What Is a Research Paper?

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Olivia Valdes was the Associate Editorial Director for ThoughtCo. She worked with Dotdash Meredith from 2017 to 2021.

research paper meaning of

  • B.A., American Studies, Yale University

A research paper is a common form of academic writing . Research papers require students and academics to locate information about a topic (that is, to conduct research ), take a stand on that topic, and provide support (or evidence) for that position in an organized report.

The term research paper may also refer to a scholarly article that contains the results of original research or an evaluation of research conducted by others. Most scholarly articles must undergo a process of peer review before they can be accepted for publication in an academic journal.

Define Your Research Question

The first step in writing a research paper is defining your research question . Has your instructor assigned a specific topic? If so, great—you've got this step covered. If not, review the guidelines of the assignment. Your instructor has likely provided several general subjects for your consideration. Your research paper should focus on a specific angle on one of these subjects. Spend some time mulling over your options before deciding which one you'd like to explore more deeply.

Try to choose a research question that interests you. The research process is time-consuming, and you'll be significantly more motivated if you have a genuine desire to learn more about the topic. You should also consider whether you have access to all of the resources necessary to conduct thorough research on your topic, such as primary and secondary sources .

Create a Research Strategy 

Approach the research process systematically by creating a research strategy. First, review your library's website. What resources are available? Where will you find them? Do any resources require a special process to gain access? Start gathering those resources—especially those that may be difficult to access—as soon as possible.

Second, make an appointment with a reference librarian . A reference librarian is nothing short of a research superhero. He or she will listen to your research question, offer suggestions for how to focus your research, and direct you toward valuable sources that directly relate to your topic.

Evaluate Sources

Now that you've gathered a wide array of sources, it's time to evaluate them. First, consider the reliability of the information. Where is the information coming from? What is the origin of the source? Second, assess the  relevance  of the information. How does this information relate to your research question? Does it support, refute, or add context to your position? How does it relate to the other sources you'll be using in your paper? Once you have determined that your sources are both reliable and relevant, you can proceed confidently to the writing phase. 

Why Write Research Papers? 

The research process is one of the most taxing academic tasks you'll be asked to complete. Luckily, the value of writing a research paper goes beyond that A+ you hope to receive. Here are just some of the benefits of research papers. 

  • Learning Scholarly Conventions:  Writing a research paper is a crash course in the stylistic conventions of scholarly writing. During the research and writing process, you'll learn how to document your research, cite sources appropriately, format an academic paper, maintain an academic tone, and more.
  • Organizing Information: In a way, research is nothing more than a massive organizational project. The information available to you is near-infinite, and it's your job to review that information, narrow it down, categorize it, and present it in a clear, relevant format. This process requires attention to detail and major brainpower.
  • Managing Time: Research papers put your time management  skills to the test. Every step of the research and writing process takes time, and it's up to you to set aside the time you'll need to complete each step of the task. Maximize your efficiency by creating a research schedule and inserting blocks of "research time" into your calendar as soon as you receive the assignment. 
  • Exploring Your Chosen Subject:  We couldn't forget the best part of research papers—learning about something that truly excites you. No matter what topic you choose, you're bound to come away from the research process with new ideas and countless nuggets of fascinating information. 

The best research papers are the result of genuine interest and a thorough research process. With these ideas in mind, go forth and research. Welcome to the scholarly conversation!

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What is a Research Paper?

  • Steps in Writing a Research Paper
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"Research paper." What image comes into mind as you hear those words: working with stacks of articles and books, hunting the "treasure" of others' thoughts? Whatever image you create, it's a sure bet that you're envisioning sources of information--articles, books, people, artworks. Yet a research paper is more than the sum of your sources, more than a collection of different pieces of information about a topic, and more than a review of the literature in a field. A research paper analyzes a perspective argues a point . Regardless of the type of research paper you are writing, your finished research paper should present your own thinking backed up by others' ideas and information.

To draw a parallel, a lawyer researches and reads about many cases and uses them to support his or her own case. A scientist reads many case studies to support an idea about a scientific principle. In the same way, a history student writing about the Vietnam War might read newspaper articles and books and interview veterans to develop and/or confirm a viewpoint and support it with evidence.

A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you build upon what you know about the subject and make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know. A research paper involves surveying a field of knowledge in order to find the best possible information in that field. And that survey can be orderly and focused, if you know how to approach it. Don't worry--you won't get lost in a sea of sources.

In fact, this guide is designed to help you navigate the research voyage, through developing a research question and thesis, doing the research, writing the paper, and correctly documenting your sources.

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What Is a Research Paper? A Definition Explained.

A research paper is an important element of academia that synthesizes existing literature, introduces new insights or data, and contributes to the development of a particular field. This article provides a definition of research papers as well as an overview of its core components in order to facilitate understanding among scholars and students alike. To gain further insight into this topic, readers will explore examples which demonstrate how different types of studies employ various strategies for conducting quality academic research. Additionally, key considerations such as formatting guidelines, ethical protocols and overall purpose are discussed in detail so that readers can develop their own process for successfully writing scholarly works.

I. Introduction

A. definition of research paper, b. purpose of a research paper, ii. what is included in a research paper, a. overview and background information, b. literature review section, c. methodology or methods used iii. conclusions reached by the writer iv . presentation of results found v . analysis and interpretations of findings vi . implications for further study vii . final thoughts.

As the world evolves, so does our understanding of it. Research papers are a way to document and analyze this knowledge in an academic setting. The ability to gather information from different sources, form conclusions about that data, and effectively articulate those findings is an essential skill for any researcher.

A research paper is an organized collection of facts and ideas with evidence to support its argument or hypothesis. Through careful examination of relevant materials such as journal articles, books, interviews or surveys authors can draw their own conclusions about a topic based on what has already been studied by others. Additionally they may include their own interpretations of existing research as well as propose new experiments to expand upon current studies.

  • Data collection
  • Analysis & Interpretation Conclusion

A Research Paper is a Comprehensive Study Research papers are in-depth studies of various topics, and can be used to showcase knowledge acquired from extensive study. They typically explore both sides of the debate on any given issue or topic, with the purpose of providing an evidence based conclusion at its end. A research paper must contain detailed information about relevant theories and current trends related to the chosen subject matter. The aim is for readers to understand these ideas more fully by examining them within their wider social context.

What Is a Research Paper Definition? In its most basic form, a research paper definition refers to an extended piece of writing that provides arguments regarding some particular claim or concept using existing literature as support. It should also include original data collected through experimentation or observation as well as logical interpretations thereof in order to prove this argument further. In addition, other elements like citations may be required depending on your professor’s guidelines:

  • Introduction – contains introductory information such as background facts.
  • Methods/Analysis – describe techniques and methods employed when conducting experiments.

Research papers are among the most essential documents in a student’s academic journey. They demonstrate one’s understanding of a certain subject, and how they can apply their knowledge to explore new avenues or further develop existing ideas. Research papers provide readers with evidence that supports your conclusions as well as explaining any findings. Additionally, research papers offer an opportunity for students to hone their writing skills and refine their ability to think critically.

In essence, a research paper is defined as “a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings”. It is essentially used by academics and researchers alike to present scholarly work on subjects relevant to their field of study, which may be presented at conferences or published in scientific journals.

  • It demonstrates one’s understanding
  • It provides readers with evidence
  • An opportunity for students hone writing skills & thinking critically

Defined: A document submit ted i n suppor t o f candi datur e fo r academi c degre e o r profession al qualificati on presen tin g author’ s researc h & finding s &nbs p ;

The Necessary Components

A research paper can be defined as an academic writing that relies on facts and data to explore a particular topic. It typically follows a structure which includes: introduction, body of evidence/findings, discussion/conclusion. These components are vital for producing scholarly work which is organized in its presentation and backed by reliable sources such as journals or books. The following outlines what constitutes each element of the research paper:

  • Introduction – Establishes the context of the study by introducing readers to relevant information regarding the topic.

Understanding Research Papers

Research papers are a form of academic writing that requires students to conduct independent research on a chosen topic. Generally, the objective is for them to develop an original argument or interpretation based upon evidence gathered from reputable sources. The paper should present an organized discussion, and it should include both primary (original texts) as well as secondary (critiques of existing scholarship) source material.

The process of creating a research paper can be daunting because it involves extensive planning and preparation. As such, researchers must adhere closely to accepted conventions when designing their projects; these conventions dictate how they will structure their arguments and organize information within their documents.

  • Before starting any project, students must first identify its purpose.
  • Next, they need to select relevant data about the subject matter in order to construct an effective thesis statement.

Researchers must then go through the painstaking task of synthesizing multiple viewpoints into one cohesive perspective by synthesizing readings from various sources while keeping track of all references cited throughout the document—a critical step if authors hope for other scholars or professionals in similar fields to take them seriously. Finally, researchers should proofread drafts carefully before submitting final copies for publication or presentation opportunities at conferences.

To produce a compelling research paper, it is essential to conduct an extensive literature review of the existing body of knowledge pertaining to the topic. As stated by Research Paper Definition , “A research paper presents an original thought or position supported and demonstrated through previous work done in the same field”. This section aims to synthesize past studies relevant for this project, categorizing them into categories and exploring possible connections between findings.

The literature review process involves reading scholarly works related to one’s research question in order to uncover new ideas as well as insights that can be included in their own project. To begin with, we will consider various theoretical frameworks from which the current study could benefit most significantly:

  • Social constructionism
  • Feminist theory

Research papers are one of the best ways to showcase a student’s understanding and knowledge about a particular subject. A research paper is defined as an in-depth written study on any given topic, which involves researching reliable sources and conducting experiments or surveys. This section presents the methodology used by the writer for their research paper.

Based on the information collected using these various methods outlined above, it was concluded that there are several major issues concerning accessibility of public spaces within certain communities – both physical barriers due to lack of infrastructure but also social ones stemming from lack of education regarding disability rights legislation among many residents living in those areas.

The end result revealed crucial insight into how more attention needs to be paid towards ensuring disabled individuals can access all aspects of public life without facing undue discrimination or neglect based solely on their condition(s).

English: In conclusion, a research paper can be defined as an academic piece of writing that utilizes information gathered from primary and/or secondary sources to address a specific topic. A research paper is used to present the author’s analysis and findings on the subject matter, while simultaneously adhering to established conventions for composing such documents. It should also demonstrate evidence-based arguments that are logically sound and offer clear insights into the pertinent issues under examination. Through this definition explanation it is hoped readers have gained an improved understanding of what constitutes a research paper.

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How To Write A Research Paper

Step-By-Step Tutorial With Examples + FREE Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | March 2024

For many students, crafting a strong research paper from scratch can feel like a daunting task – and rightly so! In this post, we’ll unpack what a research paper is, what it needs to do , and how to write one – in three easy steps. 🙂 

Overview: Writing A Research Paper

What (exactly) is a research paper.

  • How to write a research paper
  • Stage 1 : Topic & literature search
  • Stage 2 : Structure & outline
  • Stage 3 : Iterative writing
  • Key takeaways

Let’s start by asking the most important question, “ What is a research paper? ”.

Simply put, a research paper is a scholarly written work where the writer (that’s you!) answers a specific question (this is called a research question ) through evidence-based arguments . Evidence-based is the keyword here. In other words, a research paper is different from an essay or other writing assignments that draw from the writer’s personal opinions or experiences. With a research paper, it’s all about building your arguments based on evidence (we’ll talk more about that evidence a little later).

Now, it’s worth noting that there are many different types of research papers , including analytical papers (the type I just described), argumentative papers, and interpretative papers. Here, we’ll focus on analytical papers , as these are some of the most common – but if you’re keen to learn about other types of research papers, be sure to check out the rest of the blog .

With that basic foundation laid, let’s get down to business and look at how to write a research paper .

Research Paper Template

Overview: The 3-Stage Process

While there are, of course, many potential approaches you can take to write a research paper, there are typically three stages to the writing process. So, in this tutorial, we’ll present a straightforward three-step process that we use when working with students at Grad Coach.

These three steps are:

  • Finding a research topic and reviewing the existing literature
  • Developing a provisional structure and outline for your paper, and
  • Writing up your initial draft and then refining it iteratively

Let’s dig into each of these.

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research paper meaning of

Step 1: Find a topic and review the literature

As we mentioned earlier, in a research paper, you, as the researcher, will try to answer a question . More specifically, that’s called a research question , and it sets the direction of your entire paper. What’s important to understand though is that you’ll need to answer that research question with the help of high-quality sources – for example, journal articles, government reports, case studies, and so on. We’ll circle back to this in a minute.

The first stage of the research process is deciding on what your research question will be and then reviewing the existing literature (in other words, past studies and papers) to see what they say about that specific research question. In some cases, your professor may provide you with a predetermined research question (or set of questions). However, in many cases, you’ll need to find your own research question within a certain topic area.

Finding a strong research question hinges on identifying a meaningful research gap – in other words, an area that’s lacking in existing research. There’s a lot to unpack here, so if you wanna learn more, check out the plain-language explainer video below.

Once you’ve figured out which question (or questions) you’ll attempt to answer in your research paper, you’ll need to do a deep dive into the existing literature – this is called a “ literature search ”. Again, there are many ways to go about this, but your most likely starting point will be Google Scholar .

If you’re new to Google Scholar, think of it as Google for the academic world. You can start by simply entering a few different keywords that are relevant to your research question and it will then present a host of articles for you to review. What you want to pay close attention to here is the number of citations for each paper – the more citations a paper has, the more credible it is (generally speaking – there are some exceptions, of course).

how to use google scholar

Ideally, what you’re looking for are well-cited papers that are highly relevant to your topic. That said, keep in mind that citations are a cumulative metric , so older papers will often have more citations than newer papers – just because they’ve been around for longer. So, don’t fixate on this metric in isolation – relevance and recency are also very important.

Beyond Google Scholar, you’ll also definitely want to check out academic databases and aggregators such as Science Direct, PubMed, JStor and so on. These will often overlap with the results that you find in Google Scholar, but they can also reveal some hidden gems – so, be sure to check them out.

Once you’ve worked your way through all the literature, you’ll want to catalogue all this information in some sort of spreadsheet so that you can easily recall who said what, when and within what context. If you’d like, we’ve got a free literature spreadsheet that helps you do exactly that.

Don’t fixate on an article’s citation count in isolation - relevance (to your research question) and recency are also very important.

Step 2: Develop a structure and outline

With your research question pinned down and your literature digested and catalogued, it’s time to move on to planning your actual research paper .

It might sound obvious, but it’s really important to have some sort of rough outline in place before you start writing your paper. So often, we see students eagerly rushing into the writing phase, only to land up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on in multiple

Now, the secret here is to not get caught up in the fine details . Realistically, all you need at this stage is a bullet-point list that describes (in broad strokes) what you’ll discuss and in what order. It’s also useful to remember that you’re not glued to this outline – in all likelihood, you’ll chop and change some sections once you start writing, and that’s perfectly okay. What’s important is that you have some sort of roadmap in place from the start.

You need to have a rough outline in place before you start writing your paper - or you’ll end up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on.

At this stage you might be wondering, “ But how should I structure my research paper? ”. Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but in general, a research paper will consist of a few relatively standardised components:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology

Let’s take a look at each of these.

First up is the introduction section . As the name suggests, the purpose of the introduction is to set the scene for your research paper. There are usually (at least) four ingredients that go into this section – these are the background to the topic, the research problem and resultant research question , and the justification or rationale. If you’re interested, the video below unpacks the introduction section in more detail. 

The next section of your research paper will typically be your literature review . Remember all that literature you worked through earlier? Well, this is where you’ll present your interpretation of all that content . You’ll do this by writing about recent trends, developments, and arguments within the literature – but more specifically, those that are relevant to your research question . The literature review can oftentimes seem a little daunting, even to seasoned researchers, so be sure to check out our extensive collection of literature review content here .

With the introduction and lit review out of the way, the next section of your paper is the research methodology . In a nutshell, the methodology section should describe to your reader what you did (beyond just reviewing the existing literature) to answer your research question. For example, what data did you collect, how did you collect that data, how did you analyse that data and so on? For each choice, you’ll also need to justify why you chose to do it that way, and what the strengths and weaknesses of your approach were.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that for some research papers, this aspect of the project may be a lot simpler . For example, you may only need to draw on secondary sources (in other words, existing data sets). In some cases, you may just be asked to draw your conclusions from the literature search itself (in other words, there may be no data analysis at all). But, if you are required to collect and analyse data, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the methodology section. The video below provides an example of what the methodology section might look like.

By this stage of your paper, you will have explained what your research question is, what the existing literature has to say about that question, and how you analysed additional data to try to answer your question. So, the natural next step is to present your analysis of that data . This section is usually called the “results” or “analysis” section and this is where you’ll showcase your findings.

Depending on your school’s requirements, you may need to present and interpret the data in one section – or you might split the presentation and the interpretation into two sections. In the latter case, your “results” section will just describe the data, and the “discussion” is where you’ll interpret that data and explicitly link your analysis back to your research question. If you’re not sure which approach to take, check in with your professor or take a look at past papers to see what the norms are for your programme.

Alright – once you’ve presented and discussed your results, it’s time to wrap it up . This usually takes the form of the “ conclusion ” section. In the conclusion, you’ll need to highlight the key takeaways from your study and close the loop by explicitly answering your research question. Again, the exact requirements here will vary depending on your programme (and you may not even need a conclusion section at all) – so be sure to check with your professor if you’re unsure.

Step 3: Write and refine

Finally, it’s time to get writing. All too often though, students hit a brick wall right about here… So, how do you avoid this happening to you?

Well, there’s a lot to be said when it comes to writing a research paper (or any sort of academic piece), but we’ll share three practical tips to help you get started.

First and foremost , it’s essential to approach your writing as an iterative process. In other words, you need to start with a really messy first draft and then polish it over multiple rounds of editing. Don’t waste your time trying to write a perfect research paper in one go. Instead, take the pressure off yourself by adopting an iterative approach.

Secondly , it’s important to always lean towards critical writing , rather than descriptive writing. What does this mean? Well, at the simplest level, descriptive writing focuses on the “ what ”, while critical writing digs into the “ so what ” – in other words, the implications . If you’re not familiar with these two types of writing, don’t worry! You can find a plain-language explanation here.

Last but not least, you’ll need to get your referencing right. Specifically, you’ll need to provide credible, correctly formatted citations for the statements you make. We see students making referencing mistakes all the time and it costs them dearly. The good news is that you can easily avoid this by using a simple reference manager . If you don’t have one, check out our video about Mendeley, an easy (and free) reference management tool that you can start using today.

Recap: Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are:

  • To choose a research question and review the literature
  • To plan your paper structure and draft an outline
  • To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing

Remember, this is just a b ig-picture overview of the research paper development process and there’s a lot more nuance to unpack. So, be sure to grab a copy of our free research paper template to learn more about how to write a research paper.

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research paper meaning of

What Is a Research Paper?

research paper meaning of

Definition of a research paper

A research paper is a scientific piece that covers a certain topic. It requires in-depth research, analysis, evaluation of literature or qualitative research performed via interviews or observations. 

A standard research paper includes these sections: 

  • Review of literature 
  • Methodology

The topic usually pertains to your area of study and is often connected to the papers you’ve written before. You will either choose the topic on your own or select it from the options proposed by your professor.

If you need to write a research paper but don’t know where to start, read on! This article will guide you through the entire process. 

What Is a Research Paper Purpose?

The main purpose of this type of academic paper is to either research a new topic or add to existing research. You may be covering a topic that has been explored long ago to update the information and possibly debunk some assumptions. Or you may be conducting brand new research that hasn’t been done before. Sometimes, you will also write a paper like that to add to the existing research if it is insufficient.

8 Steps to Writing a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is a lengthy process that many may find complicated. However, it becomes more manageable if you break it down into these steps:

  • Pick a topic; approve it with your academic advisor.
  • Conduct research, review the available sources, and pick the ones you find the most useful.
  • Develop a thesis statement.
  • Write an outline; put your ideas, potential sources and notes in it.
  • Write the introduction chapter; this may also be done last.
  • Move on to the body paragraphs & conclusion.
  • Give it a rest, then edit without mercy.
  • Format the paper and the references.

This may feel like a lot. It’s true. If you’re still confused as to how to write a research paper , refer to our expert writers for help. Studyfy can help you handle all eight steps of the writing process. 

Ensure you consult your academic advisor every step of the way. They may have valuable remarks, questions and advice.

How to Conduct Research?

When it comes to writing, research papers emphasize a solid base. The literature review is the whale that carries your paper. You must take enough time to discover all the relevant, timely information on the topic.

Otherwise, you risk redundancy. Search for keywords in Google Scholar and focus on publications made in the last 5-10 years, depending on the topic.

Conducting research for a research paper involves several steps to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. Here's a simplified guide:

  • Define Your Topic : Clearly define the scope and focus of your research. This helps narrow down your search and ensures relevance.
  • Identify Keywords : Brainstorm and identify keywords related to your topic. These will be crucial when searching for relevant sources.
  • Use Reliable Sources : Utilize academic databases, scholarly journals, books, and reputable websites for your research. Evaluate the credibility and reliability of each source.
  • Gather Information : Collect relevant data, statistics, quotes, and examples to support your thesis or argument. Take notes and keep track of your sources for citations.
  • Analyze and Synthesize : Evaluate the information you've gathered critically. Identify patterns, themes, and relationships between different sources. Synthesize the information to develop your own perspective or argument.
  • Organize Your Notes : Organize your notes and findings in a logical manner. Create an outline to structure your research paper effectively.
  • Cite Your Sources : Make sure to properly cite all sources used in your research paper. Follow the citation style guidelines specified by your instructor or academic institution (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Review and Revise : Review your research paper draft carefully. Make revisions as needed to strengthen your arguments, improve clarity, and ensure coherence.
  • Seek Feedback : Consider seeking feedback from peers, instructors, or mentors to gain additional insights and improve the quality of your research paper.
  • Finalize Your Paper : Once you're satisfied with your research paper, finalize it by proofreading for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Make sure your paper adheres to formatting guidelines before submission.

Thesis Statement

Writing a research paper is impossible without a good thesis statement. A thesis statement is a brief description of your stance on the topic. You may decide to reason for or against the existing opinion on the topic. Your thesis statement will reflect that.

You may also be required to write a research question instead. That question will guide your research and will either be answered positively or negatively at the end of the paper.

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Compose an Outline

This is a map for your future paper. One obviously can write research papers without it, but it’s easier to use the outline method. 

An outline will act like the skeleton of your paper. You jot down all the points that will appear in the final draft and then add meat and muscle to them. Those may be details, notes from your research, potential references, expected results and, of course, your methods.

When you have an outline, you can approve it with your professor, and they will guide you on what steps to take next.

Do I Need to Write the Intro First?

According to research paper writing service experts, no, you don’t. Some students find it best to craft this part last when the rest of your paper is ready. This way, you can see the direction your research has taken and prepare the reader appropriately. 

Most of the time, the intro chapter mentions the thesis statement, methods that will be used, either qualitative or quantitative, and the expected outcomes.

How Do I Write Body Chapters?

After the introduction, where you disclosed the research paper meaning and purpose, you move on to the body. Your literature review must show adequate research and familiarity with the topic. 

The methods for your research paper may differ depending on the topic, as well as what you think is best. You can either stick with the review of the literature (aka meta-analysis) or go on the slightly more complicated path of qualitative or quantitative research. Your choice depends on what fits your topic best.

Conclusion of research paper

Your conclusion must answer the question: what is the point of a research paper? Finish your paper stating if you’ve proved or disproved your thesis statement and what can be done in the future in further research. Don’t repeat the information already given in the paper word for word. Instead, summarize it briefly and don’t add any new information.

Improving Objectivity in Editing

When it comes to bigger academic works, like research papers, it’s hard to assess them adequately immediately after you’ve written them. Your memory will be too fresh, and you’ll recall the sentences rather than read them. To edit a paper properly, you should put it away for some time. This will allow you to be more objective and critical.

How to Edit a Research Paper?

The research paper definition states that you are to present your findings on the topic backed by facts and research.

To do that, you must ensure that every statement is supported by evidence. 

When you read the paper once again, look for logic, flow and evidence-based statements. Every paragraph must support the thesis statement for the whole paper to be on topic. Look at grammar, word choice and punctuation. Make sure to bring the paper to your professor for final edits.

Which Formatting Style Should I Use?

Any research paper requires referencing and citations. Yet, there are different formatting styles to use. In most cases, your professor will specify the required style, and you’ll be able to find the guide with its instructions. Most often, Harvard or APA are used for research papers; however, your academic advisor might require you to use another style, so you must consult with them if you’re not sure.

Final Words

A research paper is a very influential phase in your educational journey. You may be wondering, “ How long should a research paper be ?” The answers vary. Usually, the length is somewhere between 15 and 50 pages. But it depends on your year of study, topic and your professors’ requirements.

Make sure that you continuously consult with your advisor. This will make your job of writing and their job of grading your paper a lot easier. Besides, if they see your involvement and willingness to learn, they might be more lenient towards you.

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How to choose topics for research papers?

Choosing a topic for a research paper involves a few key steps:

  • Interest and Passion : Pick a topic that excites you, as this will keep you motivated and engaged.
  • Scope : Ensure the topic is neither too broad nor too narrow. A broad topic can be overwhelming, while a narrow topic might not have enough material.
  • Resources : Check the availability of resources. Make sure there are sufficient sources to support your research.
  • Originality : Consider originality. Aim for a topic that offers a new perspective or fills a research gap.
  • Relevance : Choose a topic that is relevant to your field and current research trends, which can increase the impact of your work.

Usually, a student chooses a topic for their paper on their own. When you are asked, “What is a research paper about?” you must justify your choice and present enough evidence to cover the scope of the paper.They will likely offer you adjustments, propose sources, or suggest that you take another approach depending on the relevancy of the topic. But in general, the topic is up to you.

What are the major stages of composing a research paper?

First, you choose the topic and approve it with your advisor. Then, you do preliminary research and form your opinion along with the thesis statement. Next, you get to writing. Start with the outline and build on it. Write your body chapters, then the intro and conclusion. Then, move on to editing and formatting. Essentially, what’s a research paper? It’s your findings on the topic backed up by evidence. 

How many references should I include? 

Just as the length of your research paper depends on many factors, so does your reference count. A good starting point is seeing how many sources you can find on your topic. Discuss them with your professor. Then, once you write, you’ll see how many you need for an adequate review of the literature.

How do I finish the writing process?

What is a research paper? It’s a presentation of your findings backed by evidence. At the end of it, you assess if you’ve proved your thesis statement or not and provide a summary. Restate your points and key findings. 

Research Paper

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A research paper is a product of seeking information, analysis, human thinking, and time. Basically, when scholars want to get answers to questions, they start to search for information to expand, use, approve, or deny findings. In simple words, research papers are results of processes by considering writing works and following specific requirements. Besides, scientists research and expand many theories, developing social or technological aspects of human science. However, in order to write relevant papers, they need to know a definition of the research, structure, characteristics, and types.

Definition of What Is a Research Paper and Its Meaning

A research paper is a common assignment. It comes to a situation when students, scholars, and scientists need to answer specific questions by using sources. Basically, a research paper is one of the types of papers where scholars analyze questions or topics, look for secondary sources, and write papers on defined themes. For example, if an assignment is to write a research paper on some causes of global warming or any other topic, a person must write a research proposal on it, analyzing important points and credible sources. Although essays focus on personal knowledge, writing a research paper means analyzing sources by following academic standards. Moreover, scientists must meet the structure of research papers. Therefore, writers need to analyze their research paper topics, start to research, cover key aspects, process credible articles, and organize final studies properly.

The Structure of a Research Work

The structure of research papers depends on assignment requirements. In fact, when students get their assignments and instructions, they need to analyze specific research questions or topics, find reliable sources, and write final works. Basically, the structure of research papers consists of the abstract, outline, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, recommendations, limitations, conclusion, acknowledgments, and references. However, students may not include some of these sections because of assigned instructions that they have and specific types of research papers. For instance, if instructions of papers are not supposed to conduct real experiments, the methodology section can be skipped because of the data’s absence. In turn, the structure of the final work consists of:

research paper

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🔸 The First Part of a Research Study

Abstract or an executive summary means the first section of a research paper that provides the study’s purpose, research questions or suggestions, main findings with conclusions. Moreover, this paragraph of about 150 words should be written when the whole work is finished already. Hence, abstract sections should describe key aspects of studies, including discussions about the relevance of findings.

Outline serves as a clear map of the structure of a research study.

Introduction provides the main information on problem statements, the indication of methodology, important findings, and principal conclusion. Basically, this section of a research paper covers rationales behind the work or background research, explanation of the importance, defending its relevance, a brief description of experimental designs, defined research questions, hypotheses, or key aspects.

🔸 Literature Review and Research or Experiment

Literature Review is needed for the analysis of past studies or scholarly articles to be familiar with research questions or topics. Hence, this section summarizes and synthesizes arguments and ideas from scholarly sources without adding new contributions. In turn, this part is organized around arguments or ideas, not sources.

Methodology or Materials and Methods covers explanations of research designs. Basically, techniques for gathering information and other aspects related to experiments must be described in a research paper. For instance, students and scholars document all specialized materials and general procedures. In this case, individuals may use some or all of the methods in further studies or judge the scientific merit of the work. Moreover, scientists should explain how they are going to conduct their experiments.

Results mean the gained information or data after the research or experiment. Basically, scholars should present and illustrate their findings. Moreover, this section may include tables or figures.

🔸 Analysis of Findings

Discussion is a section of a research paper where scientists review the information in the introduction part, evaluate gained results, or compare it with past studies. In particular, students and scholars interpret gained data or findings in appropriate depth. For example, if results differ from expectations at the beginning, scientists should explain why that may have happened. However, if results agree with rationales, scientists should describe theories that the evidence is supported.

Recommendations take its roots from a discussion section where scholars propose potential solutions or new ideas based on obtained results in a research paper. In this case, if scientists have any recommendations on how to improve this research so that other scholars can use evidence in further studies, they must write what they think in this section.

Limitations mean a consideration of research weaknesses and results to get new directions. For instance, if researchers found any limitations of studies that could affect experiments, scholars must not use such knowledge because of the same mistakes. Moreover, scientists should avoid contradicting results, and, even more, they must write it in this section.

🔸 The Final Part of a Conducted Research

Conclusion includes final claims of a research paper based on findings. Basically, this section covers final thoughts and the summary of the whole work. Moreover, this section may be used instead of limitations and recommendations that would be too small by themselves. In this case, scientists do not need to use headings for recommendations and limitations.

Acknowledgments or Appendix may take different forms, from paragraphs to charts. In this section, scholars include additional information on a research paper.

References mean a section where students, scholars, or scientists provide all used sources by following the format and academic rules.

Research Characteristics

Any type of work must meet some standards. By considering a research paper, this work must be written accordingly. In this case, the main characteristics of research papers are the length, style, format, and sources. Firstly, the length of research work defines the number of needed sources to analyze. Then, the style must be formal and cover impersonal and inclusive language. In turn, the format means academic standards of how to organize final works, including its structure and norms. Finally, sources and their number define works as research papers because of the volume of analyzed information. Hence, these characteristics must be considered while writing research papers.

Types of Research Papers

In general, the length of assignments can be different because of instructions. For example, there are two main types of research papers, such as typical and serious works. Firstly, a typical research paper may include definitive, argumentative, interpretive, and other works. In this case, typical papers are from 2 to 10 pages, where students analyze research questions or specific topics. Then, a serious research study is the expanded version of typical works. In turn, the length of such a paper is more than 10 pages. Basically, such works cover a serious analysis with many sources. Therefore, typical and serious works are two types of research papers.

Typical Research Papers

Basically, typical research works depend on assignments, the number of sources, and the paper’s length. So, a typical research paper is usually a long essay with the analyzed evidence. For example, students in high school and colleges get such assignments to learn how to research and analyze topics. In this case, they do not need to conduct serious experiments with the analysis and calculation of data. Moreover, students must use the Internet or libraries in searching for credible secondary sources to find potential answers to specific questions. As a result, students gather information on topics and learn how to take defined sides, present unique positions, or explain new directions. Hence, typical research papers require an analysis of primary and secondary sources without serious experiments or data.

Serious Research Studies

Although long papers require a lot of time for finding and analyzing credible sources, real experiments are an integral part of research work. Firstly, scholars at universities need to analyze the information from past studies to expand or disapprove of researched topics. Then, if scholars want to prove specific positions or ideas, they must get real evidence. In this case, experiments can be surveys, calculations, or other types of data that scholars do personally. Moreover, a dissertation is a typical serious research paper that young scientists write based on the research analysis of topics, data from conducted experiments, and conclusions at the end of work. Thus, serious research papers are studies that take a lot of time, analysis of sources with gained data, and interpretation of results.

  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • 4. The Introduction
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Applying Critical Thinking
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

The introduction leads the reader from a general subject area to a particular topic of inquiry. It establishes the scope, context, and significance of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic, stating the purpose of the work in the form of the research problem supported by a hypothesis or a set of questions, explaining briefly the methodological approach used to examine the research problem, highlighting the potential outcomes your study can reveal, and outlining the remaining structure and organization of the paper.

Key Elements of the Research Proposal. Prepared under the direction of the Superintendent and by the 2010 Curriculum Design and Writing Team. Baltimore County Public Schools.

Importance of a Good Introduction

Think of the introduction as a mental road map that must answer for the reader these four questions:

  • What was I studying?
  • Why was this topic important to investigate?
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study?
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding?

According to Reyes, there are three overarching goals of a good introduction: 1) ensure that you summarize prior studies about the topic in a manner that lays a foundation for understanding the research problem; 2) explain how your study specifically addresses gaps in the literature, insufficient consideration of the topic, or other deficiency in the literature; and, 3) note the broader theoretical, empirical, and/or policy contributions and implications of your research.

A well-written introduction is important because, quite simply, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The opening paragraphs of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions about the logic of your argument, your writing style, the overall quality of your research, and, ultimately, the validity of your findings and conclusions. A vague, disorganized, or error-filled introduction will create a negative impression, whereas, a concise, engaging, and well-written introduction will lead your readers to think highly of your analytical skills, your writing style, and your research approach. All introductions should conclude with a brief paragraph that describes the organization of the rest of the paper.

Hirano, Eliana. “Research Article Introductions in English for Specific Purposes: A Comparison between Brazilian, Portuguese, and English.” English for Specific Purposes 28 (October 2009): 240-250; Samraj, B. “Introductions in Research Articles: Variations Across Disciplines.” English for Specific Purposes 21 (2002): 1–17; Introductions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; “Writing Introductions.” In Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide. Peter Redman. 4th edition. (London: Sage, 2011), pp. 63-70; Reyes, Victoria. Demystifying the Journal Article. Inside Higher Education.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Structure and Approach

The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions for the reader:

  • What is this?
  • Why should I read it?
  • What do you want me to think about / consider doing / react to?

Think of the structure of the introduction as an inverted triangle of information that lays a foundation for understanding the research problem. Organize the information so as to present the more general aspects of the topic early in the introduction, then narrow your analysis to more specific topical information that provides context, finally arriving at your research problem and the rationale for studying it [often written as a series of key questions to be addressed or framed as a hypothesis or set of assumptions to be tested] and, whenever possible, a description of the potential outcomes your study can reveal.

These are general phases associated with writing an introduction: 1.  Establish an area to research by:

  • Highlighting the importance of the topic, and/or
  • Making general statements about the topic, and/or
  • Presenting an overview on current research on the subject.

2.  Identify a research niche by:

  • Opposing an existing assumption, and/or
  • Revealing a gap in existing research, and/or
  • Formulating a research question or problem, and/or
  • Continuing a disciplinary tradition.

3.  Place your research within the research niche by:

  • Stating the intent of your study,
  • Outlining the key characteristics of your study,
  • Describing important results, and
  • Giving a brief overview of the structure of the paper.

NOTE:   It is often useful to review the introduction late in the writing process. This is appropriate because outcomes are unknown until you've completed the study. After you complete writing the body of the paper, go back and review introductory descriptions of the structure of the paper, the method of data gathering, the reporting and analysis of results, and the conclusion. Reviewing and, if necessary, rewriting the introduction ensures that it correctly matches the overall structure of your final paper.

II.  Delimitations of the Study

Delimitations refer to those characteristics that limit the scope and define the conceptual boundaries of your research . This is determined by the conscious exclusionary and inclusionary decisions you make about how to investigate the research problem. In other words, not only should you tell the reader what it is you are studying and why, but you must also acknowledge why you rejected alternative approaches that could have been used to examine the topic.

Obviously, the first limiting step was the choice of research problem itself. However, implicit are other, related problems that could have been chosen but were rejected. These should be noted in the conclusion of your introduction. For example, a delimitating statement could read, "Although many factors can be understood to impact the likelihood young people will vote, this study will focus on socioeconomic factors related to the need to work full-time while in school." The point is not to document every possible delimiting factor, but to highlight why previously researched issues related to the topic were not addressed.

Examples of delimitating choices would be:

  • The key aims and objectives of your study,
  • The research questions that you address,
  • The variables of interest [i.e., the various factors and features of the phenomenon being studied],
  • The method(s) of investigation,
  • The time period your study covers, and
  • Any relevant alternative theoretical frameworks that could have been adopted.

Review each of these decisions. Not only do you clearly establish what you intend to accomplish in your research, but you should also include a declaration of what the study does not intend to cover. In the latter case, your exclusionary decisions should be based upon criteria understood as, "not interesting"; "not directly relevant"; “too problematic because..."; "not feasible," and the like. Make this reasoning explicit!

NOTE:   Delimitations refer to the initial choices made about the broader, overall design of your study and should not be confused with documenting the limitations of your study discovered after the research has been completed.

ANOTHER NOTE : Do not view delimitating statements as admitting to an inherent failing or shortcoming in your research. They are an accepted element of academic writing intended to keep the reader focused on the research problem by explicitly defining the conceptual boundaries and scope of your study. It addresses any critical questions in the reader's mind of, "Why the hell didn't the author examine this?"

III.  The Narrative Flow

Issues to keep in mind that will help the narrative flow in your introduction :

  • Your introduction should clearly identify the subject area of interest . A simple strategy to follow is to use key words from your title in the first few sentences of the introduction. This will help focus the introduction on the topic at the appropriate level and ensures that you get to the subject matter quickly without losing focus, or discussing information that is too general.
  • Establish context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject. The key is to summarize for the reader what is known about the specific research problem before you did your analysis. This part of your introduction should not represent a comprehensive literature review--that comes next. It consists of a general review of the important, foundational research literature [with citations] that establishes a foundation for understanding key elements of the research problem. See the drop-down menu under this tab for " Background Information " regarding types of contexts.
  • Clearly state the hypothesis that you investigated . When you are first learning to write in this format it is okay, and actually preferable, to use a past statement like, "The purpose of this study was to...." or "We investigated three possible mechanisms to explain the...."
  • Why did you choose this kind of research study or design? Provide a clear statement of the rationale for your approach to the problem studied. This will usually follow your statement of purpose in the last paragraph of the introduction.

IV.  Engaging the Reader

A research problem in the social sciences can come across as dry and uninteresting to anyone unfamiliar with the topic . Therefore, one of the goals of your introduction is to make readers want to read your paper. Here are several strategies you can use to grab the reader's attention:

  • Open with a compelling story . Almost all research problems in the social sciences, no matter how obscure or esoteric , are really about the lives of people. Telling a story that humanizes an issue can help illuminate the significance of the problem and help the reader empathize with those affected by the condition being studied.
  • Include a strong quotation or a vivid, perhaps unexpected, anecdote . During your review of the literature, make note of any quotes or anecdotes that grab your attention because they can used in your introduction to highlight the research problem in a captivating way.
  • Pose a provocative or thought-provoking question . Your research problem should be framed by a set of questions to be addressed or hypotheses to be tested. However, a provocative question can be presented in the beginning of your introduction that challenges an existing assumption or compels the reader to consider an alternative viewpoint that helps establish the significance of your study. 
  • Describe a puzzling scenario or incongruity . This involves highlighting an interesting quandary concerning the research problem or describing contradictory findings from prior studies about a topic. Posing what is essentially an unresolved intellectual riddle about the problem can engage the reader's interest in the study.
  • Cite a stirring example or case study that illustrates why the research problem is important . Draw upon the findings of others to demonstrate the significance of the problem and to describe how your study builds upon or offers alternatives ways of investigating this prior research.

NOTE:   It is important that you choose only one of the suggested strategies for engaging your readers. This avoids giving an impression that your paper is more flash than substance and does not distract from the substance of your study.

Freedman, Leora  and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Introduction. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Introductions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Introductions. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; “Writing Introductions.” In Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide . Peter Redman. 4th edition. (London: Sage, 2011), pp. 63-70; Resources for Writers: Introduction Strategies. Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sharpling, Gerald. Writing an Introduction. Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick; Samraj, B. “Introductions in Research Articles: Variations Across Disciplines.” English for Specific Purposes 21 (2002): 1–17; Swales, John and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Skills and Tasks . 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2004 ; Writing Your Introduction. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University.

Writing Tip

Avoid the "Dictionary" Introduction

Giving the dictionary definition of words related to the research problem may appear appropriate because it is important to define specific terminology that readers may be unfamiliar with. However, anyone can look a word up in the dictionary and a general dictionary is not a particularly authoritative source because it doesn't take into account the context of your topic and doesn't offer particularly detailed information. Also, placed in the context of a particular discipline, a term or concept may have a different meaning than what is found in a general dictionary. If you feel that you must seek out an authoritative definition, use a subject specific dictionary or encyclopedia [e.g., if you are a sociology student, search for dictionaries of sociology]. A good database for obtaining definitive definitions of concepts or terms is Credo Reference .

Saba, Robert. The College Research Paper. Florida International University; Introductions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.

Another Writing Tip

When Do I Begin?

A common question asked at the start of any paper is, "Where should I begin?" An equally important question to ask yourself is, "When do I begin?" Research problems in the social sciences rarely rest in isolation from history. Therefore, it is important to lay a foundation for understanding the historical context underpinning the research problem. However, this information should be brief and succinct and begin at a point in time that illustrates the study's overall importance. For example, a study that investigates coffee cultivation and export in West Africa as a key stimulus for local economic growth needs to describe the beginning of exporting coffee in the region and establishing why economic growth is important. You do not need to give a long historical explanation about coffee exports in Africa. If a research problem requires a substantial exploration of the historical context, do this in the literature review section. In your introduction, make note of this as part of the "roadmap" [see below] that you use to describe the organization of your paper.

Introductions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; “Writing Introductions.” In Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide . Peter Redman. 4th edition. (London: Sage, 2011), pp. 63-70.

Yet Another Writing Tip

Always End with a Roadmap

The final paragraph or sentences of your introduction should forecast your main arguments and conclusions and provide a brief description of the rest of the paper [the "roadmap"] that let's the reader know where you are going and what to expect. A roadmap is important because it helps the reader place the research problem within the context of their own perspectives about the topic. In addition, concluding your introduction with an explicit roadmap tells the reader that you have a clear understanding of the structural purpose of your paper. In this way, the roadmap acts as a type of promise to yourself and to your readers that you will follow a consistent and coherent approach to addressing the topic of inquiry. Refer to it often to help keep your writing focused and organized.

Cassuto, Leonard. “On the Dissertation: How to Write the Introduction.” The Chronicle of Higher Education , May 28, 2018; Radich, Michael. A Student's Guide to Writing in East Asian Studies . (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Writing n. d.), pp. 35-37.

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Home » Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

Table of Contents

Research Paper Formats

Research paper format is an essential aspect of academic writing that plays a crucial role in the communication of research findings . The format of a research paper depends on various factors such as the discipline, style guide, and purpose of the research. It includes guidelines for the structure, citation style, referencing , and other elements of the paper that contribute to its overall presentation and coherence. Adhering to the appropriate research paper format is vital for ensuring that the research is accurately and effectively communicated to the intended audience. In this era of information, it is essential to understand the different research paper formats and their guidelines to communicate research effectively, accurately, and with the required level of detail. This post aims to provide an overview of some of the common research paper formats used in academic writing.

Research Paper Formats

Research Paper Formats are as follows:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) format
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) format
  • Chicago/Turabian style
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) format
  • AMA (American Medical Association) style
  • Harvard style
  • Vancouver style
  • ACS (American Chemical Society) style
  • ASA (American Sociological Association) style
  • APSA (American Political Science Association) style

APA (American Psychological Association) Format

Here is a general APA format for a research paper:

  • Title Page: The title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation. It should also include a running head, which is a shortened version of the title, and a page number in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Abstract : The abstract is a brief summary of your paper, typically 150-250 words. It should include the purpose of your research, the main findings, and any implications or conclusions that can be drawn.
  • Introduction: The introduction should provide background information on your topic, state the purpose of your research, and present your research question or hypothesis. It should also include a brief literature review that discusses previous research on your topic.
  • Methods: The methods section should describe the procedures you used to collect and analyze your data. It should include information on the participants, the materials and instruments used, and the statistical analyses performed.
  • Results: The results section should present the findings of your research in a clear and concise manner. Use tables and figures to help illustrate your results.
  • Discussion : The discussion section should interpret your results and relate them back to your research question or hypothesis. It should also discuss the implications of your findings and any limitations of your study.
  • References : The references section should include a list of all sources cited in your paper. Follow APA formatting guidelines for your citations and references.

Some additional tips for formatting your APA research paper:

  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font throughout the paper.
  • Double-space all text, including the references.
  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches.
  • Use a hanging indent for the references (the first line should be flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines should be indented).
  • Number all pages, including the title page and references page, in the upper right-hand corner.

APA Research Paper Format Template

APA Research Paper Format Template is as follows:

Title Page:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • A brief summary of the main points of the paper, including the research question, methods, findings, and conclusions. The abstract should be no more than 250 words.

Introduction:

  • Background information on the topic of the research paper
  • Research question or hypothesis
  • Significance of the study
  • Overview of the research methods and design
  • Brief summary of the main findings
  • Participants: description of the sample population, including the number of participants and their characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)
  • Materials: description of any materials used in the study (e.g., survey questions, experimental apparatus)
  • Procedure: detailed description of the steps taken to conduct the study
  • Presentation of the findings of the study, including statistical analyses if applicable
  • Tables and figures may be included to illustrate the results

Discussion:

  • Interpretation of the results in light of the research question and hypothesis
  • Implications of the study for the field
  • Limitations of the study
  • Suggestions for future research

References:

  • A list of all sources cited in the paper, in APA format

Formatting guidelines:

  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point font (Times New Roman or Arial)
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Page numbers in the top right corner
  • Headings and subheadings should be used to organize the paper
  • The first line of each paragraph should be indented
  • Quotations of 40 or more words should be set off in a block quote with no quotation marks
  • In-text citations should include the author’s last name and year of publication (e.g., Smith, 2019)

APA Research Paper Format Example

APA Research Paper Format Example is as follows:

The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

University of XYZ

This study examines the relationship between social media use and mental health among college students. Data was collected through a survey of 500 students at the University of XYZ. Results suggest that social media use is significantly related to symptoms of depression and anxiety, and that the negative effects of social media are greater among frequent users.

Social media has become an increasingly important aspect of modern life, especially among young adults. While social media can have many positive effects, such as connecting people across distances and sharing information, there is growing concern about its impact on mental health. This study aims to examine the relationship between social media use and mental health among college students.

Participants: Participants were 500 college students at the University of XYZ, recruited through online advertisements and flyers posted on campus. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 25, with a mean age of 20.5 years. The sample was 60% female, 40% male, and 5% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming.

Data was collected through an online survey administered through Qualtrics. The survey consisted of several measures, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression symptoms, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) for anxiety symptoms, and questions about social media use.

Procedure :

Participants were asked to complete the online survey at their convenience. The survey took approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlations, and multiple regression analysis.

Results indicated that social media use was significantly related to symptoms of depression (r = .32, p < .001) and anxiety (r = .29, p < .001). Regression analysis indicated that frequency of social media use was a significant predictor of both depression symptoms (β = .24, p < .001) and anxiety symptoms (β = .20, p < .001), even when controlling for age, gender, and other relevant factors.

The results of this study suggest that social media use is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety among college students. The negative effects of social media are greater among frequent users. These findings have important implications for mental health professionals and educators, who should consider addressing the potential negative effects of social media use in their work with young adults.

References :

References should be listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. For example:

  • Chou, H. T. G., & Edge, N. (2012). “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: The impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(2), 117-121.
  • Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.

Note: This is just a sample Example do not use this in your assignment.

MLA (Modern Language Association) Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) Format is as follows:

  • Page Layout : Use 8.5 x 11-inch white paper, with 1-inch margins on all sides. The font should be 12-point Times New Roman or a similar serif font.
  • Heading and Title : The first page of your research paper should include a heading and a title. The heading should include your name, your instructor’s name, the course title, and the date. The title should be centered and in title case (capitalizing the first letter of each important word).
  • In-Text Citations : Use parenthetical citations to indicate the source of your information. The citation should include the author’s last name and the page number(s) of the source. For example: (Smith 23).
  • Works Cited Page : At the end of your paper, include a Works Cited page that lists all the sources you used in your research. Each entry should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publication information, and the medium of publication.
  • Formatting Quotations : Use double quotation marks for short quotations and block quotations for longer quotations. Indent the entire quotation five spaces from the left margin.
  • Formatting the Body : Use a clear and readable font and double-space your text throughout. The first line of each paragraph should be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

MLA Research Paper Template

MLA Research Paper Format Template is as follows:

  • Use 8.5 x 11 inch white paper.
  • Use a 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper, including the title page and works cited page.
  • Set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Use page numbers in the upper right corner, beginning with the first page of text.
  • Include a centered title for the research paper, using title case (capitalizing the first letter of each important word).
  • Include your name, instructor’s name, course name, and date in the upper left corner, double-spaced.

In-Text Citations

  • When quoting or paraphrasing information from sources, include an in-text citation within the text of your paper.
  • Use the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence, before the punctuation mark.
  • If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence, only include the page number in parentheses.

Works Cited Page

  • List all sources cited in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.
  • Each entry should include the author’s name, title of the work, publication information, and medium of publication.
  • Use italics for book and journal titles, and quotation marks for article and chapter titles.
  • For online sources, include the date of access and the URL.

Here is an example of how the first page of a research paper in MLA format should look:

Headings and Subheadings

  • Use headings and subheadings to organize your paper and make it easier to read.
  • Use numerals to number your headings and subheadings (e.g. 1, 2, 3), and capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • The main heading should be centered and in boldface type, while subheadings should be left-aligned and in italics.
  • Use only one space after each period or punctuation mark.
  • Use quotation marks to indicate direct quotes from a source.
  • If the quote is more than four lines, format it as a block quote, indented one inch from the left margin and without quotation marks.
  • Use ellipses (…) to indicate omitted words from a quote, and brackets ([…]) to indicate added words.

Works Cited Examples

  • Book: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Year.
  • Journal Article: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, volume number, issue number, publication date, page numbers.
  • Website: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Webpage.” Title of Website, publication date, URL. Accessed date.

Here is an example of how a works cited entry for a book should look:

Smith, John. The Art of Writing Research Papers. Penguin, 2021.

MLA Research Paper Example

MLA Research Paper Format Example is as follows:

Your Professor’s Name

Course Name and Number

Date (in Day Month Year format)

Word Count (not including title page or Works Cited)

Title: The Impact of Video Games on Aggression Levels

Video games have become a popular form of entertainment among people of all ages. However, the impact of video games on aggression levels has been a subject of debate among scholars and researchers. While some argue that video games promote aggression and violent behavior, others argue that there is no clear link between video games and aggression levels. This research paper aims to explore the impact of video games on aggression levels among young adults.

Background:

The debate on the impact of video games on aggression levels has been ongoing for several years. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure to violent media, including video games, can increase aggression levels in children and adolescents. However, some researchers argue that there is no clear evidence to support this claim. Several studies have been conducted to examine the impact of video games on aggression levels, but the results have been mixed.

Methodology:

This research paper used a quantitative research approach to examine the impact of video games on aggression levels among young adults. A sample of 100 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 was selected for the study. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that measured their aggression levels and their video game habits.

The results of the study showed that there was a significant correlation between video game habits and aggression levels among young adults. The participants who reported playing violent video games for more than 5 hours per week had higher aggression levels than those who played less than 5 hours per week. The study also found that male participants were more likely to play violent video games and had higher aggression levels than female participants.

The findings of this study support the claim that video games can increase aggression levels among young adults. However, it is important to note that the study only examined the impact of video games on aggression levels and did not take into account other factors that may contribute to aggressive behavior. It is also important to note that not all video games promote violence and aggression, and some games may have a positive impact on cognitive and social skills.

Conclusion :

In conclusion, this research paper provides evidence to support the claim that video games can increase aggression levels among young adults. However, it is important to conduct further research to examine the impact of video games on other aspects of behavior and to explore the potential benefits of video games. Parents and educators should be aware of the potential impact of video games on aggression levels and should encourage young adults to engage in a variety of activities that promote cognitive and social skills.

Works Cited:

  • American Psychological Association. (2017). Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/violent-video-games
  • Ferguson, C. J. (2015). Do Angry Birds make for angry children? A meta-analysis of video game influences on children’s and adolescents’ aggression, mental health, prosocial behavior, and academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646-666.
  • Gentile, D. A., Swing, E. L., Lim, C. G., & Khoo, A. (2012). Video game playing, attention problems, and impulsiveness: Evidence of bidirectional causality. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 1(1), 62-70.
  • Greitemeyer, T. (2014). Effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(4), 530-548.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chicago/Turabian Formate is as follows:

  • Margins : Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the paper.
  • Font : Use a readable font such as Times New Roman or Arial, and use a 12-point font size.
  • Page numbering : Number all pages in the upper right-hand corner, beginning with the first page of text. Use Arabic numerals.
  • Title page: Include a title page with the title of the paper, your name, course title and number, instructor’s name, and the date. The title should be centered on the page and in title case (capitalize the first letter of each word).
  • Headings: Use headings to organize your paper. The first level of headings should be centered and in boldface or italics. The second level of headings should be left-aligned and in boldface or italics. Use as many levels of headings as necessary to organize your paper.
  • In-text citations : Use footnotes or endnotes to cite sources within the text of your paper. The first citation for each source should be a full citation, and subsequent citations can be shortened. Use superscript numbers to indicate footnotes or endnotes.
  • Bibliography : Include a bibliography at the end of your paper, listing all sources cited in your paper. The bibliography should be in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, and each entry should include the author’s name, title of the work, publication information, and date of publication.
  • Formatting of quotations: Use block quotations for quotations that are longer than four lines. Indent the entire quotation one inch from the left margin, and do not use quotation marks. Single-space the quotation, and double-space between paragraphs.
  • Tables and figures: Use tables and figures to present data and illustrations. Number each table and figure sequentially, and provide a brief title for each. Place tables and figures as close as possible to the text that refers to them.
  • Spelling and grammar : Use correct spelling and grammar throughout your paper. Proofread carefully for errors.

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Template

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Template is as folows:

Title of Paper

Name of Student

Professor’s Name

I. Introduction

A. Background Information

B. Research Question

C. Thesis Statement

II. Literature Review

A. Overview of Existing Literature

B. Analysis of Key Literature

C. Identification of Gaps in Literature

III. Methodology

A. Research Design

B. Data Collection

C. Data Analysis

IV. Results

A. Presentation of Findings

B. Analysis of Findings

C. Discussion of Implications

V. Conclusion

A. Summary of Findings

B. Implications for Future Research

C. Conclusion

VI. References

A. Bibliography

B. In-Text Citations

VII. Appendices (if necessary)

A. Data Tables

C. Additional Supporting Materials

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Example

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Political Engagement

Name: John Smith

Class: POLS 101

Professor: Dr. Jane Doe

Date: April 8, 2023

I. Introduction:

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. People use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with friends and family, share their opinions, and stay informed about current events. With the rise of social media, there has been a growing interest in understanding its impact on various aspects of society, including political engagement. In this paper, I will examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement, specifically focusing on how social media influences political participation and political attitudes.

II. Literature Review:

There is a growing body of literature on the impact of social media on political engagement. Some scholars argue that social media has a positive effect on political participation by providing new channels for political communication and mobilization (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996; Putnam, 2000). Others, however, suggest that social media can have a negative impact on political engagement by creating filter bubbles that reinforce existing beliefs and discourage political dialogue (Pariser, 2011; Sunstein, 2001).

III. Methodology:

To examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement, I conducted a survey of 500 college students. The survey included questions about social media use, political participation, and political attitudes. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Iv. Results:

The results of the survey indicate that social media use is positively associated with political participation. Specifically, respondents who reported using social media to discuss politics were more likely to have participated in a political campaign, attended a political rally, or contacted a political representative. Additionally, social media use was found to be associated with more positive attitudes towards political engagement, such as increased trust in government and belief in the effectiveness of political action.

V. Conclusion:

The findings of this study suggest that social media has a positive impact on political engagement, by providing new opportunities for political communication and mobilization. However, there is also a need for caution, as social media can also create filter bubbles that reinforce existing beliefs and discourage political dialogue. Future research should continue to explore the complex relationship between social media and political engagement, and develop strategies to harness the potential benefits of social media while mitigating its potential negative effects.

Vii. References:

  • Delli Carpini, M. X., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. Yale University Press.
  • Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin.
  • Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon & Schuster.
  • Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Republic.com. Princeton University Press.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Format

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Research Paper Format is as follows:

  • Title : A concise and informative title that accurately reflects the content of the paper.
  • Abstract : A brief summary of the paper, typically no more than 250 words, that includes the purpose of the study, the methods used, the key findings, and the main conclusions.
  • Introduction : An overview of the background, context, and motivation for the research, including a clear statement of the problem being addressed and the objectives of the study.
  • Literature review: A critical analysis of the relevant research and scholarship on the topic, including a discussion of any gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Methodology : A detailed description of the methods used to collect and analyze data, including any experiments or simulations, data collection instruments or procedures, and statistical analyses.
  • Results : A clear and concise presentation of the findings, including any relevant tables, graphs, or figures.
  • Discussion : A detailed interpretation of the results, including a comparison of the findings with previous research, a discussion of the implications of the results, and any recommendations for future research.
  • Conclusion : A summary of the key findings and main conclusions of the study.
  • References : A list of all sources cited in the paper, formatted according to IEEE guidelines.

In addition to these elements, an IEEE research paper should also follow certain formatting guidelines, including using 12-point font, double-spaced text, and numbered headings and subheadings. Additionally, any tables, figures, or equations should be clearly labeled and referenced in the text.

AMA (American Medical Association) Style

AMA (American Medical Association) Style Research Paper Format:

  • Title Page: This page includes the title of the paper, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and any acknowledgments or disclaimers.
  • Abstract: The abstract is a brief summary of the paper that outlines the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of the study. It is typically limited to 250 words or less.
  • Introduction: The introduction provides a background of the research problem, defines the research question, and outlines the objectives and hypotheses of the study.
  • Methods: The methods section describes the research design, participants, procedures, and instruments used to collect and analyze data.
  • Results: The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and concise manner, using graphs, tables, and charts where appropriate.
  • Discussion: The discussion section interprets the results, explains their significance, and relates them to previous research in the field.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion summarizes the main points of the paper, discusses the implications of the findings, and suggests future research directions.
  • References: The reference list includes all sources cited in the paper, listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

In addition to these sections, the AMA format requires that authors follow specific guidelines for citing sources in the text and formatting their references. The AMA style uses a superscript number system for in-text citations and provides specific formats for different types of sources, such as books, journal articles, and websites.

Harvard Style

Harvard Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title page: This should include the title of your paper, your name, the name of your institution, and the date of submission.
  • Abstract : This is a brief summary of your paper, usually no more than 250 words. It should outline the main points of your research and highlight your findings.
  • Introduction : This section should introduce your research topic, provide background information, and outline your research question or thesis statement.
  • Literature review: This section should review the relevant literature on your topic, including previous research studies, academic articles, and other sources.
  • Methodology : This section should describe the methods you used to conduct your research, including any data collection methods, research instruments, and sampling techniques.
  • Results : This section should present your findings in a clear and concise manner, using tables, graphs, and other visual aids if necessary.
  • Discussion : This section should interpret your findings and relate them to the broader research question or thesis statement. You should also discuss the implications of your research and suggest areas for future study.
  • Conclusion : This section should summarize your main findings and provide a final statement on the significance of your research.
  • References : This is a list of all the sources you cited in your paper, presented in alphabetical order by author name. Each citation should include the author’s name, the title of the source, the publication date, and other relevant information.

In addition to these sections, a Harvard Style research paper may also include a table of contents, appendices, and other supplementary materials as needed. It is important to follow the specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or academic institution when preparing your research paper in Harvard Style.

Vancouver Style

Vancouver Style Research Paper format is as follows:

The Vancouver citation style is commonly used in the biomedical sciences and is known for its use of numbered references. Here is a basic format for a research paper using the Vancouver citation style:

  • Title page: Include the title of your paper, your name, the name of your institution, and the date.
  • Abstract : This is a brief summary of your research paper, usually no more than 250 words.
  • Introduction : Provide some background information on your topic and state the purpose of your research.
  • Methods : Describe the methods you used to conduct your research, including the study design, data collection, and statistical analysis.
  • Results : Present your findings in a clear and concise manner, using tables and figures as needed.
  • Discussion : Interpret your results and explain their significance. Also, discuss any limitations of your study and suggest directions for future research.
  • References : List all of the sources you cited in your paper in numerical order. Each reference should include the author’s name, the title of the article or book, the name of the journal or publisher, the year of publication, and the page numbers.

ACS (American Chemical Society) Style

ACS (American Chemical Society) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Style is a citation style commonly used in chemistry and related fields. When formatting a research paper in ACS Style, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Paper Size and Margins : Use standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper with 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Font: Use a 12-point serif font (such as Times New Roman) for the main text. The title should be in bold and a larger font size.
  • Title Page : The title page should include the title of the paper, the authors’ names and affiliations, and the date of submission. The title should be centered on the page and written in bold font. The authors’ names should be centered below the title, followed by their affiliations and the date.
  • Abstract : The abstract should be a brief summary of the paper, no more than 250 words. It should be on a separate page and include the title of the paper, the authors’ names and affiliations, and the text of the abstract.
  • Main Text : The main text should be organized into sections with headings that clearly indicate the content of each section. The introduction should provide background information and state the research question or hypothesis. The methods section should describe the procedures used in the study. The results section should present the findings of the study, and the discussion section should interpret the results and provide conclusions.
  • References: Use the ACS Style guide to format the references cited in the paper. In-text citations should be numbered sequentially throughout the text and listed in numerical order at the end of the paper.
  • Figures and Tables: Figures and tables should be numbered sequentially and referenced in the text. Each should have a descriptive caption that explains its content. Figures should be submitted in a high-quality electronic format.
  • Supporting Information: Additional information such as data, graphs, and videos may be included as supporting information. This should be included in a separate file and referenced in the main text.
  • Acknowledgments : Acknowledge any funding sources or individuals who contributed to the research.

ASA (American Sociological Association) Style

ASA (American Sociological Association) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title Page: The title page of an ASA style research paper should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, and the institutional affiliation. The title should be centered and should be in title case (the first letter of each major word should be capitalized).
  • Abstract: An abstract is a brief summary of the paper that should appear on a separate page immediately following the title page. The abstract should be no more than 200 words in length and should summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Main Body: The main body of the paper should begin on a new page following the abstract page. The paper should be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides, and should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font. The main body of the paper should include an introduction, a literature review, a methodology section, results, and a discussion.
  • References : The reference section should appear on a separate page at the end of the paper. All sources cited in the paper should be listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Each reference should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publication information, and the date of publication.
  • Appendices : Appendices are optional and should only be included if they contain information that is relevant to the study but too lengthy to be included in the main body of the paper. If you include appendices, each one should be labeled with a letter (e.g., Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.) and should be referenced in the main body of the paper.

APSA (American Political Science Association) Style

APSA (American Political Science Association) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title Page: The title page should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, the name of the course or instructor, and the date.
  • Abstract : An abstract is typically not required in APSA style papers, but if one is included, it should be brief and summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Introduction : The introduction should provide an overview of the research topic, the research question, and the main argument or thesis of the paper.
  • Literature Review : The literature review should summarize the existing research on the topic and provide a context for the research question.
  • Methods : The methods section should describe the research methods used in the paper, including data collection and analysis.
  • Results : The results section should present the findings of the research.
  • Discussion : The discussion section should interpret the results and connect them back to the research question and argument.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion should summarize the main findings and implications of the research.
  • References : The reference list should include all sources cited in the paper, formatted according to APSA style guidelines.

In-text citations in APSA style use parenthetical citation, which includes the author’s last name, publication year, and page number(s) if applicable. For example, (Smith 2010, 25).

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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.

Introduction

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).

Downloadable Resources

  • 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 ]

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

  • 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.  

External Resources

  • 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.

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  • 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

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Getting started with your research paper outline

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Levels of organization for a research paper outline

First level of organization, second level of organization, third level of organization, fourth level of organization, tips for writing a research paper outline, research paper outline template, my research paper outline is complete: what are the next steps, frequently asked questions about a research paper outline, related articles.

The outline is the skeleton of your research paper. Simply start by writing down your thesis and the main ideas you wish to present. This will likely change as your research progresses; therefore, do not worry about being too specific in the early stages of writing your outline.

A research paper outline typically contains between two and four layers of organization. The first two layers are the most generalized. Each layer thereafter will contain the research you complete and presents more and more detailed information.

The levels are typically represented by a combination of Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, uppercase letters, lowercase letters but may include other symbols. Refer to the guidelines provided by your institution, as formatting is not universal and differs between universities, fields, and subjects. If you are writing the outline for yourself, you may choose any combination you prefer.

This is the most generalized level of information. Begin by numbering the introduction, each idea you will present, and the conclusion. The main ideas contain the bulk of your research paper 's information. Depending on your research, it may be chapters of a book for a literature review , a series of dates for a historical research paper, or the methods and results of a scientific paper.

I. Introduction

II. Main idea

III. Main idea

IV. Main idea

V. Conclusion

The second level consists of topics which support the introduction, main ideas, and the conclusion. Each main idea should have at least two supporting topics listed in the outline.

If your main idea does not have enough support, you should consider presenting another main idea in its place. This is where you should stop outlining if this is your first draft. Continue your research before adding to the next levels of organization.

  • A. Background information
  • B. Hypothesis or thesis
  • A. Supporting topic
  • B. Supporting topic

The third level of organization contains supporting information for the topics previously listed. By now, you should have completed enough research to add support for your ideas.

The Introduction and Main Ideas may contain information you discovered about the author, timeframe, or contents of a book for a literature review; the historical events leading up to the research topic for a historical research paper, or an explanation of the problem a scientific research paper intends to address.

  • 1. Relevant history
  • 2. Relevant history
  • 1. The hypothesis or thesis clearly stated
  • 1. A brief description of supporting information
  • 2. A brief description of supporting information

The fourth level of organization contains the most detailed information such as quotes, references, observations, or specific data needed to support the main idea. It is not typical to have further levels of organization because the information contained here is the most specific.

  • a) Quotes or references to another piece of literature
  • b) Quotes or references to another piece of literature

Tip: The key to creating a useful outline is to be consistent in your headings, organization, and levels of specificity.

  • Be Consistent : ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organize Information : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Build Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

By now, you should know the basic requirements to create an outline for your paper. With a content framework in place, you can now start writing your paper . To help you start right away, you can use one of our templates and adjust it to suit your needs.

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After completing your outline, you should:

  • Title your research paper . This is an iterative process and may change when you delve deeper into the topic.
  • Begin writing your research paper draft . Continue researching to further build your outline and provide more information to support your hypothesis or thesis.
  • Format your draft appropriately . MLA 8 and APA 7 formats have differences between their bibliography page, in-text citations, line spacing, and title.
  • Finalize your citations and bibliography . Use a reference manager like Paperpile to organize and cite your research.
  • Write the abstract, if required . An abstract will briefly state the information contained within the paper, results of the research, and the conclusion.

An outline is used to organize written ideas about a topic into a logical order. Outlines help us organize major topics, subtopics, and supporting details. Researchers benefit greatly from outlines while writing by addressing which topic to cover in what order.

The most basic outline format consists of: an introduction, a minimum of three topic paragraphs, and a conclusion.

You should make an outline before starting to write your research paper. This will help you organize the main ideas and arguments you want to present in your topic.

  • Consistency: ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organization : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

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How to Write a Research Paper: Parts of the Paper

  • Choosing Your Topic
  • Citation & Style Guides This link opens in a new window
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating Information
  • Parts of the Paper
  • Writing Tips from UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Librarian Contact

Parts of the Research Paper Papers should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your introductory paragraph should grab the reader's attention, state your main idea, and indicate how you will support it. The body of the paper should expand on what you have stated in the introduction. Finally, the conclusion restates the paper's thesis and should explain what you have learned, giving a wrap up of your main ideas.

1. The Title The title should be specific and indicate the theme of the research and what ideas it addresses. Use keywords that help explain your paper's topic to the reader. Try to avoid abbreviations and jargon. Think about keywords that people would use to search for your paper and include them in your title.

2. The Abstract The abstract is used by readers to get a quick overview of your paper. Typically, they are about 200 words in length (120 words minimum to  250 words maximum). The abstract should introduce the topic and thesis, and should provide a general statement about what you have found in your research. The abstract allows you to mention each major aspect of your topic and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Because it is a summary of the entire research paper, it is often written last. 

3. The Introduction The introduction should be designed to attract the reader's attention and explain the focus of the research. You will introduce your overview of the topic,  your main points of information, and why this subject is important. You can introduce the current understanding and background information about the topic. Toward the end of the introduction, you add your thesis statement, and explain how you will provide information to support your research questions. This provides the purpose and focus for the rest of the paper.

4. Thesis Statement Most papers will have a thesis statement or main idea and supporting facts/ideas/arguments. State your main idea (something of interest or something to be proven or argued for or against) as your thesis statement, and then provide your supporting facts and arguments. A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. It also points toward the paper's development. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.

Students often learn to write a thesis as a first step in the writing process, but often, after research, a writer's viewpoint may change. Therefore a thesis statement may be one of the final steps in writing. 

Examples of Thesis Statements from Purdue OWL

5. The Literature Review The purpose of the literature review is to describe past important research and how it specifically relates to the research thesis. It should be a synthesis of the previous literature and the new idea being researched. The review should examine the major theories related to the topic to date and their contributors. It should include all relevant findings from credible sources, such as academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles. You will want  to:

  • Explain how the literature helps the researcher understand the topic.
  • Try to show connections and any disparities between the literature.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.

More about writing a literature review. . .

6. The Discussion ​The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe what you have learned from your research. Make the reader understand why your topic is important. The discussion should always demonstrate what you have learned from your readings (and viewings) and how that learning has made the topic evolve, especially from the short description of main points in the introduction.Explain any new understanding or insights you have had after reading your articles and/or books. Paragraphs should use transitioning sentences to develop how one paragraph idea leads to the next. The discussion will always connect to the introduction, your thesis statement, and the literature you reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange the introduction. You want to: 

  • Demonstrate critical thinking, not just reporting back facts that you gathered.
  • If possible, tell how the topic has evolved over the past and give it's implications for the future.
  • Fully explain your main ideas with supporting information.
  • Explain why your thesis is correct giving arguments to counter points.

7. The Conclusion A concluding paragraph is a brief summary of your main ideas and restates the paper's main thesis, giving the reader the sense that the stated goal of the paper has been accomplished. What have you learned by doing this research that you didn't know before? What conclusions have you drawn? You may also want to suggest further areas of study, improvement of research possibilities, etc. to demonstrate your critical thinking regarding your research.

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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Confusion to Clarity: Definition of Terms in a Research Paper

Explore the definition of terms in research paper to enhance your understanding of crucial scientific terminology and grow your knowledge.

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Have you ever come across a research paper and found yourself scratching your head over complex synonyms and unfamiliar terms? It’s a hassle as you have to fetch a dictionary and then ruffle through it to find the meaning of the terms.

To avoid that, an exclusive section called ‘ Definition of Terms in a Research Paper ’ is introduced which contains the definitions of terms used in the paper. Let us learn more about it in this article.

What Is The “Definition Of Terms” In A Research Paper?

The definition of terms section in a research paper provides a clear and concise explanation of key concepts, variables, and terminology used throughout the study. 

In the definition of terms section, researchers typically provide precise definitions for specific technical terms, acronyms, jargon, and any other domain-specific vocabulary used in their work. This section enhances the overall quality and rigor of the research by establishing a solid foundation for communication and understanding.

Purpose Of Definition Of Terms In A Research Paper

This section aims to ensure that readers have a common understanding of the terminology employed in the research, eliminating confusion and promoting clarity. The definitions provided serve as a reference point for readers, enabling them to comprehend the context and scope of the study. It serves several important purposes:

  • Enhancing clarity
  • Establishing a shared language
  • Providing a reference point
  • Setting the scope and context
  • Ensuring consistency

Benefits Of Having A Definition Of Terms In A Research Paper

Having a definition of terms section in a research paper offers several benefits that contribute to the overall quality and effectiveness of the study. These benefits include:

Clarity And Comprehension

Clear definitions enable readers to understand the specific meanings of key terms, concepts, and variables used in the research. This promotes clarity and enhances comprehension, ensuring that readers can follow the study’s arguments, methods, and findings more easily.

Consistency And Precision

Definitions provide a consistent framework for the use of terminology throughout the research paper. By clearly defining terms, researchers establish a standard vocabulary, reducing ambiguity and potential misunderstandings. This precision enhances the accuracy and reliability of the study’s findings.

Common Understanding

The definition of terms section helps establish a shared understanding among readers, including those from different disciplines or with varying levels of familiarity with the subject matter. It ensures that readers approach the research with a common knowledge base, facilitating effective communication and interpretation of the results.

Avoiding Misinterpretation

Without clear definitions, readers may interpret terms and concepts differently, leading to misinterpretation of the research findings. By providing explicit definitions, researchers minimize the risk of misunderstandings and ensure that readers grasp the intended meaning of the terminology used in the study.

Accessibility For Diverse Audiences

Research papers are often read by a wide range of individuals, including researchers, students, policymakers, and professionals. Having a definition of terms in a research paper helps the diverse audience understand the concepts better and make appropriate decisions. 

Types Of Definitions

There are several types of definitions that researchers can employ in a research paper, depending on the context and nature of the study. Here are some common types of definitions:

Lexical Definitions

Lexical definitions provide the dictionary or commonly accepted meaning of a term. They offer a concise and widely recognized explanation of a word or concept. Lexical definitions are useful for establishing a baseline understanding of a term, especially when dealing with everyday language or non-technical terms.

Operational Definitions

Operational definitions define a term or concept about how it is measured or observed in the study. These definitions specify the procedures, instruments, or criteria used to operationalize an abstract or theoretical concept. Operational definitions help ensure clarity and consistency in data collection and measurement.

Conceptual Definitions

Conceptual definitions provide an abstract or theoretical understanding of a term or concept within a specific research context. They often involve a more detailed and nuanced explanation, exploring the underlying principles, theories, or models that inform the concept. Conceptual definitions are useful for establishing a theoretical framework and promoting deeper understanding.

Descriptive Definitions

Descriptive definitions describe a term or concept by providing characteristics, features, or attributes associated with it. These definitions focus on outlining the essential qualities or elements that define the term. Descriptive definitions help readers grasp the nature and scope of a concept by painting a detailed picture.

Theoretical Definitions

Theoretical definitions explain a term or concept based on established theories or conceptual frameworks. They situate the concept within a broader theoretical context, connecting it to relevant literature and existing knowledge. Theoretical definitions help researchers establish the theoretical underpinnings of their study and provide a foundation for further analysis.

Also read: Understanding What is Theoretical Framework

Types Of Terms

In research papers, various types of terms can be identified based on their nature and usage. Here are some common types of terms:

A key term is a term that holds significant importance or plays a crucial role within the context of a research paper. It is a term that encapsulates a core concept, idea, or variable that is central to the study. Key terms are often essential for understanding the research objectives, methodology, findings, and conclusions.

Technical Term

Technical terms refer to specialized vocabulary or terminology used within a specific field of study. These terms are often precise and have specific meanings within their respective disciplines. Examples include “allele,” “hypothesis testing,” or “algorithm.”

Legal Terms

Legal terms are specific vocabulary used within the legal field to describe concepts, principles, and regulations. These terms have particular meanings within the legal context. Examples include “defendant,” “plaintiff,” “due process,” or “jurisdiction.”

Definitional Term

A definitional term refers to a word or phrase that requires an explicit definition to ensure clarity and understanding within a particular context. These terms may be technical, abstract, or have multiple interpretations.

Career Privacy Term

Career privacy term refers to a concept or idea related to the privacy of individuals in the context of their professional or occupational activities. It encompasses the protection of personal information, and confidential data, and the right to control the disclosure of sensitive career-related details. 

A broad term is a term that encompasses a wide range of related concepts, ideas, or objects. It has a broader scope and may encompass multiple subcategories or specific examples.

Also read: Keywords In A Research Paper: The Importance Of The Right Choice

Steps To Writing Definitions Of Terms

When writing the definition of terms section for a research paper, you can follow these steps to ensure clarity and accuracy:

Step 1: Identify Key Terms

Review your research paper and identify the key terms that require definition. These terms are typically central to your study, specific to your field or topic, or may have different interpretations.

Step 2: Conduct Research

Conduct thorough research on each key term to understand its commonly accepted definition, usage, and any variations or nuances within your specific research context. Consult authoritative sources such as academic journals, books, or reputable online resources.

Step 3: Craft Concise Definitions

Based on your research, craft concise definitions for each key term. Aim for clarity, precision, and relevance. Define the term in a manner that reflects its significance within your research and ensures reader comprehension.

Step 4: Use Your Own Words

Paraphrase the definitions in your own words to avoid plagiarism and maintain academic integrity. While you can draw inspiration from existing definitions, rephrase them to reflect your understanding and writing style. Avoid directly copying from sources.

Step 5: Provide Examples Or Explanations

Consider providing examples, explanations, or context for the defined terms to enhance reader understanding. This can help illustrate how the term is applied within your research or clarify its practical implications.

Step 6: Order And Format

Decide on the order in which you present the definitions. You can follow alphabetical order or arrange them based on their importance or relevance to your research. Use consistent formatting, such as bold or italics, to distinguish the defined terms from the rest of the text.

Step 7: Revise And Refine

Review the definitions for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Ensure that they align with your research objectives and are tailored to your specific study. Seek feedback from peers, mentors, or experts in your field to further refine and improve the definitions.

Step 8: Include Proper Citations

If you have drawn ideas or information from external sources, remember to provide proper citations for those sources. This demonstrates academic integrity and acknowledges the original authors.

Step 9: Incorporate The Section Into Your Paper

Integrate the definition of terms section into your research paper, typically as an early section following the introduction. Make sure it flows smoothly with the rest of the paper and provides a solid foundation for understanding the subsequent content.

By following these steps, you can create a well-crafted and informative definition of terms section that enhances the clarity and comprehension of your research paper.

In conclusion, the definition of terms in a research paper plays a critical role by providing clarity, establishing a common understanding, and enhancing communication among readers. The definition of terms section is an essential component that contributes to the overall quality, rigor, and effectiveness of a research paper.

Also read: Beyond The Main Text: The Value Of A Research Paper Appendix

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  • Published: 16 May 2024

The Egyptian pyramid chain was built along the now abandoned Ahramat Nile Branch

  • Eman Ghoneim   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3988-0335 1 ,
  • Timothy J. Ralph   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4956-606X 2 ,
  • Suzanne Onstine 3 ,
  • Raghda El-Behaedi 4 ,
  • Gad El-Qady 5 ,
  • Amr S. Fahil 6 ,
  • Mahfooz Hafez 5 ,
  • Magdy Atya 5 ,
  • Mohamed Ebrahim   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4068-5628 5 ,
  • Ashraf Khozym 5 &
  • Mohamed S. Fathy 6  

Communications Earth & Environment volume  5 , Article number:  233 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Archaeology
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrogeology
  • Sedimentology

The largest pyramid field in Egypt is clustered along a narrow desert strip, yet no convincing explanation as to why these pyramids are concentrated in this specific locality has been given so far. Here we use radar satellite imagery, in conjunction with geophysical data and deep soil coring, to investigate the subsurface structure and sedimentology in the Nile Valley next to these pyramids. We identify segments of a major extinct Nile branch, which we name The Ahramat Branch, running at the foothills of the Western Desert Plateau, where the majority of the pyramids lie. Many of the pyramids, dating to the Old and Middle Kingdoms, have causeways that lead to the branch and terminate with Valley Temples which may have acted as river harbors along it in the past. We suggest that The Ahramat Branch played a role in the monuments’ construction and that it was simultaneously active and used as a transportation waterway for workmen and building materials to the pyramids’ sites.

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Introduction.

The landscape of the northern Nile Valley in Egypt, between Lisht in the south and the Giza Plateau in the north, was subject to a number of environmental and hydrological changes during the past few millennia 1 , 2 . In the Early Holocene (~12,000 years before present), the Sahara of North Africa transformed from a hyper-arid desert to a savannah-like environment, with large river systems and lake basins 3 , 4 due to an increase in global sea level at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The wet conditions of the Sahara provided a suitable habitat for people and wildlife, unlike in the Nile Valley, which was virtually inhospitable to humans because of the constantly higher river levels and swampy environment 5 . At this time, Nile River discharge was high, which is evident from the extensive deposition of organic-rich fluvial sediment in the Eastern Mediterranean basin 6 . Based on the interpretation of archeological material and pollen records, this period, known as the African Humid Period (AHP) (ca. 14,500–5000 years ago), was the most significant and persistent wet period from the early to mid-Holocene in the eastern Sahara region 7 , with an annual rainfall rate of 300–920 mm yr −1   8 . During this time the Nile would have had several secondary channels branching across the floodplain, similar to those described by early historians (e.g., Herodotus).

During the mid-Holocene (~10,000–6000 years ago), freshwater marshes were common within the Nile floodplain causing habitation to be more nucleated along the desert margins of the Nile Valley 9 . The desert margins provided a haven from the high Nile water. With the ending of the AHP and the beginning of the Late Holocene (~5500 years ago to present), rainfall greatly declined, and the region’s humid phase gradually came to an end with punctuated short wet episodes 10 . Due to increased aridity in the Sahara, more people moved out of the desert towards the Nile Valley and settled along the edge of the Nile floodplain. With the reduced precipitation, sedimentation increased in and around the Nile River channels causing the proximal floodplain to rise in height and adjacent marshland to decrease in the area 11 , 12 estimated the Nile flood levels to have ranged from 1 to 4 m above the baseline (~5000 BP). Inhabitants moved downhill to the Nile Valley and settled in the elevated areas on the floodplain, including the raised natural levees of the river and jeziras (islands). This was the beginning of the Old Kingdom Period (ca. 2686 BCE) and the time when early pyramid complexes, including the Step Pyramid of Djoser, were constructed at the margins of the floodplain. During this time the Nile discharge was still considerably higher than its present level. The high flow of the river, particularly during the short-wet intervals, enabled the Nile to maintain multiple branches, which meandered through its floodplain. Although the landscape of the Nile floodplain has greatly transformed due to river regulation associated with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, this region still retains some clear hydro-geomorphological traces of the abandoned river channels.

Since the beginning of the Pharaonic era, the Nile River has played a fundamental role in the rapid growth and expansion of the Egyptian civilization. Serving as their lifeline in a largely arid landscape, the Nile provided sustenance and functioned as the main water corridor that allowed for the transportation of goods and building materials. For this reason, most of the key cities and monuments were in close proximity to the banks of the Nile and its peripheral branches. Over time, however, the main course of the Nile River laterally migrated, and its peripheral branches silted up, leaving behind many ancient Egyptian sites distant from the present-day river course 9 , 13 , 14 , 15 . Yet, it is still unclear as to where exactly the ancient Nile courses were situated 16 , and whether different reaches of the Nile had single or multiple branches that were simultaneously active in the past. Given the lack of consensus amongst scholars regarding this subject, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive understanding of the Nile during the time of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Such a poor understanding of Nile River morphodynamics, particularly in the region that hosts the largest pyramid fields of Egypt, from Lisht to Giza, limits our understanding of how changes in the landscape influenced human activities and settlement patterns in this region, and significantly restricts our ability to understand the daily lives and stories of the ancient Egyptians.

Currently, much of the original surface of the ancient Nile floodplain is masked by either anthropogenic activity or broad silt and sand sheets. For this reason, singular approaches such as on-ground searches for the remains of hidden former Nile branches are both increasingly difficult and inauspicious. A number of studies have already been carried out in Egypt to locate segments of the ancient Nile course. For instance 9 , proposed that the axis of the Nile River ran far west of its modern course past ancient cities such as el-Ashmunein (Hermopolis) 13 . mapped the ancient hydrological landscape in the Luxor area and estimated both an eastward and westward Nile migration rate of 2–3 km per 1000 years. In the Nile Delta region 17 , detected several segments of buried Nile distributaries and elevated mounds using geoelectrical resistivity surveys. Similarly, a study by Bunbury and Lutley 14 identified a segment of an ancient Nile channel, about 5000 years old, near the ancient town of Memphis ( men-nefer ). More recently 15 , used cores taken around Memphis to reveal a section of a lateral ancient Nile branch that was dated to the Neolithic and Predynastic times (ca. 7000–5000 BCE). On the bank of this branch, Memphis, the first capital of unified Egypt, was founded in early Pharaonic times. Over the Dynastic period, this lateral branch then significantly migrated eastwards 15 . A study by Toonen et al. 18 , using borehole data and electrical resistivity tomography, further revealed a segment of an ancient Nile branch, dating to the New Kingdom Period, situated near the desert edge west of Luxor. This river branch would have connected important localities and thus played a significant role in the cultural landscape of this area. More recent research conducted further north by Sheisha et al. 2 , near the Giza Plateau, indicated the presence of a former river and marsh-like environment in the floodplain east of the three great Pyramids of Giza.

Even though the largest concentration of pyramids in Egypt are located along a narrow desert strip from south Lisht to Giza, no explanation has been offered as to why these pyramid fields were condensed in this particular area. Monumental structures, such as pyramids and temples, would logically be built near major waterways to facilitate the transportation of their construction materials and workers. Yet, no waterway has been found near the largest pyramid field in Egypt, with the Nile River lying several kilometers away. Even though many efforts to reconstruct the ancient Nile waterways have been conducted, they have largely been confined to small sites, which has led to the mapping of only fragmented sections of the ancient Nile channel systems.

In this work, we present remote sensing, geomorphological, soil coring and geophysical evidence to support the existence of a long-lost ancient river branch, the Ahramat Branch, and provide the first map of the paleohydrological setting in the Lisht-Giza area. The finding of the Ahramat Branch is not only crucial to our understanding of why the pyramids were built in these specific geographical areas, but also for understanding how the pyramids were accessed and constructed by the ancient population. It has been speculated by many scholars that the ancient Egyptians used the Nile River for help transporting construction materials to pyramid building sites, but until now, this ancient Nile branch was not fully uncovered or mapped. This work can help us better understand the former hydrological setting of this region, which would in turn help us learn more about the environmental parameters that may have influenced the decision to build these pyramids in their current locations during the time of Pharaonic Egypt.

Position and morphology of the Ahramat Branch

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery and radar high-resolution elevation data for the Nile floodplain and its desert margins, between south Lisht and the Giza Plateau area, provide evidence for the existence of segments of a major ancient river branch bordering 31 pyramids dating from the Old Kingdom to Second Intermediate Period (2686−1649 BCE) and spanning between Dynasties 3–13 (Fig.  1a ). This extinct branch is referred to hereafter as the Ahramat Branch, meaning the “Pyramids Branch” in Arabic. Although masked by the cultivated fields of the Nile floodplain, subtle topographic expressions of this former branch, now invisible in optical satellite data, can be traced on the ground surface by TanDEM-X (TDX) radar data and the Topographic Position Index (TPI). Data analysis indicates that this lateral distributary channel lies between 2.5 and 10.25 km west from the modern Nile River. The branch appears to have a surface channel depth between 2 and 8 m, a channel length of about 64 km and a channel width of 200–700 m, which is similar to the width of the contemporary neighboring Nile course. The size and longitudinal continuity of the Ahramat Branch and its proximity to all the pyramids in the study area implies a functional waterway of great significance.

figure 1

a Shows the Ahramat Branch borders a large number of pyramids dating from the Old Kingdom to the 2 nd Intermediate Period and spanning between Dynasties 3 and 13. b Shows Bahr el-Libeini canal and remnant of abandoned channel visible in the 1911 historical map (Egyptian Survey Department scale 1:50,000). c Bahr el-Libeini canal and the abandoned channel are overlain on satellite basemap. Bahr el-Libeini is possibly the last remnant of the Ahramat Branch before it migrated eastward. d A visible segment of the Ahramat Branch in TDX is now partially occupied by the modern Bahr el-Libeini canal. e A major segment of the Ahramat Branch, approximately 20 km long and 0.5 km wide, can be traced in the floodplain along the Western Desert Plateau south of the town of Jirza. Location of e is marked in white a box in a . (ESRI World Image Basemap, source: Esri, Maxar, Earthstar Geographics).

A trace of a 3 km river segment of the Ahramat Branch, with a width of about 260 m, is observable in the floodplain west of the Abu Sir pyramids field (Fig.  1b–d ). Another major segment of the Ahramat Branch, approximately 20 km long and 0.5 km wide can be traced in the floodplain along the Western Desert Plateau south of the town of Jirza (Fig.  1e ). The visible segments of the Ahramat Branch in TDX are now partially occupied by the modern Bahr el-Libeini canal. Such partial overlap between the courses of this canal, traced in the1911 historical maps (Egyptian Survey Department scale 1:50,000), and the Ahramat Branch is clear in areas where the Nile floodplain is narrower (Fig.  1b–d ), while in areas where the floodplain gets wider, the two water courses are about 2 km apart. In light of that, Bahr el-Libeini canal is possibly the last remnant of the Ahramat Branch before it migrated eastward, silted up, and vanished. In the course of the eastward migration over the Nile floodplain, the meandering Ahramat Branch would have left behind traces of abandoned channels (narrow oxbow lakes) which formed as a result of the river erosion through the neck of its meanders. A number of these abandoned channels can be traced in the 1911 historical maps near the foothill of the Western Desert plateau proving the eastward shifting of the branch at this locality (Fig.  1b–d ). The Dahshur Lake, southwest of the city of Dahshur, is most likely the last existing trace of the course of the Ahramat Branch.

Subsurface structure and sedimentology of the Ahramat Branch

Geophysical surveys using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electromagnetic Tomography (EMT) along a 1.2 km long profile revealed a hidden river channel lying 1–1.5 m below the cultivated Nile floodplain (Fig.  2 ). The position and shape of this river channel is in an excellent match with those derived from radar satellite imagery for the Ahramat Branch. The EMT profile shows a distinct unconformity in the middle, which in this case indicates sediments that have a different texture than the overlying recent floodplain silt deposits and the sandy sediments that are adjacent to this former branch (Fig.  2 ). GPR overlapping the EMT profile from 600–1100 m on the transect confirms this. Here, we see evidence of an abandoned riverbed approximately 400 m wide and at least 25 m deep (width:depth ratio ~16) at this location. This branch has a symmetrical channel shape and has been infilled with sandy Neonile sediment different to other surrounding Neonile deposits and the underlying Eocene bedrock. The geophysical profile interpretation for the Ahramat Branch at this locality was validated using two sediment cores of depths 20 m (Core A) and 13 m (Core B) (Fig.  3 ). In Core A between the center and left bank of the former branch we found brown sandy mud at the floodplain surface and down to ~2.7 m with some limestone and chert fragments, a reddish sandy mud layer with gravel and handmade material inclusions at ~2.8 m, a gray sandy mud layer from ~3–5.8 m, another reddish sandy mud layer with gravel and freshwater mussel shells at ~6 m, black sandy mud from ~6–8 m, and sandy silt grading into clean, well-sorted medium sand dominated the profile from ~8 to >13 m. In Core B on the right bank of the former branch we found recently deposited brown sandy mud at the floodplain surface and down to ~1.5 m, alternating brown and gray layers of silty and sandy mud down to ~4 m (some reddish layers with gravel and handmade material inclusions), a black sandy mud layer from ~4–4.9 m, and another reddish sandy mud layer with gravel and freshwater mussel shells at ~5 m, before clean, well-sorted medium sand dominated the profile from 5 to >20 m. Shallow groundwater was encountered in both cores concurrently with the sand layers, indicating that the buried sedimentary structure of the abandoned Ahramat Branch acts as a conduit for subsurface water flow beneath the distal floodplain of the modern Nile River.

figure 2

a Locations of geophysical profile and soil drilling (ESRI World Image Basemap, source: Esri, Maxar, Earthstar Geographics). Photos taken from the field while using the b Electromagnetic Tomography (EMT) and c Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). d Showing the apparent conductivity profile, e showing EMT profile, and f showing GPR profiles with overlain sketch of the channel boundary on the GPR graph. g Simplified interpretation of the buried channel with the location of the two-soil coring of A and B.

figure 3

It shows two-soil cores, A and core B, with soil profile descriptions, graphic core logs, sediment grain size charts, and example photographs.

Alignment of old and middle kingdom pyramids to the Ahramat Branch

The royal pyramids in ancient Egypt are not isolated monuments, but rather joined with several other structures to form complexes. Besides the pyramid itself, the pyramid complex includes the mortuary temple next to the pyramid, a valley temple farther away from the pyramid on the edge of a waterbody, and a long sloping causeway that connects the two temples. A causeway is a ceremonial raised walkway, which provides access to the pyramid site and was part of the religious aspects of the pyramid itself 19 . In the study area, it was found that many of the causeways of the pyramids run perpendicular to the course of the Ahramat Branch and terminate directly on its riverbank.

In Egyptian pyramid complexes, the valley temples at the end of causeways acted as river harbors. These harbors served as an entry point for the river borne visitors and ceremonial roads to the pyramid. Countless valley temples in Egypt have not yet been found and, therefore, might still be buried beneath the agricultural fields and desert sands along the riverbank of the Ahramat Branch. Five of these valley temples, however, partially survived and still exist in the study area. These temples include the valley temples of the Bent Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure from Dynasty 4; the valley temple of the Pyramid of Sahure from Dynasty 5, and the valley temple of the Pyramid of Pepi II from Dynasty 6. All the aforementioned temples are dated to the Old Kingdom. These five surviving temples were found to be positioned adjacent to the riverbank of the Ahramat Branch, which strongly implies that this river branch was contemporaneously functioning during the Old Kingdom, at the time of pyramid construction.

Analysis of the ground elevation of the 31 pyramids and their proximity to the floodplain, within the study area, helped explain the position and relative water level of the Ahramat Branch during the time between the Old Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period (ca. 2649–1540 BCE). Based on Fig. ( 4) , the Ahramat Branch had a high-water level during the first part of the Old Kingdom, especially during Dynasty 4. This is evident from the high ground elevation and long distance from the floodplain of the pyramids dated to that period. For instance, the remote position of the Bent and Red Pyramids in the desert, very far from the Nile floodplain, is a testament to the branch’s high-water level. On the contrary, during the Old Kingdom, our data demonstrated that the Ahramat Branch would have reached its lowest level during Dynasty 5. This is evident from the low altitudes and close proximity to the floodplain of most Dynasty 5 pyramids. The orientation of the Sahure Pyramid’s causeway (Dynasty 5) and the location of its valley temple in the low-lying floodplain provide compelling evidence for the relatively low water level proposition of the Ahramat Branch during this stage. The water level of the Ahramat Branch would have been slightly raised by the end of Dynasty 5 (the last 15–30 years), during the reign of King Unas and continued to rise during Dynasty 6. The position of Pepi II and Merenre Pyramids (Dynasty 6) deep in the desert, west of the Djedkare Isesi Pyramid (Dynasty 5), supports this notion.

figure 4

It explains the position and relative water level of the Ahramat Branch during the time between the Old Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period. a Shows positive correlation between the ground elevation of the pyramids and their proximity to the floodplain. b Shows positive correlation between the average ground elevation of the pyramids and their average proximity to the floodplain in each Dynasty. c Illustrates the water level interpretation by Hassan (1986) in Faiyum Lake in correlation to the average pyramids ground elevation and average distances to the floodplain in each Dynasty. d The data indicates that the Ahramat Branch had a high-water level during the first period of the Old Kingdom, especially during Dynasty 4. The water level reduced afterwards but was raised slightly in Dynasty 6. The position of the Middle Kingdom’s pyramids, which was at lower altitudes and in close proximity to the floodplain as compared to those of the Old Kingdom might be explained by the slight eastward migration of the Ahramat Branch.

In addition, our analysis in Fig. ( 4) , shows that the Qakare Ibi Pyramid of Dynasty 8 was constructed very close to the floodplain on very low elevation, which implies that the Nile water levels were very low at this time of the First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 BCE). This finding is in agreement with previous work conducted by Kitchen 20 which implies that the sudden collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt (after 4160 BCE) was largely caused by catastrophic failure of the annual flood of the Nile River for a period of 30–40 years. Data from soil cores near Memphis indicated that the Old Kingdom settlement is covered by about 3 m of sand 11 . Accordingly, the Ahramat Branch was initially positioned further west during the Old Kingdom and then shifted east during the Middle Kingdom due to the drought-induced sand encroachments of the First Intermediate Period, “a period of decentralization and weak pharaonic rule” in ancient Egypt, spanning about 125 years (2181–2055 BCE) post Old Kingdom era. Soil cores from the drilling program at Memphis show dominant dry conditions during the First Intermediate Period with massive eolian sand sheets extended over a distance of at least 0.5 km from the edge of the western desert escarpment 21 . The Ahramat Branch continued to move east during the Second Intermediate Period until it had gradually lost most of its water supply by the New Kingdom.

The western tributaries of the Ahramat Branch

Sentinal-1 radar data unveiled several wide channels (inlets) in the Western Desert Plateau connected to the Ahramat Branch. These inlets are currently covered by a layer of sand, thus partially invisible in multispectral satellite imagery. In Sentinal-1 radar imagery, the valley floors of these inlets appear darker than the surrounding surfaces, indicating subsurface fluvial deposits. These smooth deposits appear dark owing to the specular reflection of the radar signals away from the receiving antenna (Fig.  5a, b ) 22 . Considering that Sentinel-1’s C-Band has a penetration capability of approximately 50 cm in dry sand surface 23 , this would suggest that the riverbed of these channels is covered by at least half a meter of desert sand. Unlike these former inlets, the course of the Ahramat Branch is invisible in SAR data due in large part to the presence of dense farmlands in the floodplain, which limits radar penetration and the detection of underlying fluvial deposition. Moreover, the radar topographic data from TDX revealed the areal extent of these inlets. Their river courses were extracted from TDX data using the Topographic Position Index (TPI), an algorithm which is used to compute the topographic slope positions and to automate landform classifications (Fig.  5c, d ). Negative TPI values show the former riverbeds of the inlets, while positive TPI signify the riverbanks bordering them.

figure 5

a Conceptual sketch of the dependence of surface roughness on the sensor wavelength λ (modified after 48 ). b Expected backscatter characteristics in sandy desert areas with buried dry riverbeds. c Dry channels/inlets masked by desert sand in the Dahshur area. d The channels’ courses were extracted using TPI. Negative TPI values highlight the courses of the channels while positive TPI signify their banks.

Analysis indicated that several of the pyramid’s causeways, from Dynasties 4 and 6, lead to the inlet’s riverbanks (Fig.  6 ). Among these pyramids, are the Bent Pyramid, the first pyramid built by King Snefru in Dynasty 4 and among the oldest, largest, and best preserved ancient Egyptian pyramids that predates the Giza Pyramids. This pyramid is situated at the royal necropolis of Dahshur. The position of the Bent Pyramid, deep in the desert, far from the modern Nile floodplain, remained unexplained by researchers. This pyramid has a long causeway (~700 m) that is paved in the desert with limestone blocks and is attached to a large valley temple. Although all the pyramids’ valley temples in Egypt are connected to a water body and served as the landing point of all the river-borne visitors, the valley temple of the Bent Pyramid is oddly located deep in the desert, very distant from any waterways and more than 1 km away from the western edge of the modern Nile floodplain. Radar data revealed that this temple overlooked the bank of one of these extinct channels (called Wadi al-Taflah in historical maps). This extinct channel (referred to hereafter as the Dahshur Inlet due to its geographical location) is more than 200 m wide on average (Fig.  6 ). In light of this finding, the Dahshur Inlet, and the Ahramat Branch, are thus strongly argued to have been active during Dynasty 4 and must have played an important role in transporting building materials to the Bent Pyramid site. The Dahshur Inlet could have also served the adjacent Red Pyramid, the second pyramid built by the same king (King Snefru) in the Dahshur area. Yet, no traces of a causeway nor of a valley temple has been found thus far for the Red Pyramid. Interestingly, pyramids in this site dated to the Middle Kingdom, including the Amenemhat III pyramid, also known as the Black Pyramid, White Pyramid, and Pyramid of Senusret III, are all located at least 1 km far to the east of the Dynasty 4 pyramids (Bent and Red) near the floodplain (Fig.  6 ), which once again supports the notion of the eastward shift of the Ahramat Branch after the Old Kingdom.

figure 6

a The two inlets are presently covered by sand, thus invisible in optical satellite imagery. b Radar data, and c TDX topographic data reveal the riverbed of the Sakkara Inlet due to radar signals penetration capability in dry sand. b and c show the causeways of Pepi II and Merenre Pyramids, from Dynasty 6, leading to the Saqqara Inlet. The Valley Temple of Pepi II Pyramid overlooks the inlet riverbank, which indicates that the inlet, and thus Ahramat Branch, were active during Dynasty 6. d Radar data, and e TDX topographic data, reveal the riverbed of the Dahshur Inlet with the Bent Pyramid’s causeway of Dynasty 4 leading to the Inlet. The Valley Temple of the Bent Pyramid overlooks the riverbank of the Dahshur Inlet, which indicates that the inlet and the Ahramat Branch were active during Dynasty 4 of the Old Kingdom.

Radar satellite data revealed yet another sandy buried channel (tributary), about 6 km north of the Dahshur Inlet, to the west of the ancient city of Memphis. This former fluvial channel (referred to hereafter as the Saqqara Inlet due to its geographical location) connects to the Ahramat Branch with a broad river course of more than 600 m wide. Data shows that the causeways of the two pyramids of Pepi II and Merenre, situated at the royal necropolis of Saqqara and dated to Dynasty 6, lead directly to the banks of the Saqqara Inlet (see Fig.  6 ). The 400 m long causeway of Pepi II pyramid runs northeast over the southern Saqqara plateau and connects to the riverbank of the Saqqara Inlet from the south. The causeway terminates with a valley temple that lies on the inlet’s riverbank. The 250 long causeway of the Pyramid of Merenre runs southeast over the northern Saqqara plateau and connects to the riverbank of the Saqqara Inlet from the north. Since both pyramids dated to Dynasty 6, it can be argued that the water level of the Ahramat Branch was higher during this period, which would have flooded at least the entrance of its western inlets. This indicates that the downstream segment of the Saqqara Inlet was active during Dynasty 6 and played a vital role in transporting construction materials and workers to the two pyramids sites. The fact that none of the Dynasty 5 pyramids in this area (e.g., the Djedkare Isesi Pyramid) were positioned on the Saqqara Inlet suggests that the water level in the Ahramat Branch was not high enough to enter and submerge its inlets during this period.

In addition, our data analysis clearly shows that the causeways of the Khafre, Menkaure, and Khentkaus pyramids, in the Giza Plateau, lead to a smaller but equally important river bay associated with the Ahramat Branch. This lagoon-like river arm is referred to here as the Giza Inlet (Fig.  7 ). The Khufu Pyramid, the largest pyramid in Egypt, seems to be connected directly to the river course of the Ahramat Branch (Fig.  7 ). This finding proves once again that the Ahramat Branch and its western inlets were hydrologically active during Dynasty 4 of the Old Kingdom. Our ancient river inlet hypothesis is also in accordance with earlier research, conducted on the Giza Plateau, which indicates the presence of a river and marsh-like environment in the floodplain east of the Giza pyramids 2 .

figure 7

The causeways of the four Pyramids lead to an inlet, which we named the Giza Inlet, that connects from the west with the Ahramat Branch. These causeways connect the pyramids with valley temples which acted as river harbors in antiquity. These river segments are invisible in optical satellite imagery since they are masked by the cultivated lands of the Nile floodplain. The photo shows the valley temple of Khafre Pyramid (Photo source: Author Eman Ghoneim).

During the Old Kingdom Period, our analysis suggests that the Ahramat Branch had a high-water level during the first part, especially during Dynasty 4 whereas this water level was significantly decreased during Dynasty 5. This finding is in agreement with previous studies which indicate a high Nile discharge during Dynasty 4 (e.g., ref. 24 ). Sediment isotopic analysis of the Nile Delta indicated that Nile flows decrease more rapidly by the end of Dynasty 4 25 , in addition 26 reported that during Dynasties 5 and 6 the Nile flows were the lowest of the entire Dynastic period. This long-lost Ahramat Branch (possibly a former Yazoo tributary to the Nile) was large enough to carry a large volume of the Nile discharge in the past. The ancient channel segment uncovered by 1 , 15 west of the city of Memphis through borehole logs is most likely a small section of the large Ahramat Branch detected in this study. In the Middle Kingdom, although previous studies implied that the Nile witnessed abundant flood with occasional failures (e.g., ref. 27 ), our analysis shows that all the pyramids from the Middle Kingdom were built far east of their Old Kingdom counterparts, on lower altitudes and in close proximity to the floodplain as compared to those of the Old Kingdom. This paradox might be explained by the fact that the Ahramat Branch migrated eastward, slightly away from the Western Desert escarpment, prior to the construction of the Middle Kingdom pyramids, resulting in the pyramids being built eastward so that they could be near the waterway.

The eastward migration and abandonment of the Ahramat Branch could be attributed to gradual tilting of the Nile delta and floodplain in lower Egypt towards the northeast due to tectonic activity 28 . A topographic tilt such as this would have accelerated river movement eastward due to the river being located in the west at a relatively higher elevation of the floodplain. While near-channel floodplain deposition would naturally lead to alluvial ridge development around the active Ahramat Branch, and therefore to lower-lying tracts of adjacent floodplain to the east, regional tilting may explain the wholesale lateral migration of the river in that direction. The eastward migration and abandonment of the branch could also be ascribed to sand incursion due to the branch’s proximity to the Western Desert Plateau, where windblown sand is abundant. This would have increased sand deposition along the riverbanks and caused the river to silt up, particularly during periods of low flow. The region experienced drought during the First Intermediate Period, prior to the Middle Kingdom. In the area of Abu Rawash north 29 and Dahshur site 11 , settlements from the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom were found to be covered by more than 3 m of desert sands. During this time, windblown sand engulfed the Old Kingdom settlements and desert sands extended eastward downhill over a distance of at least 0.5 km 21 . The abandonment of sites at Abusir (5 th Dynasty), where the early pottery-rich deposits are covered by wind-blown sand and then mud without sherds, can be used as evidence that the Ahramat Branch migrated eastward after the Old Kingdom. The increased sand deposition activity, during the end of the Old Kingdom, and throughout the First Intermediate Period, was most likely linked to the period of drought and desertification of the Sahara 30 . In addition, the reduced river discharge caused by decreased rainfall and increased aridity in the region would have gradually reduced the river course’s capacity, leading to silting and abandonment of the Ahramat Branch as the river migrated to the east.

The Dahshur, Saqqara, and Giza inlets, which were connected to the Ahramat Branch from the west, were remnants of past active drainage systems dated to the late Tertiary or the Pleistocene when rainwater was plentiful 31 . It is proposed that the downstream reaches of these former channels (wadis) were submerged during times of high-water levels of the Ahramat Branch, forming long narrow water arms (inlets) that gave a wedge-like shape to the western flank of the Ahramat Branch. During the Old Kingdom, the waters of these inlets would have flowed westward from the Ahramat Branch rather than from their headwaters. As the drought intensified during the First Intermediate Period, the water level of the Ahramat Branch was lowered and withdrew from its western inlets, causing them to silt up and eventually dry out. The Dahshur, Saqqara, and Giza inlets would have provided a bay environment where the water would have been calm enough for vessels and boats to dock far from the busy, open water of the Ahramat Branch.

Sediments from the Ahramat Branch riverbed, which were collected from the two deep soil cores (cores A and B), show an abrupt shift from well-sorted medium sands at depth to overlying finer materials with layers including gravel, shell, and handmade materials. This indicates a step-change from a relatively consistent higher-energy depositional regime to a generally lower-energy depositional regime with periodic flash floods at these sites. So, the Ahramat Branch in this region carried and deposited well-sorted medium sand during its last active phase, and over time became inactive, infilling with sand and mud until an abrupt change led the (by then) shallow depression fill with finer distal floodplain sediment (possibly in a wetland) that was utilized by people and experienced periodic flash flooding. Validation of the paleo-channel position and sediment type using these cores shows that the Ahramat Branch has similar morphological features and an upward-fining depositional sequence as that reported near Giza, where two cores were previously used to reconstruct late Holocene Nile floodplain paleo-environments 2 . Further deep soil coring could determine how consistent the geomorphological features are along the length of the Ahramat branch, and to help explain anomalies in areas where the branch has less surface expression and where remote sensing and geophysical techniques have limitations. Considering more core logs can give a better understanding of the floodplain and the buried paleo-channels.

The position of the Ahramat Branch along the western edge of the Nile floodplain suggests it to be the downstream extension of Bahr Yusef. In fact, Bahr Yusef’s course may have initially flowed north following the natural surface gradient of the floodplain before being forced to turn west to flow into the Fayum Depression. This assumption could be supported by the sharp westward bend of Bahr Yusef’s course at the entrance to the Fayum Depression, which could be a man-made attempt to change the waterflow direction of this branch. According to Römer 32 , during the Middle Kingdom, the Gadallah Dam located at the entrance of the Fayum, and a possible continuation running eastwards, blocked the flow of Bahr Yusef towards the north. However, a sluice, probably located near the village of el-Lahun, was created in order to better control the flow of water into the Fayum. When the sluice was locked, the water from Bahr Yusef was directed to the west and into the depression, and when the sluice was open, the water would flow towards the north via the course of the Ahramat Branch. Today, the abandoned Ahramat Branch north of Fayum appears to support subsurface water flow in the buried coarse sand bed layers, however these shallow groundwater levels are likely to be quite variable due to proximity of the bed layers to canals and other waterways that artificially maintain shallow groundwater. Groundwater levels in the region are known to be variable 33 , but data on shallow groundwater could be used to further validate the delineated paleo-channel of the Ahramat Branch.

The present work enabled the detection of segments of a major former Nile branch running at the foothills of the Western Desert Plateau, where the vast majority of the Ancient Egyptian pyramids lie. The enormity of this branch and its proximity to the pyramid complexes, in addition to the fact that the pyramids’ causeways terminate at its riverbank, all imply that this branch was active and operational during the construction phase of these pyramids. This waterway would have connected important locations in ancient Egypt, including cities and towns, and therefore, played an important role in the cultural landscape of the region. The eastward migration and abandonment of the Ahramat Branch could be attributed to gradual movement of the river to the lower-lying adjacent floodplain or tilting of the Nile floodplain toward the northeast as a result of tectonic activity, as well as windblown sand incursion due to the branch’s proximity to the Western Desert Plateau. The increased sand deposition was most likely related to periods of desertification of the Great Sahara in North Africa. In addition, the branch eastward movement and diminishing could be explained by the reduction of the river discharge and channel capacity caused by the decreased precipitation and increased aridity in the region, particularly during the end of the Old Kingdom.

The integration of radar satellite data with geophysical surveying and soil coring, which we utilized in this study, is a highly adaptable approach in locating similar former buried river systems in arid regions worldwide. Mapping the hidden course of the Ahramat Branch, allowed us to piece together a more complete picture of ancient Egypt’s former landscape and a possible water transportation route in Lower Egypt, in the area between Lisht and the Giza Plateau.

Revealing this extinct Nile branch can provide a more refined idea of where ancient settlements were possibly located in relation to it and prevent them from being lost to rapid urbanization. This could improve the protection measures of Egyptian cultural heritage. It is the hope that our findings can improve conservation measures and raise awareness of these sites for modern development planning. By understanding the landscape of the Nile floodplain and its environmental history, archeologists will be better equipped to prioritize locations for fieldwork investigation and, consequently, raise awareness of these sites for conservation purposes and modern development planning. Our finding has filled a much-needed knowledge gap related to the dominant waterscape in ancient Egypt, which could help inform and educate a wide array of global audiences about how earlier inhabitants were living and in what ways shifts in their landscape drove human activity in such an iconic region.

Materials and methods

The work comprised of two main elements: satellite remote sensing and historical maps and geophysical survey and sediment coring, complemented by archeological resources. Using this suite of investigative techniques provided insights into the nature and relationship of the former Ahramat Branch with the geographical location of the pyramid complexes in Egypt.

Satellite remote sensing and historical maps

Unlike optical sensors that image the land surface, radar sensors image the subsurface due to their unique ability to penetrate the ground and produce images of hidden paleo-rivers and structures. In this context, radar waves strip away the surface sand layer and expose previously unidentified buried channels. The penetration capability of radar waves in the hyper-arid regions of North Africa is well documented 4 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 . The penetration depth varies according to the radar wavelength used at the time of imaging. Radar signal penetration becomes possible without significant attenuation if the surface cover material is extremely dry (<1% moisture content), fine grained (<1/5 of the imaging wavelength) and physically homogeneous 23 . When penetrating desert sand, radar signals have the ability to detect subsurface soil roughness, texture, compactness, and dielectric properties 38 . We used the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-1 data, a radar satellite constellation consisting of a C-Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor, operating at 5.405 GHz. The Sentinel-1 SAR image used here was acquired in a descending orbit with an interferometric wide swath mode (IW) at ground resolutions of 5 m × 20 m, and dual polarizations of VV + VH. Since Sentinal-1 is operated in the C-Band, it has an estimated penetration depth of 50 cm in very dry, sandy, loose soils 39 . We used ENVI v. 5.7 SARscape software for processing radar imagery. The used SAR processing sequences have generated geo-coded, orthorectified, terrain-corrected, noise free, radiometrically calibrated, and normalized Sentinel-1 images with a pixel size of 12.5 m. In SAR imagery subsurface fluvial deposits appear dark owing to specular reflection of the radar signals away from the receiving antenna, whereas buried coarse and compacted material, such as archeological remains appear bright due to diffuse reflection of radar signals 40 .

Other previous studies have shown that combining radar topographic imagery (e.g., Shuttle Radar Topography Mission-SRTM) with SAR images improves the extraction and delineation of mega paleo-drainage systems and lake basins concealed under present-day topographic signatures 3 , 4 , 22 , 41 . Topographic data represents a primary tool in investigating surface landforms and geomorphological change both spatially and temporally. This data is vital in mapping past river systems due to its ability to show subtle variations in landform morphology 37 . In low lying areas, such as the Nile floodplain, detailed elevation data can detect abandoned channels, fossilized natural levees, river meander scars and former islands, which are all crucial elements for reconstructing the ancient Nile hydrological network. In fact, the modern topography in many parts of the study area is still a good analog of the past landscape. In the present study, TanDEM-X (TDX) topographic data, from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), has been utilized in ArcGIS Pro v. 3.1 software due to its fine spatial resolution of 0.4 arc-second ( ∼ 12 m). TDX is based on high frequency X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) (9.65 GHz) and has a relative vertical accuracy of 2 m for areas with a slope of ≤20% 42 . This data was found to be superior to other topographic DEMs (e.g., Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and ASTER Global Digital Elevation Map) in displaying fine topographic features even in the cultivated Nile floodplain, thus making it particularly well suited for this study. Similar archeological investigations using TDX elevation data in the flat terrains of the Seyhan River in Turkey and the Nile Delta 43 , 44 allowed for the detection of levees and other geomorphologic features in unprecedented spatial resolution. We used the Topographic Position Index (TPI) module of 45 with the TDX data by applying varying neighboring radiuses (20–100 m) to compute the difference between a cell elevation value and the average elevation of the neighborhood around that cell. TPI values of zero are either flat surfaces with minimal slope, or surfaces with a constant gradient. The TPI can be computed using the following expression 46 .

Where the scaleFactor is the outer radius in map units and Irad and Orad are the inner and outer radius of annulus in cells. Negative TPI values highlight abandoned riverbeds and meander scars, while positive TPI signify the riverbanks and natural levees bordering them.

The course of the Ahramat Branch was mapped from multiple data sources and used different approaches. For instance, some segments of the river course were derived automatically using the TPI approach, particularly in the cultivated floodplain, whereas others were mapped using radar roughness signatures specially in sandy desert areas. Moreover, a number of abandoned channel segments were digitized on screen from rectified historical maps (Egyptian Survey Department scale 1:50,000 collected on years 1910–1911) near the foothill of the Western Desert Plateau. These channel segments together with the former river course segments delineated from radar and topographic data were aggregated to generate the former Ahramat Branch. In addition to this and to ensure that none of the channel segments of the Ahramat Branch were left unmapped during the automated process, a systematic grid-based survey (through expert’s visual observation) was performed on the satellite data. Here, Landsat 8 and Sentinal-2 multispectral images, Sentinal-1 radar images and TDX topographic data were used as base layers, which were thoroughly examined, grid-square by grid-square (2*2 km per a square) at a full resolution, in order to identify small-scale fluvial landforms, anomalous agricultural field patterns and irregular ditches, and determine their spatial distributions. Here, ancient fluvial channels were identified using two key aspects: First, the sinuous geometry of natural and manmade features and, second the color tone variations in the satellite imagery. For example, clusters of contiguous pixels with darker tones and sinuous shapes may signify areas of a higher moisture content in optical imagery, and hence the possible existence of a buried riverbed. Stretching and edge detection were applied to enhance contrasts in satellite images brightness to enable the visualization of traces of buried river segments that would otherwise go unobserved. Lastly, all the pyramids and causeways in the study site, along with ancient harbors and valley temples, as indicators of preexisting river channels, were digitized from satellite data and available archeological resources and overlaid onto the delineated Ahramat Branch for geospatial analysis.

Geophysical survey and sediment coring

Geophysical measurements using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electromagnetic Tomography (EMT) were utilized to map subsurface fluvial features and validate the satellite remote sensing findings. GPR is effective in detecting changes of dielectric constant properties of sediment layers, and its signal responses can be directly related to changes in relative porosity, material composition, and moisture content. Therefore, GPR can help in identifying transitional boundaries in subsurface layers. EMT, on the other hand, shows the variations and thickness of large-scale sedimentary deposits and is more useful in clay-rich soil than GPR. In summer 2022, a geophysical profile was measured using GPR and EMT units with a total length of approximately 1.2 km. The GPR survey was conducted with a central frequency antenna of 35 MHz and a trigger interval of 5 cm. The EMT survey was performed using the multi-frequency terrain conductivity (EM–34–3) measuring system with a spacing of 10–11 meters between stations. To validate the remote sensing and geophysical data, two sediment cores with depths of 20 m (Core A) and 13 m (Core B) were collected using a deep soil driller. These cores were collected from along the geophysical profile in the floodplain. Sieving and organic analysis were performed on the sediment samples at Tanta University sediment lab to extract information about grain size for soil texture and total organic carbon. In soil texture analysis medium to coarse sediment, such as sands, are typical for river channel sediments, loamy sand and sandy loam deposits can be interpreted as levees and crevasse splays, whereas fine texture deposits, such as silt loam, silty clay loam, and clay deposits, are representative of the more distal parts of the river floodplain 47 .

Data availability

Data for replicating the results of this study are available as supplementary files at: https://figshare.com/articles/journal_contribution/Pyramids_Elevations_and_Distances_xlsx/25216259 .

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Acknowledgements

This work was funded by NSF grant # 2114295 awarded to E.G., S.O. and T.R. and partially supported by Research Momentum Fund, UNCW, to E.G. TanDEM-X data was awarded to E.G. and R.E by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) (contract # DEM_OTHER2886). Permissions for collecting soil coring and sampling were obtained from the Faculty of Science, Tanta University, Egypt by coauthors Dr. Amr Fhail and Dr. Mohamed Fathy. Bradley Graves at Macquarie University assisted with preparation of the sedimentological figures. Hamada Salama at NRIAG assisted with the GPR field data collection.

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Eman Ghoneim

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Timothy J. Ralph

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Suzanne Onstine

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Raghda El-Behaedi

National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG), Helwan, Cairo, 11421, Egypt

Gad El-Qady, Mahfooz Hafez, Magdy Atya, Mohamed Ebrahim & Ashraf Khozym

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Eman Ghoneim conceived the ideas, lead the research project, and conducted the data processing and interpretations. The manuscript was written and prepared by Eman Ghoneim. Timothy J. Ralph co-supervised the project, contributed to the geomorphological and sedimentological interpretations, edited the manuscript and the figures. Suzanne Onstine co-supervised the project, contributed to the archeological and historical interpretations, and edited the manuscript. Raghda El-Behaedi contributed to the remote sensing data processing and methodology and edited the manuscript. Gad El-Qady supervised the geophysical survey. Mahfooz Hafez, Magdy Atya, Mohamed Ebrahim, Ashraf Khozym designed, collected, and interpreted the GPR and EMT data. Amr S. Fahil and Mohamed S. Fathy supervised the soil coring, sediment analysis, drafted sedimentological figures and contributed to the interpretations. All authors reviewed the manuscript and participated in the fieldwork.

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Ghoneim, E., Ralph, T.J., Onstine, S. et al. The Egyptian pyramid chain was built along the now abandoned Ahramat Nile Branch. Commun Earth Environ 5 , 233 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-024-01379-7

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-024-01379-7

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Go big grad: alice young.

Photo Credit: Alice Young

Major: Psychology (Pre-Med) Minor: Japanese, Spanish, Asian Studies Hometown: Omaha, NE

What does graduating from Nebraska mean to you? It means the world to me to have achieved this, and graduating from Nebraska allows me to be proud of my public school education.

The research process, from Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to paper writing, prepared me for my future. It has greatly prepared me for my Fulbright research, and the course load at UNL has prepared me to handle the workload of medical school [in the future].

Transformational moments I took an amazing psychology of controversy class with Dr. Jeffrey Steven’s—the class discussions were so honest and so open. I really learned to be confident sharing my opinion, and I appreciated how cohesive the class was.

Involvement Honors Program, Honors Program Student Advisory Board, Chemistry Teaching Assistant

Plans after graduation I will be completing a Fulbright grant researching Attitudes among the Elderly towards advanced directives and end of life care in Japan!

I am most looking forward to I am so excited to be researching in Japan—the Fulbright program is an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful to have been awarded a Fulbright.

The best thing about being a Husker is The in class communities you can build if you’re willing to put yourself out there.

Thank you message A huge thank you to Dr. Malina for guiding me through my thesis research and my time as a TA!

Additional note Alice was selected to represent the May 2024 Honors graduates as the student speaker at the Honors Graduation Reception.

Raikes School grads' work strengthens mission of MICAH House

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  1. Research Paper

    Research Paper. Definition: Research Paper is a written document that presents the author's original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue. It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to ...

  2. What Is a Research Paper?

    A research paper is a common form of academic writing. Research papers require students and academics to locate information about a topic (that is, to conduct research ), take a stand on that topic, and provide support (or evidence) for that position in an organized report. The term research paper may also refer to a scholarly article that ...

  3. How to Write a Research Paper

    A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research. Research papers are similar to academic essays, but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research ...

  4. What is a research paper?

    Definition. A research paper is a paper that makes an argument about a topic based on research and analysis. Any paper requiring the writer to research a particular topic is a research paper. Unlike essays, which are often based largely on opinion and are written from the author's point of view, research papers are based in fact.

  5. What is a Research Paper?

    A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you build upon what you know about the subject and make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know.

  6. What Is a Research Paper? A Definition Explained

    A. Definition of Research Paper. A Research Paper is a Comprehensive Study Research papers are in-depth studies of various topics, and can be used to showcase knowledge acquired from extensive study. They typically explore both sides of the debate on any given issue or topic, with the purpose of providing an evidence based conclusion at its end.

  7. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    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.

  8. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

    Step 1: Find a topic and review the literature. As we mentioned earlier, in a research paper, you, as the researcher, will try to answer a question.More specifically, that's called a research question, and it sets the direction of your entire paper. What's important to understand though is that you'll need to answer that research question with the help of high-quality sources - for ...

  9. What Is a Research Paper?

    Definition of a research paper. A research paper is a scientific piece that covers a certain topic. It requires in-depth research, analysis, evaluation of literature or qualitative research performed via interviews or observations. A standard research paper includes these sections:

  10. Research Paper: Definition, Structure, Characteristics, and Types

    Definition of What Is a Research Paper and Its Meaning. A research paper is a common assignment. It comes to a situation when students, scholars, and scientists need to answer specific questions by using sources. Basically, a research paper is one of the types of papers where scholars analyze questions or topics, look for secondary sources, and ...

  11. 11.1 The Purpose of Research Writing

    Step 4: Organizing Research and the Writer's Ideas. When your research is complete, you will organize your findings and decide which sources to cite in your paper. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence you have collected and determine whether it supports your thesis, or the focus of your paper.

  12. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

    The introduction leads the reader from a general subject area to a particular topic of inquiry. It establishes the scope, context, and significance of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic, stating the purpose of the work in the form of the research problem supported by a hypothesis or a set of questions, explaining briefly ...

  13. Research Paper Format

    Research paper format is an essential aspect of academic writing that plays a crucial role in the communication of research findings.The format of a research paper depends on various factors such as the discipline, style guide, and purpose of the research. It includes guidelines for the structure, citation style, referencing, and other elements of the paper that contribute to its overall ...

  14. Research Methods

    To analyze data collected in a statistically valid manner (e.g. from experiments, surveys, and observations). Meta-analysis. Quantitative. To statistically analyze the results of a large collection of studies. Can only be applied to studies that collected data in a statistically valid manner.

  15. Research Paper Structure

    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 ...

  16. What are the different types of research papers?

    Experimental research paper. This type of research paper basically describes a particular experiment in detail. It is common in fields like: biology. chemistry. physics. Experiments are aimed to explain a certain outcome or phenomenon with certain actions. You need to describe your experiment with supporting data and then analyze it sufficiently.

  17. How to write a research paper outline

    Tips for writing a research paper outline. Tip: The key to creating a useful outline is to be consistent in your headings, organization, and levels of specificity. Be Consistent: ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.

  18. How to Write a Research Paper: Parts of the Paper

    1. The Title. The title should be specific and indicate the theme of the research and what ideas it addresses. Use keywords that help explain your paper's topic to the reader. Try to avoid abbreviations and jargon. Think about keywords that people would use to search for your paper and include them in your title. 2.

  19. 13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

    Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch. Use double-spaced text throughout your paper. Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point). Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section.

  20. Confusion to Clarity: Definition of Terms in a Research Paper

    In conclusion, the definition of terms in a research paper plays a critical role by providing clarity, establishing a common understanding, and enhancing communication among readers. The definition of terms section is an essential component that contributes to the overall quality, rigor, and effectiveness of a research paper.

  21. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process, ... Definition of measles; Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection; Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization

  22. The Egyptian pyramid chain was built along the now abandoned Ahramat

    Eman Ghoneim conceived the ideas, lead the research project, and conducted the data processing and interpretations. The manuscript was written and prepared by Eman Ghoneim.

  23. The Deloitte Global 2024 Gen Z and Millennial Survey

    Download the 2024 Gen Z and Millennial Report. 5 MB PDF. To learn more about the mental health findings, read the Mental Health Deep Dive. The 13th edition of Deloitte's Gen Z and Millennial Survey connected with nearly 23,000 respondents across 44 countries to track their experiences and expectations at work and in the world more broadly.

  24. Go Big Grad: Alice Young

    Major: Psychology (Pre-Med)Minor: Japanese, Spanish, Asian StudiesHometown: Omaha, NE What does graduating from Nebraska mean to you?It means the world to me to have achieved this, and graduating from Nebraska allows me to be proud of my public school education. The research process, from Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to paper writing, prepared me for my future.

  25. Research paper mill

    In research, a paper mill is a business that publishes poor or fake journal papers that seem to resemble genuine research, as well as sells authorship.. In some cases, paper mills are sophisticated operations that sell authorship positions on legitimate research, but in many cases the papers contain fraudulent data and can be heavily plagiarized or otherwise unprofessional.

  26. A Study on Students' Difficulties in Learning Vocabulary at Grade VIII

    This study investigated the difficulties faced by eighth-grade students at MTsN Padangsidimpuan in learning English vocabulary. The research revealed that students encountered various challenges, including Pronunciation, Meaning, Spelling, Memorization, Differentiation and Sentence integration. Additionally, the study identified several factors contributing to these difficulties: Lack of ...

  27. How to Write a Literature Review

    Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate; Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic. Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We've written a step-by-step ...

  28. Writing a Research Paper Conclusion

    Depending on the nature of your research paper, this might mean restating your thesis and arguments, or summarizing your overall findings. Argumentative paper: Restate your thesis and arguments. In an argumentative paper, you will have presented a thesis statement in your introduction, expressing the overall claim your paper argues for. In the ...

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    Access the portal of NASS, the official source of agricultural data and statistics in the US, and explore various reports and products.