How Long Should a Research Paper be: From Intro to conclusion

research paper length

research paper length

You may be wondering how long your research paper should be? Well, you are not alone. Many students are always asking about the optimal term paper length. This challenge can be further heightened when your instructor has not provided you with the page limit or word count.

Research papers are quite complex because they are academic writings based on your original research on a specific topic. This is why getting our paper writing help can be useful to get that A.

No matter the method you choose, your paper should contain your analysis and interpretation of the findings to be complete.

When considering all those factors, students often wonder how long their research papers should be. Let’s explore this in detail.

How Long Should each part of a Research Paper be

Ideally, the most optimal length of a research paper is around 5 pages for short papers and 10 pages for long ones. However, the exact length of your term paper is best determined by your instructor and his instructions.

The same is determined by a number of factors, including the extent and depth of your subject.

Factors Determining the Length of a Paper

The question of how long a research paper should be can be difficult to respond to because it depends on several factors. The most important factors that determine the length of your term paper include;

Factors determining optimal research paper length
  1. The subject of your research
  2. The number of topics emerging from the subject,
  3. Number and complexity of the subtopics,
  4. The magnitude of your findings
  5. The extent of your discussions and conclusions.

All those factors held constant; it is possible to estimate the length of a less complex research paper if it is demarcated into sections that include the outline, introduction, individual paragraphs, conclusion, and reference page.

Those are the basic components of a typical research paper. Let’s have a look at how long each section should be.

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How a Term Paper Outline Should be

An outline is an important part of your research paper. It provides the structure of your paper. It organizes the contents of your term paper into sections.

However, the outline does not contain details about your paper. It only highlights the topics to be covered and the issues to be tackled within those topics.

Term paper outline list

A format of an outline should include the following;

  • An Introduction
  • The issue that is being tackled
  • A literature review
  • Methodology
  • Results and discussion
  • Conclusion and recommendation

There are brief full-sentence descriptions under the five sections that act as guidelines for your research paper. Therefore, the outline should not exceed 2 pages for short research papers and between 4 to 5 pages for longer papers with 15 to 20 pages.

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Optimal Length of a Research Paper Introduction

As we have noted, the length of your term paper depends on the topic and its contents. This applies to the introduction. For a typical 5-page research paper, your introduction should not exceed half a page.

However, if you are writing a long essay of 15 pages or more, the introduction may span to a page or several paragraphs. Since most of the research papers given to undergraduate college students are not lengthy, the introduction should not exceed a page.

Recommended length of Individual paragraphs in research paper

conducting research

Even though no definitive rules determine the length of individual paragraphs in a paper, the most recommended length is between 90 words and 130 words. Any paragraph below 90 words is deemed too short to sustain an argument, while one with over 130 words is deemed over-argued.

At the same, it is important to note that the length of the paper determines its length. When the paper is short, then the paragraphs should be short.

If the research paper is long, then the paragraphs should be longer. However, a paragraph should contain more than four sentences. For some topics like childhood obesity, the paragraphs may take longer to incorporate data and statistics in your paper.

Since individual paragraphs should focus on one idea, the length of the paragraph should be determined by the supporting text.

If your idea requires a lot of support in the form of illustrations, examples, statistics, paraphrases, quotes, definitions, causes, and effects, then the paragraph will be longer.

In case the idea presented by the individual paragraph is straightforward and does not require a lot of supporting evidence, then it will be shorter.

The paragraphs add content to the outline. The outline provides topics, subtopics, and guidelines, while the paragraphs add content and further explanations.

How Long Should a Conclusion be

writing the conclusion

A conclusion is a very important part of your research paper. This is because you, as the author of your paper, are wrapping up everything you have discussed in your paper.

Basically, the length of the conclusion is determined by your paper’s length.

The longer the paper, the longer the conclusion, and the shorter it is, the shorter the conclusion. A conclusion should not be below 3 sentences. It will take a few hours to write all these components of your paper.

Even though this is the case, an effective conclusion should have the following characteristics.

Characteristics of a Good Term Paper Conclusion

  1. Restatement of the topic of your research
  2. Restatement of your thesis. This statement should not be identical to what you wrote in the introduction.
  3. Provide a summary of your main points. Do not provide any new information.
  4. You can also add up the points to further explain the significance of your points.
  5. Make a call to action if it is appropriate or significant to your paper.
  6. Respond to the “so what” question. This requires you to explain the context of your paper and why it matters to the readers.

From this, it is evident that the conclusion is very important in your research paper. You may not include all of the above, but it is important to restate your paper’s topic, thesis, and main points. Check our research paper writing guide to learn more about how to write these parts.

How Long should the Reference Page be?

The reference page length completely depends on the number of sources you have used in your paper. Your paper may be lengthy with few sources, while others can be shorter with more.

A good term paper should have a reference page listing all your information sources. Provided that you list the sources in the right referencing format, like APA and MLA, the length of the reference page is not definitive.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a term paper be for high school?

Most teachers in high schools require their students to submit 3 to 5-page research papers. Those are the normal research papers assigned within the semester. However, final research papers like the English 102 papers are between 5 and 7 pages.

What is the optimal graduate paper length?

Even though the topic of the graduate paper determines its length, such papers are considerably longer. This is because they tackle complex topics requiring in-depth explanations, citations, examples, etc. They can be between 7 and 15 pages. They can also exceed the count.

How long should a term paper be for middle school?

The research papers written by students in middle school are considerably shorter than those given to college or graduate school students. The normal papers written within the semester are between 1 and 2 pages, while the final papers are between 2 and 4.

How long should a literature review be for a research paper?

The length of a literature review depends on the purpose and the audience of the term paper. In most of the research papers in college, the literature review should not exceed two pages. For longer papers of more than 10 pages, it can be between 2 and 3 pages.

How to write a term paper fast

To write a research paper fast, begin by selecting a topic. This is followed by researching the topic and working on a thesis. Write the structure of your paper by creating an outline.

Follow the outline and write the paper by beginning with an introduction and ending with a conclusion. Finally, proofread your paper to correct errors. Read our checklist on how to revise your paper to a final copy.

What are the most common types of research paper formats

You must select a specific style when formatting a research or term paper. The most common formats for research papers are MLA, APA, Chicago, and Harvard.

Each format dictates the style of the paper, the spacing, the in-text citation style, and the reference page style. You can get all these done if you get someone to write your homework at a very reasonable cost.

What is the average length of an academic journal article

Most academic journal articles span 20 to 25 pages when they have a one-and-half line spacing. If the academic journals are double-spaced, they can be between 25 and 30 pages. The journal’s word count ranges from 4000 to 7000 words.