5 Commonly Confused Elements of a Research Paper

To develop a top-notch research paper, you should first know it is structured and what each section entails. Also, you should know the purpose of each of the sections. That said, some of these sections and elements may seem to serve the same purpose and hardly do students differentiate their use. Sometimes, you may ponder if these elements are interchangeable. Some of these confusing elements are:

  1. Difference between aims and objectives
  2. “Implications” and “recommendations.”
  3. Citation and reference

Now let’s delve into some of the confusing sections of a research paper.

1. Difference between an “Abstract” and “Introduction”

An abstract summarizes the entire research paper in a few paragraphs. It entails the main points of the study, methodology, findings and conclusion. The abstract helps readers to know what your essay is about and whether to continue reading or not.

 On the other hand, the introduction sets the tone for your paper. It is where you introduce your topic, give background, highlight previous literature on it, the gap in them, and tell readers why it is worth researching.

In conclusion, the primary way to distinguish an abstract from the introduction is that an abstract contains the research method and findings, but the introduction doesn’t.

2. “Aim” and “objectives”

The aim of research stipulates the intended outcome of your study. The section talks about the goals and what it hopes to achieve after the investigation. It also includes what the researcher wishes to prove with the research. The aim is broad and gives no milestone for accomplishment.

The objective of your paper, however, includes the steps you may take to achieve your aim. It also comes with stages and milestones at which each aim can be achieved. Unlike aim, the objective is narrow in nature with a set timeframe for accomplishment.

3. “Introduction” and “problem statement”

The introduction is the first chapter of your research piece and provides the background information readers need to understand your study. It aims to grab the attention of readers; hence, it should contain a hook.

On the other hand, the problem statement forms an essential part of a research proposal and states the reasons for the study. It is usually intended to grab funders’ attention to provide grants or financial assistance for research. Though very brief, your problem statement explains the study’s purpose and what situation it seeks to address. For example, if you have identified a research gap that you intend to explore, clearly state it and how you wish to solve it. 

4. “Background of a study” and “literature review”

Both the background of study and literature review talks about existing literature or theories in the research area. However, the study background forms part of the introduction section that presents the topic and puts it in context.

The literature review, a standalone section, delves deeper into the topic and critically analyses it using previous literature.

5. “Research question” and “research problem”

The research problem is the entire reason for the particular study. What problem do you seek to address, what are the concerns necessitating research?

However, the research question is specific concerns you would want to address through the study. The research question is a subset of the research problem.