A paper's components

Last changed: 23 October 2018
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The following describes the various components of a typical research paper. Keep in mind this is just a general description. You should ask your instructor or advisor if any special rules apply for papers written at your institution.

Title page

It's important for your title page to have an attractive layout and it must contain all relevant information for the reader. The following information must always be included on a title page:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Place of publication
  • Organization, institution


An abstract should provide a brief summary of your text. It should be short, informative and pique the reader's curiosity about the paper. The abstract should be written in the same language as the paper, but it is also wise to write an English abstract if the paper is in Swedish.

An abstract should include:

  • Purpose
  • Method
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Keywords


Assigning keywords can make it easier for others to locate the work with search engines and databases. Keywords also help readers get a quick sense of the paper's content.

Usually there are 5-7 keywords associated with your essay.

Keywords are usually indicated by italic heading and separated by commas, see example:

Keywords: ecology, consumer, biotic, limiting factor

Table of contents

The table of contents should serve as a map for readers to orient themselves within your paper. It's important that the main section and the subsections are numbered in a clear manner so that the reader can grasp the hierarchic order and connect various sections of the text. Number all pages in the body of the essay beginning with the introduction. Page numbers in the essay must match those listed in the table of contents. Annexes have their own pagination and therefore you should not provide page numbers for those in the table of contents.

Introduction - background, problem, purpose, report's structure

A paper's introduction presents its general objective or purpose. Readers learn about the problem for which the author is seeking a solution. The author provides background facts so that the reader can quickly acquire a general understanding of the problem area. The introduction presents earlier works on the subject, your hypotheses, and clarifies what will aspects to be explored and demarcate the areas outside the scope of the paper. You can even use the introduction to briefly describe the report's structure. It's also a good idea to explain how you conducted your information search and how you chose the relevant literature you cite.

Theoretical background, method, results

This is the largest part of your paper. First, describe your theoretical framework and the methods you've applied and then present your results. The description of your method/methods should be very precise and detailed enough to allow the reader to potentially reproduce your findings. You also need to provide a good motivation for the conclusions you draw and discuss any potential uncertainties in your findings.


In the discussion you should problematize your result and draw your own conclusions. This is also an opportunity for you to compare your work with the efforts of other researchers in this area.

References and citations

Your reference list should include all of the sources named in the paper. It is important that your readers can use the list to quickly get a sense of the subject matter and check the objectivity of your paper's content. Remember to always clearly mark when you include quotes, ideas or conclusions from read authors. If there aren't any citations in the text, the readers should be safe to assume that the ideas and thoughts presented are the author's own.