How to Read a Research Paper: The Sections

A research paper is frequently the result of a broad range of in-depth and authentic practices surrounding a topic. The author of the paper considers the problem seriously, does thorough research, assesses their processes and sources, arranges their views, and then writes. These authentic activities make for an excellent study article.

Reading scientific papers can be challenging. It is crucial that you not only understand the research but also read it critically and assess its dependability. Here are some suggestions to help you read, analyze, and critically assess scientific research publications more effectively.


The following sections are common in most research papers: abstract, introduction, methods, findings, discussion, and conclusion. Some articles will include all of these sections, while others will just include some of them. Thus it is necessary to know what to look for in each section.


An abstract is a brief overview of a research paper or thesis. Usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long.

A well-written abstract fulfills several functions:

  • It allows readers to quickly grasp the gist or essence of the paper or article to decide whether to read the full paper;
  • An abstract prepares readers to follow the detailed information, analyses, and arguments in the full paper; and,
  • Finally, an abstract assists you the reader in remembering key points from the paper.

Here are the typical kinds of information you should look out for when reading an abstract:

  • The context or background information of the research;
  • The general topic under study;
  • Specific topic of the research
  • Central questions or statement problems the research addresses
  • What’s already known about this question, what previous research has been done or shown
  • The main reason(s), the exigency, the rationale, the goals of the research
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The introduction contextualizes the work by providing background information on the field and past related research that led to the paper.

This section give the reader the following information

  • Firstly, the research’s objective
  • Secondly, what is known about the topic
  • Thirdly, the hypotheses being investigated as well as:
  • Lastly, how the study will help increase existing understanding of the topic.

Summarily, it frequently provides concise descriptions of significant phrases or concepts. In certain cases, the introduction offers information about how the work will advance current knowledge. This, however, is frequently until the discussion and/or conclusion.


This section basically describes how the data was collected and analyzed, including how the experiments were set up and what samples, equipment, and methodologies were employed. The statistical methodologies are also detailed here.


This part provides the scientific findings of the paper without bias. It explains the outcome of the tests in the findings section by offering enough scientific facts to back up the conclusions. it interprets the scientific data to readers by emphasizing the work’s major conclusions.

Additionally, it offers details on any bad or unexpected findings from the research. It also describes how the present findings compare to past data from similar efforts in the literature.

Basically, when reading this section you’re looking to see how or if the research problem has has been solved.


The discussion section, summarizes the paper work and explains how the research work objectives were achieved. It highlights the benefits of the work in the overall scientific community and its potential practical applications.

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You must know that this part also talks about the work’s limitations. No scientific work is perfect, and some drawbacks are inevitable.

Note: This part goes into lengthy details about the work. It’s the body of the research work.


Summarises the key points and findings of the research, the significance of the findings to the field and what the authors believe should be researched in the future based on their findings.

The above is basically the content of every conclusion in a research work.

Do you need help extracting information from a research paper? Speak with a consultant.

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