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Writing a Research Paper

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The pages in this section provide detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

The Research Paper

There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, students will find that they can achieve great things through their research and writing.

The pages in this section cover the following topic areas related to the process of writing a research paper:

  • Genre - This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic - This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses themselves.
  • Identifying an Audience - This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin - This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.
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Online Guide to Writing and Research

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  • Online Guide to Writing

The Research Assignment Introduction

When tasked with writing a research paper, you are able to “dig in” to a topic, idea, theme, or question in greater detail.  In your academic career, you will be assigned several assignments that require you to “research” something and then write about it. Sometimes you can choose a topic and sometimes a topic is assigned to you.  

Crowd of small symbolic 3d figures linked by lines, complex layered system surrounded by speech bubbles, over white, horizontal, isolated

Either way, look at this assignment as an opportunity to learn more about something and to add your voice to the discourse community about said topic. Your professor is assigning you the task to give you a chance to learn more about something and then share that newfound knowledge with the professor and your academic peers.  In this way, you contribute meaningfully to the existing scholarship in that subject area. You are then creating a research space for yourself and for other researchers who may follow you.  

Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783 This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License . © 2022 UMGC. All links to external sites were verified at the time of publication. UMGC is not responsible for the validity or integrity of information located at external sites.

Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing

Chapter 1: College Writing

How Does College Writing Differ from Workplace Writing?

What Is College Writing?

Why So Much Emphasis on Writing?

Chapter 2: The Writing Process

Doing Exploratory Research

Getting from Notes to Your Draft


Prewriting - Techniques to Get Started - Mining Your Intuition

Prewriting: Targeting Your Audience

Prewriting: Techniques to Get Started

Prewriting: Understanding Your Assignment

Rewriting: Being Your Own Critic

Rewriting: Creating a Revision Strategy

Rewriting: Getting Feedback

Rewriting: The Final Draft

Techniques to Get Started - Outlining

Techniques to Get Started - Using Systematic Techniques

Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Freewriting

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Summarizing Your Ideas

Writing: Outlining What You Will Write

Chapter 3: Thinking Strategies

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone: Style Through Vocabulary and Diction

Critical Strategies and Writing

Critical Strategies and Writing: Analysis

Critical Strategies and Writing: Evaluation

Critical Strategies and Writing: Persuasion

Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis

Developing a Paper Using Strategies

Kinds of Assignments You Will Write

Patterns for Presenting Information

Patterns for Presenting Information: Critiques

Patterns for Presenting Information: Discussing Raw Data

Patterns for Presenting Information: General-to-Specific Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Problem-Cause-Solution Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Specific-to-General Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Summaries and Abstracts

Supporting with Research and Examples

Writing Essay Examinations

Writing Essay Examinations: Make Your Answer Relevant and Complete

Writing Essay Examinations: Organize Thinking Before Writing

Writing Essay Examinations: Read and Understand the Question

Chapter 4: The Research Process

Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Ask a Research Question

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Cite Sources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Collect Evidence

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Decide Your Point of View, or Role, for Your Research

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Draw Conclusions

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Find a Topic and Get an Overview

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Manage Your Resources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Outline

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Survey the Literature

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Work Your Sources into Your Research Writing

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Human Resources

Research Resources: What Are Research Resources?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Electronic Resources

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Print Resources

Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure

Structuring the Research Paper: Informal Research Structure

The Nature of Research

The Research Assignment: How Should Research Sources Be Evaluated?

The Research Assignment: When Is Research Needed?

The Research Assignment: Why Perform Research?

Chapter 5: Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

Giving Credit to Sources

Giving Credit to Sources: Copyright Laws

Giving Credit to Sources: Documentation

Giving Credit to Sources: Style Guides

Integrating Sources

Practicing Academic Integrity

Practicing Academic Integrity: Keeping Accurate Records

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Paraphrasing Your Source

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Quoting Your Source

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Summarizing Your Sources

Types of Documentation

Types of Documentation: Bibliographies and Source Lists

Types of Documentation: Citing World Wide Web Sources

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - APA Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - CSE/CBE Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - Chicago Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - MLA Style

Types of Documentation: Note Citations

Chapter 6: Using Library Resources

Finding Library Resources

Chapter 7: Assessing Your Writing

How Is Writing Graded?

How Is Writing Graded?: A General Assessment Tool

The Draft Stage

The Draft Stage: The First Draft

The Draft Stage: The Revision Process and the Final Draft

The Draft Stage: Using Feedback

The Research Stage

Using Assessment to Improve Your Writing

Chapter 8: Other Frequently Assigned Papers

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Article and Book Reviews

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Reaction Papers

Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Adapting the Argument Structure

Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument

Writing Arguments: References to Consult for Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Anticipate Active Opposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Determine Your Organization

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Develop Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Introduce Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - State Your Thesis or Proposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Write Your Conclusion

Writing Arguments: Types of Argument

Appendix A: Books to Help Improve Your Writing


General Style Manuals

Researching on the Internet

Special Style Manuals

Writing Handbooks

Appendix B: Collaborative Writing and Peer Reviewing

Collaborative Writing: Assignments to Accompany the Group Project

Collaborative Writing: Informal Progress Report

Collaborative Writing: Issues to Resolve

Collaborative Writing: Methodology

Collaborative Writing: Peer Evaluation

Collaborative Writing: Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members

Collaborative Writing: Writing Plan

General Introduction

Peer Reviewing

Appendix C: Developing an Improvement Plan

Working with Your Instructor’s Comments and Grades

Appendix D: Writing Plan and Project Schedule

Devising a Writing Project Plan and Schedule

Reviewing Your Plan with Others

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Writing a Research Paper

This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper.

Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide.

Discovering, Narrowing, and Focusing a Researchable Topic

  • Try to find a topic that truly interests you
  • Try writing your way to a topic
  • Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
  • Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved

Finding, Selecting, and Reading Sources

You will need to look at the following types of sources:

  • library catalog, periodical indexes, bibliographies, suggestions from your instructor
  • primary vs. secondary sources
  • journals, books, other documents

Grouping, Sequencing, and Documenting Information

The following systems will help keep you organized:

  • a system for noting sources on bibliography cards
  • a system for organizing material according to its relative importance
  • a system for taking notes

Writing an Outline and a Prospectus for Yourself

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the topic?
  • Why is it significant?
  • What background material is relevant?
  • What is my thesis or purpose statement?
  • What organizational plan will best support my purpose?

Writing the Introduction

In the introduction you will need to do the following things:

  • present relevant background or contextual material
  • define terms or concepts when necessary
  • explain the focus of the paper and your specific purpose
  • reveal your plan of organization

Writing the Body

  • Use your outline and prospectus as flexible guides
  • Build your essay around points you want to make (i.e., don’t let your sources organize your paper)
  • Integrate your sources into your discussion
  • Summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it
  • Move up and down the “ladder of abstraction” from generalization to varying levels of detail back to generalization

Writing the Conclusion

  • If the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to add your points up, to explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction.
  • Perhaps suggest what about this topic needs further research.

Revising the Final Draft

  • Check overall organization : logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion.
  • Paragraph level concerns : topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.
  • Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling.
  • Documentation: consistent use of one system, citation of all material not considered common knowledge, appropriate use of endnotes or footnotes, accuracy of list of works cited.

research report assignment

Academic and Professional Writing

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Analysis Papers

Reading Poetry

A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis

Using Literary Quotations

Play Reviews

Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts

Incorporating Interview Data

Grant Proposals

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics

Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing

Job Materials and Application Essays

Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs

  • Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
  • Guided brainstorming exercises
  • Get more help with your essay
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Resume Writing Tips

CV Writing Tips

Cover Letters

Business Letters

Proposals and Dissertations

Resources for Proposal Writers

Resources for Dissertators

Research Papers

Planning and Writing Research Papers

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Creating Poster Presentations

Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

Thank-You Notes

Advice for Students Writing Thank-You Notes to Donors

Reading for a Review

Critical Reviews

Writing a Review of Literature

Scientific Reports

Scientific Report Format

Sample Lab Assignment

Writing for the Web

Writing an Effective Blog Post

Writing for Social Media: A Guide for Academics

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Resources for Teachers: Creating Writing Assignments

This page contains four specific areas:

Creating Effective Assignments

Checking the assignment, sequencing writing assignments, selecting an effective writing assignment format.

Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the student papers are in response to that assignment. Instructors can often help students write more effective papers by giving students written instructions about that assignment. Explicit descriptions of assignments on the syllabus or on an “assignment sheet” tend to produce the best results. These instructions might make explicit the process or steps necessary to complete the assignment. Assignment sheets should detail:

  • the kind of writing expected
  • the scope of acceptable subject matter
  • the length requirements
  • formatting requirements
  • documentation format
  • the amount and type of research expected (if any)
  • the writer’s role
  • deadlines for the first draft and its revision

Providing questions or needed data in the assignment helps students get started. For instance, some questions can suggest a mode of organization to the students. Other questions might suggest a procedure to follow. The questions posed should require that students assert a thesis.

The following areas should help you create effective writing assignments.

Examining your goals for the assignment

  • How exactly does this assignment fit with the objectives of your course?
  • Should this assignment relate only to the class and the texts for the class, or should it also relate to the world beyond the classroom?
  • What do you want the students to learn or experience from this writing assignment?
  • Should this assignment be an individual or a collaborative effort?
  • What do you want students to show you in this assignment? To demonstrate mastery of concepts or texts? To demonstrate logical and critical thinking? To develop an original idea? To learn and demonstrate the procedures, practices, and tools of your field of study?

Defining the writing task

  • Is the assignment sequenced so that students: (1) write a draft, (2) receive feedback (from you, fellow students, or staff members at the Writing and Communication Center), and (3) then revise it? Such a procedure has been proven to accomplish at least two goals: it improves the student’s writing and it discourages plagiarism.
  • Does the assignment include so many sub-questions that students will be confused about the major issue they should examine? Can you give more guidance about what the paper’s main focus should be? Can you reduce the number of sub-questions?
  • What is the purpose of the assignment (e.g., review knowledge already learned, find additional information, synthesize research, examine a new hypothesis)? Making the purpose(s) of the assignment explicit helps students write the kind of paper you want.
  • What is the required form (e.g., expository essay, lab report, memo, business report)?
  • What mode is required for the assignment (e.g., description, narration, analysis, persuasion, a combination of two or more of these)?

Defining the audience for the paper

  • Can you define a hypothetical audience to help students determine which concepts to define and explain? When students write only to the instructor, they may assume that little, if anything, requires explanation. Defining the whole class as the intended audience will clarify this issue for students.
  • What is the probable attitude of the intended readers toward the topic itself? Toward the student writer’s thesis? Toward the student writer?
  • What is the probable educational and economic background of the intended readers?

Defining the writer’s role

  • Can you make explicit what persona you wish the students to assume? For example, a very effective role for student writers is that of a “professional in training” who uses the assumptions, the perspective, and the conceptual tools of the discipline.

Defining your evaluative criteria

1. If possible, explain the relative weight in grading assigned to the quality of writing and the assignment’s content:

  • depth of coverage
  • organization
  • critical thinking
  • original thinking
  • use of research
  • logical demonstration
  • appropriate mode of structure and analysis (e.g., comparison, argument)
  • correct use of sources
  • grammar and mechanics
  • professional tone
  • correct use of course-specific concepts and terms.

Here’s a checklist for writing assignments:

  • Have you used explicit command words in your instructions (e.g., “compare and contrast” and “explain” are more explicit than “explore” or “consider”)? The more explicit the command words, the better chance the students will write the type of paper you wish.
  • Does the assignment suggest a topic, thesis, and format? Should it?
  • Have you told students the kind of audience they are addressing — the level of knowledge they can assume the readers have and your particular preferences (e.g., “avoid slang, use the first-person sparingly”)?
  • If the assignment has several stages of completion, have you made the various deadlines clear? Is your policy on due dates clear?
  • Have you presented the assignment in a manageable form? For instance, a 5-page assignment sheet for a 1-page paper may overwhelm students. Similarly, a 1-sentence assignment for a 25-page paper may offer insufficient guidance.

There are several benefits of sequencing writing assignments:

  • Sequencing provides a sense of coherence for the course.
  • This approach helps students see progress and purpose in their work rather than seeing the writing assignments as separate exercises.
  • It encourages complexity through sustained attention, revision, and consideration of multiple perspectives.
  • If you have only one large paper due near the end of the course, you might create a sequence of smaller assignments leading up to and providing a foundation for that larger paper (e.g., proposal of the topic, an annotated bibliography, a progress report, a summary of the paper’s key argument, a first draft of the paper itself). This approach allows you to give students guidance and also discourages plagiarism.
  • It mirrors the approach to written work in many professions.

The concept of sequencing writing assignments also allows for a wide range of options in creating the assignment. It is often beneficial to have students submit the components suggested below to your course’s STELLAR web site.

Use the writing process itself. In its simplest form, “sequencing an assignment” can mean establishing some sort of “official” check of the prewriting and drafting steps in the writing process. This step guarantees that students will not write the whole paper in one sitting and also gives students more time to let their ideas develop. This check might be something as informal as having students work on their prewriting or draft for a few minutes at the end of class. Or it might be something more formal such as collecting the prewriting and giving a few suggestions and comments.

Have students submit drafts. You might ask students to submit a first draft in order to receive your quick responses to its content, or have them submit written questions about the content and scope of their projects after they have completed their first draft.

Establish small groups. Set up small writing groups of three-five students from the class. Allow them to meet for a few minutes in class or have them arrange a meeting outside of class to comment constructively on each other’s drafts. The students do not need to be writing on the same topic.

Require consultations. Have students consult with someone in the Writing and Communication Center about their prewriting and/or drafts. The Center has yellow forms that we can give to students to inform you that such a visit was made.

Explore a subject in increasingly complex ways. A series of reading and writing assignments may be linked by the same subject matter or topic. Students encounter new perspectives and competing ideas with each new reading, and thus must evaluate and balance various views and adopt a position that considers the various points of view.

Change modes of discourse. In this approach, students’ assignments move from less complex to more complex modes of discourse (e.g., from expressive to analytic to argumentative; or from lab report to position paper to research article).

Change audiences. In this approach, students create drafts for different audiences, moving from personal to public (e.g., from self-reflection to an audience of peers to an audience of specialists). Each change would require different tasks and more extensive knowledge.

Change perspective through time. In this approach, students might write a statement of their understanding of a subject or issue at the beginning of a course and then return at the end of the semester to write an analysis of that original stance in the light of the experiences and knowledge gained in the course.

Use a natural sequence. A different approach to sequencing is to create a series of assignments culminating in a final writing project. In scientific and technical writing, for example, students could write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic. The next assignment might be a progress report (or a series of progress reports), and the final assignment could be the report or document itself. For humanities and social science courses, students might write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic, then hand in an annotated bibliography, and then a draft, and then the final version of the paper.

Have students submit sections. A variation of the previous approach is to have students submit various sections of their final document throughout the semester (e.g., their bibliography, review of the literature, methods section).

In addition to the standard essay and report formats, several other formats exist that might give students a different slant on the course material or allow them to use slightly different writing skills. Here are some suggestions:

Journals. Journals have become a popular format in recent years for courses that require some writing. In-class journal entries can spark discussions and reveal gaps in students’ understanding of the material. Having students write an in-class entry summarizing the material covered that day can aid the learning process and also reveal concepts that require more elaboration. Out-of-class entries involve short summaries or analyses of texts, or are a testing ground for ideas for student papers and reports. Although journals may seem to add a huge burden for instructors to correct, in fact many instructors either spot-check journals (looking at a few particular key entries) or grade them based on the number of entries completed. Journals are usually not graded for their prose style. STELLAR forums work well for out-of-class entries.

Letters. Students can define and defend a position on an issue in a letter written to someone in authority. They can also explain a concept or a process to someone in need of that particular information. They can write a letter to a friend explaining their concerns about an upcoming paper assignment or explaining their ideas for an upcoming paper assignment. If you wish to add a creative element to the writing assignment, you might have students adopt the persona of an important person discussed in your course (e.g., an historical figure) and write a letter explaining his/her actions, process, or theory to an interested person (e.g., “pretend that you are John Wilkes Booth and write a letter to the Congress justifying your assassination of Abraham Lincoln,” or “pretend you are Henry VIII writing to Thomas More explaining your break from the Catholic Church”).

Editorials . Students can define and defend a position on a controversial issue in the format of an editorial for the campus or local newspaper or for a national journal.

Cases . Students might create a case study particular to the course’s subject matter.

Position Papers . Students can define and defend a position, perhaps as a preliminary step in the creation of a formal research paper or essay.

Imitation of a Text . Students can create a new document “in the style of” a particular writer (e.g., “Create a government document the way Woody Allen might write it” or “Write your own ‘Modest Proposal’ about a modern issue”).

Instruction Manuals . Students write a step-by-step explanation of a process.

Dialogues . Students create a dialogue between two major figures studied in which they not only reveal those people’s theories or thoughts but also explore areas of possible disagreement (e.g., “Write a dialogue between Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock about the nature and uses of art”).

Collaborative projects . Students work together to create such works as reports, questions, and critiques.

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Research Method

Home » Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Paper – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Paper

Research Paper


Research Paper is a written document that presents the author’s original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue.

It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute new knowledge or insights to a particular field of study, and to demonstrate the author’s understanding of the existing literature and theories related to the topic.

Structure of Research Paper

The structure of a research paper typically follows a standard format, consisting of several sections that convey specific information about the research study. The following is a detailed explanation of the structure of a research paper:

The title page contains the title of the paper, the name(s) of the author(s), and the affiliation(s) of the author(s). It also includes the date of submission and possibly, the name of the journal or conference where the paper is to be published.

The abstract is a brief summary of the research paper, typically ranging from 100 to 250 words. It should include the research question, the methods used, the key findings, and the implications of the results. The abstract should be written in a concise and clear manner to allow readers to quickly grasp the essence of the research.


The introduction section of a research paper provides background information about the research problem, the research question, and the research objectives. It also outlines the significance of the research, the research gap that it aims to fill, and the approach taken to address the research question. Finally, the introduction section ends with a clear statement of the research hypothesis or research question.

Literature Review

The literature review section of a research paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. It includes a critical analysis and synthesis of the literature, highlighting the key concepts, themes, and debates. The literature review should also demonstrate the research gap and how the current study seeks to address it.

The methods section of a research paper describes the research design, the sample selection, the data collection and analysis procedures, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data. This section should provide sufficient detail for other researchers to replicate the study.

The results section presents the findings of the research, using tables, graphs, and figures to illustrate the data. The findings should be presented in a clear and concise manner, with reference to the research question and hypothesis.

The discussion section of a research paper interprets the findings and discusses their implications for the research question, the literature review, and the field of study. It should also address the limitations of the study and suggest future research directions.

The conclusion section summarizes the main findings of the study, restates the research question and hypothesis, and provides a final reflection on the significance of the research.

The references section provides a list of all the sources cited in the paper, following a specific citation style such as APA, MLA or Chicago.

How to Write Research Paper

You can write Research Paper by the following guide:

  • Choose a Topic: The first step is to select a topic that interests you and is relevant to your field of study. Brainstorm ideas and narrow down to a research question that is specific and researchable.
  • Conduct a Literature Review: The literature review helps you identify the gap in the existing research and provides a basis for your research question. It also helps you to develop a theoretical framework and research hypothesis.
  • Develop a Thesis Statement : The thesis statement is the main argument of your research paper. It should be clear, concise and specific to your research question.
  • Plan your Research: Develop a research plan that outlines the methods, data sources, and data analysis procedures. This will help you to collect and analyze data effectively.
  • Collect and Analyze Data: Collect data using various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, or experiments. Analyze data using statistical tools or other qualitative methods.
  • Organize your Paper : Organize your paper into sections such as Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. Ensure that each section is coherent and follows a logical flow.
  • Write your Paper : Start by writing the introduction, followed by the literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and follows the required formatting and citation styles.
  • Edit and Proofread your Paper: Review your paper for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that it is well-structured and easy to read. Ask someone else to review your paper to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • Cite your Sources: Ensure that you properly cite all sources used in your research paper. This is essential for giving credit to the original authors and avoiding plagiarism.

Research Paper Example

Note : The below example research paper is for illustrative purposes only and is not an actual research paper. Actual research papers may have different structures, contents, and formats depending on the field of study, research question, data collection and analysis methods, and other factors. Students should always consult with their professors or supervisors for specific guidelines and expectations for their research papers.

Research Paper Example sample for Students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health among Young Adults

Abstract: This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults. A literature review was conducted to examine the existing research on the topic. A survey was then administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Introduction: Social media has become an integral part of modern life, particularly among young adults. While social media has many benefits, including increased communication and social connectivity, it has also been associated with negative outcomes, such as addiction, cyberbullying, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on the mental health of young adults.

Literature Review: The literature review highlights the existing research on the impact of social media use on mental health. The review shows that social media use is associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems. The review also identifies the factors that contribute to the negative impact of social media, including social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Methods : A survey was administered to 200 university students to collect data on their social media use, mental health status, and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. The survey included questions on social media use, mental health status (measured using the DASS-21), and perceived impact of social media on their mental health. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Results : The results showed that social media use is positively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study also found that social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO are significant predictors of mental health problems among young adults.

Discussion : The study’s findings suggest that social media use has a negative impact on the mental health of young adults. The study highlights the need for interventions that address the factors contributing to the negative impact of social media, such as social comparison, cyberbullying, and FOMO.

Conclusion : In conclusion, social media use has a significant impact on the mental health of young adults. The study’s findings underscore the need for interventions that promote healthy social media use and address the negative outcomes associated with social media use. Future research can explore the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health. Additionally, longitudinal studies can investigate the long-term effects of social media use on mental health.

Limitations : The study has some limitations, including the use of self-report measures and a cross-sectional design. The use of self-report measures may result in biased responses, and a cross-sectional design limits the ability to establish causality.

Implications: The study’s findings have implications for mental health professionals, educators, and policymakers. Mental health professionals can use the findings to develop interventions that address the negative impact of social media use on mental health. Educators can incorporate social media literacy into their curriculum to promote healthy social media use among young adults. Policymakers can use the findings to develop policies that protect young adults from the negative outcomes associated with social media use.

References :

  • Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2019). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 15, 100918.
  • Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., Barrett, E. L., Sidani, J. E., Colditz, J. B., … & James, A. E. (2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among US young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1-9.
  • Van der Meer, T. G., & Verhoeven, J. W. (2017). Social media and its impact on academic performance of students. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 16, 383-398.

Appendix : The survey used in this study is provided below.

Social Media and Mental Health Survey

  • How often do you use social media per day?
  • Less than 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • 1 to 2 hours
  • 2 to 4 hours
  • More than 4 hours
  • Which social media platforms do you use?
  • Others (Please specify)
  • How often do you experience the following on social media?
  • Social comparison (comparing yourself to others)
  • Cyberbullying
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Have you ever experienced any of the following mental health problems in the past month?
  • Do you think social media use has a positive or negative impact on your mental health?
  • Very positive
  • Somewhat positive
  • Somewhat negative
  • Very negative
  • In your opinion, which factors contribute to the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Social comparison
  • In your opinion, what interventions could be effective in reducing the negative impact of social media on mental health?
  • Education on healthy social media use
  • Counseling for mental health problems caused by social media
  • Social media detox programs
  • Regulation of social media use

Thank you for your participation!

Applications of Research Paper

Research papers have several applications in various fields, including:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research papers contribute to the advancement of knowledge by generating new insights, theories, and findings that can inform future research and practice. They help to answer important questions, clarify existing knowledge, and identify areas that require further investigation.
  • Informing policy: Research papers can inform policy decisions by providing evidence-based recommendations for policymakers. They can help to identify gaps in current policies, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and inform the development of new policies and regulations.
  • Improving practice: Research papers can improve practice by providing evidence-based guidance for professionals in various fields, including medicine, education, business, and psychology. They can inform the development of best practices, guidelines, and standards of care that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • Educating students : Research papers are often used as teaching tools in universities and colleges to educate students about research methods, data analysis, and academic writing. They help students to develop critical thinking skills, research skills, and communication skills that are essential for success in many careers.
  • Fostering collaboration: Research papers can foster collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers by providing a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas. They can facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships that can lead to innovative solutions to complex problems.

When to Write Research Paper

Research papers are typically written when a person has completed a research project or when they have conducted a study and have obtained data or findings that they want to share with the academic or professional community. Research papers are usually written in academic settings, such as universities, but they can also be written in professional settings, such as research organizations, government agencies, or private companies.

Here are some common situations where a person might need to write a research paper:

  • For academic purposes: Students in universities and colleges are often required to write research papers as part of their coursework, particularly in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Writing research papers helps students to develop research skills, critical thinking skills, and academic writing skills.
  • For publication: Researchers often write research papers to publish their findings in academic journals or to present their work at academic conferences. Publishing research papers is an important way to disseminate research findings to the academic community and to establish oneself as an expert in a particular field.
  • To inform policy or practice : Researchers may write research papers to inform policy decisions or to improve practice in various fields. Research findings can be used to inform the development of policies, guidelines, and best practices that can improve outcomes for individuals and organizations.
  • To share new insights or ideas: Researchers may write research papers to share new insights or ideas with the academic or professional community. They may present new theories, propose new research methods, or challenge existing paradigms in their field.

Purpose of Research Paper

The purpose of a research paper is to present the results of a study or investigation in a clear, concise, and structured manner. Research papers are written to communicate new knowledge, ideas, or findings to a specific audience, such as researchers, scholars, practitioners, or policymakers. The primary purposes of a research paper are:

  • To contribute to the body of knowledge : Research papers aim to add new knowledge or insights to a particular field or discipline. They do this by reporting the results of empirical studies, reviewing and synthesizing existing literature, proposing new theories, or providing new perspectives on a topic.
  • To inform or persuade: Research papers are written to inform or persuade the reader about a particular issue, topic, or phenomenon. They present evidence and arguments to support their claims and seek to persuade the reader of the validity of their findings or recommendations.
  • To advance the field: Research papers seek to advance the field or discipline by identifying gaps in knowledge, proposing new research questions or approaches, or challenging existing assumptions or paradigms. They aim to contribute to ongoing debates and discussions within a field and to stimulate further research and inquiry.
  • To demonstrate research skills: Research papers demonstrate the author’s research skills, including their ability to design and conduct a study, collect and analyze data, and interpret and communicate findings. They also demonstrate the author’s ability to critically evaluate existing literature, synthesize information from multiple sources, and write in a clear and structured manner.

Characteristics of Research Paper

Research papers have several characteristics that distinguish them from other forms of academic or professional writing. Here are some common characteristics of research papers:

  • Evidence-based: Research papers are based on empirical evidence, which is collected through rigorous research methods such as experiments, surveys, observations, or interviews. They rely on objective data and facts to support their claims and conclusions.
  • Structured and organized: Research papers have a clear and logical structure, with sections such as introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. They are organized in a way that helps the reader to follow the argument and understand the findings.
  • Formal and objective: Research papers are written in a formal and objective tone, with an emphasis on clarity, precision, and accuracy. They avoid subjective language or personal opinions and instead rely on objective data and analysis to support their arguments.
  • Citations and references: Research papers include citations and references to acknowledge the sources of information and ideas used in the paper. They use a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Peer-reviewed: Research papers are often peer-reviewed, which means they are evaluated by other experts in the field before they are published. Peer-review ensures that the research is of high quality, meets ethical standards, and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • Objective and unbiased: Research papers strive to be objective and unbiased in their presentation of the findings. They avoid personal biases or preconceptions and instead rely on the data and analysis to draw conclusions.

Advantages of Research Paper

Research papers have many advantages, both for the individual researcher and for the broader academic and professional community. Here are some advantages of research papers:

  • Contribution to knowledge: Research papers contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field or discipline. They add new information, insights, and perspectives to existing literature and help advance the understanding of a particular phenomenon or issue.
  • Opportunity for intellectual growth: Research papers provide an opportunity for intellectual growth for the researcher. They require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, which can help develop the researcher’s skills and knowledge.
  • Career advancement: Research papers can help advance the researcher’s career by demonstrating their expertise and contributions to the field. They can also lead to new research opportunities, collaborations, and funding.
  • Academic recognition: Research papers can lead to academic recognition in the form of awards, grants, or invitations to speak at conferences or events. They can also contribute to the researcher’s reputation and standing in the field.
  • Impact on policy and practice: Research papers can have a significant impact on policy and practice. They can inform policy decisions, guide practice, and lead to changes in laws, regulations, or procedures.
  • Advancement of society: Research papers can contribute to the advancement of society by addressing important issues, identifying solutions to problems, and promoting social justice and equality.

Limitations of Research Paper

Research papers also have some limitations that should be considered when interpreting their findings or implications. Here are some common limitations of research papers:

  • Limited generalizability: Research findings may not be generalizable to other populations, settings, or contexts. Studies often use specific samples or conditions that may not reflect the broader population or real-world situations.
  • Potential for bias : Research papers may be biased due to factors such as sample selection, measurement errors, or researcher biases. It is important to evaluate the quality of the research design and methods used to ensure that the findings are valid and reliable.
  • Ethical concerns: Research papers may raise ethical concerns, such as the use of vulnerable populations or invasive procedures. Researchers must adhere to ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants to ensure that the research is conducted in a responsible and respectful manner.
  • Limitations of methodology: Research papers may be limited by the methodology used to collect and analyze data. For example, certain research methods may not capture the complexity or nuance of a particular phenomenon, or may not be appropriate for certain research questions.
  • Publication bias: Research papers may be subject to publication bias, where positive or significant findings are more likely to be published than negative or non-significant findings. This can skew the overall findings of a particular area of research.
  • Time and resource constraints: Research papers may be limited by time and resource constraints, which can affect the quality and scope of the research. Researchers may not have access to certain data or resources, or may be unable to conduct long-term studies due to practical limitations.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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  • 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
  • 1 Unit Introduction
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
  • 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
  • 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
  • 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
  • 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
  • 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
  • 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
  • 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
  • Further Reading
  • Works Cited
  • 2.1 Seeds of Self
  • 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
  • 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
  • 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  • 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
  • 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
  • 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
  • 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
  • 3.1 Identity and Expression
  • 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
  • 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
  • 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
  • 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
  • 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
  • 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
  • 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
  • Works Consulted
  • 2 Unit Introduction
  • 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
  • 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
  • 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
  • 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
  • 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
  • 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
  • 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
  • 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
  • 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
  • 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
  • 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
  • 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
  • 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
  • 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
  • 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
  • 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
  • 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
  • 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
  • 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
  • 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
  • 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
  • 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
  • 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
  • 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
  • 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
  • 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
  • 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
  • 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
  • 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
  • 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
  • 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
  • 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
  • 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
  • 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
  • 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
  • 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
  • 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
  • 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
  • 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
  • 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
  • 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
  • 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
  • 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
  • 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
  • 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
  • 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
  • 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
  • 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
  • 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
  • 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
  • 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
  • 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
  • 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
  • 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
  • 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
  • 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
  • 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
  • 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
  • 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
  • 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
  • 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
  • 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
  • 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
  • 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
  • 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
  • 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
  • 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
  • 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
  • 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
  • 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
  • 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
  • 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
  • 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
  • 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
  • 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
  • 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
  • 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
  • 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
  • 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
  • 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
  • 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
  • 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
  • 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
  • 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
  • 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
  • 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
  • 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
  • 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
  • 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
  • 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
  • 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
  • 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
  • 3 Unit Introduction
  • 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
  • 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
  • 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
  • 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
  • 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
  • 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
  • 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
  • 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
  • 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
  • 17.1 “Reading” Images
  • 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
  • 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
  • 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
  • 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
  • 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
  • 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
  • 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
  • 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
  • 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
  • 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
  • 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
  • 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
  • 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
  • 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
  • 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
  • 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
  • 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
  • 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
  • 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
  • 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
  • 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
  • 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
  • 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
  • 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
  • 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
  • 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
  • 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
  • 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
  • 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
  • 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
  • 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
  • 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Employ the methods and technologies commonly used for research and communication within various fields.
  • Practice and apply strategies such as interpretation, synthesis, response, and critique to compose texts that integrate the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.
  • Analyze and make informed decisions about intellectual property based on the concepts that motivate them.
  • Apply citation conventions systematically.

As you conduct research, you will work with a range of “texts” in various forms, including sources and documents from online databases as well as images, audio, and video files from the Internet. You may also work with archival materials and with transcribed and analyzed primary data. Additionally, you will be taking notes and recording quotations from secondary sources as you find materials that shape your understanding of your topic and, at the same time, provide you with facts and perspectives. You also may download articles as PDFs that you then annotate. Like many other students, you may find it challenging to keep so much material organized, accessible, and easy to work with while you write a major research paper. As it does for many of those students, a research log for your ideas and sources will help you keep track of the scope, purpose, and possibilities of any research project.

A research log is essentially a journal in which you collect information, ask questions, and monitor the results. Even if you are completing the annotated bibliography for Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing , keeping a research log is an effective organizational tool. Like Lily Tran’s research log entry, most entries have three parts: a part for notes on secondary sources, a part for connections to the thesis or main points, and a part for your own notes or questions. Record source notes by date, and allow room to add cross-references to other entries.

Summary of Assignment: Research Log

Your assignment is to create a research log similar to the student model. You will use it for the argumentative research project assigned in Writing Process: Integrating Research to record all secondary source information: your notes, complete publication data, relation to thesis, and other information as indicated in the right-hand column of the sample entry.

Another Lens. A somewhat different approach to maintaining a research log is to customize it to your needs or preferences. You can apply shading or color coding to headers, rows, and/or columns in the three-column format (for colors and shading). Or you can add columns to accommodate more information, analysis, synthesis, or commentary, formatting them as you wish. Consider adding a column for questions only or one for connections to other sources. Finally, consider a different visual format , such as one without columns. Another possibility is to record some of your comments and questions so that you have an aural rather than a written record of these.

Writing Center

At this point, or at any other point during the research and writing process, you may find that your school’s writing center can provide extensive assistance. If you are unfamiliar with the writing center, now is a good time to pay your first visit. Writing centers provide free peer tutoring for all types and phases of writing. Discussing your research with a trained writing center tutor can help you clarify, analyze, and connect ideas as well as provide feedback on works in progress.

Quick Launch: Beginning Questions

You may begin your research log with some open pages in which you freewrite, exploring answers to the following questions. Although you generally would do this at the beginning, it is a process to which you likely will return as you find more information about your topic and as your focus changes, as it may during the course of your research.

  • What information have I found so far?
  • What do I still need to find?
  • Where am I most likely to find it?

These are beginning questions. Like Lily Tran, however, you will come across general questions or issues that a quick note or freewrite may help you resolve. The key to this section is to revisit it regularly. Written answers to these and other self-generated questions in your log clarify your tasks as you go along, helping you articulate ideas and examine supporting evidence critically. As you move further into the process, consider answering the following questions in your freewrite:

  • What evidence looks as though it best supports my thesis?
  • What evidence challenges my working thesis?
  • How is my thesis changing from where it started?

Creating the Research Log

As you gather source material for your argumentative research paper, keep in mind that the research is intended to support original thinking. That is, you are not writing an informational report in which you simply supply facts to readers. Instead, you are writing to support a thesis that shows original thinking, and you are collecting and incorporating research into your paper to support that thinking. Therefore, a research log, whether digital or handwritten, is a great way to keep track of your thinking as well as your notes and bibliographic information.

In the model below, Lily Tran records the correct MLA bibliographic citation for the source. Then, she records a note and includes the in-text citation here to avoid having to retrieve this information later. Perhaps most important, Tran records why she noted this information—how it supports her thesis: The human race must turn to sustainable food systems that provide healthy diets with minimal environmental impact, starting now . Finally, she makes a note to herself about an additional visual to include in the final paper to reinforce the point regarding the current pressure on food systems. And she connects the information to other information she finds, thus cross-referencing and establishing a possible synthesis. Use a format similar to that in Table 13.4 to begin your own research log.

Types of Research Notes

Taking good notes will make the research process easier by enabling you to locate and remember sources and use them effectively. While some research projects requiring only a few sources may seem easily tracked, research projects requiring more than a few sources are more effectively managed when you take good bibliographic and informational notes. As you gather evidence for your argumentative research paper, follow the descriptions and the electronic model to record your notes. You can combine these with your research log, or you can use the research log for secondary sources and your own note-taking system for primary sources if a division of this kind is helpful. Either way, be sure to include all necessary information.

Bibliographic Notes

These identify the source you are using. When you locate a useful source, record the information necessary to find that source again. It is important to do this as you find each source, even before taking notes from it. If you create bibliographic notes as you go along, then you can easily arrange them in alphabetical order later to prepare the reference list required at the end of formal academic papers. If your instructor requires you to use MLA formatting for your essay, be sure to record the following information:

  • Title of source
  • Title of container (larger work in which source is included)
  • Other contributors
  • Publication date

When using MLA style with online sources, also record the following information:

  • Date of original publication
  • Date of access
  • DOI (A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a series of digits and letters that leads to the location of an online source. Articles in journals are often assigned DOIs to ensure that the source can be located, even if the URL changes. If your source is listed with a DOI, use that instead of a URL.)

It is important to understand which documentation style your instructor will require you to use. Check the Handbook for MLA Documentation and Format and APA Documentation and Format styles . In addition, you can check the style guide information provided by the Purdue Online Writing Lab .

Informational Notes

These notes record the relevant information found in your sources. When writing your essay, you will work from these notes, so be sure they contain all the information you need from every source you intend to use. Also try to focus your notes on your research question so that their relevance is clear when you read them later. To avoid confusion, work with separate entries for each piece of information recorded. At the top of each entry, identify the source through brief bibliographic identification (author and title), and note the page numbers on which the information appears. Also helpful is to add personal notes, including ideas for possible use of the information or cross-references to other information. As noted in Writing Process: Integrating Research , you will be using a variety of formats when borrowing from sources. Below is a quick review of these formats in terms of note-taking processes. By clarifying whether you are quoting directly, paraphrasing, or summarizing during these stages, you can record information accurately and thus take steps to avoid plagiarism.

Direct Quotations, Paraphrases, and Summaries

A direct quotation is an exact duplication of the author’s words as they appear in the original source. In your notes, put quotation marks around direct quotations so that you remember these words are the author’s, not yours. One advantage of copying exact quotations is that it allows you to decide later whether to include a quotation, paraphrase, or summary. ln general, though, use direct quotations only when the author’s words are particularly lively or persuasive.

A paraphrase is a restatement of the author’s words in your own words. Paraphrase to simplify or clarify the original author’s point. In your notes, use paraphrases when you need to record details but not exact words.

A summary is a brief condensation or distillation of the main point and most important details of the original source. Write a summary in your own words, with facts and ideas accurately represented. A summary is useful when specific details in the source are unimportant or irrelevant to your research question. You may find you can summarize several paragraphs or even an entire article or chapter in just a few sentences without losing useful information. It is a good idea to note when your entry contains a summary to remind you later that it omits detailed information. See Writing Process Integrating Research for more detailed information and examples of quotations, paraphrases, and summaries and when to use them.

Other Systems for Organizing Research Logs and Digital Note-Taking

Students often become frustrated and at times overwhelmed by the quantity of materials to be managed in the research process. If this is your first time working with both primary and secondary sources, finding ways to keep all of the information in one place and well organized is essential.

Because gathering primary evidence may be a relatively new practice, this section is designed to help you navigate the process. As mentioned earlier, information gathered in fieldwork is not cataloged, organized, indexed, or shelved for your convenience. Obtaining it requires diligence, energy, and planning. Online resources can assist you with keeping a research log. Your college library may have subscriptions to tools such as Todoist or EndNote. Consult with a librarian to find out whether you have access to any of these. If not, use something like the template shown in Figure 13.8 , or another like it, as a template for creating your own research notes and organizational tool. You will need to have a record of all field research data as well as the research log for all secondary sources.

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research report assignment

Home Market Research

Research Reports: Definition and How to Write Them

Research Reports

Reports are usually spread across a vast horizon of topics but are focused on communicating information about a particular topic and a niche target market. The primary motive of research reports is to convey integral details about a study for marketers to consider while designing new strategies.

Certain events, facts, and other information based on incidents need to be relayed to the people in charge, and creating research reports is the most effective communication tool. Ideal research reports are extremely accurate in the offered information with a clear objective and conclusion. These reports should have a clean and structured format to relay information effectively.

What are Research Reports?

Research reports are recorded data prepared by researchers or statisticians after analyzing the information gathered by conducting organized research, typically in the form of surveys or qualitative methods .

A research report is a reliable source to recount details about a conducted research. It is most often considered to be a true testimony of all the work done to garner specificities of research.

The various sections of a research report are:

  • Background/Introduction
  • Implemented Methods
  • Results based on Analysis
  • Deliberation

Learn more: Quantitative Research

Components of Research Reports

Research is imperative for launching a new product/service or a new feature. The markets today are extremely volatile and competitive due to new entrants every day who may or may not provide effective products. An organization needs to make the right decisions at the right time to be relevant in such a market with updated products that suffice customer demands.

The details of a research report may change with the purpose of research but the main components of a report will remain constant. The research approach of the market researcher also influences the style of writing reports. Here are seven main components of a productive research report:

  • Research Report Summary: The entire objective along with the overview of research are to be included in a summary which is a couple of paragraphs in length. All the multiple components of the research are explained in brief under the report summary.  It should be interesting enough to capture all the key elements of the report.
  • Research Introduction: There always is a primary goal that the researcher is trying to achieve through a report. In the introduction section, he/she can cover answers related to this goal and establish a thesis which will be included to strive and answer it in detail.  This section should answer an integral question: “What is the current situation of the goal?”.  After the research design was conducted, did the organization conclude the goal successfully or they are still a work in progress –  provide such details in the introduction part of the research report.
  • Research Methodology: This is the most important section of the report where all the important information lies. The readers can gain data for the topic along with analyzing the quality of provided content and the research can also be approved by other market researchers . Thus, this section needs to be highly informative with each aspect of research discussed in detail.  Information needs to be expressed in chronological order according to its priority and importance. Researchers should include references in case they gained information from existing techniques.
  • Research Results: A short description of the results along with calculations conducted to achieve the goal will form this section of results. Usually, the exposition after data analysis is carried out in the discussion part of the report.

Learn more: Quantitative Data

  • Research Discussion: The results are discussed in extreme detail in this section along with a comparative analysis of reports that could probably exist in the same domain. Any abnormality uncovered during research will be deliberated in the discussion section.  While writing research reports, the researcher will have to connect the dots on how the results will be applicable in the real world.
  • Research References and Conclusion: Conclude all the research findings along with mentioning each and every author, article or any content piece from where references were taken.

Learn more: Qualitative Observation

15 Tips for Writing Research Reports

Writing research reports in the manner can lead to all the efforts going down the drain. Here are 15 tips for writing impactful research reports:

  • Prepare the context before starting to write and start from the basics:  This was always taught to us in school – be well-prepared before taking a plunge into new topics. The order of survey questions might not be the ideal or most effective order for writing research reports. The idea is to start with a broader topic and work towards a more specific one and focus on a conclusion or support, which a research should support with the facts.  The most difficult thing to do in reporting, without a doubt is to start. Start with the title, the introduction, then document the first discoveries and continue from that. Once the marketers have the information well documented, they can write a general conclusion.
  • Keep the target audience in mind while selecting a format that is clear, logical and obvious to them:  Will the research reports be presented to decision makers or other researchers? What are the general perceptions around that topic? This requires more care and diligence. A researcher will need a significant amount of information to start writing the research report. Be consistent with the wording, the numbering of the annexes and so on. Follow the approved format of the company for the delivery of research reports and demonstrate the integrity of the project with the objectives of the company.
  • Have a clear research objective: A researcher should read the entire proposal again, and make sure that the data they provide contributes to the objectives that were raised from the beginning. Remember that speculations are for conversations, not for research reports, if a researcher speculates, they directly question their own research.
  • Establish a working model:  Each study must have an internal logic, which will have to be established in the report and in the evidence. The researchers’ worst nightmare is to be required to write research reports and realize that key questions were not included.

Learn more: Quantitative Observation

  • Gather all the information about the research topic. Who are the competitors of our customers? Talk to other researchers who have studied the subject of research, know the language of the industry. Misuse of the terms can discourage the readers of research reports from reading further.
  • Read aloud while writing. While reading the report, if the researcher hears something inappropriate, for example, if they stumble over the words when reading them, surely the reader will too. If the researcher can’t put an idea in a single sentence, then it is very long and they must change it so that the idea is clear to everyone.
  • Check grammar and spelling. Without a doubt, good practices help to understand the report. Use verbs in the present tense. Consider using the present tense, which makes the results sound more immediate. Find new words and other ways of saying things. Have fun with the language whenever possible.
  • Discuss only the discoveries that are significant. If some data are not really significant, do not mention them. Remember that not everything is truly important or essential within research reports.

Learn more: Qualitative Data

  • Try and stick to the survey questions. For example, do not say that the people surveyed “were worried” about an research issue , when there are different degrees of concern.
  • The graphs must be clear enough so that they understand themselves. Do not let graphs lead the reader to make mistakes: give them a title, include the indications, the size of the sample, and the correct wording of the question.
  • Be clear with messages. A researcher should always write every section of the report with an accuracy of details and language.
  • Be creative with titles – Particularly in segmentation studies choose names “that give life to research”. Such names can survive for a long time after the initial investigation.
  • Create an effective conclusion: The conclusion in the research reports is the most difficult to write, but it is an incredible opportunity to excel. Make a precise summary. Sometimes it helps to start the conclusion with something specific, then it describes the most important part of the study, and finally, it provides the implications of the conclusions.
  • Get a couple more pair of eyes to read the report. Writers have trouble detecting their own mistakes. But they are responsible for what is presented. Ensure it has been approved by colleagues or friends before sending the find draft out.

Learn more: Market Research and Analysis


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Assignment 6: Research Report

The research report is the major project for this class; its subject provides the basis for the short proposal (Week 3), annotated bibliography (Week 4),the executive summary and letter of transmittal (Week 5), and the final reflective discussion board posting (Week 6).


Deadline : Final copy of the report is due 6/17/11. All assignments are due by 11:55 p.m. PDT on the assigned due date.

Length: 6-8 single-spaced pages (see information below for details)

Topic: The choice of topic is up to you, since you have the knowledge base in your field that will allow you to choose a suitable topic. The basic criterion is that the report focus on a current topic or a topic of interest to you in your field of study.  Although you cannot recycle a paper previously handed in for another class and resubmit it for this report, you can certainly make use of research and information that you are currently working on for other classes to write this report.

Audience : You are writing this report for an educated general audience, such as the members of this class, rather than for a group of specialists in your field. You'll need to define terms and acronyms, but you can assume a general level of knowledge.

The principal requirements for your report are these:

1. A clear purpose . Your report should have a purpose.It should indicate how it solves a problem, addresses a question, or proposes a solution. Your report must also show how your research contributes to an ongoing issue or topic in your field; that is, it should provide a context for understanding your new information by including background information in its literature review or introduction.

2. Six to eight single-spaced pages of information. Your report should be from 6-8 single-spaced pages in length, although you may make it longer, if necessary.  It should include headings for its sections. Here is the customary order of the items in the report

3. At least five scholarly sources. Your report should include at least five scholarly sources. One or more of these may be a primary source (interview, survey, statistics from newspaper, etc.), but the others will be from books or peer-reviewed journals in your field. There is no maximum limit to the number of sources you can use.

General encyclopedias such the Encyclopedia Britannica or non-authoritative sites such as Wikipedia or personal web pages are not acceptable for a research report.

4. One chart, table, or graph. Your report should also include at least ONE chart, table, or graph . If you use one from a book, you must be sure to cite the source. If you create your own, indicate that as well.

5. Standard report elements, such as headings. Your report should be organized according to the standard format for reports discussed in the textbook, including headings. See the l ectures on reports and report visuals for as well as the textbook for this information.

6. Subject matter and style appropriate for a general audience .Although you are encouraged to write about your area of specialization, your report must be intelligible to a general audience .

7. Citation style . Sources must be cited correctly using MLA, APA, or CSE (formerly CBE) style.

Other Information

1. Group work option . For this report, you may choose to work with a group of others in collecting information, drafting, and writing the report. If you choose to submit a single report as a group project, all members of the group will receive the same grade. Note that this is an option , not a requirement .

2. Report type . The type of report you choose to write depends upon your field of study and your research interests. Some of the most appropriate types include the following:

  • completion report (chapter 7)
  • the feasibility study (chapter 8), including a "problem-solution" model
  • scientific report (chapter 8) 
1. Sample completion report in the social sciences (pp. 236-273). 2. Sample engineering feasibility study (pp. 292-307). 3. Sample student scientific report (pp. 311-322).
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  • News and opinion

99 million people included in largest global vaccine safety study

19 February 2024

Health and medicine , Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The Global Vaccine Data Network, hosted at the University of Auckland, utilises vast data sets to detect potential vaccine safety signals

Global Vaccine Data Network co-director Dr Helen Petousis-Harris: Latest study uses vast data sets to ensure vaccine safety.

The Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) assessed 13 neurological, blood, and heart related medical conditions to see if there was a greater risk of them occurring after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine in the latest of eight studies in the Global COVID Vaccine Safety (GCoVS) Project.

Recently published in the journal Vaccine , this observed versus expected rates study included 99 million people (over 23 million person-years of follow-up) from 10 collaborator sites across eight countries. The study identified the pre-established safety signals for myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the thin sac covering the heart) after mRNA vaccines, and Guillain-Barré syndrome (muscle weakness and changed sensation (feeling)), and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (type of blood clot in the brain) after viral vector vaccines.

Possible safety signals for transverse myelitis (inflammation of part of the spinal cord) after viral vector vaccines and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (inflammation and swelling in the brain and spinal cord) after viral vector and mRNA vaccines were identified.

So far, these findings were further investigated by the GVDN site in Victoria, Australia. Their study and results are described in the accompanying paper. Results are available for public review on GVDN’s interactive data dashboards.

Observed versus expected analyses are used to detect potential vaccine safety signals. These studies look at all people who received a vaccine and examine if there is a greater risk for developing a medical condition in various time periods after getting a vaccine compared with a period before the vaccine became available.

Lead author Kristýna Faksová of the Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark, remarked that use of a common protocol and aggregation of the data through the GVDN makes studies like this possible. “The size of the population in this study increased the possibility of identifying rare potential vaccine safety signals,” she explains. “Single sites or regions are unlikely to have a large enough population to detect very rare signals.”

By making the data dashboards publicly available, we are able to support greater transparency, and stronger communications to the health sector and public.

Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris Co-Director, Global Vaccine Data Network hosted at University of Auckland

GVDN Co-Director Dr Steven Black said, “GVDN supports a coordinated global effort to assess vaccine safety and effectiveness so that vaccine questions can be addressed in a more rapid, efficient, and cost-effective manner. We have a number of studies underway to build upon our understanding of vaccines and how we understand vaccine safety using big data.”

GVDN Co-Director Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris said, “By making the data dashboards publicly available, we are able to support greater transparency, and stronger communications to the health sector and public.”

The GCoVS Project was made possible with support by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow the comparison of the safety of vaccines across diverse global populations.

About the Global Data Vaccine Network

Established in 2019 and with data sourced from millions of individuals across six continents, the GVDN collaborates with renowned research institutions, policy makers, and vaccine related organisations to establish a harmonised and evidence-based approach to vaccine safety and effectiveness.

The GVDN is supported by the Global Coordinating Centre based at Auckland UniServices Ltd, a not-for-profit, stand-alone company that provides support to researchers and is wholly owned by the University of Auckland. Aiming to gain a comprehensive understanding of vaccine safety and effectiveness profiles, the GVDN strives to create a safer immunisation landscape that empowers decision making for the global community. For further information, visit globalvaccinedatanetwork.org.

Disclaimer: This news release summarises the key findings of the GVDN observed versus expected study. To view the full publication in Vaccine, visit doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2024.01.100.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totalling US$10,108,491 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit cdc.gov

Media enquiries: gvdn@auckland.ac.nz and communications@uniservices.co.nz

COVID-19 vaccines and adverse events of special interest: A multinational Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) cohort study of 99 million vaccinated individuals


  • 1 Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • 2 Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Global Vaccine Data Network, Global Coordinating Centre, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 3 Global Vaccine Data Network, Global Coordinating Centre, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 4 National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.
  • 5 Department of Epidemiology, Ricardo Gutierrez Children Hospital, Buenos Aires University, Argentina.
  • 6 ICES, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Public Health Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Department of Family and Community Medicine, Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 7 National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia; The University of Sydney, Australia.
  • 8 British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  • 9 Public Health Scotland, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.
  • 10 Université Paris-Saclay, UVSQ, Inserm, CESP, High Dimensional Biostatistics for Drug Safety and Genomics, Villejuif, France.
  • 11 Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
  • 12 Department of Health Security, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 13 ICES, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; School of Public Health, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Brooklyn, NY, USA.
  • 14 Department of Public Welfare, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 15 Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland.
  • 16 School of Public Health, Peking University, China.
  • 17 Vaccine Safety Datalink, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.
  • 18 Global Vaccine Data Network, Global Coordinating Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
  • 19 Auckland UniServices Limited at University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 20 School of Population Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 21 Global Vaccine Data Network, Global Coordinating Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; School of Population Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 22 Global Vaccine Data Network, Global Coordinating Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
  • 23 Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark; Pharmacovigilance Research Center, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • PMID: 38350768
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2024.01.100

Background: The Global COVID Vaccine Safety (GCoVS) Project, established in 2021 under the multinational Global Vaccine Data Network™ (GVDN®), facilitates comprehensive assessment of vaccine safety. This study aimed to evaluate the risk of adverse events of special interest (AESI) following COVID-19 vaccination from 10 sites across eight countries.

Methods: Using a common protocol, this observational cohort study compared observed with expected rates of 13 selected AESI across neurological, haematological, and cardiac outcomes. Expected rates were obtained by participating sites using pre-COVID-19 vaccination healthcare data stratified by age and sex. Observed rates were reported from the same healthcare datasets since COVID-19 vaccination program rollout. AESI occurring up to 42 days following vaccination with mRNA (BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273) and adenovirus-vector (ChAdOx1) vaccines were included in the primary analysis. Risks were assessed using observed versus expected (OE) ratios with 95 % confidence intervals. Prioritised potential safety signals were those with lower bound of the 95 % confidence interval (LBCI) greater than 1.5.

Results: Participants included 99,068,901 vaccinated individuals. In total, 183,559,462 doses of BNT162b2, 36,178,442 doses of mRNA-1273, and 23,093,399 doses of ChAdOx1 were administered across participating sites in the study period. Risk periods following homologous vaccination schedules contributed 23,168,335 person-years of follow-up. OE ratios with LBCI > 1.5 were observed for Guillain-Barré syndrome (2.49, 95 % CI: 2.15, 2.87) and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (3.23, 95 % CI: 2.51, 4.09) following the first dose of ChAdOx1 vaccine. Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis showed an OE ratio of 3.78 (95 % CI: 1.52, 7.78) following the first dose of mRNA-1273 vaccine. The OE ratios for myocarditis and pericarditis following BNT162b2, mRNA-1273, and ChAdOx1 were significantly increased with LBCIs > 1.5.

Conclusion: This multi-country analysis confirmed pre-established safety signals for myocarditis, pericarditis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Other potential safety signals that require further investigation were identified.

Keywords: Adverse events following immunization; Adverse events of special interest; COVID-19; Observed vs. expected analysis; Pharmacovigilance; Vaccine safety surveillance.

Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:

Published on 21.2.2024 in Vol 26 (2024)

Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children and Adolescents With Dental or Injection Phobia: Randomized Controlled Trial

Authors of this article:

Author Orcid Image

Original Paper

  • Robert Schibbye 1, 2 , MSci   ; 
  • Erik Hedman-Lagerlöf 3 , PhD   ; 
  • Viktor Kaldo 4, 5 , PhD   ; 
  • Göran Dahllöf 1, 2, 6 , PhD   ; 
  • Shervin Shahnavaz 4 , PhD  

1 Department of Dental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden

2 Center of Pediatric Oral Health, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

4 Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, & Stockholm Health Care Services, Region Stockholm, Sweden

5 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden

6 Center for Oral Health Services and Research, Mid-Norway (TkMidt), Trondheim, Norway

Corresponding Author:

Robert Schibbye, MSci

Department of Dental Medicine

Karolinska Institutet

Huddinge, 141 04

Phone: 46 8 524 800 0

Email: [email protected]

Background: Dental phobia (DP) and injection phobia (IP) are common in children and adolescents and are considered some of the biggest obstacles to successful treatment in pediatric dentistry. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment for anxiety and phobias. As the availability of CBT in dentistry is low, internet-based CBT (ICBT) was developed. Open trials have shown that ICBT is a promising intervention, but randomized trials are lacking.

Objective: This randomized controlled trial tests whether therapist-guided ICBT supported by a parent could reduce fear, allowing children and adolescents with DP or IP to receive dental treatment.

Methods: We enrolled 33 participants (mean age 11.2, SD 1.9 y) whom a clinical psychologist had diagnosed with DP, IP, or both. After inclusion, participants were randomized to either ICBT (17/33, 52%) or a control group of children on a waitlist (16/33, 48%). ICBT was based on exposure therapy and comprised a 12-week at-home program combined with visits to their regular dental clinic. Participants corresponded weekly with their therapist after completing each module, and 1 parent was designated as a coach to support the child in the assignments during treatment. All participants completed measurements of the outcome variables before treatment start and after 12 weeks (at treatment completion). The measurements included a structured diagnostic interview with a clinical psychologist. Our primary outcome measure was the Picture-Guided Behavioral Avoidance Test (PG-BAT), which assesses the ability to approach 17 dental clinical procedures, and a positive clinical diagnosis. Secondary outcome measures included self-report questionnaires that measured self-efficacy and levels of dental and injection anxiety. The children and their parents completed the questionnaires.

Results: All participants underwent the 12-week follow-up. After treatment, 41% (7/17) of the participants in the ICBT group no longer met the diagnostic criteria for DP or IP, whereas all participants in the control group did ( P =.004). Repeated-measure ANOVAs showed that ICBT led to greater improvements on the PG-BAT compared with the control group; between-group effect sizes for the Cohen d were 1.6 ( P <.001) for the child-rated PG-BAT and 1.0 ( P =.009) for the parent-rated PG-BAT. Reductions in our secondary outcomes—dental fear and anxiety ( P <.001), negative cognitions ( P =.001), and injection fear ( P =.011)—as well as improvements in self-efficacy ( P <.001), were all significantly greater among children in the ICBT group than in the controls. No participants reported adverse events.

Conclusions: ICBT seems to be an effective treatment for DP and IP in children and adolescents. It reduced fear and anxiety and enabled participants to willingly receive dental treatment. ICBT should be seriously considered in clinical practice to increase accessibility; this therapy may reduce the need for sedation and restraint and lead to better dental health in children and adolescents.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02588079; https://clinicaltrials.gov/study/NCT02588079


Dental fear and anxiety (DFA) refers to strong negative emotions associated with dental treatment [ 1 ]. In children and adolescents, the prevalence of DFA is 24%, making it a common clinical problem in pediatric dentistry [ 2 ]. Dental phobia (DP) and injection phobia (IP) are specific phobias classified as psychiatric disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [ 3 ]. A specific phobia is defined as a marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable, in this case concerning the dentist, dental care in general, or a specific part of the dental treatment. The phobic object or situation is either avoided or endured with intense anxiety or distress. The fear is also persistent and typically lasts for at least 6 months, interfering significantly with the person’s normal functioning [ 3 ]. In dental care, if the phobia only pertains to receiving an injection but not to any other situation or object, it should be referred to as an IP if the fear of injections is general (ie, the fear is triggered by all types of injections), and it should be referred to as intraoral IP (a subtype of IP) if the fear only pertains to injections in the mouth. Both DP and IP are classified as subtypes of blood-injury-injection phobia, that is, a specific phobia related to seeing blood, injections, injuries, and disability or exposure to these or similar medical procedures [ 4 ]. It has been shown that 20% of children meet the diagnostic criteria for blood-injury-injection phobia at least once between the ages of 4 and 14 years [ 5 ]. DFA and DP or IP often lead to avoidance of dental care, which can cause decreased dental and general health [ 6 ].

Systematic reviews [ 1 , 7 ] have observed that traditional methods of treating pediatric patients with DFA, DP, or IP (ie, tell-show-do, restraint of some sort, sedation with midazolam or nitrous oxide, and general anesthesia) show little scientific evidence of treating the fear itself. These methods may be effective for preventing the development of DFA, DP, or IP before the first dental treatment or temporarily enabling dental treatment in groups of patients with anxiety and fear. However, they are ineffective in patients with severe DFA or previous negative treatment experiences, such as those with DP or IP. One reason may be that they do not incorporate exposure-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is arguably the gold-standard method for treating specific phobias. Another reason is that they were not developed using a multidisciplinary approach that combines findings from the fields of both dental care and psychological science on reduction of anxiety and fear [ 1 ].

Stronger forms of DFA, DP, and IP are primarily learned through adverse events (ie, painful treatment procedures) in dental or general health care contexts, which results in fear being associated with dental care or specific objects or procedures, a process called respondent or classic conditioning [ 8 , 9 ]. CBT treatments are widely recognized as the most effective treatment for specific phobias and anxieties, but they are rarely implemented in dental practice [ 10 ]. The focus of CBT in the pediatric dental care setting is to reduce patients’ anxiety so that they can willingly receive treatment without the need for sedation or restraint. CBT, which is normally administered face-to-face by a trained psychotherapist, has been shown to be effective for both adults [ 11 , 12 ] and children and adolescents [ 13 - 16 ] with DFA, DP, and IP. However, accessibility to and use of CBT are generally low in dentistry. Common barriers include a lack of trained CBT therapists, high costs for the family if the child is treated in private psychotherapeutic services, and time constraints (ie, it might be difficult for parents to take time off from work for an extended period for weekly visits to the psychologist) [ 17 ]. In addition, there might be dentistry-specific barriers, such as a lack of knowledge about CBT methods and problems integrating workflows and new personnel (ie, CBT therapists) into the clinic.

Internet-Based CBT

Internet-based CBT (ICBT) was developed to make CBT more accessible. ICBT is delivered over the internet through text, video clips, animations, and audio files instead of via a therapist in face-to-face sessions. ICBT uses the same mechanisms and principles as face-to-face CBT, and they have been shown to have comparable effect sizes [ 18 ]. Previous research has shown that ICBT, in which a therapist guides the patient, is associated with greater effects than unguided treatments [ 19 ]. Therapist-guided ICBT for fears and anxieties consists of a base of web-based material that conveys information and concrete exercises to reduce the patient’s fears, and the patient receives support from a psychologist through a web-based chat or email function. ICBT has been found to be effective for children with specific phobias [ 20 , 21 ] and children and adolescents with DP [ 22 ]. These studies have used parents as coaches guiding the child through the treatments.

The aim of this study was to test, in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), whether ICBT can reduce fear and increase willingness to receive dental treatment in children and adolescents with DP or IP.


Participants were recruited through dental clinics and social media advertisements that referred interested families to a website of the Department of Dental Medicine at Karolinska Institute. The study website contained brief information about the study and the targeted population. Interested parents (or caregivers) applied directly through the website and were then assigned a log-in for web-based screening. We informed dental clinics throughout Sweden and encouraged them to advertise for participants in the waiting rooms. We also asked dentists, especially specialists in pediatric dentistry, to recommend patients with DFA that was so severe that it interfered with dental treatment to apply to the study. In Sweden, both general and specialist pediatric dentistry are publicly funded and offered free of charge to all children. However, waiting times and the availability of specialist care differ between regions. Participants were recruited from October 2015 to December 2019. We planned to recruit 50 participants. However, owing to the slower-than-expected recruitment pace, we extended the originally planned recruitment time and ended the recruitment with 33 participants included in the study. Of the 58 interested applicants who provided informed consent and filled out the background information, 45% (26/58) were currently under treatment or on the waiting list of a specialist pediatric dentist. Furthermore, 76% (44/58) lived in the Stockholm region, whereas the rest were spread out throughout other regions of Sweden. Finally, 66% (38/58) were advised directly by their dentist to apply to the study, 2% (1/58) saw an advertisement on a notice board at their dentist’s office, 10% (6/58) found the study by searching on the internet or through social media advertisements, 3% (2/58) had heard of it through a friend or relative, and 19% (11/58) were patients in general dental care who were advised to apply to the study when consulting a specialist.

The first step in web-based screening provided information on the study and details about informed consent from the caregivers (henceforth referred to as the parent or parents). After providing informed consent, the parent (parents had to designate one of them to fill out the questionnaires and conduct the telephone interview) and child provided basic background information on a questionnaire and then filled out 4 standardized questionnaires: the Picture-Guided Behavioral Avoidance Test (PG-BAT) [ 16 ], the Children’s Fear Survey Schedule–Dental Subscale (CFSS-DS) [ 23 ], the Children’s Negative Cognitions in Dentistry (CNCD) scale [ 22 ], and the Injection Phobia Scale for Children (IPSC) [ 24 ].

After assessment of the first screening step, we asked the parents of eligible participants to fill out the Development and Well-Being Assessment [ 25 ] and gave them new log-in credentials for accessing the survey on a different platform.

A clinical psychologist then interviewed the parent over the telephone. The semistructured diagnostic interview used the specific phobia section of the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children–Present and Lifetime (K-SADS-PL) [ 26 ] to establish whether the child had a specific phobia diagnosis of DP or IP. The interviewer also followed up the results of the Development and Well-Being Assessment with the parent when they indicated that the child might meet the potential exclusion criteria.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Eligible participants who met the inclusion criteria ( Textbox 1 ) were asked to join the study; they all agreed to participate.

Participants who met any of the exclusion criteria ( Textbox 2 ) were excluded.

  • The child’s age is between 8 and 15 years.
  • Child and parents sign informed consent forms.
  • A psychologist establishes a diagnosis of dental phobia or injection phobia according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) from the results of the web-based parental version of the Development and Well-Being Assessment in the initial screening and of the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children–Present and Lifetime in the semistructured diagnostic interview.
  • The Swedish language skills of the child and parents are sufficient to manage treatment and the questionnaires.
  • Access to a computer and the internet is readily available.
  • Child and parents have sufficient time and motivation to work with internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy 3 hours each week for 12 weeks.
  • Parents agree to book at least 3 visits to the dental clinic during the 12 weeks of treatment.
  • If the child is diagnosed with injection phobia, the parents agree to exposure training for intraoral injection phobia at the dental clinic even if the child does not need dental treatment.
  • Full points on the child and parent versions of the Picture-Guided Behavioral Approach Test (the maximum score of 17 means that the child and the parent assess that the child is already able to manage the most challenging dental situations)
  • A score of ≤31 on the child and parent versions of the Children’s Fear Survey Schedule–Dental Subscale and no diagnosis of injection phobia by the psychologist during screening
  • A previously established diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder or a likely diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder according to the results of the Development and Well-Being Assessment or the psychologist during screening
  • Other psychiatric disorders, such as, severe depression, eating disorders, or self-harm behavior, that require treatment first before dental-related specific phobias
  • Current or planned psychiatric or psychological examination
  • Current or planned psychological treatment
  • Stressful life experiences in the previous 12 months, such as parental divorce or somatic illnesses, that the parent or psychologist consider an obstacle in treatment
  • Cognitive behavioral treatment for dental fear and anxiety or dental phobia or injection phobia in the previous 3 years

Randomization and Outcome Measures

The study began by establishing a baseline for the outcome measures. These were the PG-BAT and CFSS-DS, which the child and parent rated separately. The CNCD scale, IPSC, and Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Phobic Situations [ 27 ] were rated by the child only. Finally, the Parental Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Dental Anxiety [ 22 ] was rated by the parent. One person uninvolved with the study and blinded to the identities of the participants then randomized the participants consecutively in a 1:1 ratio to active treatment or to a waiting list (the control group) using the list randomization tool [ 28 ] and the participants’ study ID number. New participants were continuously assigned using a randomized block design; the block size varied depending on the number of participants available at the time of randomization. In case there was 1 participant or an uneven number of participants, a dummy participant was added to the block to maintain a 1:1 ratio for randomization. A follow-up at 12 weeks, upon treatment completion, included all outcome measures in the baseline measurement in addition to a semistructured diagnostic interview with a psychologist over the telephone using the specific phobia section of the K-SADS-PL. Furthermore, the follow-up included a questionnaire concerning qualitative aspects of the child’s current dental anxiety and the ICBT treatment; response options included free text, multiple choice, and visual analog scales (VASs). The questionnaires also contained clear questions about adverse events or unwanted treatment effects, which the psychologists covered in their interviews. After the follow-up, the controls were offered the same treatment that the ICBT group had received. Figure 1 shows a flowchart of the participants in this study.

research report assignment

Primary Outcome Measures

This study had 2 primary outcome measures. The first was the specific phobia section of the K-SADS-PL [ 26 ], which we used to diagnose DP and IP among the participants. A clinical psychologist included this in a semistructured interview over the telephone with the parent. The K-SADS-PL has been shown to be a reliable and valid instrument for assessing psychiatric diagnoses.

The second primary outcome measure was the PG-BAT [ 17 , 22 ], which the child and parent rated separately. The recommended outcome measure of CBT treatment for specific phobias is the Behavioral Approach Test [ 9 , 13 ]. The PG-BAT is similar and was used in a previous study of ICBT [ 22 ] for dental anxiety. The test has been shown to have good psychometric properties and measures the number of dental procedures (n=17; response options: yes=1 and no=0; Textbox 3 ) that the participants or parents felt that the participants could manage on their own. Pictures of 17 dental clinical procedures are organized according to increasing ability to provoke anxiety. Each image includes a written description of the situation and procedure. Scores range from 0 (not even able to enter the dentist’s room) to 17 (able to manage all treatment steps).

  • Enter the treatment room.
  • Sit in the treatment chair with a paper bib around the neck.
  • Sit in the treatment chair while the chair is lowered.
  • Lie in the dental chair with the lamp turned on and the dental tools close by on a tray.
  • Open the mouth and let the dentist look into the mouth.
  • Let the dentist use a small saliva ejector in the mouth.
  • Let the dentist blow air and water into the mouth.
  • Undergo a clinical exam with a dental mirror.
  • Undergo a clinical exam with a mirror and a dental probe.
  • Let the dentist take an x-ray in the back of the mouth.
  • Receive topical anesthesia.
  • Receive an injection of a local anesthetic.
  • Let the dentist use a large saliva ejector in the mouth.
  • Let the dentist attach composite filling to the surface of a tooth.
  • Let the dentist drill with a high-speed drill.
  • Let the dentist polish a filling with a low-speed drill.
  • Let the dentist extract a tooth.

Secondary Outcome Measures

The CFSS-DS [ 22 ] measures DFA and comprises 15 items rated on a 5-point scale from no fear (1) to high fear (5). The items describe situations in dental and medical care and were rated separately by the child and the parent. The Swedish version of the CFSS-DS has been shown to have good psychometric properties [ 23 ].

The children rated the 5-item CNCD scale [ 22 ] on a 10-point VAS. The scale end points are 0= no negative thoughts at all and 1= some negative thoughts ; happy and sad figures illustrate these concepts [ 10 , 14 ]. The questions regard the presence and strength of 5 negative thoughts that are common in dentistry: uncontrollability, distrust of dentists, unpredictability, dangerousness, and pain related to dentistry.

The IPSC [ 24 ] was rated by the child and consists of 18 items rated on a 5-point scale ranging from no fear (1) to high fear (5). The questions regard the fear of different situations and procedures related to injections. This test has been shown to have good psychometric properties [ 24 ].

Participants rated the Swedish translation of the 14-item Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Phobic Situations [ 27 ] on a 5-point scale with the following end points: 1= low self-efficacy and 5= high self-efficacy .

Parents rated a Swedish version of the 12-item Parental Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Dental Anxiety [ 22 ] on a 10-point scale with the following end points: 0= no parental self-efficacy and 10= very high parental self-efficacy . The instrument was evaluated in our open trial study on ICBT for dental anxiety in children and adolescents [ 22 ].

The ICBT Intervention Platform

The form of ICBT used in this study was based on a previously published manual [ 17 ] that was used in a pilot study [ 22 ]. The central component of the treatment was exposure through video and audio recordings, a toolkit for use at home, and in vivo exposure at the dental clinic. Other components of the treatment were psychoeducation, behavioral analyses, controlled breathing, and parental education ( Textbox 4 ). Parents were asked to decide among themselves who would be responsible for coaching and supporting the children and adolescents, thereby becoming the designated coach throughout the treatment. The second treatment module targeted the coach with information on how to support, motivate, and assist the children and adolescents with their assignments.

  • Introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy and the web-based treatment
  • Psychoeducation, practical arrangements, home assignment, how to guide a child to elicit and reinforce behavior change, reward strategies, and enhancing the child’s self-efficacy (for the coach only)
  • Behavioral analyses, child psychoeducation and treatment rationale, and goal setting
  • Constructing an exposure list and beginning exposure
  • Continued exposure (films and training package) and controlled breathing
  • Dentistry-related communication training and preparation for the first dental visit
  • Evaluation of the dental visit and cognitive restructuring
  • Midterm evaluation of ICBT and of exposure at the dentist and relaxation techniques
  • Pain and pain management education; fear, thoughts, and pain; and focus shift and acceptance training
  • Problem-solving and mindfulness training
  • Repetition, strategies for maintaining change and relapse prevention, and letter to yourself
  • Relapse prevention plan, enhance your self-efficacy, and diploma

The intervention and all data collection occurred on a secure web-based platform hosted by the Internetpsykiatri (internet psychiatry) unit run by Stockholm Health Care Services, Region Stockholm, Sweden. The coaches and children and adolescents shared the same log-in. Each module indicated who was responsible for completing the various measurements, treatment modules, and assignments. One of the assignments for the coach, for example, was to call the participant’s local dental clinic and book at least 3 visits for in vivo exposure, which the dental staff would perform. Participants downloaded information and instructions on exposure from the platform and mailed printed or digital copies of these to the clinic. During week 2, the participants received a toolkit with dental instruments and a VAS that the children and adolescents and coach could use for the exposure assignments at home ( Multimedia Appendix 1 ).

The ICBT intervention comprised 12 web-based treatment modules that were made accessible to the participants, with 1 module per week. Each participant was assigned a psychologist who supported them throughout the treatment. In total, 3 psychologists were involved in this study; all had a 5-year degree in clinical psychology at a minimum. In addition, all 3 had face-to-face clinical dental experience in CBT with children and adolescents who had DP or IP. All modules had some kind of text; most modules also had pictures, animations, and videos and audio of various dental procedures for exposure purposes. Multimedia Appendices 2 - 4 show example screenshots of the interface and treatment modules.

Each week, the children and adolescents and coaches completed a new module that concluded with an assignment containing knowledge questions about the module and practical exercises. Each week, participants sent their responses to the questions and a log of their assignments to their psychologist, who would send feedback and grant access to the next module within 2 days. Participants could also message their psychologist directly through their account on the platform and expect a reply, on average, within 2 working days. The psychologists would send reminders to inactive participants about continuing work with the modules via SMS text message and email. If participants were inactive for >10 days, the psychologist would try to reach them by telephone.

A total of 12 weeks after treatment had begun, and regardless of whether the participants had finished the treatment modules, all treatment modules were made available on the platform. The account of the children and adolescents and coaches with its log-in credentials remained active for the next 12 months; however, participants were no longer able to communicate with their psychologist.

Statistical Analysis

All statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS (version 27; IBM Corp). We accepted a 5% type-I error in all analyses. To compare the means between the 2 study conditions, we used 2-tailed t tests. Repeated-measure ANOVAs were conducted to evaluate possible differences in changes over the 12 weeks (baseline to follow-up) between the ICBT and control groups. We estimated the effect size using the Cohen d , that is, the standardized mean difference [ 29 ]. Chi-square tests of independence were conducted to evaluate possible between-group differences in meeting the diagnostic criteria. Before conducting our analyses, we checked the data for normality. We expected the effects to be in line with our open trial study using the same procedures and treatment [ 22 ]. Thus, the power calculation was based on an estimated effect size of Cohen d =1.0 and showed that, to obtain 80% power (Cronbach α=.05), 17 participants in each arm (N=34) were required. We used an intention-to-treat design; that is, participants were included in the analyses irrespective of the extent to which they had completed the treatment.

Ethical Considerations

Before the participants could complete screening and enter the study, informed consent was obtained. Information about the study and informed consent was provided in Swedish and included permission for secondary analysis of the data without additional consent. Informed consent was provided by both caregivers separately if there were 2. There was no compensation given to the participants, and similar to all dental care for children and adolescents in Sweden, they received the intervention for free. For added security, the secure web-based platform in which data were collected required a 2-step authentication via SMS text message for logging in, both for participants and the study staff. When extracting data from the platform for analysis, they were deidentified, and an anonymous study ID was used as an identifier for each participant. The regional ethics review board of Stockholm approved this study (ID 2014/633-31/5).

All participants had a diagnosis of DP or IP (or both) at baseline. Of the 33 children included in this study, 21 (64%) were female. The mean age of the study sample was 11.2 (SD 1.9) years. During previous dental treatment, sedation or general anesthesia had been administered or restraint had been necessary for all but 2 participants (31/33, 94%; 1 participant in each group). Table 1 presents the participant characteristics.

Table 2 presents the baseline scores of the children and their parents in the 2 study groups. The 2-tailed t tests revealed no significant between-group differences in these measures (all P >.05). Chi-square tests of independence showed no significant between-group associations in meeting the diagnostic criteria for DP, IP, or DP and IP (all P >.05).

a Diagnosis of a specific phobia other than dental or injection phobia.

a P values are based on the 2-tailed t test.

b Picture-Guided Behavioral Avoidance Test; score range: 0 to 17.

c Children’s Fear and Survey Schedule–Dental Subscale; score range: 15 to 75.

d Children’s Negative Cognitions in Dentistry scale; score range: 0 to 50.

e Injection Phobia Scale for Children; score range: 18 to 90.

f Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Phobic Situations; score range: 14 to 70.

g Parental Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Dental Anxiety; score range: 0 to 120.

Treatment Adherence and Dropout Frequency

All participants underwent the 12-week follow-up; thus, no data were missing. Of the 17 participants in the ICBT group, 1 (6%) chose not to continue the intervention after week 2 because of other priorities and lack of time; we categorized this participant as a dropout. The other 94% (16/17) of the participants completed at least 5 modules and started the first steps of exposure training. A total of 81% (13/16) of the participants were considered treatment completers as they finished the most important steps of the treatment (module 8) and were conducting in vivo exposure sessions at their local dental clinic at the time of the follow-up. The mean number of completed modules after 12 weeks was 8.4 (SD 3.4). In total, 12% (2/16) of the participants in the control group chose not to enroll in ICBT after the study was concluded.

In the ICBT group, 41% (7/17) of the participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria for DP, IP, or DP and IP at the posttreatment clinical interview compared with 0% in the control group. A chi-square test of independence showed that the difference was significant (χ 2 1 =8.4; P =.004). A total of 65% (11/17) of the participants lost at least 1 of their earlier diagnoses of either DP or IP (N=33, χ 2 1 =15.5; P <.001) compared with 0% in the control group. Table 3 presents the results of the intervention stratified by diagnosis.

Furthermore, children in the ICBT group who rated the PG-BAT noted being able to manage a significantly larger number of dental procedures at the follow-up (mean 3.6, SD 3.1) compared with children in the control group, who reported a decrease over the same period (mean −0.1, SD 1.4; P <.001; Figure 2 ). Parents in the ICBT group also noted that their children were able to manage a significantly larger number of dental procedures (mean 3.7, SD 3.7) compared with parents in the control group (mean 0.6, SD 2.5; P =.009; Figure 3 ). The between-group effect sizes (Cohen d ) at the follow-up, calculated from the group-by-time interaction effects resulting from a repeated-measure ANOVA analysis of the child- and parent-rated PG-BAT, were 1.6 (95% CI 0.8-2.3) and 1.0 (95% CI 0.3-1.7), respectively; this indicated large treatment effects in the primary outcome measuring willingness and capability to manage dental treatment.

research report assignment

During the 12 weeks between baseline and follow-up, significantly larger improvements were observed in the ICBT group than among the controls in all secondary outcome measures except parental self-efficacy ( Table 4 ) for mean changes and the group-by-time interaction effects calculated in the repeated-measure ANOVA. Multimedia Appendix 5 presents a complete table of means and SDs at follow-up for all outcome measurements stratified by allocation group. Multimedia Appendix 6 presents within-group effects for the ICBT group; no within-group effects were observed in the control group. Participants reported no adverse events or unintended effects during the intervention.

a Group-by-time interaction effects.

b P values are based on group-by-time interaction effects of repeated-measure ANOVA.

d Italicized values indicate significance.

e Children’s Negative Cognitions in Dentistry scale; score range: 0 to 50.

f Injection Phobia Scale for Children; score range: 18 to 90.

g Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Phobic Situations; score range: 14 to 70.

h Parental Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Dental Anxiety; score range: 0 to 120.

Principal Findings

After treatment, 41% (7/17) of the participants in the ICBT group no longer met the diagnostic criteria for either DP or IP, whereas all participants in the control group did. Furthermore, an additional 24% (4/17) of children in the ICBT group no longer met the diagnostic criteria for one of their 2 diagnoses at baseline, totaling 65% (11/17) of children in the ICBT group in whom at least one diagnosis had remitted. Compared with the control group, participants in the ICBT group could also willingly receive significantly more treatment steps at the dentist, and their fear, anxiety, and negative cognitions toward dentistry and injections significantly decreased after 12 weeks. As rated by both the children and parents, the effect size calculated from the primary outcome (PG-BAT) was large. In addition, children in the ICBT group reported higher self-efficacy. In summary, this RCT indicates that ICBT is an effective treatment for children with DP and IP.

Comparison With Prior Work

This is the first RCT of ICBT for DP and IP in pediatric dentistry. The effect sizes are in line with those of earlier studies on in-person exposure-based CBT methods in pediatric dentistry. Our research group previously conducted a nonrandomized pilot study using the same interventions as in this trial [ 22 ]. That study found within-group effect sizes between baseline and follow-up of 1.5 (95% CI 0.7-2.3) for the child-rated PG-BAT and 1.0 (95% CI 0.5-1.6) for the child-rated CFSS-DS; these are comparable with the within-group effect sizes in this study, which were 1.2 (95% CI 0.5-1.8) and 1.3 (95% CI 0.7-2.0), respectively. In the previous pilot study [ 22 ], ICBT participants were further improved at the 1-year follow-up, suggesting that the results of CBT for DP and IP are stable and can even increase over time.

An RCT of face-to-face CBT for dental anxiety in children and adolescents found strong between-group effects of Cohen d =1.4 after treatment and 1.9 at the 1-year follow-up for the main outcome of a clinician-administered Behavioral Approach Test [ 15 ]. After treatment, 64% of the patients in the CBT group no longer met the diagnostic criteria of their initial diagnosis, and at the 1-year follow-up, the proportion was 91%. This study used an active control group receiving care from specialist pediatric dentists, indicating that exposure-based CBT can yield improvements above and beyond those achieved with traditional care at specialist dental clinics for pediatric care. When calculated from the child-rated CFSS-DS, the within-group effect size of that study was 1.8 (95% CI 0.9-2.8) compared with a within-group effect size of 1.3 (95% CI 0.7-2.0) for the ICBT group in this study.

Finally, a research group in Norway conducted a 5-session CBT series for children and adolescents diagnosed with intraoral IP [ 16 ]. In that study, dentists specially trained in CBT carried out treatment, showing that exposure-based CBT can also be effectively implemented by dentists without the need for psychologists. During CBT treatment, 70% (47/67) of the participants were able to tolerate an injection; at the 1-year follow-up, 69% (34/49) were able to manage the required intraoral injections by their regular dentist according to dental records. As no effect sizes or correlations were reported, we calculated the Cohen d of the CFSS-DS from the pre- and posttreatment scores—33.8 (SD 9.7) and 23.9 (SD 6.7)—of the sample (N=57). The resulting effect size of 1.2 (95% CI 0.6-1.8) is once again comparable with the within-group effects of 1.3 (95% CI 0.7-2.0) for the ICBT group in this study.

Taken together, there is an emerging base of evidence for exposure-based CBT in pediatric dentistry, and it seems that this type of treatment can be delivered effectively in several ways. An important avenue for future research is to investigate whether ICBT also produces effects superior to those of active control conditions and noninferiority compared with traditional face-to-face CBT.

Clinical Implications

One of the criteria for a phobic diagnosis is that it interferes significantly with a person’s normal functioning. In the case of DP and IP, this usually means not being able to receive needed dental care, negatively affecting the person’s dental and general health [ 17 ]. This study shows that ICBT can be of major clinical value in dentistry. ICBT lowers avoidance and fear, enabling children and adolescents to willingly receive dental care without the need for sedation or restraint methods; thus, the dental and general health of children and adolescents who previously avoided dental care because of DP or IP will improve over the long term.

An important clinical aspect of this study was that dental treatment and in vivo exposure were provided by general dental personnel, many times dental assistants, with most not having any association with the research team and having no previous education in the method or specialist training. Earlier studies have also used exposure-based CBT provided by trained dental personnel [ 11 , 12 , 16 ] face-to-face. This requires a shift in roles from their traditional dental practices to providing exposure therapy, with communication style and time viewed as the most important factors for the treatment to be successful [ 30 ]. However, our results suggest that, when ICBT is implemented, it is clinically feasible to only briefly instruct the dentist on how to conduct exposure with patients and their parents, and this information can then be conveyed to the dental assistant and implemented sufficiently well from a therapeutic perspective. We consider this important as it indicates that exposure-based ICBT can be integrated into routine dental care practices and, thus, has the potential to be effectively disseminated while also requiring less time invested by the dental personnel as important parts of the treatment are provided on the web-based platform. In addition, participants reported no adverse events, indicating that ICBT is safe even when in vivo exposure is conducted by general dental personnel with no training in CBT and at home by the patients and their parents themselves.

Previous research has indicated a need for greater use of evidence-based CBT methods with children and adolescents in dentistry [ 13 ]. ICBT has been shown to be as effective as face-to-face treatment in many settings and for different conditions [ 18 ]. More specifically, ICBT has been shown to be effective for specific phobias [ 20 ]. This study showed that ICBT is also an effective treatment that can be used for children with DP or IP in dentistry. As no other evidence-based treatment for children or adolescents with DP or IP in dentistry currently exists, ICBT could fill a gap by providing an evidence-based treatment for the field of dentistry if disseminated correctly. ICBT can potentially be administered to more patients at a lower cost, thus overcoming the hurdle of too few CBT-trained clinicians. Furthermore, ICBT is more accessible than face-to-face CBT for patients as ICBT allows them to freely choose treatment times. This also extends to adult populations. Currently, no trials of ICBT for adults have been conducted, but we find it highly probable that ICBT for adults will be as effective as it is for children and adolescents.

Dentists may hesitate to recommend CBT treatment to their patients, which the slow recruitment in this study suggests. Previous studies have also shown that recruitment for CBT trials in dentistry is difficult [ 31 ]. This might be partly owing to a lack of interest by general practicing dentists to refer patients for CBT, which demonstrates the need to make CBT treatment attractive to dental clinicians. Consequently, one aspect that we believe is key for successful dissemination of ICBT is to increase interest in general dentistry for this type of treatment; in this way, families can be referred to and recommended exposure-based treatments when motivation is likely to be high (ie, shortly after a dental visit in which the child expressed marked fear).

Finally, this study excluded participants with neurodevelopmental disorders, a group of patients that is common in specialist pediatric dentistry. Future research needs to explore how exposure-based treatments can be successfully adapted for these patients.

Strengths and Limitations

Important strengths of this study were the randomized controlled design, absence of missing data, low treatment dropout rate and generally high treatment adherence, and use of both validated self-rating scales and clinician assessments, which addressed methodological problems observed in previous research [ 1 ]. This study also had high external validity as the dental treatment and in vivo exposure were administered at general dental clinics by personnel with no formal training in CBT. Finally, the sample was clinically relevant, having had fears of visiting the dentist for an extended time and previous experience of unsuccessful treatment to reduce their DFA or DP and IP through sedation, restraint, or general anesthesia.

Regarding limitations, the control group in this study was a waiting list. We initially hoped to establish the efficacy of ICBT treatment before testing it against active control conditions or establish noninferiority by comparing it with face-to-face CBT. The blinding of the clinicians who performed the follow-up interview was not assessed in this study. In addition, the study had a fairly small sample size, which precludes, for example, meaningful subgroup analyses. Furthermore, we used the IP diagnosis instead of intraoral IP in this study. Although it was required that the IP affect the dental treatment of participants when entering the study, it would have been preferable to use the intraoral IP diagnosis. This is because, in some cases, after the treatment, we had patients who no longer met the criteria for intraoral IP diagnosis but still met the criteria for IP diagnosis (ie, being able to receive intraoral injections in dentistry but not intramuscular vaccine injections). However, this only attenuated our results, which would have been even stronger if an intraoral IP diagnosis had been used.

Another limitation of this study is that recruitment through advertisements might not reach the general population, creating a nonrepresentative group. This could be another factor behind the slow recruitment, suggesting treatment barriers for certain groups that warrant further investigation. Speculatively, some families may have too few resources or be reluctant to commit to a program as long as 12 weeks. This is further exemplified by one participant in the study who dropped out because of time constraints and 3 participants who did not complete the modules during the treatment time. The extra burden of investing time in a treatment of this type makes it unsuitable for some families and individuals. This limits the use of both CBT and ICBT in its current form, and more research is needed on how to provide a feasible, evidence-based alternative for this group. Perhaps one alternative that should be tested is an even shorter course in exposure-based CBT that is less text dependent.

Finally, this study was conducted in Sweden, which has publicly funded, free-of-charge dental services for children. The generalizability of the findings to other dental health care contexts needs to be further investigated. More specifically, how the cost of this type of treatment might influence its acceptability for the patient and dentist in different contexts needs to be explored.


ICBT for DP or IP seems to be an effective treatment for children and adolescents. This therapy reduces fear and enables the child to willingly receive dental treatment, thereby leading to improved dental and general health. ICBT should be considered a method that increases accessibility to effective psychological treatment in pediatric dentistry.

Data Availability

The data sets generated and analyzed during this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

Content and photographs of the exposure toolkit and visual analog scale.

Screenshot from internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (module with text).

Screenshot from internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (module with text and picture).

Screenshot from internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (home assignment at end of module).

Scores of the children and their parents in the internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (n=17) and control (n=16) groups at the follow-up.

Within-group changes and effect sizes between baseline and treatment follow-up for the internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy group.

CONSORT-eHEALTH checklist (V 1.6.1).

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Edited by A Mavragani; submitted 12.02.23; peer-reviewed by JA Johnsen, S Hughes; comments to author 06.10.23; revised version received 30.10.23; accepted 19.12.23; published 21.02.24.

©Robert Schibbye, Erik Hedman-Lagerlöf, Viktor Kaldo, Göran Dahllöf, Shervin Shahnavaz. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 21.02.2024.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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  26. COVID-19 vaccines and adverse events of special interest: A

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  29. How to Write a Literature Review

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