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Research Paper Example

Nova A.

Research Paper Examples - Free Sample Papers for Different Formats!

Published on: Nov 27, 2017

Last updated on: Nov 6, 2023

Research Paper Example

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Crafting a comprehensive research paper can be daunting. Understanding diverse citation styles and various subject areas presents a challenge for many.

Without clear examples, students often feel lost and overwhelmed, unsure of how to start or which style fits their subject.

Explore our collection of expertly written research paper examples. We’ve covered various citation styles and a diverse range of subjects.

So, read on!

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Research Paper Example for Different Formats

Following a specific formatting style is essential while writing a research paper . Knowing the conventions and guidelines for each format can help you in creating a perfect paper. Here we have gathered examples of research paper for most commonly applied citation styles :

Social Media and Social Media Marketing: A Literature Review

APA Research Paper Example

APA (American Psychological Association) style is commonly used in social sciences, psychology, and education. This format is recognized for its clear and concise writing, emphasis on proper citations, and orderly presentation of ideas.

Here are some research paper examples in APA style:

Research Paper Example APA 7th Edition

Research Paper Example MLA

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is frequently employed in humanities disciplines, including literature, languages, and cultural studies. An MLA research paper might explore literature analysis, linguistic studies, or historical research within the humanities. 

Here is an example:

Found Voices: Carl Sagan

Research Paper Example Chicago

Chicago style is utilized in various fields like history, arts, and social sciences. Research papers in Chicago style could delve into historical events, artistic analyses, or social science inquiries. 

Here is a research paper formatted in Chicago style:

Chicago Research Paper Sample

Research Paper Example Harvard

Harvard style is widely used in business, management, and some social sciences. Research papers in Harvard style might address business strategies, case studies, or social policies.

View this sample Harvard style paper here:

Harvard Research Paper Sample

Examples for Different Research Paper Parts

A research paper has different parts. Each part is important for the overall success of the paper. Chapters in a research paper must be written correctly, using a certain format and structure.

The following are examples of how different sections of the research paper can be written.

Research Proposal

The research proposal acts as a detailed plan or roadmap for your study, outlining the focus of your research and its significance. It's essential as it not only guides your research but also persuades others about the value of your study.

Example of Research Proposal

An abstract serves as a concise overview of your entire research paper. It provides a quick insight into the main elements of your study. It summarizes your research's purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions in a brief format.

Research Paper Example Abstract

Literature Review 

A literature review summarizes the existing research on your study's topic, showcasing what has already been explored. This section adds credibility to your own research by analyzing and summarizing prior studies related to your topic.

Literature Review Research Paper Example


The methodology section functions as a detailed explanation of how you conducted your research. This part covers the tools, techniques, and steps used to collect and analyze data for your study.

Methods Section of Research Paper Example

How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper

The conclusion summarizes your findings, their significance and the impact of your research. This section outlines the key takeaways and the broader implications of your study's results.

Research Paper Conclusion Example

Research Paper Examples for Different Fields

Research papers can be about any subject that needs a detailed study. The following examples show research papers for different subjects.

History Research Paper Sample

Preparing a history research paper involves investigating and presenting information about past events. This may include exploring perspectives, analyzing sources, and constructing a narrative that explains the significance of historical events.

View this history research paper sample:

Many Faces of Generalissimo Fransisco Franco

Sociology Research Paper Sample

In sociology research, statistics and data are harnessed to explore societal issues within a particular region or group. These findings are thoroughly analyzed to gain an understanding of the structure and dynamics present within these communities. 

Here is a sample:

A Descriptive Statistical Analysis within the State of Virginia

Science Fair Research Paper Sample

A science research paper involves explaining a scientific experiment or project. It includes outlining the purpose, procedures, observations, and results of the experiment in a clear, logical manner.

Here are some examples:

Science Fair Paper Format

What Do I Need To Do For The Science Fair?

Psychology Research Paper Sample

Writing a psychology research paper involves studying human behavior and mental processes. This process includes conducting experiments, gathering data, and analyzing results to understand the human mind, emotions, and behavior.

Here is an example psychology paper:

The Effects of Food Deprivation on Concentration and Perseverance

Art History Research Paper Sample

Studying art history includes examining artworks, understanding their historical context, and learning about the artists. This helps analyze and interpret how art has evolved over various periods and regions.

Check out this sample paper analyzing European art and impacts:

European Art History: A Primer

Research Paper Example Outline

Before you plan on writing a well-researched paper, make a rough draft. An outline can be a great help when it comes to organizing vast amounts of research material for your paper.

Here is an outline of a research paper example:

Here is a downloadable sample of a standard research paper outline:

Research Paper Outline

Want to create the perfect outline for your paper? Check out this in-depth guide on creating a research paper outline for a structured paper!

Good Research Paper Examples for Students

Here are some more samples of research paper for students to learn from:

Fiscal Research Center - Action Plan

Qualitative Research Paper Example

Research Paper Example Introduction

How to Write a Research Paper Example

Research Paper Example for High School

Now that you have explored the research paper examples, you can start working on your research project. Hopefully, these examples will help you understand the writing process for a research paper.

If you're facing challenges with your writing requirements, you can hire our essay writing service .

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Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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Research Article

A multi-taxon analysis of European Red Lists reveals major threats to biodiversity

Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliations Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Department of Biogeography, Trier University, Trier, Germany, IUCN SSC Invertebrate Conservation Committee, Trier, Germany, IUCN SSC Steering Committee, Caracas, Venezuela, IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany

ORCID logo

Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations Institute of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, IUCN SSC Freshwater Plant Specialist Group, Stroud, United Kingdom, IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium

Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium, UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Conservation Biology, Leipzig, Germany

Roles Formal analysis, Methodology, Visualization, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation Department of Biogeography, Trier University, Trier, Germany

Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation IUCN, Biodiversity Assessment and Knowledge Team, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium, IUCN, Species Conservation Action Team, Gland, Switzerland

Roles Conceptualization, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations Global Mammal Assessment program, Department of Biology and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome; Rome, Italy, Global Wildlife Conservation Center, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, United States of America

Roles Investigation, Writing – review & editing

Roles Data curation, Methodology, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations IUCN SSC Invertebrate Conservation Committee, Trier, Germany, IUCN SSC Mollusc Specialist Group, Devon, United Kingdom

Roles Funding acquisition, Investigation, Project administration, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations IUCN SSC Steering Committee, Caracas, Venezuela, Fondation Franklinia, Genève, Switzerland, IUCN SSC Plant Conservation Committee, Pretoria, South Africa

Affiliation IUCN Specialist Adviser on European Saproxylic Beetles, Truro, United Kingdom

Affiliation Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Richmond, United Kingdom

Affiliations Funchal Natural History Museum, Funchal, Portugal, MARE-Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Lisboa, Portugal

Affiliation IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany

Affiliations BirdLife International, Cambridge, United Kingdom, IUCN SSC Red List Authority for Birds, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliations IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany, Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto, Sezione Zoologia, Rovereto, Italy

Roles Investigation, Project administration, Writing – review & editing

Affiliations IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium, Rewilding Portugal, Guarda, Portugal

Affiliation IUCN Marine Biodiversity Unit, Biological Sciences, Norfolk, VA, United States of America

Affiliation National Museum of Marine Biology, Checheng, Taiwan

Affiliations IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria

Affiliation Plant Gateway Herbarium, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom

Affiliation IUCN Tuna and Billfish Specialist Group, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, United States of America

Affiliations ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, HI, United States of America

Affiliation IUCN-Conservation International Biodiversity Assessment Unit, Washington, DC, United States of America

Affiliation National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA, United States of America

Affiliation IUCN Red List Unit, IUCN Global Species Programme, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada

Affiliations IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, United Kingdom

Affiliation IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group, Royal Botanic Gardens; Richmond, United Kingdom

Affiliations IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium, Scott Cawley, Dublin, Ireland

Affiliation Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Berlin, Germany

Affiliation Oceana, Madrid, Spain

Affiliations IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium, School of Geosciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Affiliation European Committee for the Conservation of Bryophytes, Portree, United Kingdom

Affiliation BirdLife Cyprus, Nikosia, Cyprus

Affiliation Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Affiliation The University of Birmingham, School of Biosciences, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Affiliation IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels, Belgium

Affiliation IUCN SSC Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation IUCN SSC Freshwater Plant Specialist Group, Stroud, United Kingdom

Affiliations IUCN Red List Unit, IUCN Global Species Programme, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States of America

Affiliation IUCN SSC Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, Ottawa, Canada

Affiliations The University of Birmingham, School of Biosciences, Birmingham, United Kingdom, IUCN SSC Crop Wild Relative Specialist Group, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Affiliation Natural History Museum Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Affiliations IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany, FLORON Plant Conservation Netherlands, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Roles Conceptualization, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation Department of Ichthyology, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia

Affiliation Species Recovery Program, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA, United States of America

Affiliation BirdLife International, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Murcia; Murcia, España

Affiliations Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Richmond, United Kingdom, IUCN SSC Global Tree Specialist Group, Richmond, United Kingdom

Affiliation Department of Agroecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium

Affiliation IUCN Snapper, Seabream and Grunt Specialist Group, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia

Affiliation Botanical Museum, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Affiliation Office National des Forêts, Laboratoire National d’Entomologie Forestière, Quillan, France

Affiliations Natural History Museum, Department of Life Sciences, London, United Kingdom, Coleopterological Research Center, Institute of Life Sciences and Technology, Daugavpils University, Daugavpils, Latvia, Institute of Biology, University of Latvia, Rīga, Latvia

Affiliation The Biodiversity Consultancy, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation Zoological Society of London, London, United Kingdom

Affiliations IUCN SSC Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, Ottawa, Canada, TRAFFIC, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation Vlinderstichting (Dutch Butterfly Conservation), Wageningen, Netherlands

Affiliation Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Key Largo, FL, United States of America

Affiliations IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Affiliation Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, United Kingdom

  •  [ ... ],

Affiliations IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group, Trier, Germany, Ingenieurbüro für Landschaftsplanung und Landschaftspflege, Vienna, Austria

  • [ view all ]
  • [ view less ]
  • Axel Hochkirch, 
  • Melanie Bilz, 
  • Catarina C. Ferreira, 
  • Anja Danielczak, 
  • David Allen, 
  • Ana Nieto, 
  • Carlo Rondinini, 
  • Kate Harding, 
  • Craig Hilton-Taylor, 


  • Published: November 8, 2023
  • Reader Comments

Fig 1

Biodiversity loss is a major global challenge and minimizing extinction rates is the goal of several multilateral environmental agreements. Policy decisions require comprehensive, spatially explicit information on species’ distributions and threats. We present an analysis of the conservation status of 14,669 European terrestrial, freshwater and marine species (ca. 10% of the continental fauna and flora), including all vertebrates and selected groups of invertebrates and plants. Our results reveal that 19% of European species are threatened with extinction, with higher extinction risks for plants (27%) and invertebrates (24%) compared to vertebrates (18%). These numbers exceed recent IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) assumptions of extinction risk. Changes in agricultural practices and associated habitat loss, overharvesting, pollution and development are major threats to biodiversity. Maintaining and restoring sustainable land and water use practices is crucial to minimize future biodiversity declines.

Citation: Hochkirch A, Bilz M, Ferreira CC, Danielczak A, Allen D, Nieto A, et al. (2023) A multi-taxon analysis of European Red Lists reveals major threats to biodiversity. PLoS ONE 18(11): e0293083.

Editor: Neelesh Dahanukar, Shiv Nadar University, INDIA

Received: January 16, 2023; Accepted: October 4, 2023; Published: November 8, 2023

This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

Data Availability: All original data is available in the IUCN Red List database ( )

Funding: The European Commission (EC) has funded all European Red List projects. Co-funders of some of the assessments were National Parks and Wildlife Service, Republic of Ireland; Ministry of Economic Affairs, Department of Nature & Biodiversity (Ministerie van Economische Zaken, Directie Natuur & Biodiversiteit), the Netherlands; Council of Europe; Office fédéral de l’environnement, Switzerland; Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvardsverket), Sweden; British Entomological Society, United Kingdom; Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Government of the Grand-Duché of Luxembourg; Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic; and ArtDatabanken from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The funders had no role in data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript, but the funding decisions determined the taxa that have been assessed.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Biodiversity is declining globally at an unprecedented rate [ 1 – 3 ], with around 1 million animal, fungal and plant species potentially at risk of extinction within the next few decades [ 4 ]. Several international policies have been designed to tackle this crisis, namely by defining specific biodiversity recovery goals and targets (e.g., the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14, 15), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Targets and Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Targets) that have been transposed into national or regional policy by countries worldwide. To document progress towards these targets spatially explicit information on the distribution of species, their ecological requirements and major threats is needed [ 5 , 6 ]. Red List assessments that compile the best available evidence on species’ extinction risk are pivotal to measure progress towards international biodiversity conservation objectives by underpinning suitable biodiversity indicators [ 7 ]. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species TM (hereafter, the IUCN Red List) is widely recognized as the most comprehensive and objective approach for evaluating the conservation status of species, and is considered a global ‘barometer of life’ [ 8 ]. More than 142,000 species have been assessed for the IUCN Red List thus far, but at the global scale there are strong taxonomic biases [ 6 ].

In Europe, taxonomic coverage of the IUCN Red List is more extensive than in other parts of the world, as the European Commission has funded European Red List assessments of thousands of species from a wide variety of taxonomic groups since 2006. These include all vertebrates (amphibians, birds, fishes, mammals and reptiles), functionally important invertebrate groups (all bees, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, crickets, bush-crickets, freshwater and terrestrial molluscs, and a selection of saproxylic beetles) and about 12% of the known plant species in Europe (including all ferns and lycopods, orchids, trees, aquatic plants and bryophytes, as well as selected shrubs, medicinal plants, priority crop wild relatives, and plants listed in policy instruments). This Herculean effort provides a wealth of information on the conservation status of 14,669 species, including spatial information on an exceptionally broad range of species that is derived using a standardized methodology and includes taxa that are usually underrepresented in conservation [ 6 ]. The assessed taxa have not been chosen to ensure representativeness but based upon funders’ priorities. However, they are by far more diverse than any dataset used for global analyses so far, such as the Living Planet Index [ 9 ]. These data will help to guide and monitor progress in achieving the targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 [ 10 ], i.e., to ensure that Europe’s biodiversity is on the path to recovery by 2030. Here, we synthesize the findings of all European Red List species assessments published up to the end of 2020 to analyze major biodiversity distribution patterns and threats to biodiversity in Europe. This analysis also provides a baseline against which to measure progress towards biodiversity targets to be achieved in the coming decade.

In Europe, approximately one-fifth (19.4%, 2,839 species) of the 14,669 species assessed are threatened with extinction ( Fig 1 ) with 50 species being Extinct, Regionally Extinct or Extinct in the Wild (EX, RE, EW) and a further 75 tagged as Possibly Extinct. The percentage of threatened species (those classified as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU)) was higher among plants (27%) and invertebrates (24%) than among vertebrates (18%). This pattern is noteworthy considering that vertebrates receive substantially more conservation attention and that the latest IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services used a conservative “tentative estimate” that 10% of all insects are threatened with extinction, while noting that “ the prevalence of extinction risk in high-diversity insect groups is a key unknown ” [ 4 ]. Using our value of 24% threatened invertebrates, would roughly double the IPBES extrapolation (1.97 ± 0.23 million species threatened rather than 1 million). It is worth noting that IPBES also used the European Red Lists for bees, butterflies and saproxylic beetles to estimate the global extinction risk of insects. While the extrapolation of European data to a global estimate involves several uncertainties, evidence from some comprehensively assessed species groups suggests that global extinction risk does not deviate strongly from the European status (e.g. Odonata: European Red List [ 11 ]: 15.7% threatened, Global Red List [ 12 ]: 16.1% threatened; Birds: European Red List [ 13 ]: 13.2%, Global Red List [ 11 ]: 12.6%). Our higher assumption of the number of threatened insect species is mainly explained by the inclusion of recent European Red Lists compared to the IPBES assessment, and partly by the high number of Data Deficient (DD) species among insects ( S2 Fig ). Indeed, the number of DD species is quite high even in Europe (18%), despite this being a very well-studied region. Data deficiency is notably higher among invertebrates (24%) than plants (11%) or vertebrates (10%). Further, for nearly half of all species (49%) and for 60% of invertebrates, the population trend was classified as ‘unknown’ by the Red List assessors, which is in line with global estimates and illustrates a general lack of data on population status and demographics and confirms the need for biodiversity monitoring programs [ 6 ].


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Abbreviations: EX: Extinct, EW: Extinct in the Wild, RE: Regionally Extinct, CR: Critically Endangered, EN: Endangered, VU: Vulnerable, DD: Data Deficient, NT: Near Threatened, LC: Least Concern.

Nearly half (47%, n = 6,926 of the 14,669) of Europe’s assessed species are endemic, including 2,125 threatened species. Most (86%, n = 1,171) threatened invertebrates are endemic to Europe. Across all taxa, only half (54%) of the threatened species have been documented in protected areas, a percentage lower than among Near Threatened (NT) or Least Concern (LC) species (61%), raising concerns about the suitability of the European protected area network as a means to protect all threatened species [ 14 , 15 ] and emphasizing the need to expand and improve it. Our spatial analysis of terrestrial species diversity in Europe ( Fig 2 ) further emphasizes the importance of mountain systems for biodiversity persistence in Europe. Mountains support a high number of endemic species and are also less transformed by humans than lowland plains and coasts. The highest species numbers by area were recorded in the southern Alps, the eastern Pyrenees and the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria ( Fig 2 ), while threatened biodiversity peaks in the Alps and the Balkans ( S5 Fig ).


Spatial distribution of terrestrial and freshwater species richness in Europe based on an analysis of all European IUCN Red List assessments.

Our analyses confirm that multiple threats impact biodiversity, with agricultural land-use change (including tree plantations) being the most important threat to European species, followed by biological resource use (overexploitation), residential and commercial development, and pollution ( Fig 3 ). The strong impact of agricultural land-use is more prominent in invertebrates and plants, whereas vertebrates (particularly fishes) are more often threatened by overexploitation as they may be directly hunted, caught and fished (also by incidental catch) resulting in extensive threat to marine fishes and other marine vertebrates. Residential and commercial development is an important cause of habitat loss and degradation affecting many invertebrate and plant species, whereas pollution is particularly threatening to freshwater species, such as fishes, molluscs and dragonflies. Climate change is also an important threat to many species and has been classified as the most important emerging future threat ( S3 Fig ). This is corroborated by the increasing number of droughts in Europe, which accelerate the risk of wildfires [ 16 ], aggravated by an increased off-take of water for agriculture and domestic supplies.


For all species, vertebrates, invertebrates and plants (CR: Critically Endangered, EN: Endangered, VU: Vulnerable, DD: Data Deficient, NT: Near Threatened, LC: Least Concern; N: All species = 14,669, Vertebrates = 2,494, Invertebrates = 7,600, Plants = 4,575).

The finding of agricultural land-use change as a major threat to biodiversity has often been reported [e.g. 17 , 18 ]. However, our analysis is the most comprehensive and unequivocal to date reaffirming the magnitude of the impact of this threat at a continental scale. Many European species require or are adapted to traditional agricultural land-use but cannot cope with the magnitude of this change. Changes in agriculture are manifold and include conversion of natural habitats into farmland (partly as a consequence of detrimental subsidies under the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)), changing agricultural and forestry practices (particularly intensification and homogenization of land-use with larger plots, larger and heavier machines, use of fertilizers and pesticides, decreasing crop diversity, higher livestock densities, earlier and more frequent mowing, drainage, irrigation, plowing, rolling, abandonment of historical management techniques, etc.), but also land abandonment coupled with rural exodus [ 19 ]. In Europe, habitat conversion into arable land mainly occurred in the past, while during the last decades abandonment has become more common. Intensification in the use of agricultural land had started already in the 19 th century in northwestern Europe with the replacement of traditional pastoral farming (mainly of sheep) by settled agriculture with cattle farming [ 20 ]. While pastoral systems are still abundant in the Mediterranean, they are also in decline due to the EU CAP funding systems [ 21 ]. While improvements to the CAP have constantly been proposed [ 22 ], the recent policy reform remained rather unambitious in this regard despite the promising wind of change brought by the European Green Deal. Most importantly, direct payments under the CAP have favored larger farms, while smallholder farming is in decline, leading to the abandonment of marginal lands, which are often particularly species-rich and reliant on extensive agricultural land-use [ 23 ]. While agricultural intensification is sometimes proposed as a means to increase the amount of natural habitats (“land sparing”), many threatened species in Europe are adapted to grassland habitats, which can only be retained by livestock grazing or mowing. Maintaining such habitat types will be challenging as traditional agricultural management is often not profitable anymore. Abandonment of traditional land use is also a threat to some forest species, which may depend on historical management such as coppicing or forest pastures.

Moreover, our analysis highlights some major knowledge gaps and research needs ( S4 Fig ). For a quarter of invertebrate species, the evidence available was not sufficient to determine their conservation status—most notably, 57% of European bees were assessed as Data Deficient [ 24 ]. Half of all species lack population trend data, which is a key requirement for assessing species extinction risk. This also means that for many species, Red List assessments are based on habitat trend information or other proxies. Unsurprisingly, the top research priorities identified for most species by the assessors include research on distribution, population sizes and trends, threats, life history and ecology as well as taxonomy ( S4 Fig ). Monitoring of population trends is also needed for many species, particularly for threatened taxa. In this context, it is important to highlight that general biodiversity monitoring schemes are usually not suitable for monitoring the status of highly threatened taxa (as these species are too rarely recorded to enable an analysis of trends). This means that targeted monitoring programs are required for species with a high extinction risk [ 25 ]. For vertebrate species, the need for research on the effectiveness of conservation actions has been identified more often than for plants or invertebrates. This could reflect a higher number of ongoing conservation projects for vertebrates compared to other taxa, which still require basic data to improve conservation assessments or compile conservation plans. While Europe probably has the most comprehensive Red List information in terms of species groups covered compared to other continents, the status of some key groups is still unexplored, such as freshwater quality indicators (e.g. mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies), soil biota (e.g. fungi, springtails, earthworms, mites), decomposers (e.g. dung beetles, carrion beetles), marine invertebrates (e.g. marine crustaceans and mollusks), species-rich insect groups (e.g. weevils, rove beetles, leaf beetles, ground beetles) and many plant taxa. However, European Red List assessments have just been completed for hoverflies, are currently underway for moths, and a substantial portion of the taxa analyzed here are undergoing a reassessment which will lead to the development of Red List indices. Hence, the taxonomic and temporal coverage of the European Red Lists is constantly being increased.

Red Lists provide a valuable baseline for measuring progress towards biodiversity targets. Due to their wide taxonomic scope, the European Red Lists have revealed high extinction risks for some taxa, such as freshwater molluscs (59% threatened, [ 26 ]), trees (42%, [ 27 ]), freshwater fishes (40%, [ 28 ]) and Orthoptera (29%, [ 29 ]). As biodiversity recovery targets have become more refined under the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, it will be important to continue to take snapshots of the biodiversity status not only in Europe, but at a global scale. To that end, metrics derived from the Red Lists, such as the Red List Index, have been adopted as indicators to track progress on meeting international conservation policy commitments and Sustainable Development Goals [ 7 , 30 ].

While the measurement and assessment of biodiversity trends is crucial to guide policy, it is even more important to implement necessary conservation action in a timely manner. We already have enough evidence at hand to act—what we are missing is action. This requires collaboration among multiple stakeholders to abate the major threats identified [ 31 ]. Indeed, conservation NGOs, conservation authorities, species experts and citizens in Europe have started numerous projects, focusing on highly threatened species, and even including threatened invertebrates, as a consequence of Red List publications [ 32 – 35 ]. Funding mechanisms for implementing conservation action exist at the European level (e.g. EU LIFE program) as well as on an international, national or even local scale. Member States now need to increase their capacity to conduct or support conservation projects and create optimal structures to plan and implement conservation action. Furthermore, biodiversity conservation needs to be better integrated or mainstreamed within other policies, so that the impact of major threats (such as agriculture, overfishing, forestry, pollution, urban and rural development) is mitigated. So far, financial investment in activities detrimental to biodiversity far outstrips biodiversity-friendly investments [ 36 , 37 ]. Biodiversity is the foundation underpinning food security, human well-being and wealth generation and securing a future for European life requires greener agriculture and fishing policies and a rapid phasing out of incentives detrimental to biodiversity in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and energy production are needed.

Materials and methods

All European Red Lists published to date can be found at .

The following Red Lists were considered for the analyses: European Red List of amphibians [ 38 ], European Red List of birds [ 13 ], European Red List of freshwater fishes [ 28 ], European Red List of marine fishes [ 39 ], European Red List of mammals [ 40 ], European Red List of reptiles [ 41 ], European Red List of bees [ 24 ], European Red List of saproxylic beetles [ 42 , 43 ], European Red List of butterflies [ 44 ], European Red List of dragonflies [ 11 ], European Red List of non-marine molluscs [ 26 ], European Red List of terrestrial molluscs [ 45 ], European Red List of grasshoppers, crickets and bush-crickets [ 29 ], European Red List of vascular plants [ 46 ], European Red List of medicinal plants [ 47 ], European Red List of trees [ 27 ], European Red List of lycopods and ferns [ 48 ], European Red List of mosses, liverworts and hornworts [ 49 ].

The European Red List operates at the geographical scope of Europe extending to the Urals in the east, and from Franz Josef Land in the north to the Mediterranean in the south ( S1 Fig ). The Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores are also included. In the southeast, the Caucasus region is not included in most assessments, except for the bird assessments, which also cover Turkey, the Caucasus region, and Greenland [ 13 ]. For the boundaries of marine assessments see S1 Fig . The European Red Lists were compiled using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria at regional level [ 50 ]. All species were assessed against the IUCN Red List Criteria to assess their extinction risk and categorized into nine categories [ 51 ] at the regional scale: Data Deficient (DD), Least Concern (LC), Near Threatened (NT), Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), Critically Endangered (CR), Regionally Extinct (RE), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Extinct (EX). These categories are defined in the IUCN guidelines for application of IUCN Red List criteria at regional and national levels [ 50 ]. The terms RE and EW are sometimes referred to as “regionally extirpated” or “extirpated in the wild”, but we follow the IUCN definition here, which is widely used in the scientific literature. Species classified as CR, EN, or VU are considered threatened with extinction. Each assessment is supported, where available, by information on distribution (including a range map), population, ecology, threats, as well as necessary or existing conservation action and research. This information is provided as free text, but also collected in standardized classification schemes (following the standard system provided by [ 52 ]), which were analyzed here to obtain European distribution, threat and research information across taxa. Species presence in protected areas was also recorded (as presence in protected areas yes/no).

All analyses (Red List categories and totals by classification field) were carried out for the set of all species as well as for vertebrates, invertebrates and plants separately. To account for changes in the assessments since 2006, an updated dataset was created from the IUCN Red List version 2019–2. The percentage of threatened species was calculated as the “best estimate” as recommended by IUCN [ 53 ]: EW + CR + EN + VU / (total assessed—EX—DD). This method assumes that a similar relative percentage of the Data Deficient (DD) species are likely to be threatened. All following analyses considered only species extant in the wild (i.e. excluding species categorized as EX, EW and RE). The ongoing and future threats recorded for extant species were analyzed based upon the classification schemes in the IUCN Red List. The highest threat level category was used [ 52 ], except for category 7 ‘natural system modifications’, where the second level was analyzed (i.e. ‘Fire & fire suppression’, ‘Dams & water management/use’ and ‘Other ecosystem modifications’).

For each species, assessors were asked to produce the most accurate depiction of a taxon’s current and historical distribution based on their knowledge and the available data. Data sources informing the production of range maps have changed over the various European Red Lists as a result of the increasing availability of digitized georeferenced locality record data (e.g. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), frequently viewed through the Geospatial Conservation Assessment Tool (GeoCAT) which was launched in 2011 [ 54 ]. The general approach has been for assessors to compile and review available locality records for a taxon, and then produce polygons that encompass the known (locality records) and inferred (based on ecological requirements of the taxon) range of the taxon. Freshwater taxa (fishes, molluscs, Odonata, aquatic plants) were mapped to river sub-catchments (HydroBASINS or earlier iterations). All distribution maps were produced as polygon GIS shapefiles in WGS 1984 (World Geodetic Survey 1984 projection; see [ 55 ] for metadata requirements). For detailed mapping methodology, see the individual European Red List reports. The species richness maps presented in this publication were analyzed using a geodesic discrete global grid system, defined on an icosahedron and projected to the sphere using the inverse Icosahedral Snyder Equal Area (ISEA) Projection (S39). This corresponds to a hexagonal grid composed of individual units (cells) that retain their shape and area (864 km²) throughout the globe. For the spatial analyses, only the extant (resident) and possibly extant (resident) distributions of each species were converted to the hexagonal grid; polygons coded as ‘possibly extinct’, ‘extinct’, ‘re-introduced’, ‘introduced’, ‘vagrant’ and/or ‘presence uncertain’ were not considered in the analyses. Coastal cells were clipped to the coastline. Thus, patterns of species richness were mapped by counting the number of species in each cell (or cell section, for species with a coastal distribution). Data Deficient species and species that were only mapped to country-level were excluded from the analysis. Patterns of threatened species richness (Categories CR, EN, VU) were mapped by counting the number of threatened species in each cell or cell section.

Supporting information

S1 fig. spatial extent of european red list assessments for most terrestrial and freshwater taxa (orange), marine mammals (light blue) and marine fishes (dark blue)..

S2 Fig. IUCN Red List Categories and number of species assessed for Europe by taxonomic group (groups marked with * have not been assessed comprehensively; black lines indicate the best estimate for the proportion of extant species considered to be threatened).

Seven mollusc species have been classed as both freshwater and terrestrial and are listed in both groups.

S3 Fig. Emerging future threats to biodiversity in Europe for all species, and for vertebrates, invertebrates and plants separately (CR: Critically Endangered, EN: Endangered, VU: Vulnerable, DD: Data Deficient, NT: Near Threatened, LC: Least Concern; N: All species = 14,669, Vertebrates = 2,494, Invertebrates = 7,600, Plants = 4,575).

S4 Fig. Major research needs in Europe as classified by the Red List assessors for all species, and for vertebrates, invertebrates and plants separately (CR: Critically Endangered, EN: Endangered, VU: Vulnerable, DD: Data Deficient, NT: Near Threatened, LC: Least Concern; N: All species = 14,669, Vertebrates = 2,494, Invertebrates = 7,600, Plants = 4,575).

S5 Fig. Number of threatened terrestrial and freshwater species across Europe (i.e. Red List categories CR, EN, VU).


The European Red List assessments have been compiled by numerous species experts, many of whom are affiliated with the IUCN Species Survival Commission and are listed as co-authors of the assessments on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of IUCN or those of the EC. The designation of geographical entities in this paper, and the presentation of the material, do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of IUCN or the EC concerning the legal status of any country, territory, or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

Definition and Introduction

Journal article analysis assignments require you to summarize and critically assess the quality of an empirical research study published in a scholarly [a.k.a., academic, peer-reviewed] journal. The article may be assigned by the professor, chosen from course readings listed in the syllabus, or you must locate an article on your own, usually with the requirement that you search using a reputable library database, such as, JSTOR or ProQuest . The article chosen is expected to relate to the overall discipline of the course, specific course content, or key concepts discussed in class. In some cases, the purpose of the assignment is to analyze an article that is part of the literature review for a future research project.

Analysis of an article can be assigned to students individually or as part of a small group project. The final product is usually in the form of a short paper [typically 1- 6 double-spaced pages] that addresses key questions the professor uses to guide your analysis or that assesses specific parts of a scholarly research study [e.g., the research problem, methodology, discussion, conclusions or findings]. The analysis paper may be shared on a digital course management platform and/or presented to the class for the purpose of promoting a wider discussion about the topic of the study. Although assigned in any level of undergraduate and graduate coursework in the social and behavioral sciences, professors frequently include this assignment in upper division courses to help students learn how to effectively identify, read, and analyze empirical research within their major.

Franco, Josue. “Introducing the Analysis of Journal Articles.” Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Teaching and Learning Conference, February 7-9, 2020, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Sego, Sandra A. and Anne E. Stuart. "Learning to Read Empirical Articles in General Psychology." Teaching of Psychology 43 (2016): 38-42; Kershaw, Trina C., Jordan P. Lippman, and Jennifer Fugate. "Practice Makes Proficient: Teaching Undergraduate Students to Understand Published Research." Instructional Science 46 (2018): 921-946; Woodward-Kron, Robyn. "Critical Analysis and the Journal Article Review Assignment." Prospect 18 (August 2003): 20-36; MacMillan, Margy and Allison MacKenzie. "Strategies for Integrating Information Literacy and Academic Literacy: Helping Undergraduate Students make the most of Scholarly Articles." Library Management 33 (2012): 525-535.

Benefits of Journal Article Analysis Assignments

Analyzing a scholarly journal article is intended to help students obtain the reading and critical thinking skills needed to develop and write their own research papers. There are two broadly defined ways that analyzing a scholarly journal article supports student learning:

Improve Reading Skills

Conducting research requires an ability to review, evaluate, and synthesize prior research studies. Reading prior research requires an understanding of the academic writing style , the type of epistemological beliefs or practices underpinning the research design, and the specific vocabulary and technical terminology [i.e., jargon] used within a discipline. Reading scholarly articles is important because academic writing is unfamiliar to most students; they have had limited exposure to using peer-reviewed journal articles prior to entering college or students have yet to gain exposure to the specific academic writing style of their disciplinary major. Learning how to read scholarly articles also requires careful and deliberate concentration on how authors use specific language and phrasing to convey their research, the problem it addresses, its relationship to prior research, its significance, its limitations, and how authors connect methods of data gathering to the results so as to develop recommended solutions derived from the overall research process.

Improve Comprehension Skills

In addition to knowing how to read scholarly journals articles, students must learn how to effectively interpret what the scholar(s) are trying to convey. Academic writing can be dense, multi-layered, and non-linear in how information is presented. In addition, scholarly articles contain footnotes or endnotes, references to sources, multiple appendices, and, in some cases, non-textual elements [e.g., graphs, charts] that can break-up the reader’s experience with the narrative flow of the study. Analyzing articles helps students practice comprehending these elements of writing, critiquing the arguments being made, reflecting upon the significance of the research, and how it relates to building new knowledge and understanding or applying new approaches to practice. Comprehending scholarly writing also involves thinking critically about where you fit within the overall dialogue among scholars concerning the research problem, finding possible gaps in the research that require further analysis, or identifying where the author(s) has failed to examine fully any specific elements of the study.

In addition, journal article analysis assignments are used by professors to strengthen discipline-specific information literacy skills, either alone or in relation to other tasks, such as, giving a class presentation or participating in a group project. These benefits can include the ability to:

  • Effectively paraphrase text, which leads to a more thorough understanding of the overall study;
  • Identify and describe strengths and weaknesses of the study and their implications;
  • Relate the article to other course readings and in relation to particular research concepts or ideas discussed during class;
  • Think critically about the research and summarize complex ideas contained within;
  • Plan, organize, and write an effective inquiry-based paper that investigates a research study, evaluates evidence, expounds on the author’s main ideas, and presents an argument concerning the significance and impact of the research in a clear and concise manner;
  • Model the type of source summary and critique you should do for any college-level research paper; and,
  • Increase interest and engagement with the research problem of the study as well as with the discipline.

Kershaw, Trina C., Jennifer Fugate, and Aminda J. O'Hare. "Teaching Undergraduates to Understand Published Research through Structured Practice in Identifying Key Research Concepts." Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology . Advance online publication, 2020; Franco, Josue. “Introducing the Analysis of Journal Articles.” Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Teaching and Learning Conference, February 7-9, 2020, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Sego, Sandra A. and Anne E. Stuart. "Learning to Read Empirical Articles in General Psychology." Teaching of Psychology 43 (2016): 38-42; Woodward-Kron, Robyn. "Critical Analysis and the Journal Article Review Assignment." Prospect 18 (August 2003): 20-36; MacMillan, Margy and Allison MacKenzie. "Strategies for Integrating Information Literacy and Academic Literacy: Helping Undergraduate Students make the most of Scholarly Articles." Library Management 33 (2012): 525-535; Kershaw, Trina C., Jordan P. Lippman, and Jennifer Fugate. "Practice Makes Proficient: Teaching Undergraduate Students to Understand Published Research." Instructional Science 46 (2018): 921-946.

Structure and Organization

A journal article analysis paper should be written in paragraph format and include an instruction to the study, your analysis of the research, and a conclusion that provides an overall assessment of the author's work, along with an explanation of what you believe is the study's overall impact and significance. Unless the purpose of the assignment is to examine foundational studies published many years ago, you should select articles that have been published relatively recently [e.g., within the past few years].

Since the research has been completed, reference to the study in your paper should be written in the past tense, with your analysis stated in the present tense [e.g., “The author portrayed access to health care services in rural areas as primarily a problem of having reliable transportation. However, I believe the author is overgeneralizing this issue because...”].

Introduction Section

The first section of a journal analysis paper should describe the topic of the article and highlight the author’s main points. This includes describing the research problem and theoretical framework, the rationale for the research, the methods of data gathering and analysis, the key findings, and the author’s final conclusions and recommendations. The narrative should focus on the act of describing rather than analyzing. Think of the introduction as a more comprehensive and detailed descriptive abstract of the study.

Possible questions to help guide your writing of the introduction section may include:

  • Who are the authors?
  • What was the research problem being investigated?
  • What type of research design was used to investigate the research problem?
  • What theoretical idea(s) and/or research questions were used to address the problem?
  • What was the source of the data or information used as evidence for analysis?
  • What methods were applied to investigate this evidence?
  • What were the author's overall conclusions and key findings?

Critical Analysis Section

The second section of a journal analysis paper should describe the strengths and weaknesses of the study and analyze its significance and impact. This section is where you shift the narrative from describing to analyzing. Think critically about the research in relation to other course readings, what has been discussed in class, or based on your own life experiences. If you are struggling to identify any weaknesses, explain why you believe this to be true. However, no study is perfect, regardless of how laudable its design may be. Given this, think about the repercussions of the choices made by the author(s) and how you might have conducted the study differently. Examples can include contemplating the choice of what sources were included or excluded in support of examining the research problem, the choice of the method used to analyze the data, or the choice to highlight specific recommended courses of action and/or implications for practice over others. Another strategy is to place yourself within the research study itself by thinking reflectively about what may be missing if you had been a participant in the study or if the recommended courses of action specifically targeted you or your community.

Possible questions to help guide your writing of the analysis section may include:


  • Did the author clearly state the problem being investigated?
  • What was your reaction to and perspective on the research problem?
  • Was the study’s objective clearly stated? Did the author clearly explain why the study was necessary?
  • How well did the introduction frame the scope of the study?
  • Did the introduction conclude with a clear purpose statement?

Literature Review

  • Did the literature review lay a foundation for understanding the significance of the research problem?
  • Did the literature review provide enough background information to understand the problem in relation to relevant contexts [e.g., historical, economic, social, cultural, etc.].
  • Did literature review effectively place the study within the domain of prior research? Is anything missing?
  • Was the literature review organized by conceptual categories or did the author simply list and describe sources?
  • Did the author accurately explain how the data or information were collected?
  • Was the data used sufficient in supporting the study of the research problem?
  • Was there another methodological approach that could have been more illuminating?
  • Give your overall evaluation of the methods used in this article. How much trust would you put in generating relevant findings?

Results and Discussion

  • Were the results clearly presented?
  • Did you feel that the results support the theoretical and interpretive claims of the author? Why?
  • What did the author(s) do especially well in describing or analyzing their results?
  • Was the author's evaluation of the findings clearly stated?
  • How well did the discussion of the results relate to what is already known about the research problem?
  • Was the discussion of the results free of repetition and redundancies?
  • What interpretations did the authors make that you think are in incomplete, unwarranted, or overstated?
  • Did the conclusion effectively capture the main points of study?
  • Did the conclusion address the research questions posed? Do they seem reasonable?
  • Were the author’s conclusions consistent with the evidence and arguments presented?
  • Has the author explained how the research added new knowledge or understanding?

Overall Writing Style

  • If the article included tables, figures, or other non-textual elements, did they contribute to understanding the study?
  • Were ideas developed and related in a logical sequence?
  • Were transitions between sections of the article smooth and easy to follow?

Overall Evaluation Section

The final section of a journal analysis paper should bring your thoughts together into a coherent assessment of the value of the research study . This section is where the narrative flow transitions from analyzing specific elements of the article to critically evaluating the overall study. Explain what you view as the significance of the research in relation to the overall course content and any relevant discussions that occurred during class. Think about how the article contributes to understanding the overall research problem, how it fits within existing literature on the topic, how it relates to the course, and what it means to you as a student researcher. In some cases, your professor will also ask you to describe your experiences writing the journal article analysis paper as part of a reflective learning exercise.

Possible questions to help guide your writing of the conclusion and evaluation section may include:

  • Was the structure of the article clear and well organized?
  • Was the topic of current or enduring interest to you?
  • What were the main weaknesses of the article? [this does not refer to limitations stated by the author, but what you believe are potential flaws]
  • Was any of the information in the article unclear or ambiguous?
  • What did you learn from the research? If nothing stood out to you, explain why.
  • Assess the originality of the research. Did you believe it contributed new understanding of the research problem?
  • Were you persuaded by the author’s arguments?
  • If the author made any final recommendations, will they be impactful if applied to practice?
  • In what ways could future research build off of this study?
  • What implications does the study have for daily life?
  • Was the use of non-textual elements, footnotes or endnotes, and/or appendices helpful in understanding the research?
  • What lingering questions do you have after analyzing the article?

NOTE: Avoid using quotes. One of the main purposes of writing an article analysis paper is to learn how to effectively paraphrase and use your own words to summarize a scholarly research study and to explain what the research means to you. Using and citing a direct quote from the article should only be done to help emphasize a key point or to underscore an important concept or idea.

Business: The Article Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing, Grand Valley State University; Bachiochi, Peter et al. "Using Empirical Article Analysis to Assess Research Methods Courses." Teaching of Psychology 38 (2011): 5-9; Brosowsky, Nicholaus P. et al. “Teaching Undergraduate Students to Read Empirical Articles: An Evaluation and Revision of the QALMRI Method.” PsyArXi Preprints , 2020; Holster, Kristin. “Article Evaluation Assignment”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology . Washington DC: American Sociological Association, 2016; Kershaw, Trina C., Jennifer Fugate, and Aminda J. O'Hare. "Teaching Undergraduates to Understand Published Research through Structured Practice in Identifying Key Research Concepts." Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology . Advance online publication, 2020; Franco, Josue. “Introducing the Analysis of Journal Articles.” Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Teaching and Learning Conference, February 7-9, 2020, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Reviewer's Guide . SAGE Reviewer Gateway, SAGE Journals; Sego, Sandra A. and Anne E. Stuart. "Learning to Read Empirical Articles in General Psychology." Teaching of Psychology 43 (2016): 38-42; Kershaw, Trina C., Jordan P. Lippman, and Jennifer Fugate. "Practice Makes Proficient: Teaching Undergraduate Students to Understand Published Research." Instructional Science 46 (2018): 921-946; Gyuris, Emma, and Laura Castell. "To Tell Them or Show Them? How to Improve Science Students’ Skills of Critical Reading." International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education 21 (2013): 70-80; Woodward-Kron, Robyn. "Critical Analysis and the Journal Article Review Assignment." Prospect 18 (August 2003): 20-36; MacMillan, Margy and Allison MacKenzie. "Strategies for Integrating Information Literacy and Academic Literacy: Helping Undergraduate Students Make the Most of Scholarly Articles." Library Management 33 (2012): 525-535.

Writing Tip

Not All Scholarly Journal Articles Can Be Critically Analyzed

There are a variety of articles published in scholarly journals that do not fit within the guidelines of an article analysis assignment. This is because the work cannot be empirically examined or it does not generate new knowledge in a way which can be critically analyzed.

If you are required to locate a research study on your own, avoid selecting these types of journal articles:

  • Theoretical essays which discuss concepts, assumptions, and propositions, but report no empirical research;
  • Statistical or methodological papers that may analyze data, but the bulk of the work is devoted to refining a new measurement, statistical technique, or modeling procedure;
  • Articles that review, analyze, critique, and synthesize prior research, but do not report any original research;
  • Brief essays devoted to research methods and findings;
  • Articles written by scholars in popular magazines or industry trade journals;
  • Pre-print articles that have been posted online, but may undergo further editing and revision by the journal's editorial staff before final publication; and
  • Academic commentary that discusses research trends or emerging concepts and ideas, but does not contain citations to sources.

Journal Analysis Assignment - Myers . Writing@CSU, Colorado State University; Franco, Josue. “Introducing the Analysis of Journal Articles.” Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Teaching and Learning Conference, February 7-9, 2020, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Woodward-Kron, Robyn. "Critical Analysis and the Journal Article Review Assignment." Prospect 18 (August 2003): 20-36.

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Filtration Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Availability of N95 Face Masks for COVID-19 Prevention

  • 1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 2 Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Original Investigation Filtration Efficiency of Hospital Face Mask Alternatives Available for Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic Emily E. Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, MS; James M. Samet, PhD, MPH; Phillip W. Clapp, PhD; Hao Chen, PhD; Jon Berntsen, PhD; Kirby L. Zeman, PhD; Haiyan Tong, MD, PhD; David J. Weber, MD, MPH; William D. Bennett, PhD JAMA Internal Medicine
  • Research Letter Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Health Care Workers in a Tertiary Community Hospital Allen Jeremias, MD, MSc; James Nguyen, MD; Joseph Levine, MD; Simcha Pollack, PhD; William Engellenner, MD; Avni Thakore, MD; Charles Lucore, MD JAMA Internal Medicine
  • Comment & Response Poor Performance of Masks Secured Using Ear Loops Chee Fu Yung, MBChB, MSt JAMA Internal Medicine

In March 2020, the soaring number of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections resulted in an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for clinicians and essential health care workers. 1 The shortage was most profound among N95 masks. N95 respirators, named for their ability to filter 95% or more of tiny 0.3-μm particles, are the mainstay of protection against airborne pathogens. 2 Airborne transmission results from contact with infectious particles contained within small (<5 μm) droplet nuclei (ie, aerosols) that can linger in the air for hours and be dispersed over great distances. 2 In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread by large (>5-10 μm) respiratory droplets that can be expelled up to 6 feet horizontally and drop to the ground within seconds, against which surgical masks generally offer adequate protection. 2 , 3 Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers use N95 masks when caring for patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) out of concern for airborne transmission, particularly during exposure to procedures that produce high concentrations of aerosols (eg, intubation, extubation, noninvasive ventilation). 2 To mitigate the shortage of N95 respirators, many health care facilities are pursuing nonstandard approaches to maintaining an adequate supply, including mask decontamination and reprocessing for reuse, which extend the wearable life of the mask beyond the expiration date, and procuring KN95 masks (N95 masks that are regulated in China).

In this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine , Sickbert-Bennett and colleagues 4 provide reassuring evidence of the performance of nonstandard approaches to preserving the N95 mask supply. The authors’ laboratory-based evaluation of a broad array of nonstandard face masks demonstrates that National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved N95 respirators outperform alternatives in terms of filtration efficiency. Results of the study demonstrated that N95 masks reprocessed using ethylene oxide sterilization, as well as masks that are up to 11 years past expiration, maintain very high filtration efficiency under laboratory conditions. N95 masks with suboptimal fit still had comparable filtration efficiency of more than 90%. Their KN95 counterparts, millions of which have been purchased by or donated to US hospitals, performed less well, with filtration efficiency ranging from 53% to 85%. Surgical masks secured with either ties or ear loops also had much lower filtration efficiency of 37% to 69%, as might be expected by their more comfortable, thinner filter and looser fit.

Despite the apparent imperfect filtration efficiency of non-NIOSH approved respirators and surgical masks in the laboratory, there is reason for optimism regarding their real-world effectiveness. Although surgical masks have lower filtration efficiency than N95 respirators, observational studies have shown no significant benefit of N95 masks over surgical masks for prevention of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 1 (odds ratio, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.22-3.33) or other respiratory viruses (odds ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.85-1.08). 3 For health care workers, routine care for a patient with COVID-19 if both are wearing surgical masks is not considered to be a high-risk occupational exposure. 3 Yet, SARS-CoV-2 viral particles have been identified in the air for several hours after an aerosolizing event simulated in a laboratory and near air vents in a clinical setting. 3 A group of 239 scientists recently signed an open letter urging the World Health Organization and other international public health bodies to recommend additional precautions (though not N95 masks specifically) to protect against potential airborne transmission, highlighting several recent superspreading events in which SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurred in poorly ventilated areas. 5 These instances raise concern for the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 airborne transmission; however, the viability and infectiousness of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles in aerosol form remains unknown. Importantly, no documented SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks have been linked to settings in which surgical masks were assiduously used in lieu of N95 masks, which suggests that even if airborne transmission is a considerable contributor to SARS-CoV-2 transmission, surgical masks are likely sufficient to prevent it. 3 Because the infectious dose of virus required to cause clinical infection also remains unknown, it is possible that blocking most, even if not all, viral particles through masks with lower filtration efficiencies of submicron particles is sufficient to prevent disease in the vast majority of cases.

Importantly, the effectiveness of any mask also depends heavily on its real-world use; variability in mask filtration during clinical care may fluctuate more by mask adherence and fit than by marginal differences in laboratory-based filtration efficiency. In practicality, when worn properly, N95 masks are suffocating, uncomfortable, and difficult to tolerate for long durations. Best practices for N95 use require intermittent, individualized fit testing and a seal check on donning. Mask fit varies by facial shape and body habitus, and thus, once fit tested, ensuring fidelity to the same manufacturer and size is essential. Filtration efficiency of an N95 mask can also be compromised by even small amounts of facial hair in the area of the seal. Prolonged use of tightly fitting masks may result in facial bruising and abrasions, but bandages over these areas, such as the commonly seen wound barriers over the nasal bridge, interrupt the mask seal. Although a recent clinical trial 6 reported similar and suboptimal self-reported adherence between outpatient health care personnel randomized to wear N95 masks vs medical masks (89% vs 90%), the study also demonstrated no difference in cases of laboratory-documented influenza—albeit a different respiratory virus—between the 2 groups. Acknowledging that adherence is likely higher amid the COVID-19 pandemic, mask efficiency observed in the laboratory likely reflects an upper bound of the effectiveness that would be observed in clinical settings.

Beyond N95 laboratory-based efficacy and ensuring proper fit-tested use, costs have been a major challenge in procurement of adequate mask supply, with prices increasing in some cases up to 30- to 100-fold. 7 Outside of pandemic conditions, surgical and N95 masks generally cost approximately $0.08 and $0.50 each, respectively. Standard pricing for KN95 masks, which are generally not sold in the United States, is unavailable, but they have been sold during the crisis from $2 to $4 per mask. Expired masks, which would otherwise be discarded, should be cost free. While competition and price gouging for masks has certainly hindered access, supply has been the biggest problem. Reprocessed masks, which can cost up to 6 times the original price of the mask itself, are among the few solutions to continued inadequate supply. Until we have a better understanding of how filtration efficacy translates to improved protection against SARS-CoV-2 transmission, health care systems are left to pay top dollar to keep their most valuable resources—clinicians and health care workers—safe.

Supply chain breakdowns and skyrocketing costs underscore the importance of investment in pandemic preparedness to prevent future PPE shortfalls. Meanwhile, it is critically important that the health care community continues to find innovative ways to overcome PPE shortages. In the setting of severe supply-demand mismatch, we must match supply to risk. Frontline clinicians and essential health care workers who engage in the highest risk procedures should be afforded the highest level of protection with NIOSH-approved N95 respirators; Sickbert-Bennett and colleagues 4 demonstrate that reprocessed use and expired supply of N95 masks are safe and offer excellent alternatives to standard single-use N95 masks. Despite lower filtration efficiencies of submicron particles, surgical masks and other N95 alternatives likely provide adequate protection against transmission for routine care.

We endorse the health care community’s cry for the best possible protection for all frontline clinicians and essential health care workers. We are further reassured by the cross-sectional study from Long Island, New York, also in this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine , 8 demonstrating that the effectiveness of PPE; the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity among hospital employees required to use PPE was no higher than that of the general population in that area. Taken together, these and other emerging data suggest that surgical masks and N95 alternatives will continue to keep clinicians and health care workers safe.

Corresponding Author: Caitlin M. Dugdale, MD, 100 Cambridge St, Suite 1600, Boston, MA 02114 ( [email protected] ).

Published Online: August 11, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4218

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Dugdale reports receiving travel reimbursement from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and personal fees from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. No other disclosures were reported.

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Dugdale CM , Walensky RP. Filtration Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Availability of N95 Face Masks for COVID-19 Prevention. JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(12):1612–1613. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4218

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20 Page Essay & Research Paper Examples

What does a 20 page essay look like? Go on reading if you want to know the answer! A 20 page essay word count is 4950 to 5000 words (double-spaced 12 pt.). This is a good size for a graduate-level essay or even for a research paper. There are 50 to 66 paragraphs in a paper of 20 pages.

When thinking of a topic for a 20 page research paper or essay, remember that this is quite a long piece. Your topic shouldn’t sound too simple. The forms of police brutality or the Vietnam War in popular culture are just some of the options.

If you’re looking for 20 page essay examples, you can find them below. We’ve collected a list of papers for you to get inspired. Good luck with your writing!

20-page Essay Examples: 461 Samples

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Focus: Education — Career Advice

How to write your first research paper.

Writing a research manuscript is an intimidating process for many novice writers in the sciences. One of the stumbling blocks is the beginning of the process and creating the first draft. This paper presents guidelines on how to initiate the writing process and draft each section of a research manuscript. The paper discusses seven rules that allow the writer to prepare a well-structured and comprehensive manuscript for a publication submission. In addition, the author lists different strategies for successful revision. Each of those strategies represents a step in the revision process and should help the writer improve the quality of the manuscript. The paper could be considered a brief manual for publication.

It is late at night. You have been struggling with your project for a year. You generated an enormous amount of interesting data. Your pipette feels like an extension of your hand, and running western blots has become part of your daily routine, similar to brushing your teeth. Your colleagues think you are ready to write a paper, and your lab mates tease you about your “slow” writing progress. Yet days pass, and you cannot force yourself to sit down to write. You have not written anything for a while (lab reports do not count), and you feel you have lost your stamina. How does the writing process work? How can you fit your writing into a daily schedule packed with experiments? What section should you start with? What distinguishes a good research paper from a bad one? How should you revise your paper? These and many other questions buzz in your head and keep you stressed. As a result, you procrastinate. In this paper, I will discuss the issues related to the writing process of a scientific paper. Specifically, I will focus on the best approaches to start a scientific paper, tips for writing each section, and the best revision strategies.

1. Schedule your writing time in Outlook

Whether you have written 100 papers or you are struggling with your first, starting the process is the most difficult part unless you have a rigid writing schedule. Writing is hard. It is a very difficult process of intense concentration and brain work. As stated in Hayes’ framework for the study of writing: “It is a generative activity requiring motivation, and it is an intellectual activity requiring cognitive processes and memory” [ 1 ]. In his book How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing , Paul Silvia says that for some, “it’s easier to embalm the dead than to write an article about it” [ 2 ]. Just as with any type of hard work, you will not succeed unless you practice regularly. If you have not done physical exercises for a year, only regular workouts can get you into good shape again. The same kind of regular exercises, or I call them “writing sessions,” are required to be a productive author. Choose from 1- to 2-hour blocks in your daily work schedule and consider them as non-cancellable appointments. When figuring out which blocks of time will be set for writing, you should select the time that works best for this type of work. For many people, mornings are more productive. One Yale University graduate student spent a semester writing from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. when her lab was empty. At the end of the semester, she was amazed at how much she accomplished without even interrupting her regular lab hours. In addition, doing the hardest task first thing in the morning contributes to the sense of accomplishment during the rest of the day. This positive feeling spills over into our work and life and has a very positive effect on our overall attitude.

Rule 1: Create regular time blocks for writing as appointments in your calendar and keep these appointments.

2. start with an outline.

Now that you have scheduled time, you need to decide how to start writing. The best strategy is to start with an outline. This will not be an outline that you are used to, with Roman numerals for each section and neat parallel listing of topic sentences and supporting points. This outline will be similar to a template for your paper. Initially, the outline will form a structure for your paper; it will help generate ideas and formulate hypotheses. Following the advice of George M. Whitesides, “. . . start with a blank piece of paper, and write down, in any order, all important ideas that occur to you concerning the paper” [ 3 ]. Use Table 1 as a starting point for your outline. Include your visuals (figures, tables, formulas, equations, and algorithms), and list your findings. These will constitute the first level of your outline, which will eventually expand as you elaborate.

The next stage is to add context and structure. Here you will group all your ideas into sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusion ( Table 2 ). This step will help add coherence to your work and sift your ideas.

Now that you have expanded your outline, you are ready for the next step: discussing the ideas for your paper with your colleagues and mentor. Many universities have a writing center where graduate students can schedule individual consultations and receive assistance with their paper drafts. Getting feedback during early stages of your draft can save a lot of time. Talking through ideas allows people to conceptualize and organize thoughts to find their direction without wasting time on unnecessary writing. Outlining is the most effective way of communicating your ideas and exchanging thoughts. Moreover, it is also the best stage to decide to which publication you will submit the paper. Many people come up with three choices and discuss them with their mentors and colleagues. Having a list of journal priorities can help you quickly resubmit your paper if your paper is rejected.

Rule 2: Create a detailed outline and discuss it with your mentor and peers.

3. continue with drafts.

After you get enough feedback and decide on the journal you will submit to, the process of real writing begins. Copy your outline into a separate file and expand on each of the points, adding data and elaborating on the details. When you create the first draft, do not succumb to the temptation of editing. Do not slow down to choose a better word or better phrase; do not halt to improve your sentence structure. Pour your ideas into the paper and leave revision and editing for later. As Paul Silvia explains, “Revising while you generate text is like drinking decaffeinated coffee in the early morning: noble idea, wrong time” [ 2 ].

Many students complain that they are not productive writers because they experience writer’s block. Staring at an empty screen is frustrating, but your screen is not really empty: You have a template of your article, and all you need to do is fill in the blanks. Indeed, writer’s block is a logical fallacy for a scientist ― it is just an excuse to procrastinate. When scientists start writing a research paper, they already have their files with data, lab notes with materials and experimental designs, some visuals, and tables with results. All they need to do is scrutinize these pieces and put them together into a comprehensive paper.

3.1. Starting with Materials and Methods

If you still struggle with starting a paper, then write the Materials and Methods section first. Since you have all your notes, it should not be problematic for you to describe the experimental design and procedures. Your most important goal in this section is to be as explicit as possible by providing enough detail and references. In the end, the purpose of this section is to allow other researchers to evaluate and repeat your work. So do not run into the same problems as the writers of the sentences in (1):

1a. Bacteria were pelleted by centrifugation. 1b. To isolate T cells, lymph nodes were collected.

As you can see, crucial pieces of information are missing: the speed of centrifuging your bacteria, the time, and the temperature in (1a); the source of lymph nodes for collection in (b). The sentences can be improved when information is added, as in (2a) and (2b), respectfully:

2a. Bacteria were pelleted by centrifugation at 3000g for 15 min at 25°C. 2b. To isolate T cells, mediastinal and mesenteric lymph nodes from Balb/c mice were collected at day 7 after immunization with ovabumin.

If your method has previously been published and is well-known, then you should provide only the literature reference, as in (3a). If your method is unpublished, then you need to make sure you provide all essential details, as in (3b).

3a. Stem cells were isolated, according to Johnson [23]. 3b. Stem cells were isolated using biotinylated carbon nanotubes coated with anti-CD34 antibodies.

Furthermore, cohesion and fluency are crucial in this section. One of the malpractices resulting in disrupted fluency is switching from passive voice to active and vice versa within the same paragraph, as shown in (4). This switching misleads and distracts the reader.

4. Behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 were programmed by using E-Prime. We took ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music by using Visual Analogue Scales (SI Methods). The preferred and unpreferred status of the music was operationalized along a continuum of pleasantness [ 4 ].

The problem with (4) is that the reader has to switch from the point of view of the experiment (passive voice) to the point of view of the experimenter (active voice). This switch causes confusion about the performer of the actions in the first and the third sentences. To improve the coherence and fluency of the paragraph above, you should be consistent in choosing the point of view: first person “we” or passive voice [ 5 ]. Let’s consider two revised examples in (5).

5a. We programmed behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 by using E-Prime. We took ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal by using Visual Analogue Scales (SI Methods) as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music. We operationalized the preferred and unpreferred status of the music along a continuum of pleasantness. 5b. Behavioral computer-based experiments of Study 1 were programmed by using E-Prime. Ratings of enjoyment, mood, and arousal were taken as the patients listened to preferred pleasant music and unpreferred music by using Visual Analogue Scales (SI Methods). The preferred and unpreferred status of the music was operationalized along a continuum of pleasantness.

If you choose the point of view of the experimenter, then you may end up with repetitive “we did this” sentences. For many readers, paragraphs with sentences all beginning with “we” may also sound disruptive. So if you choose active sentences, you need to keep the number of “we” subjects to a minimum and vary the beginnings of the sentences [ 6 ].

Interestingly, recent studies have reported that the Materials and Methods section is the only section in research papers in which passive voice predominantly overrides the use of the active voice [ 5 , 7 , 8 , 9 ]. For example, Martínez shows a significant drop in active voice use in the Methods sections based on the corpus of 1 million words of experimental full text research articles in the biological sciences [ 7 ]. According to the author, the active voice patterned with “we” is used only as a tool to reveal personal responsibility for the procedural decisions in designing and performing experimental work. This means that while all other sections of the research paper use active voice, passive voice is still the most predominant in Materials and Methods sections.

Writing Materials and Methods sections is a meticulous and time consuming task requiring extreme accuracy and clarity. This is why when you complete your draft, you should ask for as much feedback from your colleagues as possible. Numerous readers of this section will help you identify the missing links and improve the technical style of this section.

Rule 3: Be meticulous and accurate in describing the Materials and Methods. Do not change the point of view within one paragraph.

3.2. writing results section.

For many authors, writing the Results section is more intimidating than writing the Materials and Methods section . If people are interested in your paper, they are interested in your results. That is why it is vital to use all your writing skills to objectively present your key findings in an orderly and logical sequence using illustrative materials and text.

Your Results should be organized into different segments or subsections where each one presents the purpose of the experiment, your experimental approach, data including text and visuals (tables, figures, schematics, algorithms, and formulas), and data commentary. For most journals, your data commentary will include a meaningful summary of the data presented in the visuals and an explanation of the most significant findings. This data presentation should not repeat the data in the visuals, but rather highlight the most important points. In the “standard” research paper approach, your Results section should exclude data interpretation, leaving it for the Discussion section. However, interpretations gradually and secretly creep into research papers: “Reducing the data, generalizing from the data, and highlighting scientific cases are all highly interpretive processes. It should be clear by now that we do not let the data speak for themselves in research reports; in summarizing our results, we interpret them for the reader” [ 10 ]. As a result, many journals including the Journal of Experimental Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Investigation use joint Results/Discussion sections, where results are immediately followed by interpretations.

Another important aspect of this section is to create a comprehensive and supported argument or a well-researched case. This means that you should be selective in presenting data and choose only those experimental details that are essential for your reader to understand your findings. You might have conducted an experiment 20 times and collected numerous records, but this does not mean that you should present all those records in your paper. You need to distinguish your results from your data and be able to discard excessive experimental details that could distract and confuse the reader. However, creating a picture or an argument should not be confused with data manipulation or falsification, which is a willful distortion of data and results. If some of your findings contradict your ideas, you have to mention this and find a plausible explanation for the contradiction.

In addition, your text should not include irrelevant and peripheral information, including overview sentences, as in (6).

6. To show our results, we first introduce all components of experimental system and then describe the outcome of infections.

Indeed, wordiness convolutes your sentences and conceals your ideas from readers. One common source of wordiness is unnecessary intensifiers. Adverbial intensifiers such as “clearly,” “essential,” “quite,” “basically,” “rather,” “fairly,” “really,” and “virtually” not only add verbosity to your sentences, but also lower your results’ credibility. They appeal to the reader’s emotions but lower objectivity, as in the common examples in (7):

7a. Table 3 clearly shows that … 7b. It is obvious from figure 4 that …

Another source of wordiness is nominalizations, i.e., nouns derived from verbs and adjectives paired with weak verbs including “be,” “have,” “do,” “make,” “cause,” “provide,” and “get” and constructions such as “there is/are.”

8a. We tested the hypothesis that there is a disruption of membrane asymmetry. 8b. In this paper we provide an argument that stem cells repopulate injured organs.

In the sentences above, the abstract nominalizations “disruption” and “argument” do not contribute to the clarity of the sentences, but rather clutter them with useless vocabulary that distracts from the meaning. To improve your sentences, avoid unnecessary nominalizations and change passive verbs and constructions into active and direct sentences.

9a. We tested the hypothesis that the membrane asymmetry is disrupted. 9b. In this paper we argue that stem cells repopulate injured organs.

Your Results section is the heart of your paper, representing a year or more of your daily research. So lead your reader through your story by writing direct, concise, and clear sentences.

Rule 4: Be clear, concise, and objective in describing your Results.

3.3. now it is time for your introduction.

Now that you are almost half through drafting your research paper, it is time to update your outline. While describing your Methods and Results, many of you diverged from the original outline and re-focused your ideas. So before you move on to create your Introduction, re-read your Methods and Results sections and change your outline to match your research focus. The updated outline will help you review the general picture of your paper, the topic, the main idea, and the purpose, which are all important for writing your introduction.

The best way to structure your introduction is to follow the three-move approach shown in Table 3 .

Adapted from Swales and Feak [ 11 ].

The moves and information from your outline can help to create your Introduction efficiently and without missing steps. These moves are traffic signs that lead the reader through the road of your ideas. Each move plays an important role in your paper and should be presented with deep thought and care. When you establish the territory, you place your research in context and highlight the importance of your research topic. By finding the niche, you outline the scope of your research problem and enter the scientific dialogue. The final move, “occupying the niche,” is where you explain your research in a nutshell and highlight your paper’s significance. The three moves allow your readers to evaluate their interest in your paper and play a significant role in the paper review process, determining your paper reviewers.

Some academic writers assume that the reader “should follow the paper” to find the answers about your methodology and your findings. As a result, many novice writers do not present their experimental approach and the major findings, wrongly believing that the reader will locate the necessary information later while reading the subsequent sections [ 5 ]. However, this “suspense” approach is not appropriate for scientific writing. To interest the reader, scientific authors should be direct and straightforward and present informative one-sentence summaries of the results and the approach.

Another problem is that writers understate the significance of the Introduction. Many new researchers mistakenly think that all their readers understand the importance of the research question and omit this part. However, this assumption is faulty because the purpose of the section is not to evaluate the importance of the research question in general. The goal is to present the importance of your research contribution and your findings. Therefore, you should be explicit and clear in describing the benefit of the paper.

The Introduction should not be long. Indeed, for most journals, this is a very brief section of about 250 to 600 words, but it might be the most difficult section due to its importance.

Rule 5: Interest your reader in the Introduction section by signalling all its elements and stating the novelty of the work.

3.4. discussion of the results.

For many scientists, writing a Discussion section is as scary as starting a paper. Most of the fear comes from the variation in the section. Since every paper has its unique results and findings, the Discussion section differs in its length, shape, and structure. However, some general principles of writing this section still exist. Knowing these rules, or “moves,” can change your attitude about this section and help you create a comprehensive interpretation of your results.

The purpose of the Discussion section is to place your findings in the research context and “to explain the meaning of the findings and why they are important, without appearing arrogant, condescending, or patronizing” [ 11 ]. The structure of the first two moves is almost a mirror reflection of the one in the Introduction. In the Introduction, you zoom in from general to specific and from the background to your research question; in the Discussion section, you zoom out from the summary of your findings to the research context, as shown in Table 4 .

Adapted from Swales and Feak and Hess [ 11 , 12 ].

The biggest challenge for many writers is the opening paragraph of the Discussion section. Following the moves in Table 1 , the best choice is to start with the study’s major findings that provide the answer to the research question in your Introduction. The most common starting phrases are “Our findings demonstrate . . .,” or “In this study, we have shown that . . .,” or “Our results suggest . . .” In some cases, however, reminding the reader about the research question or even providing a brief context and then stating the answer would make more sense. This is important in those cases where the researcher presents a number of findings or where more than one research question was presented. Your summary of the study’s major findings should be followed by your presentation of the importance of these findings. One of the most frequent mistakes of the novice writer is to assume the importance of his findings. Even if the importance is clear to you, it may not be obvious to your reader. Digesting the findings and their importance to your reader is as crucial as stating your research question.

Another useful strategy is to be proactive in the first move by predicting and commenting on the alternative explanations of the results. Addressing potential doubts will save you from painful comments about the wrong interpretation of your results and will present you as a thoughtful and considerate researcher. Moreover, the evaluation of the alternative explanations might help you create a logical step to the next move of the discussion section: the research context.

The goal of the research context move is to show how your findings fit into the general picture of the current research and how you contribute to the existing knowledge on the topic. This is also the place to discuss any discrepancies and unexpected findings that may otherwise distort the general picture of your paper. Moreover, outlining the scope of your research by showing the limitations, weaknesses, and assumptions is essential and adds modesty to your image as a scientist. However, make sure that you do not end your paper with the problems that override your findings. Try to suggest feasible explanations and solutions.

If your submission does not require a separate Conclusion section, then adding another paragraph about the “take-home message” is a must. This should be a general statement reiterating your answer to the research question and adding its scientific implications, practical application, or advice.

Just as in all other sections of your paper, the clear and precise language and concise comprehensive sentences are vital. However, in addition to that, your writing should convey confidence and authority. The easiest way to illustrate your tone is to use the active voice and the first person pronouns. Accompanied by clarity and succinctness, these tools are the best to convince your readers of your point and your ideas.

Rule 6: Present the principles, relationships, and generalizations in a concise and convincing tone.

4. choosing the best working revision strategies.

Now that you have created the first draft, your attitude toward your writing should have improved. Moreover, you should feel more confident that you are able to accomplish your project and submit your paper within a reasonable timeframe. You also have worked out your writing schedule and followed it precisely. Do not stop ― you are only at the midpoint from your destination. Just as the best and most precious diamond is no more than an unattractive stone recognized only by trained professionals, your ideas and your results may go unnoticed if they are not polished and brushed. Despite your attempts to present your ideas in a logical and comprehensive way, first drafts are frequently a mess. Use the advice of Paul Silvia: “Your first drafts should sound like they were hastily translated from Icelandic by a non-native speaker” [ 2 ]. The degree of your success will depend on how you are able to revise and edit your paper.

The revision can be done at the macrostructure and the microstructure levels [ 13 ]. The macrostructure revision includes the revision of the organization, content, and flow. The microstructure level includes individual words, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

The best way to approach the macrostructure revision is through the outline of the ideas in your paper. The last time you updated your outline was before writing the Introduction and the Discussion. Now that you have the beginning and the conclusion, you can take a bird’s-eye view of the whole paper. The outline will allow you to see if the ideas of your paper are coherently structured, if your results are logically built, and if the discussion is linked to the research question in the Introduction. You will be able to see if something is missing in any of the sections or if you need to rearrange your information to make your point.

The next step is to revise each of the sections starting from the beginning. Ideally, you should limit yourself to working on small sections of about five pages at a time [ 14 ]. After these short sections, your eyes get used to your writing and your efficiency in spotting problems decreases. When reading for content and organization, you should control your urge to edit your paper for sentence structure and grammar and focus only on the flow of your ideas and logic of your presentation. Experienced researchers tend to make almost three times the number of changes to meaning than novice writers [ 15 , 16 ]. Revising is a difficult but useful skill, which academic writers obtain with years of practice.

In contrast to the macrostructure revision, which is a linear process and is done usually through a detailed outline and by sections, microstructure revision is a non-linear process. While the goal of the macrostructure revision is to analyze your ideas and their logic, the goal of the microstructure editing is to scrutinize the form of your ideas: your paragraphs, sentences, and words. You do not need and are not recommended to follow the order of the paper to perform this type of revision. You can start from the end or from different sections. You can even revise by reading sentences backward, sentence by sentence and word by word.

One of the microstructure revision strategies frequently used during writing center consultations is to read the paper aloud [ 17 ]. You may read aloud to yourself, to a tape recorder, or to a colleague or friend. When reading and listening to your paper, you are more likely to notice the places where the fluency is disrupted and where you stumble because of a very long and unclear sentence or a wrong connector.

Another revision strategy is to learn your common errors and to do a targeted search for them [ 13 ]. All writers have a set of problems that are specific to them, i.e., their writing idiosyncrasies. Remembering these problems is as important for an academic writer as remembering your friends’ birthdays. Create a list of these idiosyncrasies and run a search for these problems using your word processor. If your problem is demonstrative pronouns without summary words, then search for “this/these/those” in your text and check if you used the word appropriately. If you have a problem with intensifiers, then search for “really” or “very” and delete them from the text. The same targeted search can be done to eliminate wordiness. Searching for “there is/are” or “and” can help you avoid the bulky sentences.

The final strategy is working with a hard copy and a pencil. Print a double space copy with font size 14 and re-read your paper in several steps. Try reading your paper line by line with the rest of the text covered with a piece of paper. When you are forced to see only a small portion of your writing, you are less likely to get distracted and are more likely to notice problems. You will end up spotting more unnecessary words, wrongly worded phrases, or unparallel constructions.

After you apply all these strategies, you are ready to share your writing with your friends, colleagues, and a writing advisor in the writing center. Get as much feedback as you can, especially from non-specialists in your field. Patiently listen to what others say to you ― you are not expected to defend your writing or explain what you wanted to say. You may decide what you want to change and how after you receive the feedback and sort it in your head. Even though some researchers make the revision an endless process and can hardly stop after a 14th draft; having from five to seven drafts of your paper is a norm in the sciences. If you can’t stop revising, then set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. Deadlines always help.

Rule 7: Revise your paper at the macrostructure and the microstructure level using different strategies and techniques. Receive feedback and revise again.

5. it is time to submit.

It is late at night again. You are still in your lab finishing revisions and getting ready to submit your paper. You feel happy ― you have finally finished a year’s worth of work. You will submit your paper tomorrow, and regardless of the outcome, you know that you can do it. If one journal does not take your paper, you will take advantage of the feedback and resubmit again. You will have a publication, and this is the most important achievement.

What is even more important is that you have your scheduled writing time that you are going to keep for your future publications, for reading and taking notes, for writing grants, and for reviewing papers. You are not going to lose stamina this time, and you will become a productive scientist. But for now, let’s celebrate the end of the paper.

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How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

The research paper introduction section, along with the Title and Abstract, can be considered the face of any research paper. The following article is intended to guide you in organizing and writing the research paper introduction for a quality academic article or dissertation.

The research paper introduction aims to present the topic to the reader. A study will only be accepted for publishing if you can ascertain that the available literature cannot answer your research question. So it is important to ensure that you have read important studies on that particular topic, especially those within the last five to ten years, and that they are properly referenced in this section. 1 What should be included in the research paper introduction is decided by what you want to tell readers about the reason behind the research and how you plan to fill the knowledge gap. The best research paper introduction provides a systemic review of existing work and demonstrates additional work that needs to be done. It needs to be brief, captivating, and well-referenced; a well-drafted research paper introduction will help the researcher win half the battle.

The introduction for a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your research topic
  • Capture reader interest
  • Summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Define your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Highlight the novelty and contributions of the study
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The research paper introduction can vary in size and structure depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or is a review paper. Some research paper introduction examples are only half a page while others are a few pages long. In many cases, the introduction will be shorter than all of the other sections of your paper; its length depends on the size of your paper as a whole.

Table of Contents

What is the introduction for a research paper, why is the introduction important in a research paper, what are the parts of introduction in the research, 1. introduce the research topic:, 2. determine a research niche:, 3. place your research within the research niche:, frequently asked questions on research paper introduction, key points to remember.

The introduction in a research paper is placed at the beginning to guide the reader from a broad subject area to the specific topic that your research addresses. They present the following information to the reader

  • Scope: The topic covered in the research paper
  • Context: Background of your topic
  • Importance: Why your research matters in that particular area of research and the industry problem that can be targeted

The research paper introduction conveys a lot of information and can be considered an essential roadmap for the rest of your paper. A good introduction for a research paper is important for the following reasons:

  • It stimulates your reader’s interest: A good introduction section can make your readers want to read your paper by capturing their interest. It informs the reader what they are going to learn and helps determine if the topic is of interest to them.
  • It helps the reader understand the research background: Without a clear introduction, your readers may feel confused and even struggle when reading your paper. A good research paper introduction will prepare them for the in-depth research to come. It provides you the opportunity to engage with the readers and demonstrate your knowledge and authority on the specific topic.
  • It explains why your research paper is worth reading: Your introduction can convey a lot of information to your readers. It introduces the topic, why the topic is important, and how you plan to proceed with your research.
  • It helps guide the reader through the rest of the paper: The research paper introduction gives the reader a sense of the nature of the information that will support your arguments and the general organization of the paragraphs that will follow. It offers an overview of what to expect when reading the main body of your paper.

A good research paper introduction section should comprise three main elements: 2

  • What is known: This sets the stage for your research. It informs the readers of what is known on the subject.
  • What is lacking: This is aimed at justifying the reason for carrying out your research. This could involve investigating a new concept or method or building upon previous research.
  • What you aim to do: This part briefly states the objectives of your research and its major contributions. Your detailed hypothesis will also form a part of this section.

How to write a research paper introduction?

The first step in writing the research paper introduction is to inform the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening statement. The second step involves establishing the kinds of research that have been done and ending with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to address. Finally, the research paper introduction clarifies how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses. If your research involved testing hypotheses, these should be stated along with your research question. The hypothesis should be presented in the past tense since it will have been tested by the time you are writing the research paper introduction.

The following key points, with examples, can guide you when writing the research paper introduction section:

  • Highlight the importance of the research field or topic
  • Describe the background of the topic
  • Present an overview of current research on the topic

Example: The inclusion of experiential and competency-based learning has benefitted electronics engineering education. Industry partnerships provide an excellent alternative for students wanting to engage in solving real-world challenges. Industry-academia participation has grown in recent years due to the need for skilled engineers with practical training and specialized expertise. However, from the educational perspective, many activities are needed to incorporate sustainable development goals into the university curricula and consolidate learning innovation in universities.

  • Reveal a gap in existing research or oppose an existing assumption
  • Formulate the research question

Example: There have been plausible efforts to integrate educational activities in higher education electronics engineering programs. However, very few studies have considered using educational research methods for performance evaluation of competency-based higher engineering education, with a focus on technical and or transversal skills. To remedy the current need for evaluating competencies in STEM fields and providing sustainable development goals in engineering education, in this study, a comparison was drawn between study groups without and with industry partners.

  • State the purpose of your study
  • Highlight the key characteristics of your study
  • Describe important results
  • Highlight the novelty of the study.
  • Offer a brief overview of the structure of the paper.

Example: The study evaluates the main competency needed in the applied electronics course, which is a fundamental core subject for many electronics engineering undergraduate programs. We compared two groups, without and with an industrial partner, that offered real-world projects to solve during the semester. This comparison can help determine significant differences in both groups in terms of developing subject competency and achieving sustainable development goals.

The purpose of the research paper introduction is to introduce the reader to the problem definition, justify the need for the study, and describe the main theme of the study. The aim is to gain the reader’s attention by providing them with necessary background information and establishing the main purpose and direction of the research.

The length of the research paper introduction can vary across journals and disciplines. While there are no strict word limits for writing the research paper introduction, an ideal length would be one page, with a maximum of 400 words over 1-4 paragraphs. Generally, it is one of the shorter sections of the paper as the reader is assumed to have at least a reasonable knowledge about the topic. 2 For example, for a study evaluating the role of building design in ensuring fire safety, there is no need to discuss definitions and nature of fire in the introduction; you could start by commenting upon the existing practices for fire safety and how your study will add to the existing knowledge and practice.

When deciding what to include in the research paper introduction, the rest of the paper should also be considered. The aim is to introduce the reader smoothly to the topic and facilitate an easy read without much dependency on external sources. 3 Below is a list of elements you can include to prepare a research paper introduction outline and follow it when you are writing the research paper introduction. Topic introduction: This can include key definitions and a brief history of the topic. Research context and background: Offer the readers some general information and then narrow it down to specific aspects. Details of the research you conducted: A brief literature review can be included to support your arguments or line of thought. Rationale for the study: This establishes the relevance of your study and establishes its importance. Importance of your research: The main contributions are highlighted to help establish the novelty of your study Research hypothesis: Introduce your research question and propose an expected outcome. Organization of the paper: Include a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences that highlights your plan for the entire paper

Cite only works that are most relevant to your topic; as a general rule, you can include one to three. Note that readers want to see evidence of original thinking. So it is better to avoid using too many references as it does not leave much room for your personal standpoint to shine through. Citations in your research paper introduction support the key points, and the number of citations depend on the subject matter and the point discussed. If the research paper introduction is too long or overflowing with citations, it is better to cite a few review articles rather than the individual articles summarized in the review. A good point to remember when citing research papers in the introduction section is to include at least one-third of the references in the introduction.

The literature review plays a significant role in the research paper introduction section. A good literature review accomplishes the following: Introduces the topic – Establishes the study’s significance – Provides an overview of the relevant literature – Provides context for the study using literature – Identifies knowledge gaps However, remember to avoid making the following mistakes when writing a research paper introduction: Do not use studies from the literature review to aggressively support your research Avoid direct quoting Do not allow literature review to be the focus of this section. Instead, the literature review should only aid in setting a foundation for the manuscript.

Remember the following key points for writing a good research paper introduction: 4

  • Avoid stuffing too much general information: Avoid including what an average reader would know and include only that information related to the problem being addressed in the research paper introduction. For example, when describing a comparative study of non-traditional methods for mechanical design optimization, information related to the traditional methods and differences between traditional and non-traditional methods would not be relevant. In this case, the introduction for the research paper should begin with the state-of-the-art non-traditional methods and methods to evaluate the efficiency of newly developed algorithms.
  • Avoid packing too many references: Cite only the required works in your research paper introduction. The other works can be included in the discussion section to strengthen your findings.
  • Avoid extensive criticism of previous studies: Avoid being overly critical of earlier studies while setting the rationale for your study. A better place for this would be the Discussion section, where you can highlight the advantages of your method.
  • Avoid describing conclusions of the study: When writing a research paper introduction remember not to include the findings of your study. The aim is to let the readers know what question is being answered. The actual answer should only be given in the Results and Discussion section.

To summarize, the research paper introduction section should be brief yet informative. It should convince the reader the need to conduct the study and motivate him to read further.

1. Jawaid, S. A., & Jawaid, M. (2019). How to write introduction and discussion. Saudi Journal of Anaesthesia, 13(Suppl 1), S18.

2. Dewan, P., & Gupta, P. (2016). Writing the title, abstract and introduction: Looks matter!. Indian pediatrics, 53, 235-241.

3. Cetin, S., & Hackam, D. J. (2005). An approach to the writing of a scientific Manuscript1. Journal of Surgical Research, 128(2), 165-167.

4. Bavdekar, S. B. (2015). Writing introduction: Laying the foundations of a research paper. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 63(7), 44-6.

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Try it for free or upgrade to  Paperpal Prime , which unlocks unlimited access to premium features like academic translation, paraphrasing, contextual synonyms, consistency checks and more. It’s like always having a professional academic editor by your side! Go beyond limitations and experience the future of academic writing.  Get Paperpal Prime now at just US$19 a month!

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 113 great research paper topics.

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General Education


One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics. They've been organized into ten categories and cover a wide range of subjects so you can easily find the best topic for you.

In addition to the list of good research topics, we've included advice on what makes a good research paper topic and how you can use your topic to start writing a great paper.

What Makes a Good Research Paper Topic?

Not all research paper topics are created equal, and you want to make sure you choose a great topic before you start writing. Below are the three most important factors to consider to make sure you choose the best research paper topics.

#1: It's Something You're Interested In

A paper is always easier to write if you're interested in the topic, and you'll be more motivated to do in-depth research and write a paper that really covers the entire subject. Even if a certain research paper topic is getting a lot of buzz right now or other people seem interested in writing about it, don't feel tempted to make it your topic unless you genuinely have some sort of interest in it as well.

#2: There's Enough Information to Write a Paper

Even if you come up with the absolute best research paper topic and you're so excited to write about it, you won't be able to produce a good paper if there isn't enough research about the topic. This can happen for very specific or specialized topics, as well as topics that are too new to have enough research done on them at the moment. Easy research paper topics will always be topics with enough information to write a full-length paper.

Trying to write a research paper on a topic that doesn't have much research on it is incredibly hard, so before you decide on a topic, do a bit of preliminary searching and make sure you'll have all the information you need to write your paper.

#3: It Fits Your Teacher's Guidelines

Don't get so carried away looking at lists of research paper topics that you forget any requirements or restrictions your teacher may have put on research topic ideas. If you're writing a research paper on a health-related topic, deciding to write about the impact of rap on the music scene probably won't be allowed, but there may be some sort of leeway. For example, if you're really interested in current events but your teacher wants you to write a research paper on a history topic, you may be able to choose a topic that fits both categories, like exploring the relationship between the US and North Korea. No matter what, always get your research paper topic approved by your teacher first before you begin writing.

113 Good Research Paper Topics

Below are 113 good research topics to help you get you started on your paper. We've organized them into ten categories to make it easier to find the type of research paper topics you're looking for.


  • Discuss the main differences in art from the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance .
  • Analyze the impact a famous artist had on the world.
  • How is sexism portrayed in different types of media (music, film, video games, etc.)? Has the amount/type of sexism changed over the years?
  • How has the music of slaves brought over from Africa shaped modern American music?
  • How has rap music evolved in the past decade?
  • How has the portrayal of minorities in the media changed?


Current Events

  • What have been the impacts of China's one child policy?
  • How have the goals of feminists changed over the decades?
  • How has the Trump presidency changed international relations?
  • Analyze the history of the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
  • What factors contributed to the current decline in the rate of unemployment?
  • What have been the impacts of states which have increased their minimum wage?
  • How do US immigration laws compare to immigration laws of other countries?
  • How have the US's immigration laws changed in the past few years/decades?
  • How has the Black Lives Matter movement affected discussions and view about racism in the US?
  • What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on healthcare in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the UK deciding to leave the EU (Brexit)?
  • What factors contributed to China becoming an economic power?
  • Discuss the history of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies  (some of which tokenize the S&P 500 Index on the blockchain) .
  • Do students in schools that eliminate grades do better in college and their careers?
  • Do students from wealthier backgrounds score higher on standardized tests?
  • Do students who receive free meals at school get higher grades compared to when they weren't receiving a free meal?
  • Do students who attend charter schools score higher on standardized tests than students in public schools?
  • Do students learn better in same-sex classrooms?
  • How does giving each student access to an iPad or laptop affect their studies?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Montessori Method ?
  • Do children who attend preschool do better in school later on?
  • What was the impact of the No Child Left Behind act?
  • How does the US education system compare to education systems in other countries?
  • What impact does mandatory physical education classes have on students' health?
  • Which methods are most effective at reducing bullying in schools?
  • Do homeschoolers who attend college do as well as students who attended traditional schools?
  • Does offering tenure increase or decrease quality of teaching?
  • How does college debt affect future life choices of students?
  • Should graduate students be able to form unions?


  • What are different ways to lower gun-related deaths in the US?
  • How and why have divorce rates changed over time?
  • Is affirmative action still necessary in education and/or the workplace?
  • Should physician-assisted suicide be legal?
  • How has stem cell research impacted the medical field?
  • How can human trafficking be reduced in the United States/world?
  • Should people be able to donate organs in exchange for money?
  • Which types of juvenile punishment have proven most effective at preventing future crimes?
  • Has the increase in US airport security made passengers safer?
  • Analyze the immigration policies of certain countries and how they are similar and different from one another.
  • Several states have legalized recreational marijuana. What positive and negative impacts have they experienced as a result?
  • Do tariffs increase the number of domestic jobs?
  • Which prison reforms have proven most effective?
  • Should governments be able to censor certain information on the internet?
  • Which methods/programs have been most effective at reducing teen pregnancy?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Keto diet?
  • How effective are different exercise regimes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss?
  • How do the healthcare plans of various countries differ from each other?
  • What are the most effective ways to treat depression ?
  • What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
  • Which methods are most effective for improving memory?
  • What can be done to lower healthcare costs in the US?
  • What factors contributed to the current opioid crisis?
  • Analyze the history and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic .
  • Are low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets more effective for weight loss?
  • How much exercise should the average adult be getting each week?
  • Which methods are most effective to get parents to vaccinate their children?
  • What are the pros and cons of clean needle programs?
  • How does stress affect the body?
  • Discuss the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • What were the causes and effects of the Salem Witch Trials?
  • Who was responsible for the Iran-Contra situation?
  • How has New Orleans and the government's response to natural disasters changed since Hurricane Katrina?
  • What events led to the fall of the Roman Empire?
  • What were the impacts of British rule in India ?
  • Was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary?
  • What were the successes and failures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States?
  • What were the causes of the Civil War?
  • How did Abraham Lincoln's assassination impact the country and reconstruction after the Civil War?
  • Which factors contributed to the colonies winning the American Revolution?
  • What caused Hitler's rise to power?
  • Discuss how a specific invention impacted history.
  • What led to Cleopatra's fall as ruler of Egypt?
  • How has Japan changed and evolved over the centuries?
  • What were the causes of the Rwandan genocide ?


  • Why did Martin Luther decide to split with the Catholic Church?
  • Analyze the history and impact of a well-known cult (Jonestown, Manson family, etc.)
  • How did the sexual abuse scandal impact how people view the Catholic Church?
  • How has the Catholic church's power changed over the past decades/centuries?
  • What are the causes behind the rise in atheism/ agnosticism in the United States?
  • What were the influences in Siddhartha's life resulted in him becoming the Buddha?
  • How has media portrayal of Islam/Muslims changed since September 11th?


  • How has the earth's climate changed in the past few decades?
  • How has the use and elimination of DDT affected bird populations in the US?
  • Analyze how the number and severity of natural disasters have increased in the past few decades.
  • Analyze deforestation rates in a certain area or globally over a period of time.
  • How have past oil spills changed regulations and cleanup methods?
  • How has the Flint water crisis changed water regulation safety?
  • What are the pros and cons of fracking?
  • What impact has the Paris Climate Agreement had so far?
  • What have NASA's biggest successes and failures been?
  • How can we improve access to clean water around the world?
  • Does ecotourism actually have a positive impact on the environment?
  • Should the US rely on nuclear energy more?
  • What can be done to save amphibian species currently at risk of extinction?
  • What impact has climate change had on coral reefs?
  • How are black holes created?
  • Are teens who spend more time on social media more likely to suffer anxiety and/or depression?
  • How will the loss of net neutrality affect internet users?
  • Analyze the history and progress of self-driving vehicles.
  • How has the use of drones changed surveillance and warfare methods?
  • Has social media made people more or less connected?
  • What progress has currently been made with artificial intelligence ?
  • Do smartphones increase or decrease workplace productivity?
  • What are the most effective ways to use technology in the classroom?
  • How is Google search affecting our intelligence?
  • When is the best age for a child to begin owning a smartphone?
  • Has frequent texting reduced teen literacy rates?


How to Write a Great Research Paper

Even great research paper topics won't give you a great research paper if you don't hone your topic before and during the writing process. Follow these three tips to turn good research paper topics into great papers.

#1: Figure Out Your Thesis Early

Before you start writing a single word of your paper, you first need to know what your thesis will be. Your thesis is a statement that explains what you intend to prove/show in your paper. Every sentence in your research paper will relate back to your thesis, so you don't want to start writing without it!

As some examples, if you're writing a research paper on if students learn better in same-sex classrooms, your thesis might be "Research has shown that elementary-age students in same-sex classrooms score higher on standardized tests and report feeling more comfortable in the classroom."

If you're writing a paper on the causes of the Civil War, your thesis might be "While the dispute between the North and South over slavery is the most well-known cause of the Civil War, other key causes include differences in the economies of the North and South, states' rights, and territorial expansion."

#2: Back Every Statement Up With Research

Remember, this is a research paper you're writing, so you'll need to use lots of research to make your points. Every statement you give must be backed up with research, properly cited the way your teacher requested. You're allowed to include opinions of your own, but they must also be supported by the research you give.

#3: Do Your Research Before You Begin Writing

You don't want to start writing your research paper and then learn that there isn't enough research to back up the points you're making, or, even worse, that the research contradicts the points you're trying to make!

Get most of your research on your good research topics done before you begin writing. Then use the research you've collected to create a rough outline of what your paper will cover and the key points you're going to make. This will help keep your paper clear and organized, and it'll ensure you have enough research to produce a strong paper.

What's Next?

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Ph.D. Student Angeline Aguinaldo Wins Best Paper Award at AAAI Fall Symposium

Descriptive image for Ph.D. Student Angeline Aguinaldo Wins Best Paper Award at AAAI Fall Symposium

Angeline Aguinaldo , a computer science Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, received a Best Paper Award for her research in the field of robotic representation at the 2023 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI ) Fall Symposium on Unifying Representations for Robot Application Development, held in Arlington, Virginia, from October 25 to 27, 2023. Her paper, titled “ A Categorical Representation Language and Computational System for Knowledge-Based Robotic Task Planning ,” made a notable contribution to AI planning.

In addition to Aguinaldo, collaborators on the research included UMD Computer Science Professor and Director of the Institute for Systems Research William Regli , Topos Institute Research Scientist Evan Patterson , and University of Florida Assistant Professor James Fairbanks and Associate Professor Jaime Ruiz . 

Aguinaldo's work has clear advantages compared with traditional planning methods, particularly in dealing with hidden conditions and outcomes. It offers a more organized framework for solving problems in robotics, ultimately leading to more efficient and dependable planning systems.  

Aguinaldo's paper offers a fresh perspective on traditional planning languages used in robotics. It tackles the challenges these languages face in dealing with hidden changes in the world using concise action descriptions. Her approach draws upon category theory concepts, a powerful tool for expressing and analyzing mathematical ideas across different areas of study. 

Her research formalizes the meaning of statements based on a user-defined framework, ensuring that the meaning remains consistent when the robot transitions between different situations. This method provides a structured way to understand complex scenarios and update plans. 

Aguinaldo views the recognition as a significant step in her journey within the field of robotics.

“Winning the award was exciting, and it felt like a strong validation of my work and the unconventional path I chose to explore category theory as a solution to robotic representation problems,” Aguinaldo said. “The recognition fueled my confidence in the potential of this mathematical framework to manage and update complex scenes in AI planning. It was gratifying to see the community acknowledge and support my interest in a direction that, I believe, could shape the future of robotic task planning.”

Her research has the potential to impact society by improving the deployment of robots in practical applications.

“The implications of this work are substantial for the future of robotics,” Aguinaldo said.  “It could greatly enhance the practical deployment of robots in real-world tasks, where managing complexity and implicit ontological conditions are crucial.”

Aguinaldo's research may inspire future generations of roboticists and advance the field into new dimensions of possibility.

"About four years ago, I introduced Angeline to concepts from the field of category theory, thinking there might be potential for exploring its use as a mathematical technique to enhance interoperability," said Regli, Aguinaldo's advisor. "We had a project funded by the Advanced Robotics and Manufacturing Institute that aimed to examine interoperability in the context of robotics. With this background, Angeline began working on this and has been demonstrating how these ideas could be applied to practical problems."

Founded in 1979, AAAI is a prominent scientific society focused on advancing the understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their application in machines.

Story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, CS Communications 

The Department welcomes comments, suggestions and corrections.  Send email to editor [-at-] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu .

  • Open access
  • Published: 08 November 2023

Childhood vaccine refusal and what to do about it: a systematic review of the ethical literature

  • Kerrie Wiley 1 ,
  • Maria Christou-Ergos 1 ,
  • Chris Degeling 2 ,
  • Rosalind McDougall 3 ,
  • Penelope Robinson 1 ,
  • Katie Attwell 4 ,
  • Catherine Helps 1 ,
  • Shevaun Drislane 4 &
  • Stacy M Carter 2  

BMC Medical Ethics volume  24 , Article number:  96 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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Parental refusal of routine childhood vaccination remains an ethically contested area. This systematic review sought to explore and characterise the normative arguments made about parental refusal of routine vaccination, with the aim of providing researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with a synthesis of current normative literature.

Nine databases covering health and ethics research were searched, and 121 publications identified for the period Jan 1998 to Mar 2022. For articles, source journals were categorised according to Australian Standard Field of Research codes, and normative content was analysed using a framework analytical approach.

Most of the articles were published in biomedical journals (34%), bioethics journals (21%), and journals that carry both classifications (20%). Two central questions dominated the literature: (1) Whether vaccine refusal is justifiable (which we labelled ‘refusal arguments’); and (2) Whether strategies for dealing with those who reject vaccines are justifiable (‘response arguments’). Refusal arguments relied on principlism, religious frameworks, the rights and obligations of parents, the rights of children, the medico-legal best interests of the child standard, and the potential to cause harm to others. Response arguments were broadly divided into arguments about policy, arguments about how individual physicians should practice regarding vaccine rejectors, and both legal precedents and ethical arguments for vaccinating children against a parent’s will. Policy arguments considered the normative significance of coercion, non-medical or conscientious objections, and possible reciprocal social efforts to offset vaccine refusal. Individual physician practice arguments covered nudging and coercive practices, patient dismissal, and the ethical and professional obligations of physicians. Most of the legal precedents discussed were from the American setting, with some from the United Kingdom.


This review provides a comprehensive picture of the scope and substance of normative arguments about vaccine refusal and responses to vaccine refusal. It can serve as a platform for future research to extend the current normative literature, better understand the role of cultural context in normative judgements about vaccination, and more comprehensively translate the nuance of ethical arguments into practice and policy.

Peer Review reports


Vaccine rejection has existed for as long as vaccines [ 1 ]. Despite the significant contribution of childhood vaccination to reductions in global child morbidity and mortality [ 2 ], some parents continue to reject vaccines for their children. Parents’ reasons for rejection vary widely, and often depend on their social settings. For example, in high-income settings where around 2–3% of parents reject routine childhood vaccines [ 3 , 4 ], reasons can include previous bad experiences with vaccines or the medical system, concerns about vaccine safety, doubt about the effectiveness or necessity of vaccines, alternative health approaches, and participation in particular social groups or communities. These reasons can be grounded in deeply held religious beliefs or general philosophical approaches to health, views on freedom of choice, or mistrust in government and/or the vested interests of vaccine producers, among other things [ 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 ].

Vaccination plays a dual role in disease prevention: it serves to protect the vaccinated individual from disease, and when vaccination rates reach a high enough threshold for some diseases, also protects the broader community—including those who remain unvaccinated—by disrupting disease transmission through herd immunity. This dual role of vaccination, providing benefit to both the individual and community, complicates ethical questions regarding vaccine refusal, specifically, whether vaccine rejection is ethically justifiable.

Health care providers, communities, and governments encourage uptake and discourage vaccine rejection by various means, and the dual role of vaccination is also relevant to an evaluation of these practice and policy responses. Vaccine acceptance is encouraged with interventions like incentives, health provider recommendations and “nudges” directed at individual families, as well as by facilitating easier access to vaccination through strategies such as cost reduction and making clinic locations and opening times convenient, with many of these interventions supported by varying levels of evidence [ 9 ]. Governments often discourage vaccine rejection via the imposition of mandates that can vary in type and severity [ 10 ] and are not always well-supported by evidence [ 11 ]. These can include punitive measures, such as limiting unvaccinated children’s access to early childhood education or daycare. A thorough understanding of the ethical dimensions of childhood vaccine rejection and responses to it is important when navigating vaccine rejection in the clinical setting, and when formulating policy [ 12 ]. Systematic reviews of the evidence are considered best practice for informing vaccine practice and policy however, to our knowledge there have not yet been any published systematic reviews of the literature on the ethics of childhood vaccine rejection despite there being a broad literature on the subject. We sought to systematically explore and characterise the normative arguments made about parental refusal of routine vaccination, with the aim of better informing vaccine policy and practice.

We searched nine databases for literature that discussed normative positions on childhood vaccine rejection. Refer to the PRISMA flow chart (Fig.  1 .)

figure 1

PRIMSA Flow Diagram of Review

Search strategy

We searched Medline, Embase, Philosophers Index, Philpapers, Project Muse, Cinahl, The Global Digital Library on Ethics (, The Bioethics Literature Database (BELIT), and Pubmed using the general search strategy listed in Fig.  2 for articles published between January 1998 and March 2022.

figure 2

Inclusion criteria

We included any publication which provided a substantive normative argument about parental refusal of routine vaccines for children aged five and under. We used a broad definition of ‘normative’ to mark anything that goes beyond mere description to consider right and wrong, good and bad, justifiable and unjustifiable, or legitimate and illegitimate actions or ways of being in the world. Our broad conception included textual forms such as ethical reflections, prudential and legal norms, and accounts of rationality. We used ’substantive’ to mark publications where the authors’ main purpose was to make an argument about whether vaccine refusal is morally justifiable. This included empirical research that explicitly examined normative dimensions of vaccine refusal. We were limited to reviewing publications published in English.

Exclusion criteria

We excluded publications where authors made a normative claim in passing, but the publication’s main purpose was to report non-normative empirical findings. We also excluded: publications on adult vaccination (including COVID vaccination) and the HPV vaccine (which is administered in adolescence, not childhood); empirical research such as surveys or interviews, unless they expressly explored normative arguments; and descriptive publications about the characteristics of the anti-vaccination movement that provided no normative position.

Screening and data extraction

After search execution and duplicate removal, a screening triangulation exercise was undertaken to ensure consistency among the screeners. A set of 20 titles and abstracts were independently screened by six authors, and the results compared. The inclusion and exclusion criteria were refined in a subsequent group discussion, and a sub-set of full text articles were then screened and evaluated by the same group of people, and results again compared. A discussion of this second triangulation step resulted in a refined and standardized screening approach.

The authorship group were then divided into four pairs, and the remaining titles and abstracts divided among the pairs. Each individual screened titles and abstracts against inclusion criteria, and then met with their screening partner to compare results and discuss and resolve any differences.

Full text was sought for each record screened for inclusion, and a second screening then removed articles which didn’t meet the inclusion criteria once the full text was read, articles that could not be sourced, and duplicates not identified in the initial screening.

The final list of full text publications was then divided among four authors (SC, RM, CD and KW) for data extraction using the concept of “information units” described by Mertz and colleagues [ 13 ]. In this context an information unit was defined as a normative issue or argument, and each of the four ‘extracting’ authors summarized each of the relevant information units in the papers they were assigned.

For included journal articles, Australian Standard Field of Research (FoR) codes for the journal that each article appeared in were sourced as a proxy for the disciplinary location of the article (e.g. bioethics, medicine, law). We used the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) 2008, as this was the current standard when analysis commenced [ 14 ]. We used two digit FoR codes (division codes) to identify the source journal as either being Medical and Health Sciences (code 11), Ethics and Philosophy (code 22) Law (code 18) or other codes grouped as “other”. In some cases, the journal was assigned a combination of these codes (refer to Fig.  3 ).

figure 3

Respective percentages of included articles falling under various ANZSRC FoR Codes (2008)

Quality assessment in systematic reviews of normative literature remains a contested area, with various options and no established best practice approach [ 15 ]. In this review, we took a satisficing approach to quality appraisal [ 16 ]: publication in a peer-reviewed journal or by a reputable academic publisher was taken as a sufficient level of quality to justify inclusion in the review. The peer review process undergone by PhD theses was also taken to be a sufficient indictor of quality to justify inclusion. Further quality appraisal of individual publications was not undertaken. This aligns with the purpose of the review which was to map and synthesize the current literature on this topic.

A framework approach was used to organise and synthesise the data [ 17 ]. The extracted information units were read by one author (KW), and a coding frame inductively developed to summarise and classify the information units extracted by the group. The publications were then independently coded according to this framework by two authors (KW and PR). Following this, the two authors met and compared their coding, discussing any differences and resolving them by consensus. The data were then synthesized into themes. In addition, for journal articles, the ANZSRC Field of Research codes for the journal each article appeared in were descriptively analysed to assess the distribution of the included literature across various disciplines.

Search results

Five thousand, two hundred and thirty-one publications were returned by the searches (see Fig.  1 ). Eight hundred and twenty-two duplicates were removed in the first instance, leaving 4409 records to be screened by title and abstract. During this screening process 4058 records were excluded, leaving 351 full text publications to be assessed. Of these a further 230 records were excluded (due to not meeting the inclusion criteria, previously unidentified duplicates, or inability to source the full text), leaving 121 publications for inclusion in the review. These included 117 journal articles, three theses and one book.

Literature source type

Analysis of the ANZSRC Field of Research codes of the source journals of included articles revealed three main areas, or a combination of them (Fig.  3 ). Around half were coded to medicine (63%); of these, just over half were dual coded to ethics (20%) or another code (9%). 21% of articles were from the philosophy or ethics literature alone; another 25% were from ethics and medicine or ethics and law. Law was the least dominant discipline, with only 12% of articles being coded to law (alone or in combination with other disciplines). This pattern suggests active concern within medicine regarding non-vaccination, but also widespread overlap in concern between medicine, ethics, and law.

Main themes found in the literature

Articles addressed two central questions (see Table  1 ):

Whether vaccine refusal was justified (henceforth ‘refusal’ arguments).

Whether various policy or practice responses to those who reject vaccines are justified (henceforth ‘response’ arguments).

Descriptive analysis of content

The literature was dominated by papers focused on ‘response’ arguments (61%). A smaller group of papers address ‘refusal’ arguments (19%), and about 18% considered both ‘refusal’ and ‘response’, usually making normative arguments about vaccine refusal as background to arguments regarding ‘response’ (See Fig.  4 ). Less than 2% of papers had a different focus.

figure 4

Comparative frequencies of themes occurring among included articles

‘Response’ arguments were more common in the medical and health sciences literature (ERA FoR code 11, see Fig.  5 ). Although the ethics/philosophy (FoR code 22) and law literatures (FoR code 18) were also dominated by ‘response’ arguments, these journals—unlike medical journals—were more likely to include ‘refusal’ arguments.

figure 5

Comparative frequency of overarching themes across the different disciplines of the included articles

As would be expected, authors made ‘response’ and ‘refusal’ arguments in different ways. In the following sections we consider the detail of how arguments were made. We refer to each included article by its unique reference listed in Table  1 .

‘Refusal’ arguments: whether or not vaccine rejection by individual parents is justifiable

Arguments about whether vaccine refusal by individual parents is justifiable included consideration of parents’ rights, the interests of the child (including the legal ‘best interests of the child standard’), the value of herd immunity, the epistemic basis for ethical claims, and the relevance of religious views. Our sampling period included a special issue of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics which published narratives written by parents to communicate their normative positions on vaccination. Most of these were written by non-vaccinating parents, and they make up over one third of all arguments in the identified literature that support refusal. On balance, most of the literature argues that it is not justifiable for parents to refuse routine vaccination for their children.

Some arguments within the literature were absolute in their position on whether vaccine rejection is justifiable; others weighed competing values in a situation-specific approach. Irrespective of the arguments used to justify a position, most of the literature frames the question of whether vaccine rejection is justifiable based on three key areas of concern: (i) Respect for autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent and the value of liberty, (ii) Consequences for the child and others, and/or (iii) The normative significance of parental trust, distrust, and uncertainty. We explore the main arguments within these concepts below. As the discussion shows, these concepts are not discrete – they are often weighed against one another, linked by causal claims, or held in tension in the arguments made. Figure  6 represents proportionally the ’refusal’ arguments made in the reviewed literature.

figure 6

‘Refusal’ arguments made in the literature on the ethics of vaccine refusal

Respect for autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent and the value of liberty

Fifteen papers from this sample present arguments that vaccine refusal is justified based on respect for parental autonomy, rights, or liberties (21, 23, 25, 31, 32, 35, 36, 39, 68, 71, 75, 80, 94, 100, 121). Some argue that vaccine refusal is justified on the basis of preserving legal rights (31, 80) or expression of religious freedom [ 23 ]. Opposing positions (including from four of the authors who also offer arguments justifying refusal) argue that, on balance, considerations regarding respect for autonomy are, or can be, outweighed by the potential harm caused to the child and others by not vaccinating though the increased risk of vaccine preventable diseases (21, 36, 20, 23, 110). This includes legal perspectives arguing that the freedom to choose is not unfettered [ 25 ] and that courts can override parental autonomy if this is in the child’s best interest (75, 85), as well as arguments from religious perspectives that the freedom to exercise religious beliefs needs to be weighed against harm caused to others (21,91). Those who argue that vaccine refusal is justified counter that disrespecting parental autonomy can also cause harm to the child through loss of trust and possible disengagement of the child from the healthcare system (100), and that the increased risk of disease is a price worth paying to ensure that political values are preserved (71). Of note: non-vaccinating parents also assert a right to make choices for their children in support of their refusal [ 14 , 18 ], but unlike others, their arguments are based primarily on epistemic claims about vaccine effectiveness, necessity and safety rather than moral or ethical positions. However, they assert that these doubts necessitate respect for their decision.

Consequences for others and the child

Most of the literature argues for or against the justifiability of vaccine refusal based on consequences. These include potential harms from vaccine preventable diseases or vaccines themselves, or conversely, potential benefits from herd immunity. The concept of herd immunity is deployed in different ways. Those justifying vaccine refusal in certain circumstances argue that in settings where there is a high level of herd immunity, the risk posed by an unvaccinated child is not great enough to override respect for parental autonomy (62, 65, 94, 98), and that the benefits of community protection do not justify the individual risk posed by the vaccine and borne by the child who is already protected through herd immunity (72, 96, 97, 17, 93, 108). Perspectives of non-vaccinators echo these ideas by asserting that some diseases are not harmful enough to proscribe vaccine refusal [ 14 ] and that vaccine injury contributes to and justifies refusal [ 16 ].

In contrast, those who argue that refusal is not justifiable propose a duty to contribute to herd immunity because it is a public good (7,80, 19,120, 33, 48, 68,115), or that free-riding (allowing one’s child to enjoy the benefits of herd immunity provided by others, while avoiding the risk of vaccinating) is unfair (37,46, 48). On this account, the vaccine refusal of a few may undermine herd immunity and thus cause harm to the many by increasing disease risks (9, 11, 26, 37, 59, 76, 81, 86); further, these risks are borne by the most vulnerable (43). These arguments about harm to others include those made by authors writing from religious perspectives (8, 81, 84, 92, 98). Finally, an account by a vaccinating parent suggests that harms resulting from non-vaccination are blameworthy because they are an intentional act of aggression against vaccinated children [ 19 ].

The concept of the child’s interests arises frequently in these publications. Pursuing or protecting these interests generally combines concern about the consequences of non-vaccination for the child with concern for autonomy, in the broad sense of being able to direct one’s life in accordance with one’s values or aims. Authors write about the interests of the child in both a general sense (i.e. the interests of the child outside of a legal context) and in a legal sense (the formal ‘best interests of the child standard’). The legal construction is used both to support (31, 6, 93) and to oppose vaccine refusal. Arguments that receiving a vaccine is in the legal ‘best interests of the child’ (21,39) posit that any deviation from a widely accepted legal view of the interests of a child should weigh the risk of harm to the child (68) irrespective of the parent’s beliefs (78), or that non-vaccination constitutes negligence or child endangerment [ 28 ]. On the other hand, some authors argue that, from a legal perspective, parents have the right to consent to or refuse vaccination ostensibly using the ‘child’s best interests standard’(93) and that there is insufficient legal precedent to argue that non-vaccination constitutes medical neglect [ 6 ].

Arguing from distrust and uncertainty

As previously noted, the sample included a set of papers written from the perspective of non-vaccinating parents. Most of these contributions seek to justify vaccine refusal, and many justifications were grounded in distrust. They call into question vaccine safety and effectiveness [ 12 , 13 , 14 , 18 ], and the accuracy of the reporting of adverse events following immunization (96). They claim financial conflicts, constructing clinicians, clinical medicine, and/or regulatory agencies as untrustworthy or non-credible [ 12 , 14 , 16 ]. They cite empirical studies of non-vaccinators to support parental preferences for natural infection over a vaccine (97). Non-vaccinating parents were not the only authors to make arguments in this vein. Some other authors cite the lack of absolute certainty of vaccine safety as justification for parents refusing vaccines in the interests of their children (28,76), especially regarding newer vaccines for which efficacy is not well-established (34). This line of argument depicts vaccine proponents as driven by commercial interests, thus justifying parental mistrust and refusal (34). Contra this, one paper asserts that refusal on the grounds of mistrust of government or medicine is not justifiable, as it is inconsistent with the scientific evidence and the well-established regulatory processes in place, such as the rigorous clinical testing required to develop and approve vaccines, and the systems established to report adverse events and ensure safety [ 8 ].

‘Response’ arguments: claims regarding the justifiability of different responses to non-vaccination

The literature examines four main responses to non-vaccination (i) government mandate policies (such as legal ramifications for refusing vaccination and vaccination as a school entry requirement), and other coercive policies, (ii) exemptions to mandate policies, (iii) individual practitioner and medical practice responses (including patient dismissal from practice for vaccine refusal, vaccinating against parents’ will, and nudging), and (iv) withholding health resources. The literature includes authors who argue that these responses are justifiable and others who argue that they are not. Much like the refusal arguments, some response arguments are absolute in their position, while others advocate weighing competing values in a context -specific way. Like refusal arguments, most arguments for and against particular responses to non-vaccinating parents draw from respect for autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent and the value of liberty, as well as considering consequences for the child and others. Other concepts appearing in these arguments include inequity, and the duties of governments and practitioners. Figure  7 represents proportionally the ’response’ arguments made in the reviewed literature.

figure 7

‘Response’ arguments made in the literature on the ethics of vaccine refusal

As in the literature on refusal, many arguments about policy or practice responses to non-vaccinating parents depend on the interrelated concepts of respect for autonomy, informed consent and liberty. Five papers engage with the issue of practitioners vaccinating against parents’ will with respect to these concepts. They argue that forced vaccination by healthcare providers violates parents’ autonomy and/or the ethical requirement for informed consent, because vaccination carries risks (80,119), and clinicians have legal obligations to obtain valid consent for procedures (94). Some authors propose alternatives to forced vaccination, including focusing on rebuilding trust (rather than violating negative liberty) (32), and accepting that views on vaccination derive from plural and culturally-specific values [ 29 ]. On the other hand, proponents of forced vaccination do not engage with these concepts, instead deploying the harm principle and the legal ‘best interests of the child standard’ to justify their position. We explore this argument in the following section “Consequences for the child and others”.

Another set of papers make arguments about vaccine mandates that also draw on autonomy or liberty justifications, often weighing these against harm or risk of harm. Arguments justifying mandates are often legal in nature and use, for example, the harm principle or case law to argue that the freedom or liberty to choose not to vaccinate is limited by the risk of ill health and/or death to the child or others in the community, including vulnerable persons (83,91). One author argues that legal actions should be brought against those who harm others by refusing vaccination, as this would both discourage refusal and, in the case of any successful claims, compensate victims (55). Some authors argue that mandates are justifiable if the exercise of liberty rights poses a threat to public health (53,82,83,91,119). While those arguing that mandates are not justifiable sometimes rely on arguments about risk of harm—i.e. that in a low-incidence (and therefore low-risk) setting mandates cannot be justified (45, 87,104)—most make their arguments from autonomy, informed consent, and personal liberty and do not weigh these against the potential for harm (12,16,61,82,89,107,114). One author argues that even if mandates improve vaccination rates, they damage trust with parents and make refusers more steadfast in their decision (121), so are not sustainable. Finally, some authors present middle-ground positions that—in their view—are more autonomy- or liberty-preserving, including persuasion (121) or weakly enforced mandates (71), or argue that policy responses should take the least coercive approach that is feasible and effective to balance the needs of the individual with public health (117).

Those supporting conscientious objection to mandates argue that such provisions contribute to the collective good of a culture of respect for autonomy (82), or reflect the “American ideal” of personal freedom (66). Contra this, those opposed to conscientious objection provisions argue that challenges to mandates based in religious freedom have failed in case law, as the right to practice religion freely does not include the liberty to expose children or communities to disease (20,92). One author provides a qualified view of conscientious objection on religious grounds, arguing that such liberties could be justified only while high vaccination rates are maintained (109).

Authors disagree about whether certain policy or practice responses do, or do not, respect autonomy or uphold important liberties. For example, authors disagree on the effect of both nudges and conscientious objection policies on parental autonomy or liberty. With respect to nudges, some argue they are autonomy-preserving because they steer parents in a certain direction while allowing choice (106), do not override or challenge the strong views of deeply opposed opponents (42, 44) and uphold informed consent (121). Some supporters of nudging weigh multiple normative considerations, arguing that nudges that appeal to social responsibilities in a medical practice setting are justified because they appropriately balance parental autonomy against the practitioner’s responsibility to promote trust and collective benefits (3,80). Those opposed to nudges for vaccination decisions argue that the invasive nature of immunization increases the need for independent and informed decision making (60,113). These authors argue against a presumptive consultation style in general practice, proposing participatory clinical encounters (114), and using persuasion (42), as alternatives to more coercive approaches.

Consequences for the child and others

Many of the arguments in this literature consider individual and collective consequences—benefits, harms, burdens, and costs to society — and propose that these may override other normative considerations. The risk and prevention of harm is particularly pertinent here. For example, a parental decision can be overruled in cases where there is a significant risk of harm to the child (78), or nudges become more justifiable when the risk of harm to others is higher (3, 75).

Arguments about mandates often include concern about consequences, since it is inherent in a vaccine mandate that there will be some costs associated with non-vaccination. Mandate proponents argue that mandates ensure high vaccination rates, thus preventing disease outbreaks (39) and associated harms (97), so are in the best interest of individual children (28, 73, 111) and serve the greater good (4,28,73,79). Some justify mandates by proposing a duty to contribute to herd immunity, including under the “clean hands principle”, that is, an obligation not to participate in collectively harmful activities [ 1 , 5 ]. Conversely, some authors argue that mandates are not necessary to achieve high levels of population immunity, so state coercion is unjustified at a collective level or at the level of the individual child because each child receives limited benefit (94). Those opposing mandates also argue that vaccine safety is not absolute (88) and that mandates are a disutility, carrying associated costs with surveillance and enforcement (95). Other authors sought to balance these kinds of consequences against other normative considerations with respect to mandates, including the level of herd immunity, the risks of non-vaccination to the child and/or society, and respect for parental autonomy (32,53,88,119). One author argues that mandates protect ‘victims’ of the anti-vaccination movement from harms so long as certain conditions are met (43): that the vaccine can prevent infection and transmission, that individuals minimize their risk of exposure, and that the right of self-defense is preserved (e.g. in the case of allergy to vaccines).

Consequences are also important to arguments about conscientious objection, but here it is generally concerns about the impact on the collective. Some argue that exemptions should not be allowed because they may increase rates of disease or undermine individual or community health (20, 87, 118); others argue that if disease risk is low, exemptions are justified because those few individuals with exemptions do not pose a risk to others or herd immunity (20, 82, 105).

Consequences to the child and others are used to justify whether responses should be applied in general practice settings. As mentioned in the previous section, some authors justify healthcare workers vaccinating against a parent’s will using both the harm principle (69) and the legal ‘best interests of the child standard’ [ 25 ]; others suggest it is against the legal best interests of an older child to be forcibly vaccinated, as this may have a more detrimental impact than being unvaccinated (25,51). The best interests of the child are also invoked extensively to argue that non-vaccinating families should not be dismissed from medical practices (98,104, 26, 75). Here authors note that an unvaccinated child is more vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases (9, 49), practice dismissal limits opportunities to access health care (31,52, 56,79,116) and the increased risk of harm from vaccine preventable diseases is transferred to other practices (9,47,49). One paper makes an argument about the consequences of treating non-vaccinating families for general practitioners, suggesting that practices caring for unvaccinated children should disclose this to other patients to minimize medicolegal risks, and should receive legal protection to account for the increased liability and risk of caring for these patients (40).

A small body of literature employs claims about who is responsible for the consequences of non-vaccination to make arguments about responses to non-vaccination. For example, one article seeks to justify discriminating against unvaccinated children with a vaccine preventable disease by limiting their access to health resources, relying on precedents such as coronary bypass surgery being withheld from obese people and smokers, and arguing that those who contribute to their own ill-health (in this case by not vaccinating) do not deserve healthcare (80). A related argument focuses on managing refugee camps during outbreaks that pose a direct and imminent threat of harm, proposing that the state is justified in withholding humanitarian aid from non-vaccinating refugees because the state is responsible for setting conditions that provide protection to (or prevent harm to) aid givers and public health [ 30 ].

Some critiques of policy or practice responses to non-vaccination emphasise that these responses can have inequitable effects and argue that this is unjustifiable. Exemption policies are a key focus here. Five papers argue against exemptions to vaccine mandates on the grounds that these unevenly distribute the risks and benefits of vaccinations (27,61,66, 73,118). These authors propose that the inaction of a few compromises the health of the most vulnerable community members (118) and disenfranchises those with medical contraindications for vaccines [ 27 ]. One author particularly focuses on home-schooled children, arguing that exempting them from vaccine mandates exposes both those children and society to harm, and that it is in the interests of these children and society that they be protected through vaccination (73). Some authors suggest that policy exemptions could be made justifiable by imposing conditions that offset potential inequities. On this view, exemptions could be justified so long as the refuser is prepared to make a financial or other contribution to help offset the potential financial burden of the diseases they may cause, or to otherwise contribute to social good [ 2 , 22 ].

Similarly, some opponents of coercive mandates or practice dismissal for non-vaccination critique these responses for having inequitable effects. It is argued that coercion risks creating a group of disenfranchised people (113) and that different people have different capacities to resist coercive policies (114). Similarly, dismissal leaves vulnerable children without advocacy (64), leads to patients not being treated equally (63) and marginalizes children from health care (74). One paper argues that family dismissal should be strongly discouraged, and an alternative mutually beneficial solution sought after considering the interests of the patient, physician, family, community, and society at large (74).

The duty of practitioners and the state

Some papers address the duties of practitioners and the duties of the state to respond to non-vaccination, in ways that go beyond simply weighing up consequences, implications for autonomy or freedom, or equity of impacts.

A variety of duties of practitioners are proposed. The first of these is to protect a child from their parent’s beliefs if those beliefs are likely to cause significant harm, which is used to justify initiating child protection proceedings to vaccinate against a parent’s will (67). Another is to protect patients in the waiting room from the risks posed by non-vaccinating patients, which is used to justify dismissing non-vaccinating patients from practice (9,26,38, 40,45). Counter-obligations are used to argue against practice dismissal. These include a health professional’s obligation to provide healthcare in the best interest of the child despite the parent’s decisions, and to deal with infectious disease as a part of their role (9,26,45,47, 56,101). Authors also argue that physicians’ obligations exclude enforcing parental accountability through dismissal, especially if that means the child is held accountable for the actions of their parents (47), and that continuing to provide care to a non-vaccinating family does not make the physician complicit in their decision (116).

It is sometimes asserted that the state is obliged to discourage non-vaccination on a number of grounds. This includes a fundamental duty of states to protect society [ 21 ], a responsibility of states to protect herd immunity as a common good or to reduce social and financial burdens and costs (53,119), and the state’s role to protect the common good in the face of risks to public health and the fallibility of individuals’ risk perception (54). Some of these arguments focus on exemptions from mandatory vaccination policies, proposing that states can not justify such exemptions because the government’s interest in protecting society outweighs the individual’s interest [ 21 ] or because vaccination is a social and moral good owed by a society to its children (118).

This review systematically explored and characterised the normative arguments made about parental refusal of routine childhood vaccination. Included publications addressed two types of arguments (i) ‘Refusal’ arguments (whether vaccine refusal is justified) and (ii) ‘Response’ arguments (whether various policy or practice responses to those who reject vaccines are justified). There were more ‘response’ arguments than ‘refusal’ arguments in the literature. On balance, most of the literature on ‘refusal’ arguments contended that it is not justifiable for parents to refuse vaccination for their children. Most of the ‘response’ argument literature argued against the various responses to non-vaccination put forward. However, compared to ‘refusal’ arguments, ‘response’ arguments were more varied and nuanced, and often came with caveats (e.g. exemptions to mandates are permissible if the disease burden is low).

The included articles predominantly originated from medical journals: these accounted for most of the papers focused on ‘response’ arguments. This may arise from the broader distribution of academic literature – there are more papers published in medicine than in the other disciplines represented in this review. It may also reflect the needs of readers of medical literature for guidance on how they should respond to non-vaccinating parents, highlighting the importance of making literature addressing the ethical dimensions of vaccine refusal accessible to immunization practitioners. Although there were some interdisciplinary perspectives, the dominance of the medical literature relating to ‘response’ arguments suggests that knowledge in this field may be advanced by incorporating more voices with expertise in ethics, law, and policy. This is especially important for deciding how to implement policy and practice responses to non-vaccination.

‘Refusal’ arguments were more common in the comparatively smaller collection of ethics/philosophy literature identified by this search, which may be, in part, a product of the differences in disciplinary traditions. While ethics/philosophy texts explore counterarguments and reach conclusions that are nuanced, and often with caveats, medical disciplines are primarily guided by practical considerations and a tradition of arguing from evidence rather than from ethical or philosophical principles. This privileging of evidence over principles may make it difficult to explore differing vaccination positions within the medical arena, potentially contributing to the adversarial clinical immunisation encounters described by vaccine-refusing parents and clinicians alike [ 7 , 18 , 19 ]. This pattern needs attention if ethical arguments are to have an impact in practice. As shown, most ethical arguments pay attention to evidence, as most ethical arguments include consequences in some way (see below). Ethical arguments can add nuance to biomedical thinking about consequences (e.g. consequences for individuals vs. the collective) and also about competing values (e.g. balancing consequences against concerns regarding autonomy, consent and liberty). The challenge for ethicists is to provide these arguments in an accessible and compelling form.

In fact, (i) consequences for the child and others, and (ii) respect for autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent and the value of liberty were dominant themes in both ‘refusal’ and ‘response’ arguments. Arguments were guided by common concepts such as the value of herd immunity, the prospect of harm to the child or others in the community and legal perspectives and precedents. The normative significance of parental trust, distrust, and uncertainty was a consideration unique to the ‘refusal’ arguments literature, driven in part by the five parental accounts from the special issue of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics included in our sample. The concepts of inequity, and the duties of governments and practitioners only appeared in ‘response’ arguments. This is unsurprising: it reflects the purpose and perspective of these writers. An analysis of policy options is often required to bring inequity into view, and both clinicians and policymakers have obligations by virtue of their roles that can inform thinking about the right thing to do.

Many of the arguments justifying vaccine refusal aligned with the wider literature on the perspectives of non-vaccinating parents who value the freedom to make health decisions as caregivers, in what they perceive to be the best interest of their children [ 20 , 21 ]. These decisions are often based on doubts about vaccine safety or efficacy and are commonly initiated by a negative experience [ 19 , 20 , 22 ]. Unsurprisingly, arguments against rejecting childhood vaccines reflected the broader literature on how vaccine-supporting people view non-vaccination— including views that non-vaccinators are misinformed and disrupt social order, and that their actions are not based on reason or shared social values [ 23 ]. Common negative descriptors such as “anti-vaxxer” have similar valence in social discourse [ 24 ]. Those writing about vaccination should be aware of the potential for stigmatization and “othering” that can result by framing non-vaccination as a failure of parents [ 25 ]. When such arguments are used to inform policy and practice responses to non-vaccination, it introduces the potential for negative psychosocial impacts and further alienation of non-vaccinating parents.

Most ‘response’ arguments dealt with the justifiability of mandates and coercive policy. Generally, authors in favour of mandates prioritised the good of society; those against mandates prioritised individual choice. The large number of papers we found on mandates is unsurprising, given that these policies have been contentious. In Australia, federal and most state governments have mandates that require children to be vaccinated to be enrolled in childcare and for their families to be eligible for government financial assistance [ 26 ] Key political, academic and industry stakeholders argue that these mandates are designed to increase vaccination rates for the benefit of society [ 27 ]. On the other hand, Australian non-vaccinating parents express a belief that their children do not pose a threat to society, that all children should be treated in the same way, and that all parents should be able to make decisions for their children, regardless of vaccination status [ 28 ]. These perceptions of policy makers and non-vaccinating parents broadly represent the opposing arguments about mandates presented in this review. Facilitating a middle-ground approach to policy implementation may require closer attention to the values underlying these opposing views, and using a procedurally just approach to weigh them against one another.

In the context of an increasing number of systematic reviews in the field of bioethics, there has been recent criticism emerging about the use of these methods in bioethics. For example, Birchley and Ives (2022) argue that such methods are designed and therefore better suited to aggregation of quantitative data and not the complex and subjective nature of bioethical concepts and the theory-generating and interpretive approaches they require [ 29 ]. We argue that our application of the framework systematic review method - one of many well-established methods for systematic review and synthesis of qualitative and conceptual data - is appropriate for this research question and the application of our findings. Vaccine policy and practice requires a synthesis of what is known on relevant issues, and a systematic approach such as that used here provides a useful summary of the breadth of relevant ethical issues in a format that is accessible to policymakers. Our review has some limitations. Our aim was to map the range of normative arguments about vaccination refusal and policy. We did not have scope to present a novel ethical argument in response to our findings; this is an aim for future empirical and theoretical research. Most of the included literature focuses on high-income settings, predominantly the United States and the United Kingdom. In low-income settings, health services are often harder to access and levels of and reasons for vaccine rejection also differ in these settings. For example, political and cultural factors have been implicated in polio vaccine rejection in Nigeria [ 30 ], while low literacy, unemployment, and owning a mobile phone have been associated with polio vaccine refusal in Pakistan [ 31 ]. Our sampling period included a special issue of Narrative Enquiry in Bioethics which published narratives written by parents to communicate their normative positions on vaccination. These were mostly written by non-vaccinating parents and made up over one third of all arguments in the literature that support refusal. This is a strength in that it expanded the range of views represented in the review. However, it is also a limitation in that if this special issue had not been published within our sampling period, the range of arguments would have been more strongly skewed against vaccine refusal. These papers artificially increased the proportion of arguments in the scholarly domain that argue for vaccine refusal. It is a strength of our methodology that we were able to identify the unique perspective from which they were written and position them separately in our literature synthesis so that our representation of the literature distribution is not artificially skewed.

This review highlights an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration to widen the scope and reach of normative arguments about non-vaccination. Such collaboration can facilitate a broader understanding of and engagement with the ethical issues that may be relevant for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers in deciding how to respond to non-vaccinating parents. Arguments about the justifiability of non-vaccination and what should be done about it have the potential to positively influence routine childhood vaccination rates but can also alienate non-vaccinating families if not deployed with their perspectives in mind. There is an avenue for future work to further understand the influence of cultural context on normative arguments, especially within low- and middle-income settings. Moreover, there is an opportunity to further explore the influence and translation of scholarly ethical arguments into policy and practice responses to childhood non-vaccination.

Data Availability

The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current review are not publicly available, however the search terms used to generate the dataset are included in this published article.

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This review was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, grant number GNT1126543.

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Wiley, K., Christou-Ergos, M., Degeling, C. et al. Childhood vaccine refusal and what to do about it: a systematic review of the ethical literature. BMC Med Ethics 24 , 96 (2023).

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Google researchers deal a major blow to the theory AI is about to outsmart humans

  • The race to build AI as smart as humans, or AGI, looks like it suffered a major blow.
  • Google researchers found the transformer technology behind AI isn't very good at generalizing.
  • "We shouldn't get too crazy about imminent AGI at this point," one AI expert told Insider.

Insider Today

Google researchers may have just given a major reality check to the ambitions of CEOs in chase of AI's holy grail.

In a new pre-print paper submitted to the open-access repository ArXiv on November 1 , a trio from the search giant found that transformers – the technology driving the large language models (LLMs) powering ChatGPT and other AI tools – are not very good at generalizing.

"When presented with tasks or functions which are out-of-domain of their pre-training data, we demonstrate various failure modes of transformers and degradation of their generalization for even simple extrapolation tasks," authors Steve Yadlowsky, Lyric Doshi, and Nilesh Tripuraneni wrote.

What transformers are good at is performing tasks that relate to the data they've been trained on, according to the paper. They're not so good at dealing with tasks that go even remotely beyond that.

That's a bit of a problem for those hoping to achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI) , a term techies use to describe hypothetical AI that can do anything humans do. As it stands, AI is pretty good at specific tasks but less great at transferring skills across domains like humans do.

It means "we shouldn't get too crazy about imminent AGI at this point," P edro Domingos, professor emeritus of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, told Insider.

AGI has been touted as the ultimate goal of the field of AI because it represents the moment, in theory, when humanity creates something that is as smart as, or smarter than, itself . Depending on your point of view, it's an alarmingly Promethean or an era-defining scenario. Either way, a lot of investors and techies are putting serious time and investment into getting there.

Standing on stage with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday, for instance, OpenAI boss Sam Altman reiterated his desire to "build AGI together."

Achieving that means getting AI to do a lot of the generalizing tasks that they human brain can do — whether it's adapting to unfamiliar scenarios, creating analogies, processing new information, or thinking abstractly.

But if the technology struggles with even "simple extrapolation tasks," as the researchers note, clearly we are not close yet.

"This paper isn't even about LLMs but seems to be the final straw that popped the bubble of collective belief and gotten many to accept the limits of LLMs," Princeton computer science professor Arvind Narayanan wrote on X . "About time."

Jin Fan, senior AI scientist at Nvidia, questioned why the paper's findings were a surprise to people as "transformers are not elixirs."

Ummm ... why is this a surprise? Transformers are not elixirs. Machine learning 101: gotta cover the test distribution in training! LLMs work so well because they are trained on (almost) all text distribution of tasks that we care about. That's why data quality is number 1… — Jim Fan (@DrJimFan) November 6, 2023

The research highlights how "a lot of people have gotten very confused" about the potential of a technology being touted as a path towards AGI , said Domingos.

"This paper that just came out, it's interesting who it's surprising to and who it's not surprising to," he added.

Though Domingos acknowledges transformers are an advanced technology, he believes a lot of people think they're a lot more powerful than they actually are.

"The problem is that neural networks are extremely opaque and also these LLMs have been trained on unimaginably large amounts of data which got a lot of people very confused about what they can and can't do," he said. "They start thinking they can do miracles."

Transformers' opacity and the scale of the data they're pretrained on gave some the illusion that they generalize beyond it. But now the truth is out, and it's clear they're not the road to human-level intelligence. — Pedro Domingos (@pmddomingos) November 6, 2023

More advanced forms of AI may do a better job of generalizing. The Google researchers used a GPT-2 scale model rather than something more current like a GPT-4 scale model.

Sharon Zhou, CEO of Lamini AI , told Insider she doesn't find it troubling that transformers may struggle to generalize.

"It's why I started a company that trains models, not just queries them, so it can learn new things," she said. They can still be very useful, and still be steered and aligned."

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How Democrats Lost Voters With a ‘Compensate Losers’ Strategy

An illustration depicting a blue donkey wearing an orange mortarboard and standing beside an orange briefcase.

By Peter Coy

Opinion Writer

A lot of Democrats are bewildered by why their party isn’t doing better in campaigns against a Republican Party that is deeply dysfunctional. A new paper by three economists proposes a fresh explanation that seems persuasive to me. It says the Democrats went astray right around … 1976.

The argument, in a nutshell, is that the Democratic Party has gained educated voters but lost less educated voters because of a change in how it tried to help the working class and the poor. Instead of trying to prevent market forces from generating inequality, it has leaned toward giving free rein to market forces and then fixing the resulting inequalities through the tax-and-transfer system, taking some of the gains of the most successful and sharing them with the least successful.

The working paper , from the National Bureau of Economic Research, is titled “‘Compensate the Losers?’ Economic Policy and Partisan Realignment in the U.S.” Its three authors are Ilyana Kuziemko, a professor at Princeton; Nicolas Longuet Marx, a doctoral candidate at Columbia; and Suresh Naidu, a Columbia professor.

Historically, the Democratic Party was a party of the working class. Democrats inspired by the successes of the New Deal stood for helping working people earn a decent living through measures such as a higher minimum wage, unionization and restrictions on imports of cheap goods that would take jobs away from Americans.

But in the 1970s, New Democrats began to exert more influence over the party. They argued that many traditional Democratic policies were inefficient, creating what economists call deadweight losses. For example, they contended that high minimum wages killed jobs and that tariffs harmed consumers (including low-income ones) by raising prices.

The New Democrats weren’t heartless. They wanted to help the poor and working class. But they wanted to let the free market do what it does best, namely create wealth, and then use government policy to take from the rich and give to the poor. That’s “compensating the losers,” as the paper’s title has it. Their economics-inflected strategy was aimed at recapturing white, middle-class voters who had defected to the Republican Party.

For decades, Democratic primaries pitted traditional Democrats against New Democrats. Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Jesse Jackson were traditionalists. Gary Hart, Bill and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were revisionists. Gradually the revisionists gained the upper hand. The Democratic Leadership Council, formed in 1985, was their think tank. Bill Clinton’s victories in 1992 and 1996 were seen as proof of the rightness of their approach.

Something wasn’t working, though. The Democratic Party was picking up college-educated suburban voters, but the working class was abandoning it in droves. The Democratic Party went from being less educated than the Republican Party to more educated.

“In the 1940s, every additional year of education predicts a three-percentage-point decrease in the likelihood of identifying as a Democrat,” Kuziemko, Marx and Naidu wrote. “This relationship holds with little change until an inflection point, which we estimate as occurring in 1976. Since then, the pace of realignment remains relatively steady.”

Party leaders consoled themselves that at least they had managed to hang on to Black and Hispanic voters, but lately Hispanic voters, too, have begun drifting toward the G.O.P.

To understand the party realignment, the three economists analyzed results of more than 800 surveys of about two million respondents since the 1940s. They also studied congressional voting records, party platforms and data on donations. They found that at least since the 1940s, “less educated voters appear to prefer a less market-based and more interventionist economic program that aims to promote domestic employment and wages.” Those voters left the Democratic Party when the party left them.

The authors labeled the traditional, New Deal approach as “predistributionist” and the New Democrat approach as “redistributionist.” The authors didn’t have data on why less educated voters prefer predistributionist policies. One explanation could be the dignity of work: People want to feel that they earned their own way (even if their earnings were invisibly bolstered by government policies such as tariffs). Or “voters may believe that the tax-and-transfer system is more opaque, corrupt or inefficient,” they wrote.

The traditional knock on a “compensate the losers” strategy is that the promises of compensation are often unfulfilled. For example, people who lose their jobs because of cheap imports don’t get the retraining they need to start new careers. When I emailed Kuziemko and Naidu about that, Naidu wrote back, in part: “Our paper is more about the political efficacy of the ‘compensate the losers’ view than whether or not it’s actually economically efficient. It might be that less educated voters don’t trust that it will happen, or it could be that even if it did happen, it wouldn’t preserve what people like about their current job.” He added, “We can’t disentangle those things.”

In reality, every government does some predistribution and some redistribution. It’s just that the Democratic Party has tipped more toward redistribution in recent decades. Whether that is good or bad from an economic perspective is not something the paper addresses.

From a political perspective, the tilt toward the preferences of the more educated might have won the Democrats a firmer majority of the electorate if the rate of college completion had continued to grow as vigorously as it did in the 1970s and 1980s, but it did not, Kuziemko told me in a phone interview with her and Naidu.

An alternative theory you sometimes hear is that the culture wars caused the party realignment. But that doesn’t match the evidence, the authors wrote. College-educated voters tend to be socially liberal, whereas Bill Clinton and other New Democrats were actually less socially liberal than old-fashioned Democrats such as McGovern. The fact that educated voters chose New Democrats anyway is evidence that economic factors were so important to them that they outweighed social ones, the authors wrote.

President Biden doesn’t fit the paper’s thesis. He is a throwback to the New Deal era of the Democratic Party. He has more in common with Humphrey than with Clinton or Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president. When he supported the United Auto Workers in its strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, he became the first sitting president to walk a picket line.

Kuziemko and Naidu told me that their research didn’t extend to the Biden presidency but that Biden’s unrelenting emphasis on creating good, well-paying jobs is consistent with trying to win back less educated voters.

I ran the paper’s thesis past some people at a conference of progressive Democrats, Bold New Consensus, that was held in New York on Thursday at Cooper Union. Felicia Wong, the president of the Roosevelt Institute, said Biden is on the right track in emphasizing predistributionist policies, although she said there will always be a need for redistribution as well. Dorian Warren, who is a co-president of the progressive organizing group Community Change and co-chair of the Economic Security Project, said predistributionist and redistributionist policies can reinforce one another, to workers’ benefit.

I wouldn’t say that pre- versus re- is the entire explanation for what has happened in party politics over the past half-century, and I don’t think the authors would, either. At the conference of progressives in New York, the author Anand Giridharadas said, “We need to throw a more fun party than the other side,” calling Democrats “tedious, moralistic, scolding and wonky.” That sounds about right. My colleague Pamela Paul just interviewed John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, whose new book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?” pins the blame for Democrats’ losses on a mix of economic and social policies.

That said, I do think that Kuziemko, Marx and Naidu have put their collective finger on a genuinely important factor in the Democrats’ loss of an important constituency. Assuming their analysis holds up to peer review — and I don’t know why it wouldn’t — this research is likely to be cited by economists and political scientists for years.

Outlook: Andrew Hunter

Judging from the weakness in recent economic data, “it is increasingly hard to imagine” that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates any more, Andrew Hunter, the deputy chief U.S. economist of Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients on Friday. He pointed to the slowdown of payroll and wage growth and a decline in the number of people reported as employed in the October jobs report . “Overall, we suspect the softening in labor market conditions has much further to run and still expect the Fed to be cutting interest rates again in the first half of next year,” he wrote.

Quote of the Day

“Remember what I always say: People first, then money, then things.”

— Suze Orman (frequently)

Peter Coy has covered business for more than 40 years. Email him at coy-n[email protected]  or follow him on Twitter. @ petercoy

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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    What does a 20 page essay look like? Go on reading if you want to know the answer! A 20 page essay word count is 4950 to 5000 words (double-spaced 12 pt.). This is a good size for a graduate-level essay or even for a research paper. There are 50 to 66 paragraphs in a paper of 20 pages.

  13. PDF Writing a research paper

    the success in publishing scientific papers. This article reviews the guidelines for writing and submitting research papers. The three most important success criteria in publishing are as follows: the paper describes a good research, it is written according to the traditions of scientific writing and submitted to the right journal. The "right"

  14. How to Write Your First Research Paper

    This paper presents guidelines on how to initiate the writing process and draft each section of a research manuscript. The paper discusses seven rules that allow the writer to prepare a well-structured and comprehensive manuscript for a publication submission. In addition, the author lists different strategies for successful revision.

  15. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    Home Knowledge Base Research paper How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

  16. Research Paper Format

    Revised on January 20, 2023. The formatting of a research paper is different depending on which style guide you're following. In addition to citations, APA, MLA, and Chicago provide format guidelines for things like font choices, page layout, format of headings and the format of the reference page.

  17. 55 Research Paper Topics to Jump-Start Your Paper

    A research paper topic is the main focus of a piece of academic writing, encompassing the author's main argument, thesis, or hypothesis that they plan to research and investigate.

  18. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

    written by Dhanya Alex July 20, 2023 2 The research paper introduction section, along with the Title and Abstract, can be considered the face of any research paper. The following article is intended to guide you in organizing and writing the research paper introduction for a quality academic article or dissertation.

  19. Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners

    Research paper. Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners ... For example, if you state in your results that "After administration of drug X, 20 out of 25 patients experienced intracranial bleeding", then it is not accurate to indicate in the discussion that "80% of patients who receive drug X have intracranial ...

  20. Three Days That Changed the Thinking About Black Women's Health

    A peer-to-peer counseling process, which Ms. Allen called self-help, was the heart of the organization's work. Jennie Joseph was a member of the Orlando, Fla., chapter in the early 1990s.

  21. What is a Journal Article?

    A research paper is a paper that is written to provide new insight on a particular subject. Journal articles are papers that are published in journals. In general, a journal article is an academic ...

  22. 113 Great Research Paper Topics

    General Education One of the hardest parts of writing a research paper can be just finding a good topic to write about. Fortunately we've done the hard work for you and have compiled a list of 113 interesting research paper topics.

  23. CRediT author statement

    Methodology. Development or design of methodology; creation of models. Software. Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components. Validation. Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication ...

  24. The best AI tools to power your academic research

    Research Rabbit also allows visualising the scholarly network of papers and co-authorships in graphs, so that users can follow the work of a single topic or author and dive deeper into their ...

  25. Ph.D. Student Angeline Aguinaldo Wins Best Paper Award at AAAI Fall

    Angeline Aguinaldo, a computer science Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, received a Best Paper Award for her research in the field of robotic representation at the 2023 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Fall Symposium on Unifying Representations for Robot Application Development, held in Arlington, Virginia, from October 25 to 27, 2023.

  26. Childhood vaccine refusal and what to do about it: a systematic review

    Parental refusal of routine childhood vaccination remains an ethically contested area. This systematic review sought to explore and characterise the normative arguments made about parental refusal of routine vaccination, with the aim of providing researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with a synthesis of current normative literature. Nine databases covering health and ethics research ...

  27. Google Researchers May Have Just Turned the Race to AGI Upside Down

    Google researchers may have just given a major reality check to the ambitions of CEOs in chase of AI's holy grail. In a new pre-print paper submitted to the open-access repository ArXiv on ...

  28. How Democrats Lost Voters With a 'Compensate Losers' Strategy

    A new paper by three economists proposes a fresh explanation that seems persuasive to me. It says the Democrats went astray right around … 1976. The argument, in a nutshell, is that the ...

  29. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer). Argumentative paper: Thesis statement The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for.