How Long Is a Research Paper: from Introduction to Conclusion

When you’re writing a research paper, you should have certain pieces of information on hand. That includes the “how long is a paper,” the formatting style, and how to organize the research paper, among others. This article will discuss one: how long is a research paper? The length of a research paper will depend on several things, including what topic you’re writing on.

While the lengths of academic papers differ based on one thing or the other, most follow the same pattern. The typical length of a research paper can range from 2,000 to over 10,000 words – depending on your level. Ph.D. research papers are often the longest because they require extensive research on entirely new knowledge.

From introduction to conclusion: How long should a research paper be?

The research paper’s length typically depends on the writer’s topic, assignment, and academic level. Most research papers run around four to six thousand words, but you can find papers shorter or longer. For example, you can find papers as short as 2,000 words and those as long as over 10,000 words.

If the paper is a school work, your college should have a specified paper length for your type of writing. If it doesn’t, your paper’s length will depend on your topic; complicated topics equal longer papers. Let’s look at the typical paragraph length of a research paper starting from the introduction to the conclusion.

1. How long should an introduction be?

Your introduction length also depends on your paper’s length, but it typically ranges from half a page to several paragraphs. For example, a 5-page paper should have an introduction of no more than half a page in length. For papers as long as fifteen pages or more, the introduction can range from an entire page to several paragraphs. For most college research papers, the introduction section length should not exceed a page since their papers aren’t lengthy.

2. How long should a methods section be?

The methods section of a research paper is the longest part of a professional paper, taking 29.7% of the total word count. Therefore, a suitable methods section should have in-depth information providing readers with the necessary details to replicate your research when needed.

3. How long should a results section be?

Your results section’s word and page length depend on the types and amount of data you reported. For a more effective data presentation, it should contain concise details with appropriately-used non-textual elements like figures and tables.

4. How long should a discussion section be?

The discussion section of a research paper is often regarded as its most crucial part for different reasons. It is the second-longest part of a professionally-written research paper, taking 29.4% of the paper’s total word count.

5. How long should a conclusion be?

The length of your paper’s conclusion section depends on the length of the entire paper. This section is essential because you’re summarizing everything you’ve said so far in so few words. Of course, the longer your writing, the longer its conclusion, but a good conclusion should not be less than three sentences.

How many pages is a research paper?

The average length of a research paper is around five to ten pages, depending on the topic and available information. Nevertheless, your instructor or professor should give you an exact number of pages for your research paper. Meanwhile, certain factors determine your research paper length, including your research subject, subtopics, information depth, and discussion and conclusion lengths. These are the most important deciding factors in the total length of a typical research paper.

You can know the number of pages of your research paper by the number of pages each of the basic components of a research paper occupies. These include the abstract, table of content, introduction, literature review, individual paragraphs, methods, results discussion, references, and appendices.

Step-by-step guide on how to organize a research paper

Regardless of their length differences, research papers typically follow a standard structure, starting from the introduction to the conclusion. Once you’ve clearly defined your research question, organizing and writing the actual paper becomes straightforward. You’ll ask the question in your paper, answer it, and then arrange it in the proper structure. The key to writing a successful paper is ensuring it follows the standard structure of a research paper.

The basic structure of a typical research paper is often abbreviated as IMRAD to help students remember. The structure of a typically organized research paper is as follows:

  • Introduction: the introduction states the importance of the research problem, current knowledge gaps, and the objectives of your study.
  • Methods: the methods section describes the study’s setting and context, specifies the study design, and describes the population, sampling strategy, and intervention where applicable. It also identifies the main study variables, describes data collection instruments and produces, and outlines the method(s) of analysis.
  • Results: the results section presents a report on data collection and recruitment, describes participants and presents key and secondary findings.
  • Discussion: the discussion elaborates on the study’s main findings, discusses the main results referencing prior studies, discusses policy, and practices the results’ implications. It also analyses the strengths and limitations of your research while offering perspectives for further research.


The typical length of a research paper can range from two to over ten thousand words, depending on the research type and depth. Of course, your college or instructor should give you the exact number, but if they don’t, then your data determines the length.