In many of your courses in the sciences and social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, and biology, you may be required to write a research paper using the IMRAD format. IMRAD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. In this format, you present your research and discuss your methods for gathering research. Each section of the IMRAD structure can take several paragraphs to develop.
This structure is also sometimes referred to as the APA format, but be sure not to confuse this with the APA format for documentation of your research.
provide research question
explain the significance
review of background or known information on your topic
describe your methods for gathering information
explain your sources of information, both primary and secondary
describe what you found out from your research.
develop each point thoroughly, as this is the main section of your research paper
explain the significance of your findings
describe how they support your thesis
discuss limitations of your research
NOTE: APA does not recommend or require any particular outline for your papers. If you’ve seen sample papers in following APA format, you may have seen the IMRAD format used, but this is not an official APA requirement. Your assignment should always dictate outline structure, not a formatting style.
So you might have an assignment that requires APA format for documentation but a very different organizational pattern. In fact, you may use the traditional outline for some projects written in APA format.
APA does not recommend a particular outline for papers. For more information on this and other aspects of writing APA does not require or cover, review this blog post entitled “My Professor Says...” from the APA Style Blog.