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Writing Center: Experimental Research Papers

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.

FAQs About Experimental Research Papers (APA)

What is a research paper? 

A researcher uses a research paper to explain how they conducted a research study to answer a question or test a hypothesis. They explain why they conducted the study, the research question or hypothesis they tested, how they conducted the study, the results of their study, and the implications of these results. 

What is the purpose of an experimental research paper? 

A research paper is intended to inform others about advancement in a particular field of study. The researcher who wrote the paper identified a gap in the research in a field of study and used their research to help fill this gap. The researcher uses their paper to inform others about the knowledge that the results of their study contribute. 

What sections are included in an experimental research paper?

A typical research paper contains a Title Page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References section. Some also contain a Table and Figures section and Appendix section. 

What citation style is used for experimental research papers? 

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used for research papers. 

Structure Of Experimental Research Papers (APA)

  • Title page
    • Answers the question of “What is this paper about and who wrote it?”
    • Located on the first page of the paper 
    • Includes the title of the paper, name(s) of the author(s), and institutional affiliation
      • A professional paper also includes the author's note
        • The author’s note acknowledges any support that the authors received from others
      • A student paper also includes the course number and name, instructor’s name, and assignment due date
    • Contains a title that summarizes the purpose and content of the research study and engages the audience 
  • Abstract 
    • No longer than 250 words
    • Provides an overview of the study
      • Summarizes important background information, the research questions and/or hypothesis, methods, key findings, and implications of the findings
  • Introduction 
    • Explains what the topic of the research is and why the topic is worth studying
    • Includes a Literature Review
      • Summarizes and discusses prior research conducted on the topic 
      • Identifies unresolved issues and gaps in past research that the current research will address
      • Ends with an overview of the current research study, including how the independent and dependent variables, the research questions or hypotheses, and the objective of the research 
  • Methods
    • Explains how the research study was conducted 
    • Typically includes 3 sections: Participants, Materials, and Procedure
    • Describes the participants/subjects that were involved 
      • Includes characteristics of the subjects, how the subjects were selected and recruited, how their anonymity was protected, and what feedback was provided to the participants
    • Includes an explanation of materials/instruments used
      • Describes any equipment, surveys, tests, questionnaires, informed consent forms, and observational techniques 
    • Details the procedure of the study 
      • Describes the independent and dependent variables, the type of research design, and how the data was collected
  • Results 
    • Explains what results were found in the research study 
    • Describes the data that was collected and the results of statistical tests 
  • Discussion 
    • Explains the significance of the results 
    • Describes how these results relate to the research questions and hypotheses 
      • Accepts or denies the hypotheses 
    • Details the implications of these findings 
    • Addresses the limitations of the study and areas for future research 
  • References
    • Includes all sources that were mentioned in the research study 
    • Adheres to APA citation styles
  • Tables and Figures 
    • Includes all tables and/or figures that were used in the research study 
    • Each table and figure is placed on a separate page 
    • Tables are included before figures
    • Begins with a bolded, centered header such as “Table 1
  • Appendix 
    • Appends all forms, surveys, tests, etc. that were used in the study 
    • Only includes documents that were referenced in the Methods section 
    • Each entry is placed on a separate page 
    • Begins with a bolded, centered header such as “Appendix A

Tips For Experimental Research Papers (APA)

  • Select a topic that you are interested in 
    • Initial interest will motivate you to complete your study 
  • Create a clear research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement 
    • Your entire study will be centered around this question or statement 
  • Search for reputable sources to base your study on 
    • Use only verifiable sources that provide accurate information about your topic 
  • Do an ample amount of research before you conduct your study 
    • You need to thoroughly understand the field of study your topic is on to help you recognize the gap your research will fill and the significance of your results
  • As you do research, identify the gap in previous research 
    • This will help you identify what you should study and what the significance of your study will be 
  • Create an outline before you begin writing to help organize your thoughts and direct you in your writing 
  • Cite your sources in-text and on the reference page as you write 
    • This will prevent you from losing the source or forgetting to cite the source 
  • Work on one section at a time, rather than trying to complete multiple sections at once
  • While you conduct the research study, write down every action and step you take 
    • This information can be easily referred to as your write your various sections 
  • Work from general to specific throughout the entire process 
    • When conducting your research, working general to specific will help you narrow your topic and fully understand the field your topic is in 
    • When writing your literature review, writing from general to specific will help the audience understand your overall topic and the narrow focus of your research 
  • Anytime you find a source that may be useful, write the source down 
    • This will prevent you from losing sources you may need later 
  • Incorporate correct APA formatting as you write, rather than changing the formatting at the end of the writing process 

Checklist For Experimental Research Papers (APA)

Title Page

  • If the paper is a student paper, it contains the title of the project, the author’s name(s), the instructor's name, course number and name, and assignment due date
  • If the paper is a professional paper, it includes the title of the paper, the author’s name(s), the institutional affiliation, and the author note
  • Begins on the first page of the paper
  • The title is typed in upper and lowercase letters, four spaces below the top of the paper, and written in boldface 
  • Other information is separated by a space from the title

Title (found on title page)

  • Informs the audience about the purpose of the paper 
  • Captures the attention of the audience 
  • Accurately reflects the purpose and content of the research paper 

Abstract 

  • Labeled as “Abstract
  • Begins on the second page 
  • Provides a short, concise summary of the content of the research paper 
  • Includes background information necessary to understand the topic 
  • Background information demonstrates the purpose of the paper
  • Contains the hypothesis and/or research questions addressed in the paper
  • Has a brief description of the methods used 
  • Details the key findings and significance of the results
  • Illustrates the implications of the research study 
  • Contains less than 250 words

Introduction 

  • Starts on the third page 
  • Includes the title of the paper in bold at the top of the page
  • Explains what the topic of the research is and why the topic is worth studying
  • Contains a clear statement of the problem that the paper sets out to address 
  • Places the research paper within the context of previous research on the topic 
  • Explains the purpose of the research study and what you hope to find
  • Describes the significance of the study 
  • Details what new insights the research will contribute
  • Concludes with a brief description of what information will be mentioned in the literature review

Literature Review

  • Labeled as “Literature Review”
  • Presents a general description of the problem area 
  • Defines any necessary terms 
  • Discusses and summarizes prior research on the selected topic 
  • Identifies any unresolved issues or gaps in research that the current research plans to address
  • Concludes with a summary of the current research study, including the independent and dependent variables, the research questions or hypotheses, and the objective of the research  

Methods

  • Labeled as “Methods
  • Efficiently explains how the research study was conducted 
  • Appropriately divided into sections
  • Describes the characteristics of the participants 
  • Explains how the participants were selected 
  • Details how the anonymity of the participants was protected 
  • Notes what feedback the participants will be provided 
  • Describes all materials and instruments that were used 
  • Mentions how the procedure was conducted and data collected
  • Notes the independent and dependent variables 
  • Includes enough information that another researcher could duplicate the research 

Results 

  • Labeled as “Results
  • Describes the data was collected
  • Explains the results of statistical tests that were performed
  • Omits any analysis or discussion of the implications of the study 

Discussion 

  • Labeled as “Discussion
  • Describes the significance of the results 
  • Relates the results to the research questions and/or hypotheses
  • States whether the hypotheses should be rejected or accepted 
  • Addresses limitations of the study, including potential bias, confounds, imprecision of measures, and limits to generalizability
  • Explains how the study adds to the knowledge base and expands upon past research

References

  • Labeled as “References
  • Correctly cites sources according to APA formatting 
  • Orders sources alphabetically
  • All sources included in the study are cited in the reference section 

Table and Figures (optional)

  •  Each table and each figure is placed on a separate page 
  • Tables and figures are included after the reference page
  • Tables are included before figures
  • Tables and figures are correctly labeled
  • Each table and figure begins with a bolded, centered header such as “Table 1,” “Table 2,”

Appendix (optional) 

  • Any forms, surveys, tests, etc. are placed in the Appendix
  • All appendix entries are mentioned in the Methods section 
  • Each appendix begins on a new page
  • Each appendix begins with a bolded, centered header such as “Appendix A,” “Appendix B

Additional Resources For Experimental Research Papers (APA)