumed procedure is used to conduct the methodology.
The Effects of Immediate Feedback Devices in High School Chemistry Classes
See the way the researcher has shared participants and limits in the methodology section of the example.
Research Paper Example for Different Levels
The process of writing a research paper is based on a set of steps. The process will seem daunting if you are unaware of the basic steps. Start writing your research paper by taking the following steps:
- Choose a Topic
- Create a thesis statement
- Do in-depth research for the research study
- Create an outline
You will find writing a research paper much easier once you have a plan.
No matter which level you are writing at, your research paper needs to be well structured.
Research Paper Example Outline
Before you plan on writing a well-researched paper, make a rough draft.
Brainstorm again and again!
Pour all of your ideas into the basket of the outline.
What will it include?
A standard is not set but follow the research paper outline example below:
View Research Paper Outline Example Here
This example outlines the following elements:
- Thesis Statement
Utilize this standard of outline in your research papers to polish your paper. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you write a research paper according to this format.
Good Research Paper Examples for Students
Theoretically, good research paper examples will meet the objectives of the research.
Always remember! The first goal of the research paper is to explain ideas, goals, and theory as clearly as water.
Yes, leave no room for confusion of any sort.
Fiscal Research Center - Action Plan
Qualitative Research Paper Example
Research Paper Example Introduction
How to Write a Research Paper Example?
Research Paper Example for High School
When the professor reads such a professional research paper, he will be delighted.
Grant of funds for the project!
Appreciation in Class!
You'll surely be highly rewarded.
Research Paper Conclusion
“Who cares for the last impression? It's always the first.”
Don't be fooled!
A key list of elements must be present in the conclusion to make it crisp and remarkable.
Critical Research Paper
To write a research paper remarkably, include the following ingredients in it:
- Justification of the Experimental Design
- Analysis of Results
- Validation of the Study
How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper
Theoretical Framework Examples
The theoretical framework is the key to establish credibility in research papers.
Read the purpose of the theoretical framework before following it in the research paper.
The researcher offers a guide through a theoretical framework.
- Philosophical view
- Conceptual Analysis
- Benefits of the Research
An in-depth analysis of theoretical framework examples research paper is underlined in the sample below.
View Theoretical Framework Example Here
Now that you have explored the research paper examples, you can start working on your research project. Hopefully, these examples will help you understand the writing process for a research paper.
If you're facing challenges with your writing requirements, think about hiring an online custom paper writing service .
MyPerfectWords.com is your trusted solution for obtaining a custom research paper and assisting students with their unique writing needs.
Don't hesitate – Hire our writing service now.
Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)
Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.
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5 Examples of Original Research in Content Marketing: How to Be the Primary Source
Content comes in all shapes and sizes. Helpful how-tos, webinars, whitepapers, roundups and rants. But there is one type of content that crushes almost anything else you can publish.
But most companies never do it. Yes, it’s work to create a research report, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Let’s look at why research is so successful and some examples of how it fits into a content marketing mix.
9 out of 10 companies who do original research found that it’s successful
This is according to a new study by Buzzsumo and Mantis Research . I’m not surprised. 56% of respondents report that their results met or exceeded their expectations. Only 3% were disappointed.
I don’t know of any other format for content with these kinds of results. So why does it work so well?
[ctt template=”1″ link=”m7N9H” via=”no” ]”9 out of 10 companies who do original research found that it’s successful.” @MantisResearch[/ctt]
Why original research wins
It’s an effective format for content for a lot of reasons. Here are five of them:
1. It’s new and unique Advice, tips, news, trends, how-tos – they’ve all been done before. But original research is new. So it solves a problem for marketers who struggle to stand out: originality and differentiation.
2. It improves click through rates The LinkedIn Marketing Solutions team found that status updates that include statistics along with a link to content get 162% more impressions and a 37% higher click through rate.
3. The data can support your sales message Qualitative data is one of the two types of evidence you can add to your sales pages. The data can make your case and can improve conversion rates .
5. It makes your site the primary source This is why research gets more links and more shares than any other format for content. And links and shares are the key to search and social, the two big sources of website traffic. Here’s the data…
Analysis of 1,000,000 articles
When Steve Rayson of Buzzsumo analyzed 1 million articles , he found that most content doesn’t get traction in search or social. 75% of the articles had never been linked to, and 50% had fewer than two Facebook Interactions. That’s not good.
This chart shows the stark reality for marketers. The vast majority of content get no results. But of course, some content gets tons of traction. According to Steve, this content tends to fall into two categories:
- Opinion-forming journalism
- Well researched and evidence-based content
Creating opinion-forming journalism on a regular basis is not a scalable option for most of us, so we’re left with research as the format that consistently outperforms all others. So you’d think that it would be popular, right?
Fewer than half of businesses use original research in their marketing
Only 47% do it. I’m actually surprised that number wasn’t lower. But not surprising, it’s a more popular strategy for B2B businesses. B2B businesses often need middle-of-funnel content and therefore go deeper into big topics.
[ctt template=”1″ link=”Sf4l1″ via=”no” ]”Only 47% of businesses use original research in their marketing. @buzzsumo”[/ctt]
So it works, but most companies don’t do it. Why not? Probably, it’s a question of knowledge, time and initiative. So let’s break it down. What kind of research should we create? How can we get started?
The rest of this post is a short guide to producing high-impact original research.
Original research as a format for content marketing is so effective, it’s crazy more brands don’t do it.
The 5 types of original research in content marketing
Here are five types of research you can add to your content mix. Each has its own benefits and outcomes.
Research type 1: Observe and analyze
Pick Your Dataset, Gather Data, Analyze
Rather than do outreach and produce new data, you can just find data in the wild. Look for patterns, form a hypothesis, gather information and analyze. The Buzzsumo/Moz study cited above is a great example. Here’s another:
Example: Web Design Standards
A client once asked me if a search box is standard on websites. I was tempted to give a quick answer: it depends. But instead, we decided to do a little research and find out.
First, we needed a set of sites to check. So we went to Alexa and grabbed a list of the top 50 marketing websites. Alexa is great for this because they have a list of the top websites in every category.
Step two was to find a freelancer to review the sites to see which had search tools. We added nine other questions while we were at it. Step three, turn the data into visual charts (10 pie charts and a roundup bar chart, see below). Step four, write the article: Web Design Standards: 10 Best Practices on the Top 50 Websites .
The post was a hit, earning 178 links and 610 shares . Also, the post is search optimized and ranks for the phrase “web design standards” so it attracts a few hundred visits per day and has been visited more than 100,000 times since it launched.
Research type 2: Results from experiments
Test, Analyze, Publish, Promote
You tried something. Did it work or not? Anything that you or your company tried is potentially publishable research, as long as it produced a data point. There’s an audience out there that wants to see your findings.
It’s a case study with a different angle. The key is to publish a conclusion that is relevant to a broader audience. It’s not about you. It’s about the truth.
Example: Copy Hackers’ A/B Test Results for Mad Mimi
Joanna Wiebe and her team at Copy Hackers have a data-driven approach to helping clients. They run tests to measure the results of their work. Sometimes, they publish the results of those tests.
Joanna’s case study about the Mad Mimi Pricing Page is a great example. The experiments they ran resulted in a 500% lift in conversions. It also produced a beautiful, visual piece of content.
This experiment and its results have appeared in many marketing presentations. It’s also earned 21 links and 107 shares .
Research type 3: Aggregate existing data
New insights on a well-covered topic
Again, the data is already out there. You just need to combine and analyze. When you repackage existing research and data, you may find new metrics that are more credible and useful than the originals.
Example: How much money do marketers make?
Yes, it’s a question that all marketers find interesting. No, the topic doesn’t really align with our content mission statement (“…practical advice about content marketing, web design and analytics…”) But we knew it would be a hit and we knew it would be easy to create.
I don’t have much salary or compensation data myself, but I know where to find it. Glassdoor and Payscale.com have huge datasets. So we simply entered each marketing job title into those sites, calculated the medians and published, with proper citations of the data sources of course.
The original piece was a hit. But the best results were yet to come. When we updated the research 18 months later, with the Marketing Salaries Survey , we were able to show how marketers’ compensation had changed.
The longitudinal data is even more valuable since it’s not tracked on either of the two original sources. And the insights are amazing.
The updated piece has attracted links from 90 websites and has been shared 350+ times . It also gets huge open and click through rates when we send it as a newsletter.
It also got picked up by the print edition of the American Marketing Association’s Marketing News . It fit nicely into their career issue.
Research type 4: Online surveys
Massive outreach, big numbers
This is the classic approach. Get a large group of people to answer a few questions in an online survey. Analyze the data. Publish.
There are lots of advantages to this kind of research:
- The final results can be shared with the respondents When people take the survey, they can enter their address to get the results. You are building a list as you are gathering the data . Once you publish the results, email the respondents.
- The massive outreach is good for brand awareness Any project that involves a lot of outreach will cause a spike in attention to you and your brand.
- The data supports your sales pitch The statistic that you discover will help you sell. Imagine a sales rep for cost tracking software explaining how 40% of companies lose track of their expenses. Or the mouthwash company showing that 76% of people say bad breath is a “dating dealbreaker.”
Note: Since this was one, multiple choice question, it’s really a poll, not a survey.
Example: Annual Blogger Survey
Years ago, we set out to find out how long it takes to write a blog post. Through outreach and an online survey, we asked 1000 bloggers to answer eleven questions. The piece was a hit, so we repeated it the next year …and the next …and now we do it every year.
The latest Blogger Survey had over 1000 respondents (were you one of them?) and showed how long it takes to write a post and how blogging has changed over time.
You can see the value of repeating your research over time. The value of the data is far greater in subsequent years.
It’s been a hit, year after year. Combined, the surveys have been linked to by 1600+ websites and shared 4000+ times.
ProTip: To create data that is statistically significant, put the sample size and total populations into a statistical significance calculator , to measure the margin of error.
Getting ideas for how an online survey could work for you? This next idea is even more powerful…
Research type 5: Phone surveys
Small dataset, high touch
Online surveys are about quantity; phone surveys are about quality. You gather less data but in a more direct way.
The secondary benefit is obvious: relationships and networking. This research gives you an excuse to reach out to high-value connections, like sales prospects and influencers.
Build a list, pick up the phone and dial. The call is a very brief interview that starts with you asking questions about the industry. It ends with an offer to share the research once complete.
Here are examples of how phone surveys, subjects and content outcomes.
- Do you sell social media services? Call 50 Marketing Directors and ask about their biggest social challenges. Possible content: 68% of Marketing Directors have trouble measuring social media ROI.
- Do you sell supply chain software? Call 50 logistics professionals and ask them what tools they use. Possible content: Only 16% of logistics companies have a transportation management system in place.
- Do you do technology staffing? Call 50 IT directors and ask them about skills gap on their teams. Possible content: 4 out of 5 tech hiring managers are looking for QA/testing experience.
Getting a few more ideas?
This is actually an Account Based Marketing (ABM) tactic and a powerful way for B2B marketers to get right in front of decision makers. The key to success is to be very considerate and follow up.
Example: The Seven Skills You Need to Thrive in the C-Suite
What are the most important skills for succeeding at C-level jobs? It’s a subjective question. But Boris Groyberg produced a high quality, research-based article on the topic by surveying “several dozen top senior search consultants.” It was published in the Harvard Business Review.
This page won 35 links and 351 shares . The networking benefits were probably priceless.
What’s the best research topic? Find the “missing stat.”
There are common statements in every industry. But they aren’t backed up with data. We call these gaps “missing stats” and they are ripe for research. These statements meet two criteria. They are:
- Frequently asserted
- Rarely supported
If you can find this gap in your industry and create original research that fills it, you’ll have something truly share-worthy, link-worthy and even press worthy. Seriously, you may want to reach out to the media. You’ve made news.
If research is so powerful, why doesn’t everyone do it?
Because it’s hard work! It requires forethought and planning, persistence and courage. It’s very time-consuming. The annual blogger survey takes 150+ hours to create.
It may take 10x the effort to create, but you’ll likely see 100x the results of a typical article.
Here’s a very unscientific chart based on our experience that shows the relationship between effort and outcome, costs and benefits, returns and investments.
If you’re committed to a huge upgrade to the quality and results of your content marketing, here’s where you can begin:
- Plan at least one research project per year
- Make the research answer a question that is unanswered in your field
- Gather data in a way that connects you with people, either quantity or quality
- Package it into soundbites, stats and visuals
- Share the results with your audience, your subjects and industry publications
- Repeat the research each year
The world is not waiting for another medium-quality blog post. Publish something truly original. Make a contribution to your field. Find the truth and share it with the world.
Note: This article is part one in a two-part series about original research in content marketing. Next read: 29 Ways to Promote Your Original Research .
Or take a look at Michele Linn’s recent piece, How to Create Original Research That Gets Attention .
Wait, more practical insights? Yes, please!
The AI-Powered Content Strategy: 13 Prompts for More Accurate Targeting
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There is more where this came from…
The best articles from this blog are available all in one place – our book. Now on it’s 6th edition.
Content Chemistry, The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing , is packed with practical tips, real-world examples, and expert insights. A must-read for anyone looking to build a content strategy that drives real business impact. Check out the reviews on Amazon .
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The value of research content and 4 great examples
Editors note: This blog post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for relevance and accuracy.
Content can take many forms, such as how-to guides, quick tips, roundups, infographics, ebooks, and whitepapers. However, research is consistently regarded as the most powerful type of content.
I’m not talking about doing some research for a blog post. I’m talking about original, primary research with your company’s name on it. It means engaging with people and gathering insights that will tell a powerful story to your audience. And in doing so, position your company as a thought leader in your field.
Make an impact with research content
Research is regularly hailed as the most effective form of content marketing.
The latest report from the CMI found just 30% of B2B content marketers are creating research reports. But when asked which content assets produced the best results in the last 12 months, research reports ranked second only to in-person and virtual events, producing better results than blog posts, eBooks, case studies, and videos.
In the manufacturing industry , just 10% of content marketers publish research reports, meaning there’s an even bigger window to stand out.
But why does research have such a big impact?
It’s unique and original
The internet is filled with articles sharing how to’s, tips, and trends. Original research instantly stands out.
It captures attention
Statistics are a great way to capture the attention of your audience. Research shows LinkedIn captions that include statistics along with a link to content get 162% more impressions and a 37% higher click-through rate.
It’s highly shareable
Research content garners more shares than any other form of content, as people often want to share valuable information with others. This can help increase the reach and visibility of the content, as well as the brand that created it.
It provides value
Research is usually conducted to provide value to the audience. It can help solve a problem, answer a question or provide insights that people can use to understand complex issues and make informed decisions. And because it’s based on data and evidence rather than opinions or beliefs, it has credibility and authority.
It has longevity
Research content tends to have a longer lifespan than other types of content, as it can remain relevant and valuable for a longer period. And it can ve revisited over and again. By repeating your research year on year you can continue to grip your audience.
It can be repurposed
Research can be repurposed and reused in different formats, such as infographics, blog posts, social media posts, and more, giving you even more content to share with your audience.
It helps you grow your network
Getting involved in research gives you a great reason to connect with prospective customers, building awareness for your brand.
Overall, research content can be a powerful tool for content marketing, as it provides value, credibility, and authority to your brand. It can help build trust with your audience and establish your company as a thought leader in the industry.
Large corporations such as the CMI and HubSpot have published annual research reports for over a decade, establishing themselves as thought leaders in the industry.
As a contract manufacturer , it’s within your reach to use research in the very same way. It doesn’t have to be large scale. Just one statistic that strikes a chord with your target audience can help you stand out from the competition.
Four great examples of research content
We've selected four examples from the content marketing industry to give you an idea of what great research content looks like.
1. Martech Map: Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic
Infographics are a great way to display a lot of (often complex) data in a digestible way. Scott Brinker’s Supergraphics take it to the next level.
For over a decade, Brinker has been collecting data from a number of sources to show the growth of the martech landscape and in early May, delivering the latest supergraphic. In 2011 there were just 150 companies on the map. In 2022, the now interactive supergraphic depicts a whopping 9,932 marketing technology solutions.
Widely considered the 'bible' for the martech industry, the 2022 version has over 500,000 backlinks and when Brinker first shared it on LinkedIn, the post had 801 engagements, 146 comments and was reposted over 114 times.
2. Orbit Media Studios: Annual Survey of 1000+ bloggers
In late 2022, Orbit Media Studios released the results of their ninth annual survey tracking the changing pace of content creation. Each year they ask 1000+ bloggers about how they create content. It has become a much-anticipated source of information about the state of blogging and content marketing.
According to Orbit Media Studios, the first report earned 644 links and 1700 shares. It was this success that prompted them to turn it into an annual survey. Articles discussing blogging trends often cite data from their reports.
3. Content Marketing Institute: B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
For more than a decade, the Content Marketing Institute has been regularly publishing content about trends in content marketing.
The 13th annual B2B Content Marketing report was released at the end of 2022. The survey of content marketers explores content creation, distribution, measurement and budgets and reveals how the most successful content marketers differentiate themselves.
Each year they also release a Manufacturing Content Marketing report , which looks specifically at how manufacturing marketers approach content strategy and creation and what they find most effective.
As well as releasing the full reports, the CMI shares key insights in blog posts, infographics, social media posts and webinars.
4. HubSpot: State of Inbound Marketing Trends
Every year since 2008, HubSpot has been reaching out to the marketing community to track inbound marketing trends. It’s considered a go-to source of information for the industry and is often referred to in articles and blogs discussing trends and the value of marketing.
The research is cultivated into a downloadable report, a series of online events breaking down the key themes, and numerous blog posts sharing the findings.
The latest report shares over 50 trends and statistics from a survey of 1,600 marketers across the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France and Japan. From just one report, they have created multiple content assets, each exploring key insights in greater depth and context. It’s another example of how one piece of research can be repurposed into several assets.
How to do research
Carrying out your own primary research is, of course, a much bigger task than writing a blog post or even creating a video. But as outlined in the post, the benefits speak for themselves. And in fact, HubSpot research shows 83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher quality content less often.
So if you’re considering doing your own research, how do you get started?
First off, it’s important to note that primary research broadly splits into two core methodologies: quantitative and qualitative.
- Quantitative research - Used to measure or ‘quantify’ behaviours, attitudes, opinions and other variables to produce numeral statistics. Surveys are the most common way of collecting quantitative data.
- Qualitative research - Used to uncover trends in thoughts, behaviours and opinions and the reasons behind them. It doesn’t involve numerical data and is typically collected by talking to people individually or in focus groups.
When it comes to creating content, both methodologies have value. An interview with an industry expert, customer or someone in your business can make for a great blog post. As could a round-up of trends you’ve discovered from speaking with various individuals. But a quantitative survey will allow you to speak to a larger group of people, making your research more credible and arming you with attention-grabbing statistics that will make an impact.
When it comes to carrying out your own quantitative research, the typical process involves the following steps:
- Defining your focus and setting your objectives
- Identifying who you want to survey
- Designing and creating your survey (using tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform )
- Execute the research
- Data analysis
- Telling the story
Once you have your key insights and your story, you can release your report and develop supporting content in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics and more.
Doing your own research gives you an opportunity to make noise in your industry and position yourself as a thought leader. You can turn your research into multiple pieces of content to attract and engage your ideal customers - and grow your business.
Mastering content creation: 11 types of content and when to use them
The importance of The Hero's Journey in B2B content marketing
6 ways to connect online with potential customers
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Writing an Effective Research Paper: Structure & Content
Essential Guidelines for Structuring a Research Paper
Lecturer: kevin j. heintz, m.a. english.
This lecture was presented at ChungAng University in Seoul, South Korea in November 2018. Wordvice/Essay Review Managing Editor Kevin J. Heintz explains how to organize and compose a research manuscript that will get your study published in top journals.
Even researchers whose first language is English must learn some specific rules and follow some standard conventions when writing research papers. This takes a completely different skillset than essay writing or sending emails to your professors and friends, and therefore it is a good idea for every researcher to keep learning how to improve research writing.
Research is about more than just the scientific principles and discoveries you are making—it is about sharing these discoveries with fellow researchers and with the public. And to do this, researchers must publish their work in journals. Strong writing is key to making your research more accessible and powerful, and therefore this presentation is not about the rigors of research, but the demands of research writing. The methods and information in this lecture can be applied to almost any kind of research paper, although of course the exact structure and content will be somewhat determined by where you are submitting your research.
- Overview of Research Paper Writing
- The Structure of a Research Paper
- Composing Your Paper Sections
- Tips for Improving Quality of Writing
*Quizzes are given throughout the lecture to test your comprehension and understanding.
Research Paper Structure Overview
“what should a research paper do”.
- Share the knowledge you have gained about a specific area of study with other researchers
- Show how your study fits into current science.
- Inform the public about important scientific activity.
- Explain clearly and succinctly the context of your study, including relevant literature (Introduction), the methods used for research and analysis (Methods), the findings of your study (Results), and the implications for these results and further research that might be needed (Discussion and Conclusion).
“What are the most important factors to consider when writing a research paper?”
The research you conduct should of course be novel, timely, rigorous, and hopefully interesting. But you must also transmit your scientific research into writing —a well-written paper will greatly improve your chances of getting accepted into journals. Here is an overview of the factors that help create quality writing in a research paper:
- All of the parts of your paper should fit together in an order that makes sense.
- Include all necessary information in each section needed to understand the other sections.
- Do not repeat information unless it is necessary.
- Ensure that your sentences are grammatically and logically coherent.
- Most scientific papers follow the IMRD structure—be sure to put the right parts in the right section (e.g., don’t include the literature review in the Methods section).
- As you do research you will notice that there are a great many pieces of information and data you COULD include in your paper. However, you need to conform to length guidelines and keep your paper focused. Therefore, you should be sure that you are choosing a proper number of items to focus on for each section.
- For example, if your study has 10 results but your paper can only be 4,000 words, you might want to narrow down these results to only those that support your hypothesis, perhaps the 3-5 most important results.
- The same applies to the Introduction, where you must choose what background, context, and relevant literature to include. Be sure to only include information that gives readers a focused and relevant understanding of your area of study.
- Clarity is related to coherence, organization, and relevance. It means ensuring that each paragraph and sentence in your paper is natural and easy to read and understand: proper grammar, phrasing, and style are key to writing a paper that is readable and comprehensible to both experts and possibly non-experts, depending on your target audience.
- Perhaps the most important rule is to conform to the formatting guidelines and other style conventions of the journal to which you are submitting. Check the “GUIDE FOR AUTHORS” section of the journal or conference, or if the paper is for a class, ensure that you are using the proper formatting requirements. Here is one handy site: OWL—Online Writing Lab at Purdue University
Research Paper Structure
The general structure of scientific research papers is IMR&D (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion). The information moves from broad to specific to broad again as seen in this diagram, the Introduction and Discussion taking up the most room in your paper and the Methods and Results usually being the shortest ad most focused sections. However, the order in which you write your paper will not be the same as the final order of the information. Let’s first look briefly at what each section does and then discuss how to organize and compose your work.
What does it do.
*Discusses the problem to be solved (purpose statement)
*Describes where your research fits into the current science (background and context)
*Uses primary literature with citations and summarizes the current understanding of the problem (“literature review”)
When do you write it?
*Write it last—after the conclusion and before the title and abstract
*Tells how you did the study—what materials and methods of research and analysis were used.
*First section you write—after preparing your figures and tables
What does it do.
*Explains the important findings of your study that help to answer your research question or hypothesis and address your purpose statement.
*After the Methods and before the Discussion/Conclusion
*Explains what your findings mean and what the implications and importance are both to your specific area of research and in a broader context (i.e., to the wider field or to society ).
*Includes limitations to your study and discusses possible future research that is needed to answer your research question more clearly and address closely related questions.
*After the Results Section and before the Introduction
Composing Your Research Paper Sections
This portion of the lecture focuses on developing techniques for composing your paper. You should always go back through your paper after one section is finished and correct or change another part, but by composing in this order you will be sure to include all of the important information. Not that the Methods and Results sections are written first. The reason for this is because you will not be changing or adding to these sections after you have evaluated your research—they represent the core data of your study.
Step 1: Prepare the figures and tables
Most likely, your research paper will use some figures, tables, or other graphics—they are also core data because they are usually numbers representing your findings and methods used. We won’t go into the details of how to prepare these here, but in the Results section , we will go over how to write captions for the figures based on the data and research questions. For a detailed explanation of preparing and formatting figures, check out these sites (every journal will have their own formatting guidelines):
- Springer Online Research Resources
- ACSESS Digital Library (ASA, CSSA, and SSSA publications for reference)
Step 2: Write the Method s section
This section responds to the question “How was the problem studied and analyzed?”
The Methods section should:
- Describe how an experiment was done
- Give a rationale for why specific experimental procedures were chosen
- Describe what was done to answer the research question and how it was done.
- Explain how the results were analyzed
Organization of Methods
Write the Methods section in this order to ensure proper organization and make it easier for readers to understand how your study was carried out:
- Description of materials used, including site and sample
- Explanation of how materials were prepared
- Explanation of how measurements were made and calculations performed
- Explanation of statistical methods to analyze data
Tips for the Methods Section
- Organize description of preparations, measurements, and protocol chronologically
- List the Methods in the same order as they will appear in the Results section
- Material should be organized by topic from most to least important
- Headings can be used to separated different results; paragraphs are often used instead
Step 3: Write the Results
This section responds to the question “What did you find?” Only the direct results of your research should be presented here, not any results from other studies. This is essentially an analysis of the data explained in sentence form so that it is easier to read and put into context.
The Results section should include:
- Findings presented in the same order as in the Methods section
- Data presented in tables, charts, graphs, and other figures (placed among research text or on a separate page)
- Reports on data collection, recruitment, and/or participants
- Data that corresponds to the central research question(s)
- Secondary findings (secondary outcomes, subgroup analyses, etc.)
Organization of Results
Write the Results in the same order as you wrote your Methods. One trusted method of writing the results is addressing specific research questions presented in the figures. Within each research question, present the type of data that addresses that research question.
Sample research question asked in a survey:
“What do hospital patients over age 55 think about postoperative care?”
Present this answer as a statement based on the data:
“Hospital patients over the age of 55 were 30% more likely to report negative experiences after postoperative care (M=83; see Fig. 1).”
Elaborate on this finding with secondary information included in the same paragraph:
“The most common negative issues reported were inattention by nurses, lack of proper medicine and a prolonged waiting period for personal issues ((P>12), (W>13), and (D>10); see Fig. 3).”
Caption your figures with the same method, using the data and research question to create phrases that give context to the data:
“Figure 1: Attitudes towards postoperative care in patients over the age of 55.”
Grammar Guidelines for Results
- When referencing figures, use the present tense; when discussing events of the experiment/study, use past tense
- Passive or active voice are generally acceptable—but consistency is most important. (Read articles from target journal).
- Cite the figure or table every time you reference it, just as you would another text.
Dos and Don’ts for Results
- Limit your results to only those that address your research questions; return to the Results section later after you have completed the Introduction and remove less relevant information.
- Indicate the statistical tests used with all relevant parameters. E.g., mean and standard deviation (SD): 44% (±3); median and interpercentile range: 7 years (4.5 to 9.5 years).
- Use mean and standard deviation to report normally distributed data.
- Use median and interpercentile range to report skewed data.
- For numbers, use two significant digits unless more precision is necessary (2.08, not 2.07856444).
- Never use percentages for very small samples. E.g., “one out of two” should not be replaced by 50%.
Step 4: Write the Discussion/Conclusion
This section responds to the question “What do the results mean?” This section is easy to write, but difficult to write well. It requires more than a simply analysis—you have to interpret and “sell” your data to the journal and researchers, explaining just how important your findings are. In fact, many manuscripts are rejected because the Discussion section is weak.
The Discussion and Conclusion are often considered to be part of the same section, but the Conclusion is sometimes considered a separate section. At any rate, the Conclusion will be a very short and clear justification of your work or suggestion for future studies.
In the Discussion Section you should:
- Critique your study—be honest about the effectiveness of your design; suggest modifications and improvement.
- Answer this question: “Did your study contribute to knowledge in the field or not?”
- Discuss the impact of this research on related research within the domain
Pre-writing Questions to Answer for the Discussion:
- How do these results relate to the original question or objectives outlined in the Introduction section?
- Do the data support your hypothesis?
- Are your results consistent with what other investigators have reported?
- Discuss weaknesses and discrepancies. If your results were unexpected, try to explain why
- Is there another way to interpret your results?
- What further research would be necessary to answer the questions raised by your results?
Organization of the Discussion Section
The Discussion section is more open than the Results and Methods section, but you should always focus first on what is MOST important and then move to what is less important to your research problem. Divide the analysis of results by paragraph and do not combine unrelated datasets in one paragraph
- The first paragraph/part should summarize the process, the results, and the overall purpose of this study.
- The second paragraph/part should answer questions about the limitations and potential flaws or shortcomings of this study (e.g., the “failure to reveal clear relationships between samples or groups”). Assesses which of the results are most useful in answering the research question.
- The third paragraph should focus on the successes of the study and highlight which method or approach yielded the best results or those most closely hypothesized. You can also compare the results of different methods and assess which was more fruitful and why.
- In subsequent paragraphs, discuss the implications of this research and compare it to the results of other studies. This is the other section (in addition to the Introduction) where you can cite related studies to show how your study compares.
The Conclusion paragraph offers you a chance to briefly show how your work advances the field from the present state of knowledge. It adds a sort of exclamation point at the end of your paper and makes it more memorable as well.
Add a justification for your work here as well as indicate extensions and wider implications, as well as suggest future studies/experiments and point out any work that is currently ongoing. Do not simply repeat the Introduction or abstract here—extend the claims or questions raised in these sections.
Dos and Don’ts for Discussion/Conclusion
- Don’t be TOO broad about the impact of this research—set some limitations.
- Don’t include new terms or ideas in this section—they should be presented in the Introduction.
- Use specific expressions: instead of “higher temperature” write “41ºC”; instead of “at a lower rate” write “0.7% less”; instead of “highly significant” write “p<0.001.”
Step 5: Write the Introduction
The Introduction section might be the most important section of the body of your paper—it comes first and introduces what you will be doing, telling readers why your work is important.
A good introduction should:
- Establish the context of the work
- State the purpose of the work in the form of a hypothesis, question, or problem investigated
- Give aims and rationale for your approach
Pre-writing questions to answer for the Introduction
- What is the problem to be solved? (background and problem)
- What do we know about this problem? (literature)
- Are there any existing solutions? (literature)
- What are the limitations or gaps in knowledge of existing solutions?
- What do you hope to achieve with this study? (hypothesis/statement of purpose)
Organization of the Introduction
- Background information
- Key primary literature
- Hypothesis/research problem investigated
- Approaches and rationale
Improving Quality of Writing
In order to write an effective research paper, authors need to know what areas of their writing to improve, and this includes avoiding grammar and style errors. Among the top writing errors we see at Wordvice are the following:
- Article and Determiner Misuses
- Nominalization and Wordiness
- Usage of Past and Present Tense
Receiving Language Editing Before Submission
After you are finished writing your Results section and have polished the rest of your research paper, be sure to submit your manuscript to an English proofreading service and paper editing service before delivering it to journal editors for publication. And learn more about the editing process to determine which kind of revision your paper needs.
- How to Write a Research Paper Introduction
- Writing the Results Section of a Research Paper
- Which Verb Tenses to Use in a Research Paper
- How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper
- How to Write a Research Paper Title
- Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
- Common Transition Terms in Academic Papers
- Active and Passive Voice in Research Papers
- 100+ Verbs That Will Make Your Research Writing Amazing
- Tips for Paraphrasing in Research Papers
- Springer Online Research Resources (Springer)
- ACSESS Digital L ibrary (ASA, CSSA, and SSSA publications for reference) (ACSESS Digital Library)
Lecture Research Paper Reference
Yoon S-R, Kim SH, Lee H-W, Ha J-H (2017) A novel method to rapidly distinguish the geographical origin of traditional fermented-salted vegetables by mass fingerprinting. PLoS ONE 12(11): e0188217.
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Content analysis is a research tool used to determine the presence of certain words, themes, or concepts within some given qualitative data (i.e. text). Using content analysis, researchers can quantify and analyze the presence, meanings, and relationships of such certain words, themes, or concepts. As an example, researchers can evaluate language used within a news article to search for bias or partiality. Researchers can then make inferences about the messages within the texts, the writer(s), the audience, and even the culture and time of surrounding the text.
Sources of data could be from interviews, open-ended questions, field research notes, conversations, or literally any occurrence of communicative language (such as books, essays, discussions, newspaper headlines, speeches, media, historical documents). A single study may analyze various forms of text in its analysis. To analyze the text using content analysis, the text must be coded, or broken down, into manageable code categories for analysis (i.e. “codes”). Once the text is coded into code categories, the codes can then be further categorized into “code categories” to summarize data even further.
Three different definitions of content analysis are provided below.
Definition 1: “Any technique for making inferences by systematically and objectively identifying special characteristics of messages.” (from Holsti, 1968)
Definition 2: “An interpretive and naturalistic approach. It is both observational and narrative in nature and relies less on the experimental elements normally associated with scientific research (reliability, validity, and generalizability) (from Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry, 1994-2012).
Definition 3: “A research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication.” (from Berelson, 1952)
Uses of Content Analysis
Identify the intentions, focus or communication trends of an individual, group or institution
Describe attitudinal and behavioral responses to communications
Determine the psychological or emotional state of persons or groups
Reveal international differences in communication content
Reveal patterns in communication content
Pre-test and improve an intervention or survey prior to launch
Analyze focus group interviews and open-ended questions to complement quantitative data
Types of Content Analysis
There are two general types of content analysis: conceptual analysis and relational analysis. Conceptual analysis determines the existence and frequency of concepts in a text. Relational analysis develops the conceptual analysis further by examining the relationships among concepts in a text. Each type of analysis may lead to different results, conclusions, interpretations and meanings.
Typically people think of conceptual analysis when they think of content analysis. In conceptual analysis, a concept is chosen for examination and the analysis involves quantifying and counting its presence. The main goal is to examine the occurrence of selected terms in the data. Terms may be explicit or implicit. Explicit terms are easy to identify. Coding of implicit terms is more complicated: you need to decide the level of implication and base judgments on subjectivity (an issue for reliability and validity). Therefore, coding of implicit terms involves using a dictionary or contextual translation rules or both.
To begin a conceptual content analysis, first identify the research question and choose a sample or samples for analysis. Next, the text must be coded into manageable content categories. This is basically a process of selective reduction. By reducing the text to categories, the researcher can focus on and code for specific words or patterns that inform the research question.
General steps for conducting a conceptual content analysis:
1. Decide the level of analysis: word, word sense, phrase, sentence, themes
2. Decide how many concepts to code for: develop a pre-defined or interactive set of categories or concepts. Decide either: A. to allow flexibility to add categories through the coding process, or B. to stick with the pre-defined set of categories.
Option A allows for the introduction and analysis of new and important material that could have significant implications to one’s research question.
Option B allows the researcher to stay focused and examine the data for specific concepts.
3. Decide whether to code for existence or frequency of a concept. The decision changes the coding process.
When coding for the existence of a concept, the researcher would count a concept only once if it appeared at least once in the data and no matter how many times it appeared.
When coding for the frequency of a concept, the researcher would count the number of times a concept appears in a text.
4. Decide on how you will distinguish among concepts:
Should text be coded exactly as they appear or coded as the same when they appear in different forms? For example, “dangerous” vs. “dangerousness”. The point here is to create coding rules so that these word segments are transparently categorized in a logical fashion. The rules could make all of these word segments fall into the same category, or perhaps the rules can be formulated so that the researcher can distinguish these word segments into separate codes.
What level of implication is to be allowed? Words that imply the concept or words that explicitly state the concept? For example, “dangerous” vs. “the person is scary” vs. “that person could cause harm to me”. These word segments may not merit separate categories, due the implicit meaning of “dangerous”.
5. Develop rules for coding your texts. After decisions of steps 1-4 are complete, a researcher can begin developing rules for translation of text into codes. This will keep the coding process organized and consistent. The researcher can code for exactly what he/she wants to code. Validity of the coding process is ensured when the researcher is consistent and coherent in their codes, meaning that they follow their translation rules. In content analysis, obeying by the translation rules is equivalent to validity.
6. Decide what to do with irrelevant information: should this be ignored (e.g. common English words like “the” and “and”), or used to reexamine the coding scheme in the case that it would add to the outcome of coding?
7. Code the text: This can be done by hand or by using software. By using software, researchers can input categories and have coding done automatically, quickly and efficiently, by the software program. When coding is done by hand, a researcher can recognize errors far more easily (e.g. typos, misspelling). If using computer coding, text could be cleaned of errors to include all available data. This decision of hand vs. computer coding is most relevant for implicit information where category preparation is essential for accurate coding.
8. Analyze your results: Draw conclusions and generalizations where possible. Determine what to do with irrelevant, unwanted, or unused text: reexamine, ignore, or reassess the coding scheme. Interpret results carefully as conceptual content analysis can only quantify the information. Typically, general trends and patterns can be identified.
Relational analysis begins like conceptual analysis, where a concept is chosen for examination. However, the analysis involves exploring the relationships between concepts. Individual concepts are viewed as having no inherent meaning and rather the meaning is a product of the relationships among concepts.
To begin a relational content analysis, first identify a research question and choose a sample or samples for analysis. The research question must be focused so the concept types are not open to interpretation and can be summarized. Next, select text for analysis. Select text for analysis carefully by balancing having enough information for a thorough analysis so results are not limited with having information that is too extensive so that the coding process becomes too arduous and heavy to supply meaningful and worthwhile results.
There are three subcategories of relational analysis to choose from prior to going on to the general steps.
Affect extraction: an emotional evaluation of concepts explicit in a text. A challenge to this method is that emotions can vary across time, populations, and space. However, it could be effective at capturing the emotional and psychological state of the speaker or writer of the text.
Proximity analysis: an evaluation of the co-occurrence of explicit concepts in the text. Text is defined as a string of words called a “window” that is scanned for the co-occurrence of concepts. The result is the creation of a “concept matrix”, or a group of interrelated co-occurring concepts that would suggest an overall meaning.
Cognitive mapping: a visualization technique for either affect extraction or proximity analysis. Cognitive mapping attempts to create a model of the overall meaning of the text such as a graphic map that represents the relationships between concepts.
General steps for conducting a relational content analysis:
1. Determine the type of analysis: Once the sample has been selected, the researcher needs to determine what types of relationships to examine and the level of analysis: word, word sense, phrase, sentence, themes. 2. Reduce the text to categories and code for words or patterns. A researcher can code for existence of meanings or words. 3. Explore the relationship between concepts: once the words are coded, the text can be analyzed for the following:
Strength of relationship: degree to which two or more concepts are related.
Sign of relationship: are concepts positively or negatively related to each other?
Direction of relationship: the types of relationship that categories exhibit. For example, “X implies Y” or “X occurs before Y” or “if X then Y” or if X is the primary motivator of Y.
4. Code the relationships: a difference between conceptual and relational analysis is that the statements or relationships between concepts are coded. 5. Perform statistical analyses: explore differences or look for relationships among the identified variables during coding. 6. Map out representations: such as decision mapping and mental models.
Reliability and Validity
Reliability : Because of the human nature of researchers, coding errors can never be eliminated but only minimized. Generally, 80% is an acceptable margin for reliability. Three criteria comprise the reliability of a content analysis:
Stability: the tendency for coders to consistently re-code the same data in the same way over a period of time.
Reproducibility: tendency for a group of coders to classify categories membership in the same way.
Accuracy: extent to which the classification of text corresponds to a standard or norm statistically.
Validity : Three criteria comprise the validity of a content analysis:
Closeness of categories: this can be achieved by utilizing multiple classifiers to arrive at an agreed upon definition of each specific category. Using multiple classifiers, a concept category that may be an explicit variable can be broadened to include synonyms or implicit variables.
Conclusions: What level of implication is allowable? Do conclusions correctly follow the data? Are results explainable by other phenomena? This becomes especially problematic when using computer software for analysis and distinguishing between synonyms. For example, the word “mine,” variously denotes a personal pronoun, an explosive device, and a deep hole in the ground from which ore is extracted. Software can obtain an accurate count of that word’s occurrence and frequency, but not be able to produce an accurate accounting of the meaning inherent in each particular usage. This problem could throw off one’s results and make any conclusion invalid.
Generalizability of the results to a theory: dependent on the clear definitions of concept categories, how they are determined and how reliable they are at measuring the idea one is seeking to measure. Generalizability parallels reliability as much of it depends on the three criteria for reliability.
Advantages of Content Analysis
Directly examines communication using text
Allows for both qualitative and quantitative analysis
Provides valuable historical and cultural insights over time
Allows a closeness to data
Coded form of the text can be statistically analyzed
Unobtrusive means of analyzing interactions
Provides insight into complex models of human thought and language use
When done well, is considered a relatively “exact” research method
Content analysis is a readily-understood and an inexpensive research method
A more powerful tool when combined with other research methods such as interviews, observation, and use of archival records. It is very useful for analyzing historical material, especially for documenting trends over time.
Disadvantages of Content Analysis
Can be extremely time consuming
Is subject to increased error, particularly when relational analysis is used to attain a higher level of interpretation
Is often devoid of theoretical base, or attempts too liberally to draw meaningful inferences about the relationships and impacts implied in a study
Is inherently reductive, particularly when dealing with complex texts
Tends too often to simply consist of word counts
Often disregards the context that produced the text, as well as the state of things after the text is produced
Can be difficult to automate or computerize
Textbooks & Chapters
Berelson, Bernard. Content Analysis in Communication Research.New York: Free Press, 1952.
Busha, Charles H. and Stephen P. Harter. Research Methods in Librarianship: Techniques and Interpretation.New York: Academic Press, 1980.
de Sola Pool, Ithiel. Trends in Content Analysis. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1959.
Krippendorff, Klaus. Content Analysis: An Introduction to its Methodology. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1980.
Fielding, NG & Lee, RM. Using Computers in Qualitative Research. SAGE Publications, 1991. (Refer to Chapter by Seidel, J. ‘Method and Madness in the Application of Computer Technology to Qualitative Data Analysis’.)
Hsieh HF & Shannon SE. (2005). Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis.Qualitative Health Research. 15(9): 1277-1288.
Elo S, Kaarianinen M, Kanste O, Polkki R, Utriainen K, & Kyngas H. (2014). Qualitative Content Analysis: A focus on trustworthiness. Sage Open. 4:1-10.
Abroms LC, Padmanabhan N, Thaweethai L, & Phillips T. (2011). iPhone Apps for Smoking Cessation: A content analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 40(3):279-285.
Ullstrom S. Sachs MA, Hansson J, Ovretveit J, & Brommels M. (2014). Suffering in Silence: a qualitative study of second victims of adverse events. British Medical Journal, Quality & Safety Issue. 23:325-331.
Owen P. (2012).Portrayals of Schizophrenia by Entertainment Media: A Content Analysis of Contemporary Movies. Psychiatric Services. 63:655-659.
Choosing whether to conduct a content analysis by hand or by using computer software can be difficult. Refer to ‘Method and Madness in the Application of Computer Technology to Qualitative Data Analysis’ listed above in “Textbooks and Chapters” for a discussion of the issue.
QSR NVivo: http://www.qsrinternational.com/products.aspx
R- RQDA package: http://rqda.r-forge.r-project.org/
Rolly Constable, Marla Cowell, Sarita Zornek Crawford, David Golden, Jake Hartvigsen, Kathryn Morgan, Anne Mudgett, Kris Parrish, Laura Thomas, Erika Yolanda Thompson, Rosie Turner, and Mike Palmquist. (1994-2012). Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry. Writing@CSU . Colorado State University. Available at: https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=63 .
As an introduction to Content Analysis by Michael Palmquist, this is the main resource on Content Analysis on the Web. It is comprehensive, yet succinct. It includes examples and an annotated bibliography. The information contained in the narrative above draws heavily from and summarizes Michael Palmquist’s excellent resource on Content Analysis but was streamlined for the purpose of doctoral students and junior researchers in epidemiology.
At Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, more detailed training is available through the Department of Sociomedical Sciences- P8785 Qualitative Research Methods.
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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide
Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.
The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:
- Present your topic and get the reader interested
- Provide background or summarize existing research
- Position your own approach
- Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
- Give an overview of the paper’s structure
The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.
Table of contents
Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.
The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.
The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.
For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:
A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:
Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.
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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.
In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.
Argumentative paper: Background information
After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.
Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .
Empirical paper: Describing previous research
For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.
This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.
Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.
The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.
Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance
In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.
Empirical paper: Relate to the literature
In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:
- What research gap is your work intended to fill?
- What limitations in previous work does it address?
- What contribution to knowledge does it make?
You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.
Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.
The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).
Argumentative paper: Thesis statement
The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.
Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis
The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.
Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.
A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.
- This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
- We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.
If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.
For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:
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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.
In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.
If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.
- This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
- This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …
Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.
- Argumentative paper
- Empirical paper
Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.
The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.
The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
and your problem statement
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an overview of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .
A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.
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Research Paper Example
To fully understand what information particular parts of the paper should discuss, here’s another example of a research paper.
This article is a part of the guide:
- Outline Examples
- Example of a Paper
- Write a Hypothesis
Browse Full Outline
- 1 Write a Research Paper
- 2 Writing a Paper
- 3.1 Write an Outline
- 3.2 Outline Examples
- 4.1 Thesis Statement
- 4.2 Write a Hypothesis
- 5.2 Abstract
- 5.3 Introduction
- 5.4 Methods
- 5.5 Results
- 5.6 Discussion
- 5.7 Conclusion
- 5.8 Bibliography
- 6.1 Table of Contents
- 6.2 Acknowledgements
- 6.3 Appendix
- 7.1 In Text Citations
- 7.2 Footnotes
- 7.3.1 Floating Blocks
- 7.4 Example of a Paper
- 7.5 Example of a Paper 2
- 7.6.1 Citations
- 7.7.1 Writing Style
- 7.7.2 Citations
- 8.1.1 Sham Peer Review
- 8.1.2 Advantages
- 8.1.3 Disadvantages
- 8.2 Publication Bias
- 8.3.1 Journal Rejection
- 9.1 Article Writing
- 9.2 Ideas for Topics
It includes some key parts of the paper such as the Abstract , Introduction , Discussion and References :
Text center-aligned and placed at the middle of the page, stating the title of the paper, name of author and affiliation.
A Study on the Factors Affecting the Infant Feeding Practices
Of Mothers in Las Piñas City
By [Author], University of the Philippines
The abstract starts on the next page, page 2. The text starts at the top, left flushed, double-spaced.
Abstract [Abstract here]
The body text starts on the next page, page 3. The text starts at the top, left flushed, double-spaced.
Introduction The melamine controversy that erupted during the last quarter of year 2008 brought people’s attention back to the debates between breastfeeding and the use of breast milk substitutes like commercial infant formula. This wasn’t the first time that infant formula had caused illnesses and even deaths to infants worldwide - hence the continuous campaign of World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF along with other breastfeeding advocates, for mothers to breastfeed their children at least until 6 months of age. Infant feeding practices refer generally to meet the nutritional and immunological needs of the baby. A study of infant feeding practices was carried out on a sample of 100 mother and infant pairs. The results revealed that only 20% of mothers in the study currently exclusively breastfeed their babies. It also shows that socio-economic factors like mother’s work status, marital status and educational attainment had direct bearing on these practices. Employed mothers tend to cease from breastfeeding their babies and eventually stop and just resort to formula feeding as they go back to work. The study also showed that mothers who are married and living with their partners are more likely to breastfeed their infants than single mothers. Those with higher educational attainment resort more to formula feeding and mixed feeding than those with lower educational attainment. Health care professionals influence mothers the most when it comes to infant feeding decisions. Methodology Type of Research The type of research that will be used in this study is qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The discipline investigates the “why” and “how” of decision making. Besides this, the researcher will also examine the phenomenon through observations in numerical representations and through statistical analysis. Along with questionnaires that will be given out to respondents for the statistical representation of the findings in the study, interviews with the respondents and a few experts in this field will also be conducted. Sampling Method The research sampling method that will be used in this study is random sampling to obtain a more scientific result that could be used to represent the entirety of the population. A list of all health care facilities (maternity and lying-in clinics, public and private hospitals, health centers) was acquired from the Las Piñas City Hall. From 20 barangays, 3 will be picked through random sampling. The health care facilities and institutions in these three barangays will then be the target sources of respondents of the researcher. The health care facilities and institutions will be contacted to obtain a verbal consent to administer the questionnaire to mothers at their places. A letter of consent will also be sent to them along with a sample copy of the questionnaire that will be used, as well as the protocol of the researcher. A letter was also addressed to the City Health Officer to obtain endorsement and consent to conduct a research in selected barangays and distribute questionnaires to the mothers in the vicinity. Data collection was conducted throughout the facilities‟ and health centers‟ operating hours from Mondays through Sundays in order to include both working and non-working mothers. Respondents The respondents in this research will all be coming from one single location - Las Piñas City, specifically the randomly selected barangays of Pamplona I, CAA/BF International and Pamplona III. The researcher chose Las Piñas City because of the socio-economic conditions present in the area that is relevant to the study and also as it fits the time frame and resources of the researcher. The randomly sampled respondents will be asked by the researcher for consent and approval to answer the questionnaire until the desired number of respondents which is 100 is reached. The opinion of experts will also be sought in this research to provide explanations regarding the respondents‟ infant feeding behaviors and practices. Questionnaire The questionnaire requires information about the socio-economic and demographic background of the mother. It also has questions related to previous infant feeding practices and the birth of her youngest infant and also regarding the baby’s general health and age. Statements that are perceived to be factors that influence mothers‟ infant feeding decisions were presented. The description of the type of infant formula given by formula and mixed feeding mothers will also be asked in the material. Conclusion Majority of the mothers formula feed their child and only a minority exclusively breastfeeds their children, especially as per recommendation of the World Health Organization. While majority of the mothers in this study showed a positive attitude towards breastfeeding, most of them decided only to formula feed due to the reasons of insufficient milk supply and work. Based on the results of the study, the educational attainment, work status, marital status, and seminars in the barangay the respondents are part of, about breastfeeding, are the significant factors that affect the infant feeding decision of mothers in Las Piñas City. Majority of the mothers that served as respondents in this study fall under the age range of 17-30 years old. More than half of them were also college graduates while a significant number are undergraduates and have only reached until high school. Most of the mothers are housewives and the others remaining have full-time jobs, part-time jobs and self-employed. A few of them are still students. While majority of them were married, a lot were still in a status of live-in and are single. More than half of the mothers did not have previous children before the current one. Majority of the respondents also have an annual gross household income that does not exceed P50,000. Among the several information sources namely, media through televisions/radios and printed/published materials, the social support system comprised of the mother’s family, friends and other relatives and health institutions, the mothers who give their babies infant formula are influenced the most by health care institutions through health professionals and other health care personnel. They influence the mothers in deciding to feed the baby with formula and in choosing, as well, which brand of formula is best for their babies. Mothers trust their baby’s doctor because of their expertise in the said field hence this kind of relation is achieved. Mothers were overall not concerned about the possible side effects of breastfeeding as a few were only worried as shown in the data presented. It can be concluded that numerous internal as well as external factors influence a mother in making infant feeding decisions, and a greater fraction of these is socio-economic in nature.
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