What are the components of a paper?

Your text should be a clear report of your research. However, this report should not be written chronologically. Instead, the report should have fixed components that appear in a fixed order. These components can differ according to the assignment and the course but some components are always the same. In every component of your text, a number of questions must be answered.
Most readers will not read your text from a to z but only parts of it. The stereotypical scientist will read the title and the abstract first, then the conclusion and introduction. Afterwards, the discussion, methodology and results will be read, if they are interesting for your reader.
Therefore, make sure to always pay attention to the focus of your research. In every component of your text, it should be clear what your research is about. Make sure every component stands on its own. Always start with an introductory sentence about your research.

Chapter 5 – Results

In experiments 1 to 25 below, the effects of the variance of the soil pH is correlated with the flower colour of the Camellia Japonica.


Chapter 5 – Results

As known in literature, the flower colour of the Camellia Japonica is determined by the soil’s water content. In order to determine whether this colour is also influenced by the soil pH, the following 25 experiments were conducted.

Consequently, you should not write chapters chronologically. You can’t start writing your introduction before you know what will be covered in the literature review or discussion. The literature review and methodology are usually the first components you write.

A good title is attractive

A good title attracts potential readers to your text. Be original and trigger curiosity.


Antibiotic resistance in horses


Antibiotics, a horse remedy?

A good title informs

Originality is nice but it can also confuse your reader. By reading your title, the reader should already be able form an idea of the content of your text. Try to remain accurate in your title and avoid focusing on sensation only.


New porous materials


New metal-organic grids with gold

Often, a text has a title and a subtitle. The title shows the reader the general topic of a text and can be stimulating and original. In that case, a subtitle is often used to offer a more specific insight into the context of the text using scientific terms. 


A life cycle analysis of detergents 

A comparison of washing programs


Small washes, green washes

A life cycle analysis of detergents

The abstract is the synopsis of the entire text and should be placed at the beginning of your text, below the title (and subtitle). The length of the abstract varies from 150 to 500 words, depending on the assignment. 

What to include in an abstract? 

An abstracts provides the reader with an initial idea of the topic of your research, how it was conducted and what the results and conclusions are. In fact, the reader should understand the core of your research entirely by reading only your abstract.

Instead of rushing to start writing your paper, start by writing the abstract of your paper first. You can even already do so before your research is entirely finished. It’s  a good exercise to understand your own research better and to discover aspects that might be tricky. Moreover, writing your abstract will give you direction and focus. Of course, your abstract will be changing throughout your research and writing process, but the insights you gained from it remain of course.

What is the purpose of an abstract? 

Your abstract is the synopsis of your research, which is very useful to have when searching for literature. Reading the abstract of an article is usually enough to know whether an article is relevant for your research. If the information in the abstract seems relevant, you can decide to read the entire article. If not, you can skip the article and continue your search for articles that are relevant. In this way, abstracts can save you a lot of time and effort. Give others the same opportunity and write a clear abstract for your peers.

Make sure to answer the following questions in your abstract: 


Keep it simple

An abstract can quickly become too technical. Don’t overcomplicate things for yourself. Write simple and easy sentences in your abstract.


In this case, we optimise the direct pyrolysis of lignin in a fixed bed reactor with an HZSM-5 catalyst. The results indicate that the pyrolysis temperature of 400 ° C is optimal, with a variance between 350°C and 500°C. These optimal conditions allowed the production of a bio-oil with an oxygen content of 30.1% and an energy content of 24.6 Mj/kg. This optimal composition can be used for further valorization. The catalyst/lignin ratio and the nitrogen flow were not shown to be critical process parameters.


Lignin is an affordable and widely offered form of biomass that can be used as raw material for organic precursors. However, the global valorisation of lignin is smaller than 5 percent per year. For this reason, there seems to be a need for better methods to convert lignin. Consequently, the direct pyrolysis of lignin in a fixed bed reactor with an HZSM-5 has been optimised in this study. More specifically, the pyrolysis temperature was altered between 350°C and 500°C. As opposed to previous research, the best bio-oil with an oxygen content of 30.1% and an energy content of 24.6 Mj/kg was obtained using a pyrolysis temperature of 400°C. This result shows that lignin can be valorised in a sustainable and economic manner via direct pyrolysis.

The introduction is always the first component of a scientific paper. In the introduction, the general topic of the paper is given and the reader is guided towards your specific research. The introduction should be no more than 10% of your complete text and should contain the aspects that are mentioned below. 

Broad context

Your introduction usually starts with a broad context of your research.Which societal or scientific phenomenon formed the basis of your research? Give a brief overview of the context of your research to offer the reader some perspective. 

Your first sentence sets the tone of your text. Once you know what you want to say, the actual work really starts of course. Make sure to attract the reader’s interest. Clearly explain what your research is about but avoid being too technical and specific from the start. 


This article examines the influence of excessive N soil fertilization on the mating behaviour of Lumbricidae.


Earthworms and fertilization are crucial for agriculture, even though they do not always go hand in hand.

Now you can start to focus. Define your study within the research that you have just described. What has not been discussed sufficiently or which path has not been explored yet by other researchers? 


This article examines the influence of excessive soil fertilization with organic nitrogen compounds on the mating behaviour of Lumbricidae. Various concentration effects have already been described in the literature for the effect of the total N fertilization on the mating behaviour of various members of this family. The concentration effect of the organic fraction for the Eisenia fetida, Eiseniella tetraedra, Lumbricus castaneus, Lumbricus festivus and the Lumbricus rubellus are hereby analysed.


Earthworms and fertilization are crucial for agriculture, even though they do not always go hand in hand. Over the past few decades, research has shown that excessive N soil fertilization negatively influences the mating behaviour of members of the Lumbricidae. Despite the vast amount of research that has already been conducted into this field, it remains an open question whether organic N fertilizers have a similar effect.

Research question

Formulate your research questions and make sure they are brief and clear. Which questions are you going to answer in your research or which aspect are you going to focus on? If your research questions are rather complex, you can always divide them into sub-questions. But be careful! Sub-questions are questions that help you to answer your main questions but they are not additional research topics. 


Is it possible to develop new antibiotics with a wide spectrum? Is it possible to control the stereoselectivity of the Staudinger reaction in the synthesis?


Is it possible to synthesise α-Lactams that have the same antibacterial effects as β-Lactams? What is the most appropriate synthesis method for such α-Lactams and does this depend on the side groups?

Societal relevance

Why is it interesting to find an answer to your research question? Which societal or scientific problems can be solved by your research? Which crucial insights will be obtained in this way? 


In the past, DFT has been used to model the interaction between molecules. However, better DFT functionalities need to be developed.


The density functional theory (DFT) can be used to model the interaction between molecules in a precise yet efficient manner, which allows for the use of these methods in the search for new medication. For this reason, however, better DFT functionalities are needed.

Theoretical framework and methodology

The next component of your text is the theoretical framework and the methodology you used. In this paragraph, you briefly mention the most important theories or concepts that you used as a basis for your research and the methodology you chose to adopt. In other words, you briefly refer to previous research (if there is any) that you have used as a basis for your research and you introduce your methodology. For example, did you conduct experiments or a survey ? 

General overview

At the end of your introduction, you give a brief overview of what will be discussed in your paper. Write a short paragraph about what the reader can expect from the next parts of your paper.


All of this will be examined in the rest of this paper.


The first chapter gives a short overview of the literature that is available in the field. The most important methods that were used in this study will be discussed in chapter two. In the third chapter, the results that were obtained will be analysed thoroughly.

In the literature review, you give an overview of the research that has already been conducted in the field of your topic or the research that is relevant to your research questions. This component of your paper is a critical synthesis of the existing relevant research that you read as you were preparing your own research. 

Create added value

The literature review is not an enumeration or a brief summary of the most important scientific studies that have been published on your topic. No, it is a critical overview of prior research which means that you don’t give a chronological or alphabetical overview of the literature you consulted but you bring together and discuss different points of view instead. Dare to make statements but make sure you always refer to other literature when doing so.

Paraphrase what other researchers say using your own words. Try to avoid direct quotations as much as possible as it interrupts the reading flow of your text. 

Make sure to answer the following questions in your literature review: 

Which articles support the same point? Are there opposing visions or theories? In your opinion, are there possibilities for further research that is closely linked to the research you described in your paper or report?


Fawster (1999) enumerates the parameters alpha to omega. According to Abraham et al. (2010), the output of the model linearly depends from alpha and beta. Guildford (2017) mentions that “(…) the model described above seems to depend exponentially from alpha. This conclusion is clearly derived from experiments 3a, 4 and 7 for pseudoplastic liquids.” According to Earls (2017), the output exponentially depends on gamma.


Despite the fact that the parameters alpha to omega have been known for a long time (Fawster, 1999), thorough research into the impact of these parameters on the model’s output has only been conducted in the past few decades. According to most sources, the output linearly depends on alpha and beta (Abraham et al., 2010), although Guildford (2017) found that the output exponentially depends on alpha. The causes of this discrepancy are currently unclear and must be examined further. Recent research, however, has also indicated that the output exponentially depends on gamma (Earls, 2017). .

Now it’s time to discuss the next component of your text, namely the methodology. In this component, you briefly discuss the most relevant methodologies and models that you have used in your research. The specificity of this component strongly depends on your research and field. A good starting point is that you only discuss non-trivial methods and models that you frequently used throughout your research.

Be specific

If you investigate new models to predict the impact of climate change for example, there is no need to explain the difference between an alcohol and a mercury thermometer. You should rather focus on different model types and methodologies used for the assessment of parameters and validation techniques. The development of your own model and the assessment of the according parameters, which forms the topic of your research, should be mentioned as part of the results.

As a literature review

The difference between the literature review and the methodology of a paper is not always clear. In the case of fundamental methodology development, these components are often combined into one chapter only. A different approach can be found in research in which a model is developed to resolve a specific problem. In this case, the underlying problem is usually discussed in the literature review and the model itself in the methodology. For example, when creating percolation models, the literature review focuses on scientific articles on the agricultural relevance of percolation and the methodology on the literature on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models.

Don’t lose yourself in details

Assume that the reader of your paper is intelligent. You don’t need to describe every method, deduction and reasoning in detail. Yet, make sure to explain why you choose specific techniques, what their power is and where their limitations lay.

In the next component, you give an overview of the results of your study. These can be statistical results, outcomes of simulations or findings in the test phases of a prototype. Nevertheless, no general conclusions should be drawn at this point but make sure to provide some context for your reaser. Your research was designed to answer specific research questions. Structure your result component according to these questions. 


The yield of the synthesis of the antibiotics mainly depended on the side groups. In the case of a methyl side group, which resulted in a yield of 37%, a relative antibacterial activity of 0.4 was found. In the case of a carboxy methyl side group, which resulted in a yield of 38%, a relative antibacterial activity of 0.4 was found. The stereoselective synthesis that occurred during the synthesis of both groups of compounds was achieved through chiral auxiliaries. Nevertheless, the most important are the compounds with an ethyl side group that are not chirally active, which resulted in a yield of 87% and for which a relative antibacterial activity of 0.7 was found.


All antibiotics were tested after their synthesis for their relative antibacterial function. The yield of these syntheses strongly depended on the side groups. Methyl and carboxy methyl side groups had a similar yield of 37% and 38% respectively. The highest yield, however, was obtained in the case of ethyl side groups (87%). Surprisingly, the ethyl compounds also had the highest relative antibacterial activity, i.e. 0.7 instead of 0.4 in case of the methyl and carboxy methyl compounds. An additional advantage of these ethyl compounds is the fact that they are not chirally active and for this reason, no special synthesis methods are needed. For the chirally active methyl and carboxy methyl compounds, the use of chiral auxiliaries was needed. 

Structure your findings

Give an overview of your measures, observations and calculations but avoid doing so without any structure. Start with general trends and describe your results more specifically with matching numbers and tables and figures, if relevant.


For the compositions A1-A54 and A56-A80, experiments 3 to 9 clearly showed that the viscosity rises with temperature until 70.5°C and from 80.1°C. For composition A55, the same experiments indicated that the viscosity rises with temperature until 56.5°C and from 89.1°C.


The viscosity of these compositions rises with temperature, except within a small temperature range around 75°C. More specifically, a decreasing viscosity was observed between 70.5°C and 80.1°C for compositions A1-A54 and A56-A80 and between 56.5°C and 89.1°C for composition A55

In the next component, you discuss and interpret the results and you compare your results to what you have mentioned in your literature review. The following question must definitely be answered in the discussion: 

What do the results of your research mean? 

Conclude and interpret your results in an understandable and meaningful manner.


The price elasticity of demand for HyperNitro and AzoBomb for the cultivation of wheat, barley and rye is -0.20, -0.35 and -0.15 in the EU-28; -0.17, -0.29 and -0.16 in the US; -0.75, -0.83 and -0.94 in Angola and -0.73, -0.91 and -0.82 in Ivory Coast.


As expected, the demand of the relatively expensive N fertilizers HyperNitro and AzoBomb used for the cultivation of wheat, barley and rye strongly depends more on the market price in Angola and Ivory Coast than in the EU-28 and the US (see table 1). A possible explanation for this is the high availability of less efficient but more affordable N-sources in West-Africa.

What is the contribution of your research? 

How do your results relate to prior research? What do your results confirm or oppose? What do your results contribute to the field?


Table 1 clearly shows that CMYK – 127 and RGB – A are broken down in the cytosol.


Although it is widely known that the degradation of azo dyes takes place in the mitochondria (Meisenheimer, 1996), table 1 clearly shows that CMYK – 127 and RGB – A are broken down in the cytosol.

What could you have done better?

What are the limitations of your own research? What could be improved about the methodology? We often make concessions in our research due to lack of time or resources. Don’t just ignore this but explain what you could have done better.


The dependence of parameter α falls outside the scope of this research.


Further research is needed to determine the dependence of parameter α. In this thesis, the assumption α equals 1 was used in order to limit the number of data points to a maximum of 150 as the current computation models do not allow the use of larger datasets. With better sampling techniques and experimental designs, it should be possible to examine the effect of α with a similar number of data points however.

What to do with disappointing results? 

If you don’t have clear results (because they are not significant for example), that’s not a problem. It is part of scientific research. Your discussion will in this case be shorter in terms of results but discuss possible causes of these unclear results, such as a sample size that was too limited, unclear measurements, etc.


The relative xylem and phloem fluid flow is respectively 0.34 and 0.96 in Arabidopsis thaliana and 0.29 and 0.77 in Amorphophallus titanum. The relative phloem fluid flow is 0.54 in Dionaea muscipula.


The relative xylem and phloem fluid flow is respectively 0.34 and 0.96 in Arabidopsis thaliana and 0.29 and 0.77 in Amorphophallus titanum. The relative phloem fluid flow is 0.54 in Dionaea muscipula. The xylem fluid flow could not be determined in Dionaea muscipula due to large fluctuations in pressure differences. An adjusted experimental set-up which eliminates these pressure differences, yielded no results so far.

The conclusion is the final component of your paper or thesis. In this component, you give a summary of your research, you answer the research questions and you inspire the reader to continue the research. The length of the conclusion should be about 10% of your total text. 

Short summary 

Your conclusion starts with a brief overview of your entire research. What did you study and for what reason? What was your methodology? What were the most important results and what do they mean for your research? What are the answers to your research questions?


The development of the alpha1, multi- and φbuster-phenotypes in A. carotae does not depend on the cAB-concentration in the cytosol of the zygote but is rather determined by the temperature of the zygote during the first four cell divisions. 


The carrot fly A. carotae is detrimental to the cultivation of modern agricultural crops. Nevertheless, it is known that only the alpha1, multi- and φbuster-phenotypes of A. carotae pose problem. This is why this thesis examines the factors that determine the development of the alpha1, multi- and φbuster-phenotypes in A. carotae. Surprisingly, the most important factor hereby seemed to be the temperature of the zygote during the first four cell divisions. Previous hypotheses on the determining role of the cAB-concentration in the cytosol of the zygote were, therefore, not confirmed.

Inspiring ending

After a short overview of your research, a conclusion also needs a good ending that sounds good and is very clear to your reader. What is your contribution to the research field? What can be the role of future research in understanding your subject more thoroughly? Why is it important to continue this research?


Further research is required. 


Although it was clearly shown that drisapersen leads to the production of semi functional dystrophin in Duchenne patients, further research on its clinical applicability is required as a wide range of proposed treatments of Duchenne disease based on (semi) functional dystrophin fail to improve patients’ muscular function.

Memorable ending

End your paper on a strong and memorable note. A good ending can really be the finish touch. Make sure your last sentence is also short, simple and attractive.


Finally, better training for taste experts is also needed to allow pink chocolate to take its place in the market.


‘Life is like a box of chocolates’ and from now on, this also includes pink chocolate.

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