The length of your paper ranks high among various factors to consider in academic writing. It is thus common for students to get confused when they are presented with a research paper that does not prescribe a word limit.
How long is a research paper? This article will analyse various factors you should consider to determine the length of your paper.
How long should a research paper be?
The average length of a paper ranges between 4000 to 6000 words. However, research papers may carry up to ten thousand words depending on their complexity. A complex research topic brings about multiple issues to be studied and longer arguments in a bid to acknowledge existing work in your field.
As such, your research paper length is also affected by the availability of resources. A wider number of counterarguments presents more arguments for your paper, resulting in a longer document. The documents may also add to your literature review chapter, further lengthening your paper.
How many pages is a research paper
On average, a research paper ranges between 15 to 50 pages. As indicated earlier, the length of your paper is affected by the complexity of your topic. As such, some disciplines may require a longer document while shorter papers suffice in other disciplines.
When going about your research paper, we recommend that you start off with research and then you develop an outline. Afterward, share the outline with your committee for input on areas you may address further and the arguments to omit.
This will help you gauge the length of your paper, without stuffing your research paper with filler words. Also, check previous tasks in your faculty to determine the word count range of previous papers within your field.
Why are research papers so long?
The research paper length ranks on the higher end of the spectrum for academic papers. This is because your research paper comprises multiple chapters that require evidence-backed arguments.
The literature review, for instance, puts into consideration various publications relating to your topic. This allows you to highlight a research gap and argue the necessity of researching the identified gap.
This is followed by an introduction where you highlight the background study of your topic and your thesis. Your methodology further analyses more resources in a bid to legitimize your research and enable the replicability of your research.
Afterward, your paper presents your results and supplements other studies to design your arguments. This tedious approach to argument brings about copious amounts of words, thus making a research paper longer than typical essays.
Average research paper length: how long should each chapter be?
The length of your dissertation chapters varies depending on your total word count. A longer paper may have more words in each chapter compared to shorter research papers. A great way to divide the word count among various chapters in your paper is to follow the percentages approach.
The abstract of your paper should range between 300-500 words. As such, use precise sentences to capture all essential bits of information needed for a quality abstract. The other portions of your paper should contribute to the total wordcount as follows:
- Literature review – 25% to 30%
- Introduction – 15%-20%
- Methodology – 10%-25%
- Results – 10%-15%
- Discussion – 25%-30%
- Conclusion – 10%-15%
You can use the outline to approximate the length of your paper and thus determine how long various chapters should be. We however recommend that you focus on the quality and completeness of arguments in your paper as opposed to chasing a word limit.
What contributes to the final word count of a paper?
After establishing the answer to the question: how long should a thesis be? Most students usually work to include every word from the title page to the appendix in this word count.
If a word limit has been provided by your tutor, it covers all sections of the paper except the title page, references, and appendices. As such, your word count is estimated by the number of words in various chapters that are formative to your research.
We hope that this guide has cleared any issues you were facing regarding your research paper length. Feel free to engage our experts for assistance in editing your paper to ensure success in your academic journey.