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Example Research Paper Imrad Format For Lab

What is an IMRaD report?

“IMRaD” format refers to a paper that is structured by four main sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This format is often used for lab reports as well as for reporting any planned, systematic research in the social sciences, natural sciences, or engineering and computer sciences.

Introduction – Make a case for your research

The introduction explains why this research is important or necessary or important. Begin by describing the problem or situation that motivates the research. Move to discussing the current state of research in the field; then reveal a “gap” or problem in the field. Finally, explain how the present research is a solution to that problem or gap. If the study has hypotheses, they are presented at the end of the introduction.

Methods – What did you do?

The methods section tells readers how you conducted your study. It includes information about your population, sample, methods, and equipment. The “gold standard” of the methods section is that it should enable readers to duplicate your study. Methods sections typically use subheadings; they are written in past tense, and they use a lot of passive voice. This is typically the least read section of an IMRaD report.

Results – What did you find?

In this section, you present your findings. Typically, the Results section contains only the findings, not any explanation of or commentary on the findings (see below). Results sections are usually written in the past tense. Make sure all tables and figures are labeled and numbered separately. Captions go above tables and beneath figures.

Discussion – What does it mean?

In this section, you summarize your main findings, comment on those findings (see below), and connect them to other research. You also discuss limitations of your study, and use these limitations as reasons to suggest additional, future research.

Abstract – Summarize the entire study

The abstract for the report comes at the beginning of the paper, but you should write it after you have drafted the full report. The abstract provides a very short overview of the entire paper, including a sentence or two about the report’s purpose and importance, a sentence or two about your methods, a few sentences that present the main findings, and a sentence or two about the implications of your findings. (See our handout on Writing Abstracts.)

 Common problems in IMRaD drafts:

Reporting versus Commenting on your Findings
In the Results section, you simply report your findings. In the Discussion section, you comment on them.

1. Refer to your table or figure and state the main trend

Table 3 shows that Spam Filter A correctly filtered more junk emails than Filter B

2. Support the trend with data

Filter A correctly filtered.... The average difference is....

3. (If needed) Note any additional, secondary trends and support them with data

In addition.... Figure 1 also shows....

4. (If needed) Note any exceptions to your main trends or unexpected outcomes.



(Discussion section)

1. (If needed) Provide an explanation

A feasible explanation is.... This trend can be explained by....

2. (If needed) Compare to other research

X is consistent with X’s finding... In contrast, Y found....

3. (If needed) Evaluate whether the findings support or contradict a hypothesis

4. State the bottom line: what does the data mean?

These findings overall suggest.... These data indicate....

  • The Abstract does not provide a clear statement of the main findings.

  • The Introduction does not communicate clearly why the research is important.

  • The Methods section is not detailed enough or is disorganized.

  • The Results section provides comments and explanations instead of simply reporting results.


The material for this handout was drawn from Carnegie Mellon’s “Cheatsheet” on IMRAD reports.

What is the IMRaD Format?

The IMRaD (often pronounced “im-rad”) format is a scientific writing structure that includes four or five major sections: introduction (I); research methods (M); results (R); analysis (a); and discussion (D). The IMRaD format is the most commonly used format in scientific article and journal writing and is used widely across most scientific and research fields.

When Do I Use the IMRaD Format?

If you are writing a paper where you are conducting objective research in order answer a specific question, the IMRaD format will most likely serve your purposes best. The IMRaD format is especially useful if you are conducting primary research (such as experimentation, questionnaires, focus groups, observations, interviews, and so forth), but it can be applied even if you only conduct secondary research (which is research you gather from reading sources like books, magazines, journal articles, and so forth.)

The goal of using the IMRaD format is to present facts objectively, demonstrating a genuine interest and care in developing new understanding about a topic; when using this format, you don’t explicitly state an argument or opinion, but rather, you rely on collected data and previously researched information in order to make a claim.

While there are nuances and adjustments that would be made to the following document types, the IMRaD format is the foundational structure many research-driven documents:

  • Grants
  • Proposals
  • Recommendation reports
  • Plans (such as an integrated marketing plan or project management plan)

How Does the IMRaD Format Work?

As mentioned above, the IMRaD format includes four or five major sections. The little “a” has had multiple interpretations over the years; some would suggest it means nothing other than “and,” as in “Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion,” but others have argued that the “a” should be viewed as “Analysis” in papers where the “Results” section may not be immediately clear and a section that analyzes the results is important for reader comprehension. Either way, the “a” often remains in lower-case to indicate that, while it’s often important, it isn’t always necessary. Below, we’ll review the five major sections, with “a” given equal weight to the other sections.

Note that these five sections should always go in the order listed below:

  1. Introduction: The introduction states the research problem or the question(s) you intend to address through research. Your introduction would typically include some variation of the following:
    1. Statement of the topic you are about to address
    2. Current state of the field of understanding (often, we call this a literature review and it may even merit having its own section)
    3. Problem or gap in knowledge (what don’t we know yet or need to know? what does the field still need to understand? what’s been left out of previous research? is this a new issue that needs some direction?)
    4. Forecast statement that explains, very briefly, what the rest of the paper will entail, including a possible quick explanation of the type of research that needs to be conducted
  2. Methods: The research methods section can go any number of different directions, depending on the type of research you conducted. Regardless of what you did for your research, though, this section needs to be very clear, very specific, very detailed, and only focused on researchAvoid explaining what the research means–this is for the next sections, Analysis and Discussion.While the research section is often considered the most boring section for someone to read, it is also considered the most important section to build your credibility. If your research methods are sound, your paper holds a lot more weight. A few tips to make your methods section work well:
    1. Separate each type of research you conducted (interviews, focus groups, experiments, etc.) into sub-sections and only discuss one research method in each sub-section (for clarity and organization, it’s important to not talk about multiple methods at once)
    2. Be very detailed about your process. If you interviewed people, for example, we need to know how many people you interviewed, what you asked them, what you hoped to learn by interviewing them, why chose to interview over other methods, why you interviewed those people specifically (including providing they demographic information if it’s relevant), and so forth. For other types of data collection, we need to know what your methods were–how long you observed; how frequently you tested; how you coded qualitative data; and so forth.
    3. Don’t discuss what the research means. You’ll use the next two sections–Analysis and Discussion–to talk about what the research means. To stay organized, simply discuss your research methods. This is the single biggest mistake when writing research papers, so don’t fall into that trap.
  3. Results: The results section is critical for your audience to understand what the research showed. Use this section to show tables, charts, graphs, quotes, etc. from your research. At this point, you are building your reader towards drawn conclusions, but you are not yet providing a full analysis. You’re simply showing what the data says. Follow the same order as the Methods section–if you put interviews first, then focus groups second, do the same in this section. Be sure, when you include graphics and images, that you label and title every table or graphic (“Table 3: Interview Results“) and that you introduce them in the body of your text (“As you can see in Figure 1, seventy-nine percent of respondents…”)
  4. Analysis: The analysis section details what you and others may learn from the data. While some researchers like to combine this section with the Discussion section, many writers and researchers find it useful to analyze the data separately. In the analysis section, spend time connecting the dots for the reader. What do the interviews say about the way employers think about their employees? What do the observations say about how employees respond to workplace criticism? Can any connections be made between the two research types? It’s important in the Analysis section that you don’t draw conclusions that the research findings don’t suggest. Always stick to what the research says.
  5. Discussion: Finally, you conclude this paper by suggesting what new knowledge this provides to the field. You’ll often want to note the limitations of your study and what further research still needs to be done. If something alarming or important was discovered, this is where you highlight that information. If you use the IMRaD format to write other types of papers (like a recommendation report or a plan), this is where you put the recommendations or the detailed plan.

Example of the IMRaD Format


Back to the Organization Memo


Other Formats

Rogerian Method

Indirect Method

Proposal Format


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