While helping a friend with a research assignment (basically find some studies on a topic, compare them, and then evaluate the work as a whole), I noticed that the professor had provided a sample paper.

They had one paragraph for every study, and they were all in the same exact format. For example:

[Authors] conducted a [type of study] to investigate [phenomena]. The study was conducted at [institution] and involved [N] [types of people]. The strengths of this study were [...] etc.

Is it plagiarism to copy this exact format? Or is the structure of paragraphs not something to worry about?

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    I would ask the professor. Using the format might be mandatory, or it might be a bad example. Jul 18, 2016 at 11:54
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    I usually study the structure of papers before trying to write them when working with different people/fields/subfields. Easier for someone to work with you if you match their style. I really believe it to be a good idea. However, I, personally, don't really like that specific formula you described, rather bland, but if it is common in the field use it, because it will ease the understanding of your content for readers/reviewers. Jul 18, 2016 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


It's not "plagiarism" because you are copying a standard format. That is known as scenes a faire in fiction, but can apply to Academia. This is not only allowed, but encouraged, because you are conforming to a "formula."

You should be worried if you were copying an unusual or original format. That's not the case here.


Why not have an introductory paragraph that says the format of the summaries is taken from the example paper.

This intro could also say what papers where chosen and why.


I am not sure of the question exactly, but there are "standards" for writing academic papers.

This is the standard way of reporting studies, but use the primary source rather than the secondary source.

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