Research Reports & Papers




Why Are Research Papers Important?

  • Helps to fill in gaps in knowledge

  • Can change the current understanding within a field about a specific disease or treatment (can lead to changes in diagnosis and treatment of patients in the healthcare field)

  • To identify new problems/questions

  • To test theories and proposes solutions to previous questions

  • To test the feasibility of solutions using empirical evidence

General Structure



  • Use the inverse pyramid structure: start broad and become more focused towards the end. 

    • Broad aspect: Provide background information on your topic of interest.

    • Focused aspect: End with an objective statement.


  • Include these sections: 

    • Methods

      • Provide enough detail for the experiments to be replicated.

    • Results

      • Do not make conclusions.


  • ​​​Interpret the results. 

  • Discuss limitations to the study.

  • End with the implication to the research field and potential future studies. 

Additional Resource: UWO Library Link

Figures & Legends


Figures are one way that you can choose to display the results from your experiment or study, with the other being tables. Knowing how to create a figure and accurately describe it using a legend so that the figure can stand alone is a very important skill to have.

Examples & Things to Include

This figure was taken from:


Chen, X., Zhang, R., Zhang, Q., Xu, Z., Xu, F., Li, D., & Li, Y. (2018). Microtia patients: auricular chondrocyte ECM is promoted by CGF through IGF-1 activation of the IGF-1R/PI3K/AKT pathway. J Cell Physiol. doi:10.1002/jcp.27316

Note: The example figure and legend provided below is not perfect. Please read the descriptions to the right of the figure/legend to determine what might need to be changed/added.

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.40.49

The figure presented here is a compound figure (as indicated by the letters next to each figure). Notice that there are no titles for the figures.


Things to Note (a & c):

  • Treatments/targets are labeled

  • Error bars

  • Significant differences are shown with lines & *

  • Axis lines are present

  • No gridlines

  • A scale is present (y-axis)

  • Y-axis title

    • Here, you can see that they only mention relative mRNA expression/protein expression. Your y-axis titles should be more descriptive and include what that expression is relative & normalized to


Things to Note (b):

  • Lanes were labeled

  • The target molecule was labeled

  • If you include an image for total protein, you would also need to label the ladder

  • The MW for each of the molecules should also be included

Figure 1. The expression of type II collagen (COLAII) and Aggrecan genes and protein for chondrocytes treated with media (control), concentrated growth factor (CGF), or IGF-1 siRNA, by quantitative real‐time polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis. (a) qRT-PCR analysis of aggrecan and COLAII mRNA expression normalized to GAPDH (±SD), with experiments performed in triplicate. (b) Western blot performed to determine COLAII and aggrecan protein expression. (c) Western blot densitometry analysis of aggrecan and COLAII expression normalized to β-actin (±SD), with experiments performed in triplicate. Statistical analysis was performed (p < 0.05).

*Adapted from the paper 


  • Title (first sentence) includes a brief overview of the experiment.

  • Description of what was measured (targets + protein/mRNA) and the technique that was used, and the treatments (with concentrations) may also be included

  • Include the letter corresponding to each figure before the description

  • If you are using abbreviations, you will need to write them out again here, even if you have previously done so in other areas of your paper

  • Do not repeat methods here

  • For each figure, include the technique performed, type of analysis (including what it was relative/normalized to), target molecule(s) and MW, SD/SE, biological replicates, technical replicates, and the type of statistical analysis (e.g. t-test, ANOVA) and the p value

Important Things to Remember



  • Ensure the keywords are related to your topic but are not used in your title.


  • When you state a result in the abstract, state how you arrived at this result.

  • DO NOT provide explanations in the results section!

scientific language

  • Never use casual unprofessional language in a scientific paper (ex. hopefully).

  • Always use scientific language!


  • Do not add fluffy language to increase your word count. Every sentence in your paper should have a purpose!



The best examples of research papers are published journal articles! Search for some articles that are related to your topic, and see how they approach the different sections (paying special attention to the type of detail they include in their methods section!). Remember that each journal does have its own set of rules for formatting, so this might affect the layout of the paper; don't focus too much on the formatting, but more on the information included in each section. Also, be aware of what the expectations for your assignment are and keep that in mind when reading published papers!