How to Write a Background for a Research Paper: Step-by-step Guidelines

While the study's findings take the spotlight as the foreground of your investigation, it’s equally crucial to establish a strong background. This section provides context for your study and entices readers to explore your paper further.

Still, many students find completing the background challenging. In this article, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of how to write a background for a research paper, clarify its differences from the other parts of the research, and provide the essential tips to create a compelling chapter for your study.

What is the background of the study? 

It is a fundamental paragraph that provides context and rationale for the study. It serves to acquaint readers with the subject matter by offering an overview of the broader scientific domain and explaining its significance concerning existing knowledge.

In essence, the background section of a research paper outlines the existing understanding of the field or topic being investigated while also highlighting any gaps or limitations in the current knowledge. Doing so underscores the need for further investigation and presents the specific problem or knowledge gap the study aims to address.

This section is instrumental in shaping the study’s objectives, research questions, and hypotheses. Through a comprehensive review of the existing literature and identifying gaps, researchers can formulate clear goals and design appropriate methodologies to tackle specific issues.

Research paper background structure

Depending on the study area and the paper’s requirements, this paragraph can be organized differently. It typically follows a logical order and comprises several essential elements. Below is a standard outline for organizing the background statement:

  • Introduction: Start with a concise research paper introduction that offers an overview of the selected topic and its significance. Capture the audience’s interest and provide context for the study.
  • Current issue identification: An academic author should clearly state the scientific problem or knowledge gap the investigation aims to cover. This part of the research paper structure explains the problem’s significance and why it necessitates further study.
  • Literature review: Conduct a thorough review of the sources dealing with the investigation topic. Analyze key concepts, theories, and findings from previous research works directly relevant to the problem you aim to solve. Examine the existing knowledge and emphasize any gaps or shortcomings the current study aims to address.
  • Research objectives, questions, and hypotheses: Precisely articulate the objectives, questions, or assumptions guiding the investigation. Ensure that they directly derive from the problem and are related to the gaps stated in the literature review.
  • Study rationale: Discuss the potential paper’s implications and contributions. Examine how the findings can contribute to advancing knowledge, resolving practical challenges, or creating broader impacts in the subject area. Provide a rationale for why the investigation is worth conducting and how it contributes to the existing pool of knowledge.
  • Scope and limitations: Define the research’s scope by specifying its boundaries and particular aspects. Outline any constraints or limitations that may have an impact on the findings.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the research paper background section, emphasizing the problem's importance and the need for further study.

You can adjust this structure according to your specific guidelines and instructions given by your college professor.

Writing an effective background section in 3 easy steps

To create a coherent and engaging section, adhere to the following algorithm.

Step 1. Recognize the research problem.

  • Start by precisely delineating the research problem or defining the gap in current knowledge that your investigation seeks to tackle.
  • Assess the importance and pertinence of this problem within your field.
  • Provide a concise explanation of the problem’s significance and elucidate how solving it can enrich the existing knowledge base.

Step 2. Analyze literature.

  • Engage in a comprehensive literature review to gather pertinent data and gain insights into the present understanding of your subject.
  • Analyze essential concepts, theories, and discoveries from prior research that directly pertain to your topic.
  • Accentuate any existing gaps, constraints, or controversies in the literature your thesis intends to tackle.
  • Make a well-organized and coherent literature review, employing sub-topics, themes, or chronological order, depending on their relevance to your writing.

Step 3. Offer rationale and set objectives.

  • Offer a well-defined rationale for undertaking your investigation rooted in the analyzed problem and the gaps unearthed during the literature review.
  • Articulate the significance of your work and how it will fill the defined gaps or push the boundaries of knowledge within the field.
  • Present explicit objectives or questions your investigation seeks to address.
  • Ensure alignment between the research problem, objectives, and the identified gaps in the literature, showcasing how your work will effectively bridge those gaps.

Adhering to these steps can construct a well-organized and cohesive chapter, effectively setting your dissertation's context, significance, and rationale. Remember to furnish ample background information while balancing conciseness and informativeness in your presentation.

Helpful tips when creating background sections in research papers

If you want to know how to write a background for a research paper, discover some valuable pointers to craft effective paragraphs and sidestep common errors:

  • Direct your attention toward the explored topic.
  • Strive for clarity and conciseness in your presentation.
  • Rely on trustworthy and current sources to add credibility.
  • Establish a logical flow within the paragraph.
  • Avoid excessive use of technical terms and jargon.
  • Strike a balance between breadth and depth of information.
  • Employ proper citations to support your claims.
  • Thoroughly revise and proofread your writing.

By incorporating these suggestions, you’ll elevate the quality of your background in a research paper, ensuring it captivates your readers from the outset and creates the perfect stage for your study. Crafting a strong background for a research paper is essential for setting the context, and if you need assistance, there are professionals who write essays for money that can help you create a compelling and well-researched section.

Example of the background section

To compose this section, it’s crucial to comprehend its overall structure and precisely follow the required format. 

Here is a background information example for a research paper about “Gender stereotypes and the way they affect people”:

Gender stereotypes are deeply ingrained societal beliefs that shape behaviors and expectations based on gender. Despite efforts to promote gender equality, these stereotypes influence various aspects of individuals' lives, affecting self-perception, career choices, relationships, and mental well-being. This study explores the impact of gender stereotypes on individuals and society.

Persisting gender stereotypes reinforces unequal power dynamics, limiting opportunities for personal growth and achievement. Women may face discrimination in male-dominated fields, while men may feel pressured to conform to emotional constraints. Such stereotypes can also negatively affect mental health, increasing stress and self-esteem. They impede progress toward genuine gender equality and inclusivity.

Extensive research has explored the origins and consequences of gender stereotypes. Media portrayals often reinforce traditional gender roles, perpetuating societal expectations. Previous studies have examined how gender stereotypes intersect with other identity factors, influencing experiences and opportunities.

This paper seeks to address critical questions:

  • What are the prevalent gender stereotypes and their evolution?
  • How do gender stereotypes impact self-concept, self-efficacy, and career aspirations?
  • What are the psychological consequences of internalizing gender stereotypes on mental health?
  • How can society challenge and combat gender stereotypes to promote greater equality and inclusivity?

Understanding the impact of gender stereotypes is essential for fostering a more accepting society. This investigation aims to inform strategies and interventions that challenge and dismantle harmful beliefs, promoting greater gender equality.

The paper will examine gender stereotypes in contemporary societies, considering cultural and social complexities. While diverse perspectives will be incorporated, individual experiences may not be fully captured, and data could be subject to biases.

The study lays the foundation for investigating the impact of gender stereotypes. By acknowledging challenges and reviewing existing literature, this research aims to contribute to the discourse on gender equality and societal progress, fostering an inclusive and diverse society free from the constraints of limiting gender stereotypes.


What is the difference between an introduction and a research paper background? 

These elements have distinct differences. The introduction presents preliminary data on the topic and includes research questions and objectives. The background provides an in-depth topic exploration without including research questions or aims (unless integrated into the introduction). 

Where does the background section go in a paper?

The study background section typically comes after the introduction and before the literature review in a research paper.

What is the difference between the literature review and the background?

The difference lies in these sections’ purpose, focus, and length. The literature review aims to analyze the existing knowledge on the topic and synthesize it, providing a comprehensive overview. It evaluates and compares scholarly works related to the subject and usually appears as a standalone section in a structured format. In contrast, the scientific background outlines the broader study area, introduces the problem, and explains its significance. It has a more specific focus, is concise, and offers a brief overview.

How long should the background of a research paper be?

The length of the background section in a research paper can vary widely, but typically it ranges from one to three pages. It should provide enough context to understand the research without overwhelming the reader with excessive detail. The key is to keep balance between offering sufficient information and avoiding unnecessary elaboration. Always consider the specific guidelines provided by your instructor.

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