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The 7 Types of Academic Papers and Journal Articles

EditrixJD

In the vast universe of journal articles, writers are tasked with creating many different kinds of papers, all with specific purposes and audiences in mind. If you're just stepping into this fascinating world, take a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the types of papers you might need to write – understanding all of these different types can turbocharge your writing journey. While academic papers could fit into an endless list of categories, it's helpful to get started with a few common types you're likely to encounter (and write!) in the academic community.

1. Original research

You know a text is original research if the report is written by the researchers who ran the study. Written by experts for other experts, original research articles usually undergo the peer review process before submission to an academic journal.

In an original article, the authors outline their research by first presenting their hypothesis and research questions . Here they describe the purpose of their study. They detail the research methods they applied, lay out the results of their research, and present the results. Original research also includes implications and interpretations of the study to give other experts in the field new information on all of the subjects. What's really interesting about original research is that, upon reading a study, future researchers will generate ideas to build on articles with their own original research and keep the advancement of knowledge acquisition going. The possibilities are endless!

Within the category of original research, you will encounter some specific kinds of research articles. Some studies can include elements of more than one type:

  • Exploratory research Exploratory studies involve a kind of thought experiment and don't often include actual testing of a theory. Without the funding (and the time, technology, and commitment) to actually travel to other planets, a physicist might propose a new method to find other planets that could support life beyond Earth.
  • Constructive research A person undergoing constructive research builds something that will lead to new information and knowledge and solve a real-life problem. If a computer scientist creates a new algorithm and tests it out to see what it can show us, they are demonstrating constructive research.
  • Controlled experiments This type of research is usually conducted in a lab under controlled conditions. The benefit of isolating one aspect of a study is that it provides a clear result of an experiment without the need to discount your findings in the presence of other factors that could skew the outcome. For example, a medical researcher might use this type of study to determine how a virus responds to an antiviral drug in development.
  • Field research An experiment in which some, but not all, aspects can be controlled is an example of field research. For example, a study on the effects of a pesticide on outdoor flowering plants involves a few outside forces that researchers might not be able to successfully manage. A researcher could compare the plants exposed to the pesticide with a plant without pesticide exposure, but they would have little control over the seed quality, sun exposure, rain amounts, or other natural factors.
  • Natural study Under a natural experiment, a researcher takes a purely observational role and has little to no control over the factors involved. For example, a natural experiment could measure the effects of a free lunch program piloted in multiple schools over a period of time.
  • Cohort study A cohort study offers an observational study design in which researchers follow a group of individuals over time and observe common characteristics or exposure to a specific element. The researchers then examine within that cohort of people the outcomes related to a particular factor, compared to people in a similar group without that factor. For example, a study might examine the long-term health effects of smoking and identify a group of individuals who smoke. The study would look at the development of lung cancer or other diseases within that group of smokers and compare the prevalence of disease compared to a group of non-smokers.

2. Retrospective study

A retrospective study looks back through time to observe the relationship between a characteristic or level of exposure and a health outcome that arises in individuals. This type of study uses existing records and data sources for its observations. An example of a retroactive study is one that examines the connection between the use of a medication and the prevalence of a specific side effect.

3. Case study

A research case study involves an in-depth investigation of a particular individual, group, or situation with a goal to understand the effect of complex factors. A researcher performing a case study collects a variety of data on a case, including interviews, observations, and documents, and analyzes them to identify patterns, themes, and insights that can help to understand the case in greater depth.

Research case studies are often used in fields such as psychology, sociology, and education to explore complex human behaviors and experiences. Researchers in various fields can apply this type of study to investigate the effects of a particular intervention on a specific individua or group or the factors that contribute to successful outcomes in a particular setting. For example, a case study could examine a successful company known for its innovative management practices. The researcher could conduct interviews with employees and managers, review company documents and reports, and observe the company's operations to uncover the factors that contribute to its success.

Research case studies provide a rich and detailed understanding of a particular situation, which supplies the researcher with powerful tools and insights for future research.

4. Methodology study

A methodology study focuses on evaluating and improving research methods and techniques for application to a research question or field of study. This type of study can examine the validity and reliability of a particular research instrument, such as a survey or questionnaire. In such an analysis, researchers can collect data from a sample of participants using a specific research instrument and then examine the data to assess the validity and reliability of the instrument. They could also compare the results obtained with the instrument to the results obtained using other research methods.

Methodology studies advance the research field by developing more effective methodologies and improving the quality of research conducted.

5. Opinion article

An opinion article expresses the author's personal viewpoint on a topic. Unlike a research article, an opinion article is not based on objective reporting or research but offers the author's subjective analysis without the need for evidence or peer review. Opinion articles can be found in newspapers, magazines, and online publications, often written by journalists or experts in a field who want to share their views.

An example of an opinion article is an op-ed piece in a newspaper or online publication. Op-eds are typically published on the editorial page of a newspaper or magazine and are written by individuals who are not affiliated with the publication. An op-ed article might argue in favor of or against a particular policy, offer a personal reflection on a current event, or provide commentary on a controversial issue. The author would use persuasive language and evidence to support the argument and try to convince readers to adopt the same viewpoint.

Opinion articles provide individuals with a way to share their ideas with a broader audience and to contribute to public debate and discourse.

6. Review article

A review article summarizes and synthesizes existing research. The goal is to provide a comprehensive overview and identify gaps in the current knowledge to see what further research should be done. Review articles are typically published in academic journals by researchers or experts in a field. They can take the form of narrative reviews, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses.

An example of a review article is a narrative review of the literature on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The author might summarize and analyze randomized controlled trials and observational studies on the use of CBT, providing an overall assessment of the effectiveness of CBT for anxiety disorders and pointing out any yet unanswered questions about its application.

7. Short report

A short report presents the findings of a particular study or investigation. Named for its brevity, it is typically shorter in length than a full research paper or report and is intended to serve as a summary of the study's main findings.

Short reports include an introduction that provides background information on the study, a summary of the research methodology, a presentation of the key findings, and a conclusion that summarizes the main implications of the study. Short reports help researchers communicate their findings in a clear and concise manner and provide a summary of key information for different audiences.

If you're dipping your toes into academic writing or scholarly publishing, you'll find a world of different paper types, each with its own style, aim, and intended readers. It might seem like a lot to take in at first, but understanding these formats can seriously boost your ability to share your research and ideas. Plus, knowing the ins and outs of these various types means you can sift through published works more effectively, picking out the best sources for your own work. At the end of the day, this rich variety of academic papers and journal articles is what keeps the conversation lively in the scientific community, helping us all to keep learning and growing.

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Types of Research Papers: Overview

  • Types of Research Questions

A research paper is simply a piece of writing that uses outside sources. There are different types of research papers with varying purposes and expectations for sourcing. While this guide explains those differences broadly, disciplines and assignments vary.

Ask your professor for clarification on the purpose,  types of appropriate research questions , and expectations of sources for your assignment.

)
Academic argument essay To an audience of a single claim or thesis

Typically answers descriptive or explanatory questions, but could address normative or prescriptive questions. Question is focused, answerable through research, debatable, and important.

illustrate or exemplify points of argument. Includes primary sources such as empirical data, documents, or literature, or references to events and facts.

provide others' perspectives or interpretations that you discuss and synthesize  Includes secondary sources such as journal articles, books, and opinion pieces.

Analytical essay To break down an issue or idea into component parts and present an of related perspectives. Typically answers descriptive or explanatory questions. Question is focused, answerable through research, debatable, and important.

illustrate or exemplify aspects of the topic. Includes primary sources such as empirical data, documents, or literature, or references to events and facts.

provide others' perspectives or interpretations that you discuss and synthesize  Includes secondary sources such as journal articles, books, and opinion pieces.

Opinion essay To an audience of a viewpoint through Could answer most kinds of questions.

illustrate or exemplify points of argument. Includes primary sources such as empirical data, documents, or literature, or references to events and facts.

 provide others' perspectives or interpretations that you discuss and synthesize 

Could also include and reflections.
Literature review To research related to your original study in order to provide context and demonstrate its originality. Answers how a specific topic has been researched and what is known. and possibly relevant grey literature.
Annotated bibliography To , typically as a precursor to an argument or analytical essay. Depends on the assignment. Depends on the assignment, but generally each annotation summarizes and evaluates the source and connects it to the research question and possibly to other sources.
Expository essay To a topic. Depends on the assignment. Depends on the assignment, but could rely on background information and reference sources. Typically does not require extensive research.

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  • Literature Reviews
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Starting Your Research
  • Next: Types of Research Questions >>
  • Last Updated: Jun 10, 2024 3:50 PM
  • URL: https://guides.smu.edu/researchpapertypes
  • How to write a research paper

Last updated

11 January 2024

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With proper planning, knowledge, and framework, completing a research paper can be a fulfilling and exciting experience. 

Though it might initially sound slightly intimidating, this guide will help you embrace the challenge. 

By documenting your findings, you can inspire others and make a difference in your field. Here's how you can make your research paper unique and comprehensive.

  • What is a research paper?

Research papers allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a particular topic. These papers are usually lengthier and more detailed than typical essays, requiring deeper insight into the chosen topic.

To write a research paper, you must first choose a topic that interests you and is relevant to the field of study. Once you’ve selected your topic, gathering as many relevant resources as possible, including books, scholarly articles, credible websites, and other academic materials, is essential. You must then read and analyze these sources, summarizing their key points and identifying gaps in the current research.

You can formulate your ideas and opinions once you thoroughly understand the existing research. To get there might involve conducting original research, gathering data, or analyzing existing data sets. It could also involve presenting an original argument or interpretation of the existing research.

Writing a successful research paper involves presenting your findings clearly and engagingly, which might involve using charts, graphs, or other visual aids to present your data and using concise language to explain your findings. You must also ensure your paper adheres to relevant academic formatting guidelines, including proper citations and references.

Overall, writing a research paper requires a significant amount of time, effort, and attention to detail. However, it is also an enriching experience that allows you to delve deeply into a subject that interests you and contribute to the existing body of knowledge in your chosen field.

  • How long should a research paper be?

Research papers are deep dives into a topic. Therefore, they tend to be longer pieces of work than essays or opinion pieces. 

However, a suitable length depends on the complexity of the topic and your level of expertise. For instance, are you a first-year college student or an experienced professional? 

Also, remember that the best research papers provide valuable information for the benefit of others. Therefore, the quality of information matters most, not necessarily the length. Being concise is valuable.

Following these best practice steps will help keep your process simple and productive:

1. Gaining a deep understanding of any expectations

Before diving into your intended topic or beginning the research phase, take some time to orient yourself. Suppose there’s a specific topic assigned to you. In that case, it’s essential to deeply understand the question and organize your planning and approach in response. Pay attention to the key requirements and ensure you align your writing accordingly. 

This preparation step entails

Deeply understanding the task or assignment

Being clear about the expected format and length

Familiarizing yourself with the citation and referencing requirements 

Understanding any defined limits for your research contribution

Where applicable, speaking to your professor or research supervisor for further clarification

2. Choose your research topic

Select a research topic that aligns with both your interests and available resources. Ideally, focus on a field where you possess significant experience and analytical skills. In crafting your research paper, it's crucial to go beyond summarizing existing data and contribute fresh insights to the chosen area.

Consider narrowing your focus to a specific aspect of the topic. For example, if exploring the link between technology and mental health, delve into how social media use during the pandemic impacts the well-being of college students. Conducting interviews and surveys with students could provide firsthand data and unique perspectives, adding substantial value to the existing knowledge.

When finalizing your topic, adhere to legal and ethical norms in the relevant area (this ensures the integrity of your research, protects participants' rights, upholds intellectual property standards, and ensures transparency and accountability). Following these principles not only maintains the credibility of your work but also builds trust within your academic or professional community.

For instance, in writing about medical research, consider legal and ethical norms , including patient confidentiality laws and informed consent requirements. Similarly, if analyzing user data on social media platforms, be mindful of data privacy regulations, ensuring compliance with laws governing personal information collection and use. Aligning with legal and ethical standards not only avoids potential issues but also underscores the responsible conduct of your research.

3. Gather preliminary research

Once you’ve landed on your topic, it’s time to explore it further. You’ll want to discover more about available resources and existing research relevant to your assignment at this stage. 

This exploratory phase is vital as you may discover issues with your original idea or realize you have insufficient resources to explore the topic effectively. This key bit of groundwork allows you to redirect your research topic in a different, more feasible, or more relevant direction if necessary. 

Spending ample time at this stage ensures you gather everything you need, learn as much as you can about the topic, and discover gaps where the topic has yet to be sufficiently covered, offering an opportunity to research it further. 

4. Define your research question

To produce a well-structured and focused paper, it is imperative to formulate a clear and precise research question that will guide your work. Your research question must be informed by the existing literature and tailored to the scope and objectives of your project. By refining your focus, you can produce a thoughtful and engaging paper that effectively communicates your ideas to your readers.

5. Write a thesis statement

A thesis statement is a one-to-two-sentence summary of your research paper's main argument or direction. It serves as an overall guide to summarize the overall intent of the research paper for you and anyone wanting to know more about the research.

A strong thesis statement is:

Concise and clear: Explain your case in simple sentences (avoid covering multiple ideas). It might help to think of this section as an elevator pitch.

Specific: Ensure that there is no ambiguity in your statement and that your summary covers the points argued in the paper.

Debatable: A thesis statement puts forward a specific argument––it is not merely a statement but a debatable point that can be analyzed and discussed.

Here are three thesis statement examples from different disciplines:

Psychology thesis example: "We're studying adults aged 25-40 to see if taking short breaks for mindfulness can help with stress. Our goal is to find practical ways to manage anxiety better."

Environmental science thesis example: "This research paper looks into how having more city parks might make the air cleaner and keep people healthier. I want to find out if more green spaces means breathing fewer carcinogens in big cities."

UX research thesis example: "This study focuses on improving mobile banking for older adults using ethnographic research, eye-tracking analysis, and interactive prototyping. We investigate the usefulness of eye-tracking analysis with older individuals, aiming to spark debate and offer fresh perspectives on UX design and digital inclusivity for the aging population."

6. Conduct in-depth research

A research paper doesn’t just include research that you’ve uncovered from other papers and studies but your fresh insights, too. You will seek to become an expert on your topic––understanding the nuances in the current leading theories. You will analyze existing research and add your thinking and discoveries.  It's crucial to conduct well-designed research that is rigorous, robust, and based on reliable sources. Suppose a research paper lacks evidence or is biased. In that case, it won't benefit the academic community or the general public. Therefore, examining the topic thoroughly and furthering its understanding through high-quality research is essential. That usually means conducting new research. Depending on the area under investigation, you may conduct surveys, interviews, diary studies , or observational research to uncover new insights or bolster current claims.

7. Determine supporting evidence

Not every piece of research you’ve discovered will be relevant to your research paper. It’s important to categorize the most meaningful evidence to include alongside your discoveries. It's important to include evidence that doesn't support your claims to avoid exclusion bias and ensure a fair research paper.

8. Write a research paper outline

Before diving in and writing the whole paper, start with an outline. It will help you to see if more research is needed, and it will provide a framework by which to write a more compelling paper. Your supervisor may even request an outline to approve before beginning to write the first draft of the full paper. An outline will include your topic, thesis statement, key headings, short summaries of the research, and your arguments.

9. Write your first draft

Once you feel confident about your outline and sources, it’s time to write your first draft. While penning a long piece of content can be intimidating, if you’ve laid the groundwork, you will have a structure to help you move steadily through each section. To keep up motivation and inspiration, it’s often best to keep the pace quick. Stopping for long periods can interrupt your flow and make jumping back in harder than writing when things are fresh in your mind.

10. Cite your sources correctly

It's always a good practice to give credit where it's due, and the same goes for citing any works that have influenced your paper. Building your arguments on credible references adds value and authenticity to your research. In the formatting guidelines section, you’ll find an overview of different citation styles (MLA, CMOS, or APA), which will help you meet any publishing or academic requirements and strengthen your paper's credibility. It is essential to follow the guidelines provided by your school or the publication you are submitting to ensure the accuracy and relevance of your citations.

11. Ensure your work is original

It is crucial to ensure the originality of your paper, as plagiarism can lead to serious consequences. To avoid plagiarism, you should use proper paraphrasing and quoting techniques. Paraphrasing is rewriting a text in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. Quoting involves directly citing the source. Giving credit to the original author or source is essential whenever you borrow their ideas or words. You can also use plagiarism detection tools such as Scribbr or Grammarly to check the originality of your paper. These tools compare your draft writing to a vast database of online sources. If you find any accidental plagiarism, you should correct it immediately by rephrasing or citing the source.

12. Revise, edit, and proofread

One of the essential qualities of excellent writers is their ability to understand the importance of editing and proofreading. Even though it's tempting to call it a day once you've finished your writing, editing your work can significantly improve its quality. It's natural to overlook the weaker areas when you've just finished writing a paper. Therefore, it's best to take a break of a day or two, or even up to a week, to refresh your mind. This way, you can return to your work with a new perspective. After some breathing room, you can spot any inconsistencies, spelling and grammar errors, typos, or missing citations and correct them. 

  • The best research paper format 

The format of your research paper should align with the requirements set forth by your college, school, or target publication. 

There is no one “best” format, per se. Depending on the stated requirements, you may need to include the following elements:

Title page: The title page of a research paper typically includes the title, author's name, and institutional affiliation and may include additional information such as a course name or instructor's name. 

Table of contents: Include a table of contents to make it easy for readers to find specific sections of your paper.

Abstract: The abstract is a summary of the purpose of the paper.

Methods : In this section, describe the research methods used. This may include collecting data , conducting interviews, or doing field research .

Results: Summarize the conclusions you drew from your research in this section.

Discussion: In this section, discuss the implications of your research . Be sure to mention any significant limitations to your approach and suggest areas for further research.

Tables, charts, and illustrations: Use tables, charts, and illustrations to help convey your research findings and make them easier to understand.

Works cited or reference page: Include a works cited or reference page to give credit to the sources that you used to conduct your research.

Bibliography: Provide a list of all the sources you consulted while conducting your research.

Dedication and acknowledgments : Optionally, you may include a dedication and acknowledgments section to thank individuals who helped you with your research.

  • General style and formatting guidelines

Formatting your research paper means you can submit it to your college, journal, or other publications in compliance with their criteria.

Research papers tend to follow the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), or Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) guidelines.

Here’s how each style guide is typically used:

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS):

CMOS is a versatile style guide used for various types of writing. It's known for its flexibility and use in the humanities. CMOS provides guidelines for citations, formatting, and overall writing style. It allows for both footnotes and in-text citations, giving writers options based on their preferences or publication requirements.

American Psychological Association (APA):

APA is common in the social sciences. It’s hailed for its clarity and emphasis on precision. It has specific rules for citing sources, creating references, and formatting papers. APA style uses in-text citations with an accompanying reference list. It's designed to convey information efficiently and is widely used in academic and scientific writing.

Modern Language Association (MLA):

MLA is widely used in the humanities, especially literature and language studies. It emphasizes the author-page format for in-text citations and provides guidelines for creating a "Works Cited" page. MLA is known for its focus on the author's name and the literary works cited. It’s frequently used in disciplines that prioritize literary analysis and critical thinking.

To confirm you're using the latest style guide, check the official website or publisher's site for updates, consult academic resources, and verify the guide's publication date. Online platforms and educational resources may also provide summaries and alerts about any revisions or additions to the style guide.

Citing sources

When working on your research paper, it's important to cite the sources you used properly. Your citation style will guide you through this process. Generally, there are three parts to citing sources in your research paper: 

First, provide a brief citation in the body of your essay. This is also known as a parenthetical or in-text citation. 

Second, include a full citation in the Reference list at the end of your paper. Different types of citations include in-text citations, footnotes, and reference lists. 

In-text citations include the author's surname and the date of the citation. 

Footnotes appear at the bottom of each page of your research paper. They may also be summarized within a reference list at the end of the paper. 

A reference list includes all of the research used within the paper at the end of the document. It should include the author, date, paper title, and publisher listed in the order that aligns with your citation style.

10 research paper writing tips:

Following some best practices is essential to writing a research paper that contributes to your field of study and creates a positive impact.

These tactics will help you structure your argument effectively and ensure your work benefits others:

Clear and precise language:  Ensure your language is unambiguous. Use academic language appropriately, but keep it simple. Also, provide clear takeaways for your audience.

Effective idea separation:  Organize the vast amount of information and sources in your paper with paragraphs and titles. Create easily digestible sections for your readers to navigate through.

Compelling intro:  Craft an engaging introduction that captures your reader's interest. Hook your audience and motivate them to continue reading.

Thorough revision and editing:  Take the time to review and edit your paper comprehensively. Use tools like Grammarly to detect and correct small, overlooked errors.

Thesis precision:  Develop a clear and concise thesis statement that guides your paper. Ensure that your thesis aligns with your research's overall purpose and contribution.

Logical flow of ideas:  Maintain a logical progression throughout the paper. Use transitions effectively to connect different sections and maintain coherence.

Critical evaluation of sources:  Evaluate and critically assess the relevance and reliability of your sources. Ensure that your research is based on credible and up-to-date information.

Thematic consistency:  Maintain a consistent theme throughout the paper. Ensure that all sections contribute cohesively to the overall argument.

Relevant supporting evidence:  Provide concise and relevant evidence to support your arguments. Avoid unnecessary details that may distract from the main points.

Embrace counterarguments:  Acknowledge and address opposing views to strengthen your position. Show that you have considered alternative arguments in your field.

7 research tips 

If you want your paper to not only be well-written but also contribute to the progress of human knowledge, consider these tips to take your paper to the next level:

Selecting the appropriate topic: The topic you select should align with your area of expertise, comply with the requirements of your project, and have sufficient resources for a comprehensive investigation.

Use academic databases: Academic databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and JSTOR offer a wealth of research papers that can help you discover everything you need to know about your chosen topic.

Critically evaluate sources: It is important not to accept research findings at face value. Instead, it is crucial to critically analyze the information to avoid jumping to conclusions or overlooking important details. A well-written research paper requires a critical analysis with thorough reasoning to support claims.

Diversify your sources: Expand your research horizons by exploring a variety of sources beyond the standard databases. Utilize books, conference proceedings, and interviews to gather diverse perspectives and enrich your understanding of the topic.

Take detailed notes: Detailed note-taking is crucial during research and can help you form the outline and body of your paper.

Stay up on trends: Keep abreast of the latest developments in your field by regularly checking for recent publications. Subscribe to newsletters, follow relevant journals, and attend conferences to stay informed about emerging trends and advancements. 

Engage in peer review: Seek feedback from peers or mentors to ensure the rigor and validity of your research . Peer review helps identify potential weaknesses in your methodology and strengthens the overall credibility of your findings.

  • The real-world impact of research papers

Writing a research paper is more than an academic or business exercise. The experience provides an opportunity to explore a subject in-depth, broaden one's understanding, and arrive at meaningful conclusions. With careful planning, dedication, and hard work, writing a research paper can be a fulfilling and enriching experience contributing to advancing knowledge.

How do I publish my research paper? 

Many academics wish to publish their research papers. While challenging, your paper might get traction if it covers new and well-written information. To publish your research paper, find a target publication, thoroughly read their guidelines, format your paper accordingly, and send it to them per their instructions. You may need to include a cover letter, too. After submission, your paper may be peer-reviewed by experts to assess its legitimacy, quality, originality, and methodology. Following review, you will be informed by the publication whether they have accepted or rejected your paper. 

What is a good opening sentence for a research paper? 

Beginning your research paper with a compelling introduction can ensure readers are interested in going further. A relevant quote, a compelling statistic, or a bold argument can start the paper and hook your reader. Remember, though, that the most important aspect of a research paper is the quality of the information––not necessarily your ability to storytell, so ensure anything you write aligns with your goals.

Research paper vs. a research proposal—what’s the difference?

While some may confuse research papers and proposals, they are different documents. 

A research proposal comes before a research paper. It is a detailed document that outlines an intended area of exploration. It includes the research topic, methodology, timeline, sources, and potential conclusions. Research proposals are often required when seeking approval to conduct research. 

A research paper is a summary of research findings. A research paper follows a structured format to present those findings and construct an argument or conclusion.

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What is a research paper?

what is not a type of research paper

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.

A research paper requires you to form an opinion on a topic, research and gain expert knowledge on that topic, and then back up your own opinions and assertions with facts found through your thorough research.

➡️ Read more about  different types of research papers .

What is the difference between a research paper and a thesis?

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

A thesis is a document students of higher education write to obtain an academic degree or qualification. Usually, it is longer than a research paper and takes multiple years to complete.

Generally associated with graduate/postgraduate studies, it is carried out under the supervision of a professor or other academic of the university.

A major difference between a research paper and a thesis is that:

  • a research paper presents certain facts that have already been researched and explained by others
  • a thesis starts with a certain scholarly question or statement, which then leads to further research and new findings

This means that a thesis requires the author to input original work and their own findings in a certain field, whereas the research paper can be completed with extensive research only.

➡️ Getting ready to start a research paper or thesis? Take a look at our guides on how to start a research paper or how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

Frequently Asked Questions about research papers

Take a look at this list of the top 21 Free Online Journal and Research Databases , such as ScienceOpen , Directory of Open Access Journals , ERIC , and many more.

Mason Porter, Professor at UCLA, explains in this forum post the main reasons to write a research paper:

  • To create new knowledge and disseminate it.
  • To teach science and how to write about it in an academic style.
  • Some practical benefits: prestige, establishing credentials, requirements for grants or to help one get a future grant proposal, and so on.

Generally, people involved in the academia. Research papers are mostly written by higher education students and professional researchers.

Yes, a research paper is the same as a scientific paper. Both papers have the same purpose and format.

A major difference between a research paper and a thesis is that the former presents certain facts that have already been researched and explained by others, whereas the latter starts with a certain scholarly question or statement, which then leads to further research and new findings.

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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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Although research paper assignments may vary widely, there are essentially two basic types of research papers. These are argumentative and analytical .

Argumentative

In an argumentative research paper, a student both states the topic they will be exploring and immediately establishes the position they will argue regarding that topic in a thesis statement . This type of paper hopes to persuade its reader to adopt the view presented.

 Example : a paper that argues the merits of early exposure to reading for children would be an argumentative essay.

An analytical research paper states the topic that the writer will be exploring, usually in the form of a question, initially taking a neutral stance. The body of the paper will present multifaceted information and, ultimately, the writer will state their conclusion, based on the information that has unfolded throughout the course of the essay. This type of paper hopes to offer a well-supported critical analysis without necessarily persuading the reader to any particular way of thinking.

Example : a paper that explores the use of metaphor in one of Shakespeare's sonnets would be an example of an analytical essay.

*Please note that this LibGuide will primarily be concerning itself with argumentative or rhetorical research papers.

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Research: What it is.

A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition. It is, perhaps, helpful to think of the research paper as a living thing, which grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources related to a specific topic. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph into a different genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic article). The research paper serves not only to further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to increase her knowledge in that field. It is also possible to identify a research paper by what it is not.

Research: What it is not.

A research paper is not simply an informed summary of a topic by means of primary and secondary sources. It is neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an expository essay consisting solely of one's interpretation of a text nor an overview of a particular topic. Instead, it is a genre that requires one to spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the intent to offer interpretations of the texts, and not unconscious regurgitations of those sources. The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic, but to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand. This is accomplished through two major types of research papers.

Two major types of research papers.

Argumentative research paper:

The argumentative research paper consists of an introduction in which the writer clearly introduces the topic and informs his audience exactly which stance he intends to take; this stance is often identified as the thesis statement . An important goal of the argumentative research paper is persuasion, which means the topic chosen should be debatable or controversial. For example, it would be difficult for a student to successfully argue in favor of the following stance.

Perhaps 25 years ago this topic would have been debatable; however, today, it is assumed that smoking cigarettes is, indeed, harmful to one's health. A better thesis would be the following.

In this sentence, the writer is not challenging the current accepted stance that both firsthand and secondhand cigarette smoke is dangerous; rather, she is positing that the social acceptance of the latter over the former is indicative of a cultural double-standard of sorts. The student would support this thesis throughout her paper by means of both primary and secondary sources, with the intent to persuade her audience that her particular interpretation of the situation is viable.

Analytical research paper:

The analytical research paper often begins with the student asking a question (a.k.a. a research question) on which he has taken no stance. Such a paper is often an exercise in exploration and evaluation. For example, perhaps one is interested in the Old English poem Beowulf . He has read the poem intently and desires to offer a fresh reading of the poem to the academic community. His question may be as follows.

His research may lead him to the following conclusion.

Though his topic may be debatable and controversial, it is not the student's intent to persuade the audience that his ideas are right while those of others are wrong. Instead, his goal is to offer a critical interpretation of primary and secondary sources throughout the paper--sources that should, ultimately, buttress his particular analysis of the topic. The following is an example of what his thesis statement may look like once he has completed his research.

This statement does not negate the traditional readings of Beowulf ; instead, it offers a fresh and detailed reading of the poem that will be supported by the student's research.

It is typically not until the student has begun the writing process that his thesis statement begins to take solid form. In fact, the thesis statement in an analytical paper is often more fluid than the thesis in an argumentative paper. Such is one of the benefits of approaching the topic without a predetermined stance.

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Introduction

Before beginning your paper, you need to decide how you plan to design the study .

The research design refers to the overall strategy and analytical approach that you have chosen in order to integrate, in a coherent and logical way, the different components of the study, thus ensuring that the research problem will be thoroughly investigated. It constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement, and interpretation of information and data. Note that the research problem determines the type of design you choose, not the other way around!

De Vaus, D. A. Research Design in Social Research . London: SAGE, 2001; Trochim, William M.K. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006.

General Structure and Writing Style

The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables you to effectively address the research problem logically and as unambiguously as possible . In social sciences research, obtaining information relevant to the research problem generally entails specifying the type of evidence needed to test the underlying assumptions of a theory, to evaluate a program, or to accurately describe and assess meaning related to an observable phenomenon.

With this in mind, a common mistake made by researchers is that they begin their investigations before they have thought critically about what information is required to address the research problem. Without attending to these design issues beforehand, the overall research problem will not be adequately addressed and any conclusions drawn will run the risk of being weak and unconvincing. As a consequence, the overall validity of the study will be undermined.

The length and complexity of describing the research design in your paper can vary considerably, but any well-developed description will achieve the following :

  • Identify the research problem clearly and justify its selection, particularly in relation to any valid alternative designs that could have been used,
  • Review and synthesize previously published literature associated with the research problem,
  • Clearly and explicitly specify hypotheses [i.e., research questions] central to the problem,
  • Effectively describe the information and/or data which will be necessary for an adequate testing of the hypotheses and explain how such information and/or data will be obtained, and
  • Describe the methods of analysis to be applied to the data in determining whether or not the hypotheses are true or false.

The research design is usually incorporated into the introduction of your paper . You can obtain an overall sense of what to do by reviewing studies that have utilized the same research design [e.g., using a case study approach]. This can help you develop an outline to follow for your own paper.

NOTE: Use the SAGE Research Methods Online and Cases and the SAGE Research Methods Videos databases to search for scholarly resources on how to apply specific research designs and methods . The Research Methods Online database contains links to more than 175,000 pages of SAGE publisher's book, journal, and reference content on quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methodologies. Also included is a collection of case studies of social research projects that can be used to help you better understand abstract or complex methodological concepts. The Research Methods Videos database contains hours of tutorials, interviews, video case studies, and mini-documentaries covering the entire research process.

Creswell, John W. and J. David Creswell. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches . 5th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2018; De Vaus, D. A. Research Design in Social Research . London: SAGE, 2001; Gorard, Stephen. Research Design: Creating Robust Approaches for the Social Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013; Leedy, Paul D. and Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Practical Research: Planning and Design . Tenth edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2013; Vogt, W. Paul, Dianna C. Gardner, and Lynne M. Haeffele. When to Use What Research Design . New York: Guilford, 2012.

Action Research Design

Definition and Purpose

The essentials of action research design follow a characteristic cycle whereby initially an exploratory stance is adopted, where an understanding of a problem is developed and plans are made for some form of interventionary strategy. Then the intervention is carried out [the "action" in action research] during which time, pertinent observations are collected in various forms. The new interventional strategies are carried out, and this cyclic process repeats, continuing until a sufficient understanding of [or a valid implementation solution for] the problem is achieved. The protocol is iterative or cyclical in nature and is intended to foster deeper understanding of a given situation, starting with conceptualizing and particularizing the problem and moving through several interventions and evaluations.

What do these studies tell you ?

  • This is a collaborative and adaptive research design that lends itself to use in work or community situations.
  • Design focuses on pragmatic and solution-driven research outcomes rather than testing theories.
  • When practitioners use action research, it has the potential to increase the amount they learn consciously from their experience; the action research cycle can be regarded as a learning cycle.
  • Action research studies often have direct and obvious relevance to improving practice and advocating for change.
  • There are no hidden controls or preemption of direction by the researcher.

What these studies don't tell you ?

  • It is harder to do than conducting conventional research because the researcher takes on responsibilities of advocating for change as well as for researching the topic.
  • Action research is much harder to write up because it is less likely that you can use a standard format to report your findings effectively [i.e., data is often in the form of stories or observation].
  • Personal over-involvement of the researcher may bias research results.
  • The cyclic nature of action research to achieve its twin outcomes of action [e.g. change] and research [e.g. understanding] is time-consuming and complex to conduct.
  • Advocating for change usually requires buy-in from study participants.

Coghlan, David and Mary Brydon-Miller. The Sage Encyclopedia of Action Research . Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage, 2014; Efron, Sara Efrat and Ruth Ravid. Action Research in Education: A Practical Guide . New York: Guilford, 2013; Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction . Chapter 18, Action Research. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007; Gorard, Stephen. Research Design: Creating Robust Approaches for the Social Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013; Kemmis, Stephen and Robin McTaggart. “Participatory Action Research.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2000), pp. 567-605; McNiff, Jean. Writing and Doing Action Research . London: Sage, 2014; Reason, Peter and Hilary Bradbury. Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2001.

Case Study Design

A case study is an in-depth study of a particular research problem rather than a sweeping statistical survey or comprehensive comparative inquiry. It is often used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one or a few easily researchable examples. The case study research design is also useful for testing whether a specific theory and model actually applies to phenomena in the real world. It is a useful design when not much is known about an issue or phenomenon.

  • Approach excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships.
  • A researcher using a case study design can apply a variety of methodologies and rely on a variety of sources to investigate a research problem.
  • Design can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research.
  • Social scientists, in particular, make wide use of this research design to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of concepts and theories and the extension of methodologies.
  • The design can provide detailed descriptions of specific and rare cases.
  • A single or small number of cases offers little basis for establishing reliability or to generalize the findings to a wider population of people, places, or things.
  • Intense exposure to the study of a case may bias a researcher's interpretation of the findings.
  • Design does not facilitate assessment of cause and effect relationships.
  • Vital information may be missing, making the case hard to interpret.
  • The case may not be representative or typical of the larger problem being investigated.
  • If the criteria for selecting a case is because it represents a very unusual or unique phenomenon or problem for study, then your interpretation of the findings can only apply to that particular case.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 4, Flexible Methods: Case Study Design. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Greenhalgh, Trisha, editor. Case Study Evaluation: Past, Present and Future Challenges . Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, 2015; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Stake, Robert E. The Art of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1995; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Theory . Applied Social Research Methods Series, no. 5. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2003.

Causal Design

Causality studies may be thought of as understanding a phenomenon in terms of conditional statements in the form, “If X, then Y.” This type of research is used to measure what impact a specific change will have on existing norms and assumptions. Most social scientists seek causal explanations that reflect tests of hypotheses. Causal effect (nomothetic perspective) occurs when variation in one phenomenon, an independent variable, leads to or results, on average, in variation in another phenomenon, the dependent variable.

Conditions necessary for determining causality:

  • Empirical association -- a valid conclusion is based on finding an association between the independent variable and the dependent variable.
  • Appropriate time order -- to conclude that causation was involved, one must see that cases were exposed to variation in the independent variable before variation in the dependent variable.
  • Nonspuriousness -- a relationship between two variables that is not due to variation in a third variable.
  • Causality research designs assist researchers in understanding why the world works the way it does through the process of proving a causal link between variables and by the process of eliminating other possibilities.
  • Replication is possible.
  • There is greater confidence the study has internal validity due to the systematic subject selection and equity of groups being compared.
  • Not all relationships are causal! The possibility always exists that, by sheer coincidence, two unrelated events appear to be related [e.g., Punxatawney Phil could accurately predict the duration of Winter for five consecutive years but, the fact remains, he's just a big, furry rodent].
  • Conclusions about causal relationships are difficult to determine due to a variety of extraneous and confounding variables that exist in a social environment. This means causality can only be inferred, never proven.
  • If two variables are correlated, the cause must come before the effect. However, even though two variables might be causally related, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which variable comes first and, therefore, to establish which variable is the actual cause and which is the  actual effect.

Beach, Derek and Rasmus Brun Pedersen. Causal Case Study Methods: Foundations and Guidelines for Comparing, Matching, and Tracing . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2016; Bachman, Ronet. The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice . Chapter 5, Causation and Research Designs. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2007; Brewer, Ernest W. and Jennifer Kubn. “Causal-Comparative Design.” In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 125-132; Causal Research Design: Experimentation. Anonymous SlideShare Presentation; Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction . Chapter 11, Nonexperimental Research: Correlational Designs. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007; Trochim, William M.K. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006.

Cohort Design

Often used in the medical sciences, but also found in the applied social sciences, a cohort study generally refers to a study conducted over a period of time involving members of a population which the subject or representative member comes from, and who are united by some commonality or similarity. Using a quantitative framework, a cohort study makes note of statistical occurrence within a specialized subgroup, united by same or similar characteristics that are relevant to the research problem being investigated, rather than studying statistical occurrence within the general population. Using a qualitative framework, cohort studies generally gather data using methods of observation. Cohorts can be either "open" or "closed."

  • Open Cohort Studies [dynamic populations, such as the population of Los Angeles] involve a population that is defined just by the state of being a part of the study in question (and being monitored for the outcome). Date of entry and exit from the study is individually defined, therefore, the size of the study population is not constant. In open cohort studies, researchers can only calculate rate based data, such as, incidence rates and variants thereof.
  • Closed Cohort Studies [static populations, such as patients entered into a clinical trial] involve participants who enter into the study at one defining point in time and where it is presumed that no new participants can enter the cohort. Given this, the number of study participants remains constant (or can only decrease).
  • The use of cohorts is often mandatory because a randomized control study may be unethical. For example, you cannot deliberately expose people to asbestos, you can only study its effects on those who have already been exposed. Research that measures risk factors often relies upon cohort designs.
  • Because cohort studies measure potential causes before the outcome has occurred, they can demonstrate that these “causes” preceded the outcome, thereby avoiding the debate as to which is the cause and which is the effect.
  • Cohort analysis is highly flexible and can provide insight into effects over time and related to a variety of different types of changes [e.g., social, cultural, political, economic, etc.].
  • Either original data or secondary data can be used in this design.
  • In cases where a comparative analysis of two cohorts is made [e.g., studying the effects of one group exposed to asbestos and one that has not], a researcher cannot control for all other factors that might differ between the two groups. These factors are known as confounding variables.
  • Cohort studies can end up taking a long time to complete if the researcher must wait for the conditions of interest to develop within the group. This also increases the chance that key variables change during the course of the study, potentially impacting the validity of the findings.
  • Due to the lack of randominization in the cohort design, its external validity is lower than that of study designs where the researcher randomly assigns participants.

Healy P, Devane D. “Methodological Considerations in Cohort Study Designs.” Nurse Researcher 18 (2011): 32-36; Glenn, Norval D, editor. Cohort Analysis . 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Levin, Kate Ann. Study Design IV: Cohort Studies. Evidence-Based Dentistry 7 (2003): 51–52; Payne, Geoff. “Cohort Study.” In The SAGE Dictionary of Social Research Methods . Victor Jupp, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), pp. 31-33; Study Design 101. Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library. George Washington University, November 2011; Cohort Study. Wikipedia.

Cross-Sectional Design

Cross-sectional research designs have three distinctive features: no time dimension; a reliance on existing differences rather than change following intervention; and, groups are selected based on existing differences rather than random allocation. The cross-sectional design can only measure differences between or from among a variety of people, subjects, or phenomena rather than a process of change. As such, researchers using this design can only employ a relatively passive approach to making causal inferences based on findings.

  • Cross-sectional studies provide a clear 'snapshot' of the outcome and the characteristics associated with it, at a specific point in time.
  • Unlike an experimental design, where there is an active intervention by the researcher to produce and measure change or to create differences, cross-sectional designs focus on studying and drawing inferences from existing differences between people, subjects, or phenomena.
  • Entails collecting data at and concerning one point in time. While longitudinal studies involve taking multiple measures over an extended period of time, cross-sectional research is focused on finding relationships between variables at one moment in time.
  • Groups identified for study are purposely selected based upon existing differences in the sample rather than seeking random sampling.
  • Cross-section studies are capable of using data from a large number of subjects and, unlike observational studies, is not geographically bound.
  • Can estimate prevalence of an outcome of interest because the sample is usually taken from the whole population.
  • Because cross-sectional designs generally use survey techniques to gather data, they are relatively inexpensive and take up little time to conduct.
  • Finding people, subjects, or phenomena to study that are very similar except in one specific variable can be difficult.
  • Results are static and time bound and, therefore, give no indication of a sequence of events or reveal historical or temporal contexts.
  • Studies cannot be utilized to establish cause and effect relationships.
  • This design only provides a snapshot of analysis so there is always the possibility that a study could have differing results if another time-frame had been chosen.
  • There is no follow up to the findings.

Bethlehem, Jelke. "7: Cross-sectional Research." In Research Methodology in the Social, Behavioural and Life Sciences . Herman J Adèr and Gideon J Mellenbergh, editors. (London, England: Sage, 1999), pp. 110-43; Bourque, Linda B. “Cross-Sectional Design.” In  The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods . Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Alan Bryman, and Tim Futing Liao. (Thousand Oaks, CA: 2004), pp. 230-231; Hall, John. “Cross-Sectional Survey Design.” In Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods . Paul J. Lavrakas, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 173-174; Helen Barratt, Maria Kirwan. Cross-Sectional Studies: Design Application, Strengths and Weaknesses of Cross-Sectional Studies. Healthknowledge, 2009. Cross-Sectional Study. Wikipedia.

Descriptive Design

Descriptive research designs help provide answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and how associated with a particular research problem; a descriptive study cannot conclusively ascertain answers to why. Descriptive research is used to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena and to describe "what exists" with respect to variables or conditions in a situation.

  • The subject is being observed in a completely natural and unchanged natural environment. True experiments, whilst giving analyzable data, often adversely influence the normal behavior of the subject [a.k.a., the Heisenberg effect whereby measurements of certain systems cannot be made without affecting the systems].
  • Descriptive research is often used as a pre-cursor to more quantitative research designs with the general overview giving some valuable pointers as to what variables are worth testing quantitatively.
  • If the limitations are understood, they can be a useful tool in developing a more focused study.
  • Descriptive studies can yield rich data that lead to important recommendations in practice.
  • Appoach collects a large amount of data for detailed analysis.
  • The results from a descriptive research cannot be used to discover a definitive answer or to disprove a hypothesis.
  • Because descriptive designs often utilize observational methods [as opposed to quantitative methods], the results cannot be replicated.
  • The descriptive function of research is heavily dependent on instrumentation for measurement and observation.

Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 5, Flexible Methods: Descriptive Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Given, Lisa M. "Descriptive Research." In Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics . Neil J. Salkind and Kristin Rasmussen, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2007), pp. 251-254; McNabb, Connie. Descriptive Research Methodologies. Powerpoint Presentation; Shuttleworth, Martyn. Descriptive Research Design, September 26, 2008; Erickson, G. Scott. "Descriptive Research Design." In New Methods of Market Research and Analysis . (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017), pp. 51-77; Sahin, Sagufta, and Jayanta Mete. "A Brief Study on Descriptive Research: Its Nature and Application in Social Science." International Journal of Research and Analysis in Humanities 1 (2021): 11; K. Swatzell and P. Jennings. “Descriptive Research: The Nuts and Bolts.” Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants 20 (2007), pp. 55-56; Kane, E. Doing Your Own Research: Basic Descriptive Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities . London: Marion Boyars, 1985.

Experimental Design

A blueprint of the procedure that enables the researcher to maintain control over all factors that may affect the result of an experiment. In doing this, the researcher attempts to determine or predict what may occur. Experimental research is often used where there is time priority in a causal relationship (cause precedes effect), there is consistency in a causal relationship (a cause will always lead to the same effect), and the magnitude of the correlation is great. The classic experimental design specifies an experimental group and a control group. The independent variable is administered to the experimental group and not to the control group, and both groups are measured on the same dependent variable. Subsequent experimental designs have used more groups and more measurements over longer periods. True experiments must have control, randomization, and manipulation.

  • Experimental research allows the researcher to control the situation. In so doing, it allows researchers to answer the question, “What causes something to occur?”
  • Permits the researcher to identify cause and effect relationships between variables and to distinguish placebo effects from treatment effects.
  • Experimental research designs support the ability to limit alternative explanations and to infer direct causal relationships in the study.
  • Approach provides the highest level of evidence for single studies.
  • The design is artificial, and results may not generalize well to the real world.
  • The artificial settings of experiments may alter the behaviors or responses of participants.
  • Experimental designs can be costly if special equipment or facilities are needed.
  • Some research problems cannot be studied using an experiment because of ethical or technical reasons.
  • Difficult to apply ethnographic and other qualitative methods to experimentally designed studies.

Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 7, Flexible Methods: Experimental Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Chapter 2: Research Design, Experimental Designs. School of Psychology, University of New England, 2000; Chow, Siu L. "Experimental Design." In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 448-453; "Experimental Design." In Social Research Methods . Nicholas Walliman, editor. (London, England: Sage, 2006), pp, 101-110; Experimental Research. Research Methods by Dummies. Department of Psychology. California State University, Fresno, 2006; Kirk, Roger E. Experimental Design: Procedures for the Behavioral Sciences . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013; Trochim, William M.K. Experimental Design. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006; Rasool, Shafqat. Experimental Research. Slideshare presentation.

Exploratory Design

An exploratory design is conducted about a research problem when there are few or no earlier studies to refer to or rely upon to predict an outcome . The focus is on gaining insights and familiarity for later investigation or undertaken when research problems are in a preliminary stage of investigation. Exploratory designs are often used to establish an understanding of how best to proceed in studying an issue or what methodology would effectively apply to gathering information about the issue.

The goals of exploratory research are intended to produce the following possible insights:

  • Familiarity with basic details, settings, and concerns.
  • Well grounded picture of the situation being developed.
  • Generation of new ideas and assumptions.
  • Development of tentative theories or hypotheses.
  • Determination about whether a study is feasible in the future.
  • Issues get refined for more systematic investigation and formulation of new research questions.
  • Direction for future research and techniques get developed.
  • Design is a useful approach for gaining background information on a particular topic.
  • Exploratory research is flexible and can address research questions of all types (what, why, how).
  • Provides an opportunity to define new terms and clarify existing concepts.
  • Exploratory research is often used to generate formal hypotheses and develop more precise research problems.
  • In the policy arena or applied to practice, exploratory studies help establish research priorities and where resources should be allocated.
  • Exploratory research generally utilizes small sample sizes and, thus, findings are typically not generalizable to the population at large.
  • The exploratory nature of the research inhibits an ability to make definitive conclusions about the findings. They provide insight but not definitive conclusions.
  • The research process underpinning exploratory studies is flexible but often unstructured, leading to only tentative results that have limited value to decision-makers.
  • Design lacks rigorous standards applied to methods of data gathering and analysis because one of the areas for exploration could be to determine what method or methodologies could best fit the research problem.

Cuthill, Michael. “Exploratory Research: Citizen Participation, Local Government, and Sustainable Development in Australia.” Sustainable Development 10 (2002): 79-89; Streb, Christoph K. "Exploratory Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Albert J. Mills, Gabrielle Durepos and Eiden Wiebe, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 372-374; Taylor, P. J., G. Catalano, and D.R.F. Walker. “Exploratory Analysis of the World City Network.” Urban Studies 39 (December 2002): 2377-2394; Exploratory Research. Wikipedia.

Field Research Design

Sometimes referred to as ethnography or participant observation, designs around field research encompass a variety of interpretative procedures [e.g., observation and interviews] rooted in qualitative approaches to studying people individually or in groups while inhabiting their natural environment as opposed to using survey instruments or other forms of impersonal methods of data gathering. Information acquired from observational research takes the form of “ field notes ” that involves documenting what the researcher actually sees and hears while in the field. Findings do not consist of conclusive statements derived from numbers and statistics because field research involves analysis of words and observations of behavior. Conclusions, therefore, are developed from an interpretation of findings that reveal overriding themes, concepts, and ideas. More information can be found HERE .

  • Field research is often necessary to fill gaps in understanding the research problem applied to local conditions or to specific groups of people that cannot be ascertained from existing data.
  • The research helps contextualize already known information about a research problem, thereby facilitating ways to assess the origins, scope, and scale of a problem and to gage the causes, consequences, and means to resolve an issue based on deliberate interaction with people in their natural inhabited spaces.
  • Enables the researcher to corroborate or confirm data by gathering additional information that supports or refutes findings reported in prior studies of the topic.
  • Because the researcher in embedded in the field, they are better able to make observations or ask questions that reflect the specific cultural context of the setting being investigated.
  • Observing the local reality offers the opportunity to gain new perspectives or obtain unique data that challenges existing theoretical propositions or long-standing assumptions found in the literature.

What these studies don't tell you

  • A field research study requires extensive time and resources to carry out the multiple steps involved with preparing for the gathering of information, including for example, examining background information about the study site, obtaining permission to access the study site, and building trust and rapport with subjects.
  • Requires a commitment to staying engaged in the field to ensure that you can adequately document events and behaviors as they unfold.
  • The unpredictable nature of fieldwork means that researchers can never fully control the process of data gathering. They must maintain a flexible approach to studying the setting because events and circumstances can change quickly or unexpectedly.
  • Findings can be difficult to interpret and verify without access to documents and other source materials that help to enhance the credibility of information obtained from the field  [i.e., the act of triangulating the data].
  • Linking the research problem to the selection of study participants inhabiting their natural environment is critical. However, this specificity limits the ability to generalize findings to different situations or in other contexts or to infer courses of action applied to other settings or groups of people.
  • The reporting of findings must take into account how the researcher themselves may have inadvertently affected respondents and their behaviors.

Historical Design

The purpose of a historical research design is to collect, verify, and synthesize evidence from the past to establish facts that defend or refute a hypothesis. It uses secondary sources and a variety of primary documentary evidence, such as, diaries, official records, reports, archives, and non-textual information [maps, pictures, audio and visual recordings]. The limitation is that the sources must be both authentic and valid.

  • The historical research design is unobtrusive; the act of research does not affect the results of the study.
  • The historical approach is well suited for trend analysis.
  • Historical records can add important contextual background required to more fully understand and interpret a research problem.
  • There is often no possibility of researcher-subject interaction that could affect the findings.
  • Historical sources can be used over and over to study different research problems or to replicate a previous study.
  • The ability to fulfill the aims of your research are directly related to the amount and quality of documentation available to understand the research problem.
  • Since historical research relies on data from the past, there is no way to manipulate it to control for contemporary contexts.
  • Interpreting historical sources can be very time consuming.
  • The sources of historical materials must be archived consistently to ensure access. This may especially challenging for digital or online-only sources.
  • Original authors bring their own perspectives and biases to the interpretation of past events and these biases are more difficult to ascertain in historical resources.
  • Due to the lack of control over external variables, historical research is very weak with regard to the demands of internal validity.
  • It is rare that the entirety of historical documentation needed to fully address a research problem is available for interpretation, therefore, gaps need to be acknowledged.

Howell, Martha C. and Walter Prevenier. From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods . Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001; Lundy, Karen Saucier. "Historical Research." In The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods . Lisa M. Given, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 396-400; Marius, Richard. and Melvin E. Page. A Short Guide to Writing about History . 9th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2015; Savitt, Ronald. “Historical Research in Marketing.” Journal of Marketing 44 (Autumn, 1980): 52-58;  Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction . Chapter 16, Historical Research. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007.

Longitudinal Design

A longitudinal study follows the same sample over time and makes repeated observations. For example, with longitudinal surveys, the same group of people is interviewed at regular intervals, enabling researchers to track changes over time and to relate them to variables that might explain why the changes occur. Longitudinal research designs describe patterns of change and help establish the direction and magnitude of causal relationships. Measurements are taken on each variable over two or more distinct time periods. This allows the researcher to measure change in variables over time. It is a type of observational study sometimes referred to as a panel study.

  • Longitudinal data facilitate the analysis of the duration of a particular phenomenon.
  • Enables survey researchers to get close to the kinds of causal explanations usually attainable only with experiments.
  • The design permits the measurement of differences or change in a variable from one period to another [i.e., the description of patterns of change over time].
  • Longitudinal studies facilitate the prediction of future outcomes based upon earlier factors.
  • The data collection method may change over time.
  • Maintaining the integrity of the original sample can be difficult over an extended period of time.
  • It can be difficult to show more than one variable at a time.
  • This design often needs qualitative research data to explain fluctuations in the results.
  • A longitudinal research design assumes present trends will continue unchanged.
  • It can take a long period of time to gather results.
  • There is a need to have a large sample size and accurate sampling to reach representativness.

Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 6, Flexible Methods: Relational and Longitudinal Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Forgues, Bernard, and Isabelle Vandangeon-Derumez. "Longitudinal Analyses." In Doing Management Research . Raymond-Alain Thiétart and Samantha Wauchope, editors. (London, England: Sage, 2001), pp. 332-351; Kalaian, Sema A. and Rafa M. Kasim. "Longitudinal Studies." In Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods . Paul J. Lavrakas, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 440-441; Menard, Scott, editor. Longitudinal Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002; Ployhart, Robert E. and Robert J. Vandenberg. "Longitudinal Research: The Theory, Design, and Analysis of Change.” Journal of Management 36 (January 2010): 94-120; Longitudinal Study. Wikipedia.

Meta-Analysis Design

Meta-analysis is an analytical methodology designed to systematically evaluate and summarize the results from a number of individual studies, thereby, increasing the overall sample size and the ability of the researcher to study effects of interest. The purpose is to not simply summarize existing knowledge, but to develop a new understanding of a research problem using synoptic reasoning. The main objectives of meta-analysis include analyzing differences in the results among studies and increasing the precision by which effects are estimated. A well-designed meta-analysis depends upon strict adherence to the criteria used for selecting studies and the availability of information in each study to properly analyze their findings. Lack of information can severely limit the type of analyzes and conclusions that can be reached. In addition, the more dissimilarity there is in the results among individual studies [heterogeneity], the more difficult it is to justify interpretations that govern a valid synopsis of results. A meta-analysis needs to fulfill the following requirements to ensure the validity of your findings:

  • Clearly defined description of objectives, including precise definitions of the variables and outcomes that are being evaluated;
  • A well-reasoned and well-documented justification for identification and selection of the studies;
  • Assessment and explicit acknowledgment of any researcher bias in the identification and selection of those studies;
  • Description and evaluation of the degree of heterogeneity among the sample size of studies reviewed; and,
  • Justification of the techniques used to evaluate the studies.
  • Can be an effective strategy for determining gaps in the literature.
  • Provides a means of reviewing research published about a particular topic over an extended period of time and from a variety of sources.
  • Is useful in clarifying what policy or programmatic actions can be justified on the basis of analyzing research results from multiple studies.
  • Provides a method for overcoming small sample sizes in individual studies that previously may have had little relationship to each other.
  • Can be used to generate new hypotheses or highlight research problems for future studies.
  • Small violations in defining the criteria used for content analysis can lead to difficult to interpret and/or meaningless findings.
  • A large sample size can yield reliable, but not necessarily valid, results.
  • A lack of uniformity regarding, for example, the type of literature reviewed, how methods are applied, and how findings are measured within the sample of studies you are analyzing, can make the process of synthesis difficult to perform.
  • Depending on the sample size, the process of reviewing and synthesizing multiple studies can be very time consuming.

Beck, Lewis W. "The Synoptic Method." The Journal of Philosophy 36 (1939): 337-345; Cooper, Harris, Larry V. Hedges, and Jeffrey C. Valentine, eds. The Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis . 2nd edition. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009; Guzzo, Richard A., Susan E. Jackson and Raymond A. Katzell. “Meta-Analysis Analysis.” In Research in Organizational Behavior , Volume 9. (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1987), pp 407-442; Lipsey, Mark W. and David B. Wilson. Practical Meta-Analysis . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001; Study Design 101. Meta-Analysis. The Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, George Washington University; Timulak, Ladislav. “Qualitative Meta-Analysis.” In The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis . Uwe Flick, editor. (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2013), pp. 481-495; Walker, Esteban, Adrian V. Hernandez, and Micheal W. Kattan. "Meta-Analysis: It's Strengths and Limitations." Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 75 (June 2008): 431-439.

Mixed-Method Design

  • Narrative and non-textual information can add meaning to numeric data, while numeric data can add precision to narrative and non-textual information.
  • Can utilize existing data while at the same time generating and testing a grounded theory approach to describe and explain the phenomenon under study.
  • A broader, more complex research problem can be investigated because the researcher is not constrained by using only one method.
  • The strengths of one method can be used to overcome the inherent weaknesses of another method.
  • Can provide stronger, more robust evidence to support a conclusion or set of recommendations.
  • May generate new knowledge new insights or uncover hidden insights, patterns, or relationships that a single methodological approach might not reveal.
  • Produces more complete knowledge and understanding of the research problem that can be used to increase the generalizability of findings applied to theory or practice.
  • A researcher must be proficient in understanding how to apply multiple methods to investigating a research problem as well as be proficient in optimizing how to design a study that coherently melds them together.
  • Can increase the likelihood of conflicting results or ambiguous findings that inhibit drawing a valid conclusion or setting forth a recommended course of action [e.g., sample interview responses do not support existing statistical data].
  • Because the research design can be very complex, reporting the findings requires a well-organized narrative, clear writing style, and precise word choice.
  • Design invites collaboration among experts. However, merging different investigative approaches and writing styles requires more attention to the overall research process than studies conducted using only one methodological paradigm.
  • Concurrent merging of quantitative and qualitative research requires greater attention to having adequate sample sizes, using comparable samples, and applying a consistent unit of analysis. For sequential designs where one phase of qualitative research builds on the quantitative phase or vice versa, decisions about what results from the first phase to use in the next phase, the choice of samples and estimating reasonable sample sizes for both phases, and the interpretation of results from both phases can be difficult.
  • Due to multiple forms of data being collected and analyzed, this design requires extensive time and resources to carry out the multiple steps involved in data gathering and interpretation.

Burch, Patricia and Carolyn J. Heinrich. Mixed Methods for Policy Research and Program Evaluation . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2016; Creswell, John w. et al. Best Practices for Mixed Methods Research in the Health Sciences . Bethesda, MD: Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health, 2010Creswell, John W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2014; Domínguez, Silvia, editor. Mixed Methods Social Networks Research . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014; Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. Mixed Methods Research: Merging Theory with Practice . New York: Guilford Press, 2010; Niglas, Katrin. “How the Novice Researcher Can Make Sense of Mixed Methods Designs.” International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 3 (2009): 34-46; Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. and Nancy L. Leech. “Linking Research Questions to Mixed Methods Data Analysis Procedures.” The Qualitative Report 11 (September 2006): 474-498; Tashakorri, Abbas and John W. Creswell. “The New Era of Mixed Methods.” Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1 (January 2007): 3-7; Zhanga, Wanqing. “Mixed Methods Application in Health Intervention Research: A Multiple Case Study.” International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 8 (2014): 24-35 .

Observational Design

This type of research design draws a conclusion by comparing subjects against a control group, in cases where the researcher has no control over the experiment. There are two general types of observational designs. In direct observations, people know that you are watching them. Unobtrusive measures involve any method for studying behavior where individuals do not know they are being observed. An observational study allows a useful insight into a phenomenon and avoids the ethical and practical difficulties of setting up a large and cumbersome research project.

  • Observational studies are usually flexible and do not necessarily need to be structured around a hypothesis about what you expect to observe [data is emergent rather than pre-existing].
  • The researcher is able to collect in-depth information about a particular behavior.
  • Can reveal interrelationships among multifaceted dimensions of group interactions.
  • You can generalize your results to real life situations.
  • Observational research is useful for discovering what variables may be important before applying other methods like experiments.
  • Observation research designs account for the complexity of group behaviors.
  • Reliability of data is low because seeing behaviors occur over and over again may be a time consuming task and are difficult to replicate.
  • In observational research, findings may only reflect a unique sample population and, thus, cannot be generalized to other groups.
  • There can be problems with bias as the researcher may only "see what they want to see."
  • There is no possibility to determine "cause and effect" relationships since nothing is manipulated.
  • Sources or subjects may not all be equally credible.
  • Any group that is knowingly studied is altered to some degree by the presence of the researcher, therefore, potentially skewing any data collected.

Atkinson, Paul and Martyn Hammersley. “Ethnography and Participant Observation.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994), pp. 248-261; Observational Research. Research Methods by Dummies. Department of Psychology. California State University, Fresno, 2006; Patton Michael Quinn. Qualitiative Research and Evaluation Methods . Chapter 6, Fieldwork Strategies and Observational Methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002; Payne, Geoff and Judy Payne. "Observation." In Key Concepts in Social Research . The SAGE Key Concepts series. (London, England: Sage, 2004), pp. 158-162; Rosenbaum, Paul R. Design of Observational Studies . New York: Springer, 2010;Williams, J. Patrick. "Nonparticipant Observation." In The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods . Lisa M. Given, editor.(Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 562-563.

Philosophical Design

Understood more as an broad approach to examining a research problem than a methodological design, philosophical analysis and argumentation is intended to challenge deeply embedded, often intractable, assumptions underpinning an area of study. This approach uses the tools of argumentation derived from philosophical traditions, concepts, models, and theories to critically explore and challenge, for example, the relevance of logic and evidence in academic debates, to analyze arguments about fundamental issues, or to discuss the root of existing discourse about a research problem. These overarching tools of analysis can be framed in three ways:

  • Ontology -- the study that describes the nature of reality; for example, what is real and what is not, what is fundamental and what is derivative?
  • Epistemology -- the study that explores the nature of knowledge; for example, by what means does knowledge and understanding depend upon and how can we be certain of what we know?
  • Axiology -- the study of values; for example, what values does an individual or group hold and why? How are values related to interest, desire, will, experience, and means-to-end? And, what is the difference between a matter of fact and a matter of value?
  • Can provide a basis for applying ethical decision-making to practice.
  • Functions as a means of gaining greater self-understanding and self-knowledge about the purposes of research.
  • Brings clarity to general guiding practices and principles of an individual or group.
  • Philosophy informs methodology.
  • Refine concepts and theories that are invoked in relatively unreflective modes of thought and discourse.
  • Beyond methodology, philosophy also informs critical thinking about epistemology and the structure of reality (metaphysics).
  • Offers clarity and definition to the practical and theoretical uses of terms, concepts, and ideas.
  • Limited application to specific research problems [answering the "So What?" question in social science research].
  • Analysis can be abstract, argumentative, and limited in its practical application to real-life issues.
  • While a philosophical analysis may render problematic that which was once simple or taken-for-granted, the writing can be dense and subject to unnecessary jargon, overstatement, and/or excessive quotation and documentation.
  • There are limitations in the use of metaphor as a vehicle of philosophical analysis.
  • There can be analytical difficulties in moving from philosophy to advocacy and between abstract thought and application to the phenomenal world.

Burton, Dawn. "Part I, Philosophy of the Social Sciences." In Research Training for Social Scientists . (London, England: Sage, 2000), pp. 1-5; Chapter 4, Research Methodology and Design. Unisa Institutional Repository (UnisaIR), University of South Africa; Jarvie, Ian C., and Jesús Zamora-Bonilla, editors. The SAGE Handbook of the Philosophy of Social Sciences . London: Sage, 2011; Labaree, Robert V. and Ross Scimeca. “The Philosophical Problem of Truth in Librarianship.” The Library Quarterly 78 (January 2008): 43-70; Maykut, Pamela S. Beginning Qualitative Research: A Philosophic and Practical Guide . Washington, DC: Falmer Press, 1994; McLaughlin, Hugh. "The Philosophy of Social Research." In Understanding Social Work Research . 2nd edition. (London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 2012), pp. 24-47; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University, 2013.

Sequential Design

  • The researcher has a limitless option when it comes to sample size and the sampling schedule.
  • Due to the repetitive nature of this research design, minor changes and adjustments can be done during the initial parts of the study to correct and hone the research method.
  • This is a useful design for exploratory studies.
  • There is very little effort on the part of the researcher when performing this technique. It is generally not expensive, time consuming, or workforce intensive.
  • Because the study is conducted serially, the results of one sample are known before the next sample is taken and analyzed. This provides opportunities for continuous improvement of sampling and methods of analysis.
  • The sampling method is not representative of the entire population. The only possibility of approaching representativeness is when the researcher chooses to use a very large sample size significant enough to represent a significant portion of the entire population. In this case, moving on to study a second or more specific sample can be difficult.
  • The design cannot be used to create conclusions and interpretations that pertain to an entire population because the sampling technique is not randomized. Generalizability from findings is, therefore, limited.
  • Difficult to account for and interpret variation from one sample to another over time, particularly when using qualitative methods of data collection.

Betensky, Rebecca. Harvard University, Course Lecture Note slides; Bovaird, James A. and Kevin A. Kupzyk. "Sequential Design." In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 1347-1352; Cresswell, John W. Et al. “Advanced Mixed-Methods Research Designs.” In Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research . Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddle, eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003), pp. 209-240; Henry, Gary T. "Sequential Sampling." In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods . Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Alan Bryman and Tim Futing Liao, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004), pp. 1027-1028; Nataliya V. Ivankova. “Using Mixed-Methods Sequential Explanatory Design: From Theory to Practice.” Field Methods 18 (February 2006): 3-20; Bovaird, James A. and Kevin A. Kupzyk. “Sequential Design.” In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010; Sequential Analysis. Wikipedia.

Systematic Review

  • A systematic review synthesizes the findings of multiple studies related to each other by incorporating strategies of analysis and interpretation intended to reduce biases and random errors.
  • The application of critical exploration, evaluation, and synthesis methods separates insignificant, unsound, or redundant research from the most salient and relevant studies worthy of reflection.
  • They can be use to identify, justify, and refine hypotheses, recognize and avoid hidden problems in prior studies, and explain data inconsistencies and conflicts in data.
  • Systematic reviews can be used to help policy makers formulate evidence-based guidelines and regulations.
  • The use of strict, explicit, and pre-determined methods of synthesis, when applied appropriately, provide reliable estimates about the effects of interventions, evaluations, and effects related to the overarching research problem investigated by each study under review.
  • Systematic reviews illuminate where knowledge or thorough understanding of a research problem is lacking and, therefore, can then be used to guide future research.
  • The accepted inclusion of unpublished studies [i.e., grey literature] ensures the broadest possible way to analyze and interpret research on a topic.
  • Results of the synthesis can be generalized and the findings extrapolated into the general population with more validity than most other types of studies .
  • Systematic reviews do not create new knowledge per se; they are a method for synthesizing existing studies about a research problem in order to gain new insights and determine gaps in the literature.
  • The way researchers have carried out their investigations [e.g., the period of time covered, number of participants, sources of data analyzed, etc.] can make it difficult to effectively synthesize studies.
  • The inclusion of unpublished studies can introduce bias into the review because they may not have undergone a rigorous peer-review process prior to publication. Examples may include conference presentations or proceedings, publications from government agencies, white papers, working papers, and internal documents from organizations, and doctoral dissertations and Master's theses.

Denyer, David and David Tranfield. "Producing a Systematic Review." In The Sage Handbook of Organizational Research Methods .  David A. Buchanan and Alan Bryman, editors. ( Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009), pp. 671-689; Foster, Margaret J. and Sarah T. Jewell, editors. Assembling the Pieces of a Systematic Review: A Guide for Librarians . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017; Gough, David, Sandy Oliver, James Thomas, editors. Introduction to Systematic Reviews . 2nd edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2017; Gopalakrishnan, S. and P. Ganeshkumar. “Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis: Understanding the Best Evidence in Primary Healthcare.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care 2 (2013): 9-14; Gough, David, James Thomas, and Sandy Oliver. "Clarifying Differences between Review Designs and Methods." Systematic Reviews 1 (2012): 1-9; Khan, Khalid S., Regina Kunz, Jos Kleijnen, and Gerd Antes. “Five Steps to Conducting a Systematic Review.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96 (2003): 118-121; Mulrow, C. D. “Systematic Reviews: Rationale for Systematic Reviews.” BMJ 309:597 (September 1994); O'Dwyer, Linda C., and Q. Eileen Wafford. "Addressing Challenges with Systematic Review Teams through Effective Communication: A Case Report." Journal of the Medical Library Association 109 (October 2021): 643-647; Okoli, Chitu, and Kira Schabram. "A Guide to Conducting a Systematic Literature Review of Information Systems Research."  Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems 10 (2010); Siddaway, Andy P., Alex M. Wood, and Larry V. Hedges. "How to Do a Systematic Review: A Best Practice Guide for Conducting and Reporting Narrative Reviews, Meta-analyses, and Meta-syntheses." Annual Review of Psychology 70 (2019): 747-770; Torgerson, Carole J. “Publication Bias: The Achilles’ Heel of Systematic Reviews?” British Journal of Educational Studies 54 (March 2006): 89-102; Torgerson, Carole. Systematic Reviews . New York: Continuum, 2003.

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Research Papers

What is a research paper?

A research paper requires you to form an opinion on a topic, research and gain expert knowledge on that topic, and then back up your own opinions and assertions with facts found through your thorough research.

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Types of Research Papers   This guide discusses the different types of research papers that you might encounter in an academic setting.

How to Write a Research Paper  This article provides step-by-step guidance on how to write a research paper.

Argumentative Essays

What is an argumentative essay?

In this paper, you make an argument about a topic or subject and use evidence and analysis to prove your argument. Your main argument is also called a thesis statement .

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay   This article discusses the basics of writing an argumentative paper.

Exploratory Essays

What is an exploratory essay?

An exploratory essay considers a topic or problem and explores possible solutions. This type of paper also sometimes includes background about how you have approached the topic, as well as information about your research process. Whereas other types of essays take a concrete stance on an issue and offer extensive support for that stance, the exploratory essay covers how you arrived at an idea and what research materials and methods you used to explore it.

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How to Write an Exploratory Essay   This article covers the essentials of writing an exploratory essay.

Critical Analysis Essays

What is a critical analysis essay?

A critical analysis examines and evaluates someone else’s work, such as a book, an essay, or an article. It requires two steps: a careful reading of the work and thoughtful analysis of the information presented in the work.

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How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay   This resource discusses the details of critical analysis essays and provides tips for writing one.

Literature Reviews

What is a literature review?

A literature review is an assessment of sources on a chosen topic of research. The  four main objectives  of a literature review are:

  • Studying  the references of your research area
  • Summarizing  the main arguments
  • Identifying  current gaps, stances, and issues
  • Finally,  presenting  all of the above in a text

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How to Write a Literature Review   This guide defines literature reviews and offers strategies for constructing them.

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Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

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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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What Is a Research Paper?

  • An Introduction to Punctuation

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

what is not a type of research paper

  • 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 not a type of research paper

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Types of Plagiarism and 6 Tips to Avoid it in Your Writing 

types of plagiarism

Plagiarism in research is considered a form of cheating and extremely unethical as it undermines the academic integrity. It continues to be one of the main reasons for manuscript rejection, which makes it critical for academics to understand the most common types of plagiarism and how to avoid this in their academic writing. In simple terms, plagiarism can be defined as the act of taking someone else’s work and presenting it as one’s own without properly crediting the original source. In this article we’ll delve into the different types of plagiarism and offer practical tips to steer clear of this ethical sinkhole.  

Table of Contents

Deliberate plagiarism, self-plagiarism, paraphrasing plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, accidental plagiarism.

  • 6 Practical Tips to Avoid Plagiarism 
  • Avoid potential instances of plagiarism with Paperpal  

Common Types of Plagiarism  

Research is built on the existing knowledge in the field. Considering the common phrasing and terms used to describe academic methods and contexts, there is a high chance of some level of similarity being present in your work. This is especially true for those who are new to academic writing or those who have English as a second language, who may rely on past publications to guide how they present their original ideas and concepts. This risk of similarity may be mitigated by understanding the types of plagiarism in research writing. 

The most blatant form of plagiarism, this involves copying someone else’s work word-for-word without giving them credit. This type of plagiarism is a direct violation of academic integrity and fairly easy to detect using plagiarism checkers. An example would be lifting entire paragraphs and inserting them into their own work without quotation marks or proper citations, which is considered a form of cheating and plagiarism in academia.   

Also known as text-recycling or redundant publication, self-plagiarism occurs when a researcher submits their own previously published work or parts of it to another publication without properly acknowledging previous works. Researchers are expected to adhere to ethical standards by transparently disclosing any reuse of their prior work to avoid misrepresentation. While there may be cases where self-referencing or repurposing one’s own work is legitimate, it’s a problem if the author tries to pass this off as new, original content. For example, submitting a manuscript to different journals without disclosing a major overlap in content with a paper they’d previously published is self-plagiarism.  

While paraphrasing is an essential writing skill, researchers need to be careful not to misuse it. This type of plagiarism occurs when you rephrase someone else’s ideas or content without properly attributing the original source. While the language may be different, the underlying concepts and structure remain the same and failure to credit the original source is unethical. One such example is paraphrasing passages from a textbook and presenting it as their own, instead of quoting or summarizing the text with the right citation.  

This occurs when you blend phrases, ideas, or data from different sources together to create a new piece of work, without properly citing the original sources. While not copying any one source directly, such patchwriting is considered a type of plagiarism if the previous works are not acknowledged. One example of mosaic plagiarism would be writing a literature review for a research paper and borrowing sentences or rephrasing ideas from various sources without citing them.  

This type of plagiarism occurs when a researcher inadvertently neglects to credit the original source. This may be sheer forgetfulness, misunderstanding of citation guidelines, or an unintended duplication of another’s work. For example, forgetting to cite a paper you had read earlier and referenced in your research paper. While unintentional, it is still flagged as cheating and plagiarism by journals and institutions looking to uphold academic integrity.  

6 Practical Tips to Avoid Plagiarism  

Plagiarism is a significant issue in academia, but with the right strategies in place, it can be avoided. Here are some proven strategies to help you navigate the complexities of academic writing while producing original, authentic content. 

  • Be aware of specific citation styles of your institution or target journal and follow these rules carefully. 
  • Maintain notes of all the sources used in your research so you don’t miss citing them when writing. 
  • When paraphrasing someone else’s work, maintain your own authentic voice and cite sources correctly. 
  • If your plan to build on another’s work, seek their permission in advance to avoid copyright violations. 
  • When unsure about when and where to attribute sources, seek guidance from your supervisors or PIs. 
  • Before you submit, be sure to run your work through an online plagiarism checker to avoid accidental plagiarism.  

Avoid potential instances of plagiarism with Paperpal   

Paperpal, an AI academic writing assistant, focuses on providing comprehensive support at every step of the writing process, including a trusted plagiarism check  that allows authors to check their work for similarity. It scans your writing against billions of online sources and provides a detailed plagiarism report with a similarity score and side-by-side comparisons allowing you to quickly assess and address any issues before submission. If you haven’t tried this online plagiarism prevention check yet, don’t miss out. Get started with Paperpal’s plagiarism checker for free and avoid accidental plagiarism!  

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster.  

Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed.  

Experience the future of academic writing – Sign up to Paperpal and start writing for free!

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  • How to Avoid Plagiarism? Tips and Advice for Academics

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The 8 types of market research: definitions, uses and examples.

13 min read What are the different types of market research that can help you stay ahead of the curve with your marketing strategy? Understand how to use each type, and what the advantages and disadvantages are.

Market research (also called marketing research) is the action or activity of gathering information about market needs and preferences. This helps companies understand their target market — how the audience feels and behaves.

There are 8 types of market research, each with their own methods and tools:

  • Primary research
  • Secondary research
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Branding research
  • Customer research
  • Competitor research
  • Product research

Let’s start our list by exploring primary and secondary research first.

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1. Primary research

Primary research is research that you collect yourself but going directly to the target market through a range of methods. Because it is data you create, you own the data set.

Two types of results — exploratory information (determines the nature of a problem that hasn’t yet been clearly defined) and conclusive information (carried out to solve a problem that exploratory research identified) — from participants are collected as raw data and then analysed to gather insights from trends and comparisons.

This method is good for getting the views of a lot of people at one time, especially when time is short, but it comes with its own management issues. The interviewer must prepare a way to gather answers and record these, while engaging in conversation with many people.

Participants may be affected by the group setting, either from acquiescence bias (the desire to say yes to please the interviewer), dominance bias (stronger participants can alter the results from less dominant participants) or researcher bias (where the research leads or impacts the participant responses indirectly).

This provides a structured setting where the interviewer can listen to what’s being said and investigate further into an answer. The interviewer can also pick up on non-verbal cues from body language can help the interview understand where to deep-dive and broaden their understanding.

However, some of the same biases (acquiescence and researcher) still exit in this format. The method is time consuming to do the interviews and collect the data afterwards.

A survey is an excellent method for carrying out primary research as participants do need to be physically present with the interviewer to carry it out. The survey can be completed anywhere there is an internet connection, meaning there is flexibility for the participants to use different devices and for interviewers to contact participants in different geographical time-zones.Preparation is key, however, as the researchers must segment the market and create a list of participants to send the survey to. Hiring a panel or using existing marketing lists can help with this.

2. Secondary research

Secondary research is the use of data that has previously been collected, analysed and published (and therefore you do not own this data). An example of this for market research is:

Most information is freely available, so there are less costs associated with this kind of secondary research over primary research methods.

Secondary research can often be the preparation for primary research activities, providing a knowledge base. The information gathered may not provide the specific information to explain the results, which is where primary market research would be used to enhance understanding.

There is also a logistics planning need for a recording solution that can handle large datasets, since manual management of the volumes of information can be tricky.

Both primary and secondary research have its advantages and disadvantages, as we’ve seen, but they are best used when paired together. Combined, the data can give you the confidence to act knowing that any hypothesis you have is backed up.

Learn more about primary vs secondary research methods

The next market research types can be defined as qualitative and quantitative research types:

3. Qualitative research

Qualitative market research is the collection of primary or secondary data that is non-numerical in nature, and therefore hard to measure.

Researchers collect this market research type because it can add more depth to the data.

This kind of market research is used to summarise and infer, rather than pin-points an exact truth held by a target market. For example, qualitative market research can be done to find out a new target market’s reaction to a new product to translate the reaction into a clear explanation for the company.

4. Quantitative research

Quantitative research is the collection of primary or secondary data that is numerical in nature, and so can be collected more easily.

Researchers collect this market research type because it can provide historical benchmarking, based on facts and figures evidence.

There are a number of ways to collect this data — polls, surveys, desk research, web statistics, financial records — which can be exploratory in nature without a lot of depth at this stage.

Quantitative market research can create the foundation of knowledge needed by researchers to investigate hypotheses further through qualitative market research.

The next four variations of market research are specific to topics areas, that bring about specific information.:

5. Branding research

Branding market research assists a company to create, manage and maintain the company brand. This can relate to the tone, branding, images, values or identity of the company.

Research can be carried out through interviews, focus groups or surveys. For example, brand awareness surveys will ask your participants whether the brand is known to them and whether it is something they would be interested in buying.

Additional areas for brand research is also around brand loyalty, brand perception , brand positioning , brand value and brand identity .

The aim of research will be to understand how to know if:

  • Your brand is performing in relation to other competitors
  • There are areas to improve your brand activities
  • There are positives to showcase to enhance your brand’s image

6. Customer research

Customer market research looks at the key influences on your target customers and how your company can make changes to encourage sales.

The aim of this research is to know your customer inside out, and continuously learn about how they interact with the company. Some themes covered by this include:

  • Customer satisfaction – Exploring what keeps customers happy, as higher customer satisfaction is more likely to lead to increased customer retention.
  • Customer loyalty – This looks at what experiences have happened to lead to greater customer loyalty across the customer lifecycle.
  • Customer segmentation research – Discovering who the customers are, what their behaviour and preferences are and their shared characteristics.

Relevant desk research may look at historical purchase records, customer journey mapping , customer segmentation, demographics and persona templates.

Primary research, such as NPS and customer satisfaction surveys , or customer satisfaction interviews at the end of customer support calls, can also give more details.

7. Competitor research

Competitor market research is about knowing who your competition is and understanding their strengths and weaknesses, in comparison to your organisation. It can also be about your competitive offering in the market, or how to approach a new market.

The aim of this research is to find ways to make your organisation stand out and future planning through horizon scanning and listening to customer preferences.

For example, for competitive analysis, researchers would create a SWOT for your business and your competitors, to see how your business compares.

Primary research could interview customers about their buying preferences, while secondary sources would look at competitor’s market dominance, sales, structure and so on. With this thorough analysis, you can understand where you can change to be more competitive, and look for ideas that make you stand out.

8. Product research

Product market research is a key way to make sure your products and services are fit for launching in the market, and are performing as well as they can.

The aim of this research is to see how your product is perceived by customers, if they are providing value and working correctly. Ideas can also be formed about upgrades and future product development.

There are a number of avenues within product research:

  • Product branding – Does the product brand and design attract customers in the intended way?
  • Product feature testing – this can happen at various stages of development with target markets (in early development, between versions, before product launch, etc.) to check if there are positive reaction to new or improved features
  • Product design thinking – what solutions would solve your customers’ current or future problems?
  • Product marketing – Do the marketing messages help your product’s memorability and saleability, or can they be improved?

Primary research methods have a clear advantage in this kind of market research: Surveys can ask for rankings on the popularity or usefulness of features or conduct conjoint analysis, while in-person observation interviews (where the participant can handle a product) can be particularly useful in seeing what customers do with the product in real time.

How to use market research types in your company

In a good marketing strategy, it’s preferable to have a mixture of data across:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Primary and secondary research
  • Your specific topic area or area of focus

With these three components, you can make sure your market strategy gives you a complete picture of your market’s operational data and experience data , — what your market does and why .

Economical experience data (O data)

This type of experience data is quantitative in nature (including operations, featuring sales data, finance data and HR data ). As it can be quantified into numerical values, it can be measured over and over, providing datasets.

There is the opportunity to use a data-driven approach to understanding the results and making predictions based on historical trends.

This sort of data can be measured more easily than emotions and feelings. But it can only tell you about past activities and what happened. It can’t tell you what will happen in the future and why things will happen — this is where X data comes in.

Emotional experience data (X data)

This type of experience data seeks to find reasons to explain emotional decisions and how brands ‘sit’ in people’s minds. In this way, this data is qualitative in nature.

Companies that have X data have a ‘mental advantage’ over other companies,  as they are able to understand the perceptions of the customer, their needs and values.

When you have tangible insights on the audience’s needs, you can then take steps to meet those needs and solve problems. This mitigates the risk of an experience gap – which is what your audience expects you deliver versus what you actually deliver.

Related resources

Market intelligence tools 10 min read, qualitative research questions 11 min read, primary vs secondary research 14 min read, business research methods 12 min read, ethnographic research 11 min read, business research 10 min read, qualitative research design 12 min read, request demo.

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Different types of research articles

A guide for early career researchers.

In scholarly literature, there are many different kinds of articles published every year. Original research articles are often the first thing you think of when you hear the words ‘journal article’. In reality, research work often results in a whole mixture of different outputs and it’s not just the final research article that can be published.

Finding a home to publish supporting work in different formats can help you start publishing sooner, allowing you to build your publication record and research profile.

But before you do, it’s very important that you check the  instructions for authors  and the  aims and scope  of the journal(s) you’d like to submit to. These will tell you whether they accept the type of article you’re thinking of writing and what requirements they have around it.

Understanding the different kind of articles

There’s a huge variety of different types of articles – some unique to individual journals – so it’s important to explore your options carefully. While it would be impossible to cover every single article type here, below you’ll find a guide to the most common research articles and outputs you could consider submitting for publication.

Book review

Many academic journals publish book reviews, which aim to provide insight and opinion on recently published scholarly books. Writing book reviews is often a good way to begin academic writing. It can help you get your name known in your field and give you valuable experience of publishing before you write a full-length article.

If you’re keen to write a book review, a good place to start is looking for journals that publish or advertise the books they have available for review. Then it’s just a matter of putting yourself forward for one of them.

You can check whether a journal publishes book reviews by browsing previous issues or by seeing if a book review editor is listed on the editorial board. In addition, some journals publish other types of reviews, such as film, product, or exhibition reviews, so it’s worth bearing those in mind as options as well.

Get familiar with instructions for authors

Be prepared, speed up your submission, and make sure nothing is forgotten by understanding a journal’s individual requirements.

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what is not a type of research paper

Case report

A medical case report – also sometimes called a clinical case study – is an original short report that provides details of a single patient case.

Case reports include detailed information on the symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. They remain one of the cornerstones of medical progress and provide many new ideas in medicine.

Depending on the journal, a case report doesn’t necessarily need to describe an especially novel or unusual case as there is benefit from collecting details of many standard cases.

Take a look at  F1000Research’s guidance on case reports , to understand more about what’s required in them. And don’t forget that for all studies involving human participants, informed written consent to take part in the research must be obtained from the participants –  find out more about consent to publish.

Clinical study

In medicine, a clinical study report is a type of article that provides in-depth detail on the methods and results of a clinical trial. They’re typically similar in length and format to original research articles.

Most journals now require that you register protocols for clinical trials you’re involved with in a publicly accessible registry. A list of eligible registries can be found on the  WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) . Trials can also be registered at  clinicaltrials.gov  or the  EU Clinical Trials Register . Once registered, your trial will be assigned a clinical trial number (CTN).

Before you submit a clinical study, you’ll need to include clinical trial numbers and registration dates in the manuscript, usually in the abstract and methods sections.

Commentaries and letters to editors

Letters to editors, as well as ‘replies’ and ‘discussions’, are usually brief comments on topical issues of public and political interest (related to the research field of the journal), anecdotal material, or readers’ reactions to material published in the journal.

Commentaries are similar, though they may be slightly more in-depth, responding to articles recently published in the journal. There may be a ‘target article’ which various commentators are invited to respond to.

You’ll need to look through previous issues of any journal you’re interested in writing for and review the instructions for authors to see which types of these articles (if any) they accept.

what is not a type of research paper

Conference materials

Many of our medical journals  accept conference material supplements. These are open access peer-reviewed, permanent, and citable publications within the journal. Conference material supplements record research around a common thread, as presented at a workshop, congress, or conference, for the scientific record. They can include the following types of articles:

Poster extracts

Conference abstracts

Presentation extracts

Find out more about submitting conference materials.

Data notes  are a short peer-reviewed article type that concisely describe research data stored in a repository. Publishing a data note can help you to maximize the impact of your data and gain appropriate credit for your research.

what is not a type of research paper

Data notes promote the potential reuse of research data and include details of why and how the data were created. They do not include any analysis but they can be linked to a research article incorporating analysis of the published dataset, as well as the results and conclusions.

F1000Research  enables you to publish your data note rapidly and openly via an author-centric platform. There is also a growing range of options for publishing data notes in Taylor & Francis journals, including in  All Life  and  Big Earth Data .

Read our guide to data notes to find out more.

Letters or short reports

Letters or short reports (sometimes known as brief communications or rapid communications) are brief reports of data from original research.

Editors publish these reports where they believe the data will be interesting to many researchers and could stimulate further research in the field. There are even entire journals dedicated to publishing letters.

As they’re relatively short, the format is useful for researchers with results that are time sensitive (for example, those in highly competitive or quickly-changing disciplines). This format often has strict length limits, so some experimental details may not be published until the authors write a full original research article.

Brief reports  (previously called Research Notes) are a type of short report published by  F1000Research  – part of the Taylor & Francis Group. To find out more about the requirements for a brief report, take a look at  F1000Research’s guidance .

Vector illustration of a large open laptop, with four puzzle pieces that are blue and pink on the screen, and three characters stood around the laptop pointing at the puzzle pieces.

Method article

A method article is a medium length peer-reviewed, research-focused article type that aims to answer a specific question. It also describes an advancement or development of current methodological approaches and research procedures (akin to a research article), following the standard layout for research articles. This includes new study methods, substantive modifications to existing methods, or innovative applications of existing methods to new models or scientific questions. These should include adequate and appropriate validation to be considered, and any datasets associated with the paper must publish all experimental controls and make full datasets available.  

Posters and slides

With F1000Research, you can publish scholarly posters and slides covering basic scientific, translational, and clinical research within the life sciences and medicine. You can find out more about how to publish posters and slides  on the F1000Research website .

Registered report

A  Registered Report  consists of two different kinds of articles: a study protocol and an original research article.

This is because the review process for Registered Reports is divided into two stages. In Stage 1, reviewers assess study protocols before data is collected. In Stage 2, reviewers consider the full published study as an original research article, including results and interpretation.

Taking this approach, you can get an in-principle acceptance of your research article before you start collecting data. We’ve got  further guidance on Registered Reports here , and you can also  read F1000Research’s guidance on preparing a Registered Report .

Research article

Original research articles are the most common type of journal article. They’re detailed studies reporting new work and are classified as primary literature.

You may find them referred to as original articles, research articles, research, or even just articles, depending on the journal.

Typically, especially in STEM subjects, these articles will include Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion sections. However, you should always check the instructions for authors of your chosen journal to see whether it specifies how your article should be structured. If you’re planning to write an original research article, take a look at our guidance on  writing a journal article .

what is not a type of research paper

Review article

Review articles provide critical and constructive analysis of existing published literature in a field. They’re usually structured to provide a summary of existing literature, analysis, and comparison. Often, they identify specific gaps or problems and provide recommendations for future research.

Unlike original research articles, review articles are considered as secondary literature. This means that they generally don’t present new data from the author’s experimental work, but instead provide analysis or interpretation of a body of primary research on a specific topic. Secondary literature is an important part of the academic ecosystem because it can help explain new or different positions and ideas about primary research, identify gaps in research around a topic, or spot important trends that one individual research article may not.

There are 3 main types of review article

Literature review

Presents the current knowledge including substantive findings as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic.

Systematic review

Identifies, appraises and synthesizes all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making.

Meta-analysis

A quantitative, formal, epidemiological study design used to systematically assess the results of previous research to derive conclusions about that body of research. Typically, but not necessarily, a meta-analysis study is based on randomized, controlled clinical trials.

Take a look at our guide to  writing a review article  for more guidance on what’s required.

Software tool articles

A  software tool article  – published by  F1000Research  – describes the rationale for the development of a new software tool and details of the code used for its construction.

The article should provide examples of suitable input data sets and include an example of the output that can be expected from the tool and how this output should be interpreted. Software tool articles submitted to F1000Research should be written in open access programming languages. Take a look at  their guidance  for more details on what’s required of a software tool article.

Submit to F1000Research

Further resources

Ready to write your article, but not sure where to start?

For more guidance on how to prepare and write an article for a journal you can download the  Writing your paper eBook .

what is not a type of research paper

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  • Knowledge Base

Methodology

Research Methods | Definitions, Types, Examples

Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design . When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make.

First, decide how you will collect data . Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question :

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative : Will your data take the form of words or numbers?
  • Primary vs. secondary : Will you collect original data yourself, or will you use data that has already been collected by someone else?
  • Descriptive vs. experimental : Will you take measurements of something as it is, or will you perform an experiment?

Second, decide how you will analyze the data .

  • For quantitative data, you can use statistical analysis methods to test relationships between variables.
  • For qualitative data, you can use methods such as thematic analysis to interpret patterns and meanings in the data.

Table of contents

Methods for collecting data, examples of data collection methods, methods for analyzing data, examples of data analysis methods, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research methods.

Data is the information that you collect for the purposes of answering your research question . The type of data you need depends on the aims of your research.

Qualitative vs. quantitative data

Your choice of qualitative or quantitative data collection depends on the type of knowledge you want to develop.

For questions about ideas, experiences and meanings, or to study something that can’t be described numerically, collect qualitative data .

If you want to develop a more mechanistic understanding of a topic, or your research involves hypothesis testing , collect quantitative data .

Qualitative to broader populations. .
Quantitative .

You can also take a mixed methods approach , where you use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Primary vs. secondary research

Primary research is any original data that you collect yourself for the purposes of answering your research question (e.g. through surveys , observations and experiments ). Secondary research is data that has already been collected by other researchers (e.g. in a government census or previous scientific studies).

If you are exploring a novel research question, you’ll probably need to collect primary data . But if you want to synthesize existing knowledge, analyze historical trends, or identify patterns on a large scale, secondary data might be a better choice.

Primary . methods.
Secondary

Descriptive vs. experimental data

In descriptive research , you collect data about your study subject without intervening. The validity of your research will depend on your sampling method .

In experimental research , you systematically intervene in a process and measure the outcome. The validity of your research will depend on your experimental design .

To conduct an experiment, you need to be able to vary your independent variable , precisely measure your dependent variable, and control for confounding variables . If it’s practically and ethically possible, this method is the best choice for answering questions about cause and effect.

Descriptive . .
Experimental

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Research methods for collecting data
Research method Primary or secondary? Qualitative or quantitative? When to use
Primary Quantitative To test cause-and-effect relationships.
Primary Quantitative To understand general characteristics of a population.
Interview/focus group Primary Qualitative To gain more in-depth understanding of a topic.
Observation Primary Either To understand how something occurs in its natural setting.
Secondary Either To situate your research in an existing body of work, or to evaluate trends within a research topic.
Either Either To gain an in-depth understanding of a specific group or context, or when you don’t have the resources for a large study.

Your data analysis methods will depend on the type of data you collect and how you prepare it for analysis.

Data can often be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, survey responses could be analyzed qualitatively by studying the meanings of responses or quantitatively by studying the frequencies of responses.

Qualitative analysis methods

Qualitative analysis is used to understand words, ideas, and experiences. You can use it to interpret data that was collected:

  • From open-ended surveys and interviews , literature reviews , case studies , ethnographies , and other sources that use text rather than numbers.
  • Using non-probability sampling methods .

Qualitative analysis tends to be quite flexible and relies on the researcher’s judgement, so you have to reflect carefully on your choices and assumptions and be careful to avoid research bias .

Quantitative analysis methods

Quantitative analysis uses numbers and statistics to understand frequencies, averages and correlations (in descriptive studies) or cause-and-effect relationships (in experiments).

You can use quantitative analysis to interpret data that was collected either:

  • During an experiment .
  • Using probability sampling methods .

Because the data is collected and analyzed in a statistically valid way, the results of quantitative analysis can be easily standardized and shared among researchers.

Research methods for analyzing data
Research method Qualitative or quantitative? When to use
Quantitative 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.

Qualitative To analyze data collected from interviews, , or textual sources.

To understand general themes in the data and how they are communicated.

Either To analyze large volumes of textual or visual data collected from surveys, literature reviews, or other sources.

Can be quantitative (i.e. frequencies of words) or qualitative (i.e. meanings of words).

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If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square test of independence
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Research bias

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Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).

In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .

In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.

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Sensitivity versus selectivity in entanglement detection via collective witnesses

Vojtěch trávníček, jan roik, karol bartkiewicz, antonín černoch, paweł horodecki, and karel lemr, phys. rev. research 6 , 033056 – published 11 july 2024.

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Supplemental Material

  • INTRODUCTION
  • CONCLUSIONS
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

In this paper, we introduce a supervised learning technique that harnesses artificial neural networks, along with the outcomes of collective entanglement measurements, to estimate the negativity of quantum states in two-qubit and qubit-qutrit systems. The resulting deep-learned collective entanglement witnesses offer the unique capability of continuous sensitivity and selectivity tuning. This instrument enables us to explore the tradeoff between sensitivity and selectivity in entanglement detection, a dimension not accessible to previously employed analytical witnesses. In particular, we demonstrate that there are experimentally cost-effective methods (in terms of the number of measurements) where sensitivity can be significantly improved at a slight expense of the selectivity of entanglement detection. This chosen approach is also favored due to its high generality and potential for superior performance compared to other types of entanglement witnesses. Our findings may pave the way for the development of more efficient and accurate entanglement detection methods in complex quantum systems, especially when considering realistic experimental imperfections.

Figure

  • Received 15 September 2023
  • Revised 15 January 2024
  • Accepted 11 June 2024

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevResearch.6.033056

what is not a type of research paper

Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI.

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Authors & Affiliations

  • 1 Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences , Joint Laboratory of Optics of PU and IP AS CR, 17 listopadu 50A, 772 07 Olomouc, Czech Republic
  • 2 Joint Laboratory of Optics of Palacký University and Institute of Physics of Czech Academy of Sciences , 17 listopadu 12, 771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic
  • 3 Faculty of Physics, Adam Mickiewicz University , PL-61-614 Poznań, Poland
  • 4 Faculty of Applied Physics and Mathematics, Gdańsk University of Technology , 80-233 Gdańsk, Poland
  • 5 International Center for Theory of Quantum Technologies, University of Gdańsk , Wita Stwosza 63, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland
  • * Contact author: [email protected]
  • † Contact author: [email protected]

Article Text

Vol. 6, Iss. 3 — July - September 2024

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  • Quantum Physics
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The conceptual diagram of a collective measurement process and subsequent decision making by the artificial neural network (ANN) model of collective entanglement witness (CEW): two instances of the system under investigation, denoted as ϱ ̂ , are measured simultaneously. During the measurement, one subsystem from each instance undergoes a local projection using operators Π ̂ x and Π ̂ y , while the other two subsystems are nonlocally projected onto a Bell state. The results of these measurements, denoted as P x y , are used to create a feature vector that serves as input for an ANN, which then according to some predetermined threshold labels the investigated system as entangled or separable.

Comparison of the ROC curves of CEW models for the two-qubit system. The vertical and horizontal axes of the graph represent the true positive rate (sensitivity) and false positive rate (fall-out), respectively. The number close to each curve indicates the length B of the feature vectors used during the training process. Note that for B = 0 the line is diagonal due to prevalence of 0.5. Additionally, we highlighted sensitivity values corresponding to prominent analytical entanglement measure (the negativity), Bell's inequality (CHSH), and witnesses (FEF, EW, collectibility), where, the number in parentheses represents the number of measurement configurations required for calculation of a said quantity and the letter T represents a full quantum state tomography. It is worth noting that for the analytical entanglement measure, inequality, and witnesses the FPR = 0 .

Comparison of the ROC curves for the CEW models applied to the qubit-qutrit system. The graph's vertical axis represents the true positive rate (sensitivity), while the horizontal axis shows the false positive rate (fall-out). Each curve is labeled with a number indicating the length B of the feature vectors used during training. It is important to note that, for B = 0 , the line is diagonal due to a prevalence of 0.5. Additionally, we have highlighted the sensitivity values for prominent analytical entanglement measures and witnesses, including negativity, FEF, EW, and collectibility, where the number in parentheses represents the number of measurement configurations required for calculation of a said quantity and the letter T represents a full quantum state tomography. For these analytical measures and witnesses, the false positive rate is zero.

The ten independent collective measurements for the two-qubit system. The figure displays diagonal (colored) and off-diagonal measurements. The diagonal elements contain more information about the investigated states compared to the off-diagonal elements.

Schematics of the SHAP value approach in explaining the output of any machine learning model. The base rate in our example refers to the initial value of negativity and the SHAP values (depicted as red and blue arrows) move this value in positive or negative direction toward the actual output value of the model.

The mean SHAP values for individual features in the two-qubit system. The most overall impactful features are the collective measurements located at the diagonal in Fig.  4 .

The bee-swarm graph displaying individual features, color-coded feature values, and SHAP values. High values of diagonal measurements increase the initial value (base rate), whereas low values decrease it. Conversely, for off-diagonal measurements, the pattern is reversed.

Comparison of the ROC curves of CEW models and noisy data for the two-qubit system and B = 10 . The vertical and horizontal axes of the graph represent the true positive rate (sensitivity) and false positive rate (fall-out), respectively.

Comparison of the ROC curves of CEW models and noisy data for the qubit-qutrit system and B = 45 . The vertical and horizontal axes of the graph represent the true positive rate (sensitivity) and false positive rate (fall-out), respectively.

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