There is no specific length every research paper must follow. However, there are specific determiners of the length of any research paper—topic, assignment, and recommended word length. Outside these three criteria, a research paper can be of any length.
However, it is rare to find a research paper (not dissertation or thesis) that exceeds ten pages. A typical word count for research papers is between 4,000-12,000 words. For students, the professor will provide the length of your research paper. For academic writers, they follow the recommended length from the journal they’re submitting to.
Hopefully, this answers your “how long is a research paper” question. But, to know about length guides to writing a research paper, you’ll have to continue reading this article.
How long should a research paper be?
Your research paper can be of any length—long or short. If you are working on a broad topic, you’ll be touching across a lot, increasing the length. This cannot be compared with someone working on a narrow topic. But, regardless of this, when you are given a research length guide, whether your topic is broad or not, you’ll have to stick to it.
In rare cases where there’s no provided length for your research paper, you can limit word count between 3,000-5,000 words. With the page limit being between 5-7 pages.
Tips on how to add length to a research paper
Every single time, at least one or two students have this lingering difficulty: trying to reach their word count and research length without knowing how to go about it. For research papers with recommended length, when you don’t reach them, it can impact your grade. So, to avoid it, here’s how to increase length:
- Include quotations from various sources.
- Conduct a thorough research work.
- Use transitional phrases and sentences like, “evidence shown from the study suggests…”, “adding weight to this argument…”, “this analysis explores….” While they guide your readers to subsequent ideas, they also increase your length.
- Use instances, case studies, and examples.
- Add additional sources to your paper.
The appropriate length of various parts of a research paper
Research paper abstract length
Your research paper abstract is a summary that explores the scope of your research. Succinctly, it touches every relevant information expounded in your research. Therefore, the length of an abstract should not exceed 150-250 words. It is usually 4-5 sentences long and contained in one paragraph.
Research paper introduction length
Your research paper introduction serves as a background to the study. Your introduction provides readers with firsthand information on your topic’s importance. While it should be short, it should not exceed 400-500 words depending on the length of your research.
Research paper paragraph length
The paragraph of a research paper is between 100-200 words, and in some instances, it can reach 250 words. Also, a paragraph in your paper should have 5-6 sentences. But, there could be exceptions depending on what you are writing.
AP research paper length
AP research is a course on research writing that helps build students’ critical thinking, reading, and ability to write research papers.
At the end of your AP research class, you’ll be required to write a practice research paper. The usual length for AP research papers is between 4,000-5,000 words, about 5-7 pages.
How long does it take to write a research paper for school?
There is no set time for writing a research paper. Some research papers can take 2-3 months or more before completion. A research paper requires thorough research, and doing good work requires time. However, this time comes with a deadline determined by your professor in most cases.
For a student research paper, your professor can allocate between 1-2 months to finish the research. So, everything is subject to their approval.
The length and time for a research paper are not set in stone. Some papers are longer than others, and the length also does not determine the average time spent. But, to improve your speed while writing your paper, set a timeline and follow through with it.