A Comprehensive Manual On Literary Research Paper Structure


While literature tends to be one of the fuzzier and less defined disciplines in whole, its research papers still need to be as academically rigorous and serious as any other discipline’s. Here is a basic yet comprehensive outline on how to structure your literary research paper.

  1. Title page and Abstract
  2. Depending on the essay format you are writing in (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago), your title page and abstract will look a little bit different, but the goals are still the same. In the abstract, you want to state your thesis, your inspiration for your thesis, why your thesis is important, and your method of research in which you argued your thesis. In your title page, you should have all the information that your teacher or professor needs to connect your essay title with your name and identity. You want your abstract to find a balance between being conclusive and just hinting at the answers you found, in order to encourage your reader to want to read more. This balance will depend on you and your feel for the type of teacher or professor your teacher or professor is.

  3. Opening paragraph
  4. This is arguably the most important paragraph of the entire paper. Here, you want to start off with an eye catching opener that is both professional and grammatically correct, but exciting and minimally informative. Afterwards, you want to be sure to include your method of organization, your thesis, and a roadmap of where you’re going to go inside the paper. Your thesis needs to be strong, but strong enough to be properly arguable. You should also mention what literary works you are going to be analyzing in the roadmap sentence of your first paragraph.

  5. Body paragraphs
  6. The most important thing about your body paragraphs is that their first sentence fully identifies the main subject of the paragraph, and that they are consistent. For a literary paper, each paragraph could focus on one work, and inside the paragraph you can cite both the work and a number of previous research papers which further your argument and support your thesis. Your first body paragraph should be the strongest, your last body paragraph should be the second strongest, and the paragraph prior to your last body paragraph should be the weakest, with all others between the first and the second to last.

  7. Conclusion
  8. This can be a short paragraph that only restates your thesis and main points.