What Is A Decent Research Paper Layout
Research paper structures and layouts vary depending on the discipline you are in and the formal style your instructor would like you to use. The important thing to remember about the layout of your research paper is that it doesn’t need to be fancy, simply professional, clearly organized, and sensible.
- Follow your style guide to the letter
- Let the research create the layout
- Treat each section as a paper of its own
- Organize as you go
Whatever formal style your instructor has requested you use, don’t depart from it. Formal styles may seem like a needless hassle to you now, and to be fair they can be a major source of headaches for inexperienced writers. However, they’ve been developed in part to help you with the exact challenge you face: creating a good layout for your research paper. Remember, formal styles are a tool to help academic writers, not just something created to annoy them.
While you will obviously be following a style guide and some basic conventions when it comes to laying out your paper, also understand that the information you find during your research is going to play a significant role in determining that layout. You can, of course, come up with a broad outline prior to researching, but be flexible enough to change it if need be. As you research more detailed and sophisticated information and come across niche topics, you may need to add new sections and rearrange others in your outline to accommodate this new information. That’s perfectly fine—that’s part of what research is all about.
Both when researching and writing, it’s helpful to view each section of your paper as its own “mini” research paper. You’ll need an introductory paragraph to provide a transition from the previous section, and a concluding paragraph to help transition to the next section. You’ll need a main idea and a sort of sub-thesis to relate the section’s topic back to your main thesis.
Yes, things will change, but they’ll be easier to change if you remain organized in the process. When you come across an idea that would make a good section, immediately create a file for it, save information, notes, and sources there, and consider how it relates to other sections and your thesis as a whole.
Research papers are often long and complex, but by following this simple advice, creating a good layout is easy.