Research is testing or presenting your causal hypotheses regarding the occurrence of a phenomenon, a new discovery, verification of an existing theory, or invention of new methods and techniques, by exploiting the known natural phenomena. Research techniques may be of diverse kinds and can range over different fields. They all have one thing in common; the final presentation of a research paper. The papers have to be written in a specific format, since they have to be published in journals, which have their own criteria.
A research paper format is designed to bring out clarity and conciseness in the presentation of a topic. The paper reaches out to an audience from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, a lucid format and simplicity in presentation is required, not only to comprehend it well, but also to make it accessible and easily referable. Following is the generic structure of any research paper.
Title: This is the simplest and one of the most important parts of the paper. The research paper topic or title makes the first impression on the minds of the readers and it conveys the gist of your research in a nutshell. Let it be crisp and to the point. Avoid very long titles and remember what Shakespeare said, 'brevity is the soul of wit!'. After the title, come the names of the authors, with an asterisk or any other symbol, and the institutes they work in. Usually, the name of the lead author comes first and then the collaborators. The asterisks are indicators to the footnotes of the page, where the respective email addresses of the authors, are provided for correspondence.
Abstract: The abstract is the next most important thing, after the title. It is a detailed, yet concise summary of what you present in your paper. It should include an indicator, as to what a reader can expect. It includes your ideas, reasons, and goals for exploring the subject.
Introduction: This part introduces the topic of your research, its background, and previous research developments in the field. Ideally, it should lucidly explain the evolution of the concept of research through time, and the part you have played in furthering the research.
When you mention any previous work performed by other people in the field, you must give references to their relevant research papers. This is done by giving superscript numbers at the place, where you mention their work, in the introduction, or the main body of the paper. All the details of these numbered references are then placed at the end of the paper. The introduction should also present the outline of presentation for the rest of the paper and the extra appendices.
Main Body: As the name suggests, this is the core part of your research, which presents your method of investigation, observations, calculations, and analysis. It should begin with basic concepts and lead the reader in a stepwise manner, through your course of research. It should be as lucid as possible and aided with figures, graphs, and illustrations, if needed. The main body is the logical link between the abstract and the concluding part of your paper.
Conclusion: This is the finale of your research paper and is the logical interpretation of results of your investigation. It is a summary of what your research has found and how it has contributed to the existing body of knowledge. It also includes the future possibilities of your research work. It is a frank analysis of your successes and failures. Actually, there is never any failure in research and every form of new research either proves or disproves a line of thought. In short, a conclusion is a precise analysis of what your results mean, in terms of the bigger picture.
Acknowledgments: Any research effort, though performed by a few, is a result of contributions from many other people, who contribute directly or indirectly to the understanding of that subject. In the acknowledgment section, the author can give due credit to his contemporaries and teachers for the specific help he received from them, during his research work. It shows that research is not an individual endeavor, but team work.
References: This is a detailed list of research papers, which the authors have referred, for their research pertaining to specific topics of inquiry, and whose numbered references are provided in the main body. It is also known as bibliography. Every reference must be provided with the name of the authors, name of the journal in which it was published, along with its volume and issue number, the year of publishing, and the page number. This referencing is very important, as not only does it help the readers in following your paper, but also gives due credit to your predecessors, for their original work.
Appendices: An appendix is an extra part attached at the end of the paper, which includes some fundamental calculations or explanations not provided in the main body. It often contains an elucidation of the basic tools and techniques used in the main part of the body. Appendices may be data tables or other forms of data, which are required for reference. Important, but elementary concepts are generally relegated to appendices.
Page setting: The page and margin settings of a research paper may change according to the journal in which you are publishing. Refer to older publications, for specifications. Generally, one writes only on the right hand side of a paper and uses double-spacing. A new typesetting language and tool called Latex is also available, which gives you all that you need as default, once you specify the type of your research paper. It also contains macros for inserting complex mathematical symbols, and is now widely used for creating beautiful research documents.
Learn and try to inculcate economy, simplicity, precision, and effectiveness in your writing style.