The IMRAD format is a very useful model to use when you are conducting research. It allows you to organize your research paper in a way which is consistent with standardized formats for papers. In short, the model stands for: Introduction – Method – Results – And – Discussion
Source: Swales, J and C. Feak (2000) English in Today’s Research World: a Writing Guide, Michigan: Ann Arbor
In the introduction, you will touch on topics leading up to your central research topic. This includes offering an account of past research that has dealt with the topic of interest. The introduction follows the Abstract which is normally placed immediately following the title. Thus, the following common order: Title -> Abstract -> Introduction -> Method -> Analysis -> Results -> Discussion – Conclusions.
The introduction covers a much wider range of topics as it also includes things that would normally be considered to be in the periphery of a research question. For instance, if your central thesis is centered on current IT trends in Engineering, the introduction could also touch on the historical background to this phenomenon as well include descriptions and definitions of key topics to be covered in the paper. If you are going to use acronyms, it’s important that you at least once – in the beginning – explain what the acronym stands for.
The method section deals with the way by which you have acquired your results. You should also mention the nature of research project, whether it’s qualitative or quantitative in nature. Qualitative research papers – which are typically found in the social sciences – investigate the how and the why of decision making and usually have a smaller but more focused sample size. Quantitative research however make us of systematic empirical tools to quantify and assess data sets by means of statistics and/or computational techniques. The latter is very common in the natural sciences. Finally, the research questions could be stated in this section.
In this section, you present your results. These are the actual findings that you’ve compiled in conducting your research and could include statistical data or the results from interviews. It’s important that you present and compile your results in a manner that is coherent and easy to follow. Remember to be thorough as this section is the central part of your thesis.
In this section, you will explain what your results actually ‘mean’. How do they correlate with your int ital research questions? What interesting relationships did you discover and how do you think this could be explained. You can also mention any limitations on your research and explain why the reasons for these limitations. The discussion could be ended with suggestions for future research. Following the discussion, you can have an independent header entitled ‘Conclusions’ in which your conclusions are stated in a straightforward manner.