Writing a Research Paper: 11 Commonly Confused Elements
Understanding the importance of each section of a research paper is crucial for writing an impressive research paper. Therefore, to avoid making costly mistakes, read on to learn the differences between commonly confused research paper elements.
- Abstract Versus Introduction
An abstract summarizes the essential details of a research paper. These include the findings, methods, and conclusion. The section helps a reader determine whether they’ll read the entire article.
The introduction is the first part of a research paper. It provides the background and motivation for your study.
- Aim Versus Objectives
The aim states the outcome your study hopes to achieve. It’s a broad statement explaining what you wish to find out or prove through the research. Objectives outline the steps you will take to achieve your aim.
- Introduction Versus Problem Statement
The introduction provides the study background to help your readers understand the aim of your study. And a problem statement identifies the issue or situation your research will address by highlighting the gap between reality and the ideal situation.
- Study Background Versus Literature Review
The study background and the literature review talk about the existing knowledge in a research area and help identify the gaps that have remained unaddressed. However, the background of a study introduces the research topic, while the literature review evaluates the existing knowledge in the field.
- Research Question Versus Research Problem
A research problem identifies a broad issue that you would like to address through your research. And a research question identifies the specific concern that you will answer through investigation and critical thinking. You derive your research question from your research problem.
- Research Methodology Versus Research Methods
Research methodology refers to a set of principles that help you choose which methods you should use to conduct your research. Whereas research methods are the techniques you will use, such as surveys or lab experiments.
- Results Versus Discussion
The results section presents your study findings in a brief text supported by data presented in tables, figures, graphs, or other non-textual elements. The discussion section summarizes and interprets your findings in detail.
- Figure Captions Versus Labels Versus Legends
Captions: the titles or headings of figures or tables that tell the reader what the illustration contains.
Legends: brief descriptions of tables or figures, which often indicate how to interpret the information presented in them.
Labels: identify the components of a figure or illustration.
- Implications Versus Limitations Versus Recommendations
Research implications, limitations, and recommendations are essential components of the conclusion section.
Implications: suggest how the findings of your research can be useful in real-life policy-making and practices.
Limitations: disclose the shortcomings of your research to ensure readers understand the context in which they can apply your findings.
Recommendations: suggestions drawn from your study for a specific course of action for subsequent research.
- Citations Versus References Versus Bibliography
Citations and references are both used to credit authors whose works you may have referred to when writing your paper. You make a citation in the main body, i.e., where you’ve quoted or paraphrased another’s work.
References and bibliography refer to a list of all the source materials you have used to research a topic. You place both at the end of your paper. The only difference is, you must cite all references in the main text.
- Footnotes Versus Endnotes
Footnotes are comments or explanatory notes added at the bottom of a page. You mark the footnote and the statement or word you’re explaining with the same symbol or superscripted number.
Endnotes are supplementary information at the end of the article marked with a superscripted number.
I hope this article helps you understand the distinction between the elements we’ve discussed. When you have a clear understanding of the purpose each section serves, before drafting your paper, you will manage to write a successful research paper.