Sections of the Research Essay
Introduction and Literature Review
This section should provide an overview of the identity politics you chose to focus on in your research. For example, if you focus on race, you may want to describe some current issues in the US (Ferguson, Detroit, mass-incarceration) or use narrative to open your paper. Or a combination of both.
Then you must explain what your sources say about the issue. This is the place to flex your synthesis muscles! What conversations are happening? What do other researchers say about it? How do different people approach the problem? What do they have in common, and where do they diverge?
Your methods section will explain how you came to this particular research interest, how you went about conducting research, who you interviewed and why, and how you put all the information together. This section can contain direct language from your research proposal, and it needs to do a good job establishing your rhetorical position. This section goes a long way in establishing trust with your readers as you will explain your personal relationship with the topic while demonstrating your fair-minded approach.
For more on how to do this section and the general structure of APA organization, go to this part of the Excelsior OWL (Links to an external site.).
The Results section explains what you found out from your research. This should be the longest part of your essay, so draw out each point carefully. Think about connections between your reference texts and your interview. Think about how your interview illustrates broader cultural phenomenon in your reference texts.
This section concludes your research essay. Remember that a conclusion should never shut down the conversation by procuring a “right” answer or “winning” side. Nor should it regurgitate what you wrote about in previous sections. Rather, this section describes the implications of your research findings, as well as provide suggestions for future research. In other words, offer insight as to what your research could be used for, and explain how researchers writing after you might provide insight using a slightly different lens. And finally, use this section to reflect on your results. What do you think merits further study? What was surprising about your research findings? What, if anything, wasn’t? Weave these kinds of questions into the entire Discussion section as you talk about implications and suggest future lines of inquiry.
The References section should include everything that informed your work. Make sure to use APA formatting and organization correctly. This means you must adhere to guidelines like alphabetizing sources and using the correct format for titles, sections, citations, to name a few.
The Appendix must include anything relevant to your essay that doesn’t have a place in the actual essay. This includes things like your interview transcription. You can also use footnotes, but you don’t have to.
- 8-10 pages (2000+ words)
- APA Formatting
- You can include media, graphs, images, etc., as long as your word count does not fall below 2000 words. The appendix, which will contain at least a transcription of your interview, should NOT be included in the word count.
- You must turn in this paper in a Word Document and be very precise about formatting.
- You must engage ideas from at least 6 outside sources in addition to your interview. Your interview is your primary source and, as you are writing an ethnographic study, the interview will be the main focus of your analysis.
The following are two samples about the final research.