- A Research Guide
- Research Paper Guide
Research, Writing, and Style Guides (MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard, CGOS, CBE)
- Citing Sources – General
- Citing Electronic Sources
- APA Style (American Psychological Association)
- MLA Style (Modern Language Association)
- CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style
- CBE Style -Council of Biology Editors
- Harvard Style
- Chicago Manual of Style / Turabian Style
- Resume Writing and Cover Letters
- Writing – Grammar Guides
- Writing – Research Guides
- Additional Sources
1. Citing Sources – General
There are 3 methods of including other writer’s work into your paper. They are called citing or quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.
Citation. The purpose of the citing/quoting is that it should repeat the original text word-for-word and include a reference to the original writer of the source document. When you have to incorporate another author’s ideas into your text, you should first decide which approach to use. You should use direct quotation when the exact wording of a passage is important so that you can be sure you have reproduced the original accurately. You might also use citations if the original statement is very well formulated and you feel it will enrich your writing.
Paraphrasing is basically a retelling of a passage of the original text using your own words and sentence structures. The author of the original must also be referenced. Paraphrasing is widely used in research papers and argumentative essays, showing your supervisors you understand a source text well and may reformulate it and find and emphasize its main points. It also helps change the stylistic characteristics of your source, adapting it to the readers (for example, if you use it for a presentation of some scientific topic before your class) and omitting unnecessary details.
Summarizing means reproducing only the most important ideas and main points of the source in your own words. It usually summarizes a larger statement in the form of a shorter explanation. However, the original source must be referenced, too. The purpose of a summary is a bit similar to that of a paraphrasing, but it helps to make a long text shorter, explaining a lengthy chapter, article or a book in a brief essay or even in a single paragraph.
List of Useful Resources on Citation and Writing:
Documentation Style Handouts in PDF – Writing Center at Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU), Savannah, GA Annotated Bibliography, APA, Chicago-Turabian, and MLA Documentation, plus Grammar-Mechanics Handouts and Exercises, Regents’ Handouts, Writing Process Handouts, all available in PDF.
KnightCite: A Project of the Hekman Library – Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI Free Citation Generator for MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Site created by Justin Searls, Student Intern, Teaching & Learning Digital Studio, Calvin Information Technology.
Slate: Citation Machine An online tool that creates MLA and APA citations instantly. This web tool was created by David Warlick of The Landmark Project on October 29, 2000, and is part of the Landmarks for Schools website for teachers.
2. Citing Electronic Sources
Students often ask how to cite electronic primary sources. At present, people often access their sources using electronic means, because a large portion of information has become available in the electronic format. Using electronic or online sources is convenient, but you have to know how to cite them properly.
Due to the fact that different disciplines and fields of knowledge require different writing formats, no universal example for citing electronic sources can be provided. You should look for a particular style guideline used in your field (MLA, APA, Chicago Style, etc.). Each style guide addresses rules of citing electronic sources.
Citing Sources Massachusetts Institute of Technology, APA Style, MLA Style, Chicago, Related Resources, Navigating EResearch.
How to Cite Electronic Sources The Learning Page, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. MLA and Turabian citation examples for Films, Legal Documents and Government Publications, Maps, Photographs, Recorded Sound, Special Presentations, and Texts. Includes links to Citation Guidelines.
3. APA Style (American Psychological Association)
Using a particular writing style can simplify the editors’ work because every author adheres to the same format, as well as it makes it easier for the audience to follow the author’s ideas because they are organized according to a familiar structure. Demonstrating that you know and follow the style requirements of your field will also make your work more credible and trusted.
APA Style is often used for citation and formatting in social sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Linguistics, Economics, Criminology, as well as the areas of Business and Nursing). It also deals with the overall writing style, content organization and preparation of a paper for publication, if needed.
Thus, we recommend having a look at their manual as well as other online sources.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association – Get a quick orientation to APA, Create APA parenthetical citations, Create an APA reference list, Format a paper using APA guidelines, Format APA headings for a paper, Review APA usage and style guidelines, and Locate other APA resources on the Web.
APA Style Guide 6th Edition – USM Libraries, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS. Examples of APA citations for books, journals, other media, and electronic information.
The Basics of APA Style – From APA Online, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. A useful tutorial following the 6th Edition of APA’s Publication Manual, 2009. There are also some useful FAQs .
Understanding Electronic Sources from American Psychological Association (APA) – Excerpted from the new 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual.
4. MLA Style (Modern Language Association)
MLA Style of citation and formatting is widely used in the field of Art, Liberal Arts, and Humanities.
Its approach is to give a writer a universal formatting tool which can be applied to various kinds of sources (citing different kinds of sources, like research papers, articles, essays, government publications, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, charts, spoken interviews, sound recordings, web sites, films and illustrations and more). With the development of the Internet, texts may be found online in any format, and new designs and presentation forms are invented. That is why MLA offers a writer a number of general principles finding them more important than a rigid set of rules for every particular source.
Again there are manuals you can use.
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th Edition – The Modern Language Association, the authority on research and writing, takes a fresh look at documenting sources.
Citing Film and Video in a slightly adapted version of MLA style with examples .
Citing TV and Radio – with examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
Citing Web Sources MLA Style Vanguard University of Southern California. 1998 MLA Web citation style. In-text Citation, Works Cited, Examples of Typical Web Sites, and Citing from Website Databases.
We have also prepared a number of articles on particular subjects available on AResearchGuide website for your convenience.
Guidelines on How to Write a Bibliography in MLA Style Works Cited, References, Bibliography – What’s the Difference? How to Write a Bibliography – Examples in MLA Style How to Write Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Style First Footnotes and Endnotes – Examples in MLA Style Parenthetical References – Examples in MLA Style Footnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page Endnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page Parenthetical References in MLA Style – Sample Page Works Cited in MLA Style – Sample Page Quoting Passages Using MLA Style
MLA Online – University of Houston Libraries Examples show the correct format for citing online sources in Modern Language Association (MLA) style.
MLA Parenthetical Documentation – LEO: Literacy Education Online, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN. How to correctly document different types of sources using MLA Parenthetical Documentation: Author(s) name, Multivolume works, Classic literary works, Special cases.
Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format The Purdue University Online Writing Lab, West Lafayette, IN. Using APA format, Formatting in Sociology, Handling quotations in text, Works Cited list, Footnotes, and Endnotes, Paper format.
5. CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style
A specialized style guide for citing and creating electronic sources. It is al manual that addresses the complications and peculiarities associated with online publishing and offers the rules of online citation to students, researchers and the wide public.
6. CBE Style – Council of Biology Editors
Used mostly to write research papers and cite sources within the Biology domain. Such works must always adhere to the requirements of Scientific Style and Format, following the rules of Scientific Writing.
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. Use the citation-sequence system, Create a CBE citation-sequence reference list, Use the name-year system, and Create a CBE name-year reference list.
Citing Online Media Resources (web sites, online media files, etc.) Adapted from the Columbia Guide to Online Style, by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor. Citation styles described are Humanities Style. With examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
7. Harvard Style
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation , aka “Harvard Citator” published by Harvard Law Review Association in conjunction with Columbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal 2019 edition
Interactive Citation Workbook for The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and ALWD Citation Manual by Tracy L. McGaugh (Book)
Reference Styles & Essay Writing Guide King’s College, London. Essay Writing, Locating Information – Effective Reading, Selecting Information – Note Taking, Bibliographies, Examples of Bibliographic Entries, Points to Remember, and Textual References or Citations (including Parenthetical Reference examples).
8. Chicago Manual of Style / Turabian Style
Chicago Style and Turabian Style are also similar. They are designed to be used first of all in history and economics. Turabian Style is basically a modification of the Chicago Style for the needs of students. It is used in history, literature, and arts. There is also a style used in the scientific field, in natural and social sciences. Turabian Style guide includes the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style.
The recent edition of Kate L. Turabian A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is aligned with the newest Chicago Manual of Style to match its requirements.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. This edition has been prepared with an eye toward how we find, create, and cite information that readers are as likely to access from their pockets as from a bookshelf. It offers updated guidelines on electronic workflows and publication formats, tools for PDF annotation and citation management, web accessibility standards, and effective use of metadata, abstracts, and keywords.
Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide From the Chicago Manual of Style Online. Provides examples on writing footnotes, in-text citations, reference list entries and bibliographical citations for both print and electronic sources using Chicago Style.
Chicago/Turabian Documentation – Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. Get a quick orientation to note systems, Create Chicago/Turabian first references, Create Chicago/Turabian subsequent references, and Create a Chicago/Turabian Works Cited page.
9. ASA Style
AMA was first introduced in the AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors and is the cornerstone of writing style for the American Medical Association. The manual lays the foundation for writing and citation styles used by the medical and research communities. The most recent edition was updated and includes additions such as correct citation of online blogs, quizzes and regular tips from the editors.
AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors 11th Edition This book is a must-have resource for anyone involved in medical, health, and scientific publishing. It was written by an expert committee of JAMA editors and addresses issues that authors, editors, and publishers face in the digital age.
AMA Style – OWL – Purdue University This resource discusses references page formatting for AMA style sheet, includes templates and examples.
AMA Manual of Style Citation Guide by Library of Ohio State University.
AMA Citation Style Quick Guide is provided by St. Catherine University Libraries. This handout serves as a quick reference to using the American Medical Association style for citing common information sources.
10. AMA Style
American Sociological Association (ASA) is most often found in works created by those who study or work in the field of Sociology. ASA writing format was created for those who author manuscripts to be published in ASA journals. Similar to other styles of citation, ASA format citation changes depending on the originating source material.
American Sociological Association Style Guide 2019 The sixth edition of the ASA Style Guide is the authoritative reference for writing, submitting, editing, and copyediting manuscripts for ASA journals and other publications following ASA’s unique format.
Quick Tips for ASA Style by American Sociological AssociationThis source is provided to assist students in studying sociology and in properly citing and referencing their essays.
ASA Style and Format – American Sociological Association Style and Format Guide.
11. Resumé Writing and Cover Letters
Preparing a good resume and cover letter is important for anyone seeking a job because if these documents are well-written, they help to create a good impression and get the desired position. A job applicant should be careful about the content and form of their CV and cover letter. They should use a particular wording and follow a specific structure and formatting requirements.
An efficient resume means a properly written one demonstrating your expertise and credentials and shall help you get an interview from a company. While a resume highlights your experience and skills, a good cover letter is intended to demonstrate how your knowledge and experience match the position you are currently applying for, therefore it has to be specific and targeted.
The provided information, structure, language, tone and other details of a CV and cover letter should be carefully chosen to help you reach your goal. You might make use of the efficient resume samples and templates found below.
Developing Resumes: Selecting a Resume Style from TTG Consultants. How to Write Resume in English from About.com – English as 2nd Language (ESL). How to Write a Resume.org . Resume Writing Tips, Resume Writing & Distribution Services. ASCII Resumes: How to Create a Plain-Text Version of Your Resume from About.com – Career Planning. The Resume as a Sales Tool from TTG Consultants. Resume Writing Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes. Resumes and Letters: Sample Resumes from Monster Career Center. Cover Letter Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes. FAQs about Cover Letters by William S. Frank. Writing Cover Letters: Sample Cover Letters from Monster Career Center.
12. Writing – Grammar Guides
When writing on any assignment, it is critical to avoid grammar, stylistic, spelling and other kinds of mistakes and write properly and accurately. A text full of errors will create a poor impression, no matter how important and profound are the ideas it provides.
It is wise to start improving your style by consulting the classic book by William Strunk first.
The Elements of Style Fourth Edition by William Strunk, Jr. This classic book by William Strunk, Jr. on the Elements of Style includes: Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, Words & Expressions Commonly Misused, An Approach to Style with a List of Reminders: Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, and much more.
Common Errors in English Usage: Third Edition by Paul Brians. Mixed-up, mangled expressions; foreign-language faux pas; confused and confusing terms; commonly mispronounced words – they’re all explained in this useful guide. Common Errors in English By Dr. Paul Brians, Professor of English, Washington State University, Pullman, WA. Based on Common Errors in English Usage
The Grammar Zone provides information about adjectives and adverbs, articles, comparatives and superlatives, clauses, conditionals, confusing words, nouns, numbers, prepositions and conjunctions, pronouns, and questions. The site includes Verbs , Idioms, Paragraph Writing , and more.
Online English Grammar By Anthony Hughes Free but copyrighted material. Sound files to learn to pronounce the alphabet. Table of contents. Alphabetical subject index. Grammar clinic. English language practice pages.
13. Writing – Research Guides
When it comes to writing and learning how to do a research paper, there are no quick fixes or fill-in-the-blank templates that will allow you to complete your paper without investing a little time and effort. The key to any research style is learning how to effectively manage your time and organize your source material. In the proceeding paragraphs, you will find helpful information on how to write a good research paper. If you are looking for more detailed guidelines on writing a research paper, be sure to consult the books and manuals recommended further down in the article.
- Do not procrastinate
The key to any successful research paper is remembering to start as early as possible. If you are told early in the semester that you will have a research essay due eventually – don’t wait until the last possible moment to start. Take advantage of every day that you have available to you to pick your topic (if one is not assigned), carry out your research and develop your research paper outline. If you are not sure how to start a research paper, ask for guidance or research ideas online. Remember, if you decide to wait until the paper is due to get started, you might have difficulty finding research material or you may find that other students have already picked your preferred topic. Not to mention the fact that a looming deadline, and a lack of finished paper, will ultimately result in unneeded stress.
- Choose an interesting topic
Next, you should select your topic – unless one has been provided by the teacher. The best course of action is to select a topic that interests you, even if it seems complex or difficult. By choosing to work with a topic you have even a small interest in, you are more likely to continue to be motivated to delve deeper into your research and will be able to engage more with your readers. That is something difficult to do when the subject matter is dry or mediocre. It will help add genuine value to your paper. Your readers may often feel if the topic was interesting to you. If it was, that may make the readers more interested and expecting to find something valuable in your paper and thus continue reading. Keep in mind that there will be times when you will be assigned topics that are unfamiliar to you. In these types of situations, it is helpful to read up on the topic. Journals, encyclopedias, guidebooks, and libraries are all excellent resources to find background material on just about every topic out there.
- Do preliminary research
One of the most important things when learning how to write a paper is learning how to research for the paper you are writing. Despite the widespread access to information, largely attributed to easy accessibility of the Internet, there are just as many non-credible sources as there are credible. The trick is learning how to differentiate between the two. One such way is to choose to use only verified sources like trade publications, scholarly articles, journals or books from the local library.
- Create an outline
After you have concluded and organized your research, it’s time to create an outline and style research paper. The best way to start your outline is to draft your thesis statement. More often, the thesis is a single sentence opener – and the most important part of the entire paper. The thesis should present the main idea of your paper. It lays the groundwork for everything that follows and presents your argument to the reader. You should ensure that it’s clear, concise and to the point. Next, you’ll group your research notes into sections the correlate with the various aspects of your topic or argument. You might rearrange these several times until you find a format that seems the most logical.
- Prepare a draft
After you’ve concluded your outline for your research paper, you begin to actually write your paper. The first draft is simply an opportunity to get your ideas out there so don’t take too much time worrying about grammar or syntax – just focus on getting the words on the paper. You will proofread, edit and rewrite later. Right now, your only concern is ensuring that you have found the most logical progression for your argument and the corresponding supporting material. Once you’ve finished your rough draft, read it over to ensure it reads as you would like it to. If you are satisfied, begin to correct any grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors you find and add text as needed. It might be helpful, at this stage, to have someone else read your paper just to give it a fresh perspective.
- Edit, proofread and format
If you are satisfied, open your word processor to a blank page and type up your final version. You will want to be mindful of any specific spacing or formatting rules in the assignment details and make certain that you are also creating any supplementary pages that might be necessary. For example, a cover page. Even if it has not been specifically requested to use different formats of writing, it is in good practice to always include a Works Cited or Reference page. This is where you will list every source that you’ve used in your research or cited in your paper, in order to not only credit the originating author but also to satisfy anti-plagiarism policies and guidelines. This is the point where it is better to be safe than sorry.
14. ADDITIONAL SOURCES ON HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH PAPER
To write a research paper successfully, the first thing you need is to know about the formal requirements and the general approach to academic writing. It is recommended to make your statement specific, definitive and clear, avoid using unnecessary informal elements. Writing a research paper might be tricky, so there is an extensive list of tips and instructions to follow.
Guide on How to Write University Essays, Courseworks, Assignments and Dissertations by Verena Vaneeva. Contents include: How to write an Essay, Coursework or Report, Marketing or Marketing Communications Campaign, Dissertation, How to define Issue or Argument, Research Methods, Dissertation Structure.
How to Write an A+ Research Paper Step by step guide on how to write an excellent research paper quickly and successfully.
Online Writing Lab Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Tutorial Center for Writers. Online Writing Labs (OWLs), Internet Search Tools, Resources for Writers and Teachers, Purdue Resources, Links to other WWW writing resources.
All Subject Guides University of Minnesota Libraries, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. Learn How to Use the Library: Starting Your Research, Designing a Research Strategy, Find Books, Articles, Web Sites, Facts, Reviews, and More, Evaluating and Citing Sources, and Searching the MLA International Bibliography. Includes an Instructor’s Manual for QuickStudy.
The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing 12th or 2018 edition by Rise B. Axelrod, Charles R. Cooper
A Student’s Guide to Research Saint Louis University, MO. Tutorial guide to conducting research on the WWW for first-year college students. Anatomy of a Web page. Evaluating Web sources. Web page types. Web search strategies. Citing online sources. Glossary.
The Writers’ Workshop Department of English, Northern Illinois University. Students’ Resources include Editor’s Grammar and Mechanics, Quoting and Quotations, Citing Sources: The MLA Way, and Plagiarism: A MUST read. See also Tutors’ Resources, Instructors’ Resources, and Visitors’ Resources.
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Reading Craze Academic Research Knowledge for Students Teachers and Professional Researchers
Apa in-text citation in research paper.
- Drafting the Body of Your Paper
- Sources of Information for Research Paper
- How Not to Plagiarize in Research
- Focusing to Narrow Research Paper Topic
- Choosing a Title for the Research Paper
Writing Style in a Research Paper
- Kind of Notes for the Research Paper
- How to Record Notes for the Research Paper
- Open-ended Questions in Research
ReadingCraze.com January 25, 2018 Research Writing , Writing Style Leave a comment 30,749 Views
The writing style in a research paper needs to be conventional and should abide by the guidelines provided by the institute. The aim of your writing should be to communicate properly to the audience. The text should feel organized and should flow smoothly. A good piece of writing follows a rhythm and flow and it has some sequence of ideas. A research paper should also be a smoothly written and well-organized piece of writing. Your’s and other peoples’ thoughts should be organized in a manner that creates harmony.
You should keep in mind that before finalizing your research paper you have to revise it several times. The reason for each revision can be different because there are so many components of writing that you have to check before finalizing it. You need to revise punctuations and grammatical mistakes, your flow of writing, the organization of ideas, and the wording or language. The revision or drafting gives you the confidence to present your research paper in front of the jury or the audience.
Writing style in a research paper
There are many conventional rules that you need to follow in order to write a good research paper. Keep in mind that a good research paper is not just what you have reviewed, compiled and concluded but it is also how you have presented it in your paper—-your writing style. The writing style in a research paper makes the first impression on the reader, it should be academic and conventional. There are certain general writing conventions that you can follow, your supervisor or teacher can help you with more details.
Clarity is very important for any piece of academic writing and more for a research paper. A research paper is written for an audience so it should have clear wordings, sentences, and paragraphs to convey the message properly. Write in an active voice so that the readers can easily move along with your writing.
Specificity rather than general terms
The use of too many general terms in your research paper can make it less academic and less credible. The use of specific terms makes your research paper authentic and trustworthy. There are certain general notions we use in our daily life like young, old, wise, beautiful etc, avoid such general catchall terms that can make your research less credible. In a research paper, you should use terms that can be proven by some yardstick and that has a specific meaning.
Keep your audience in mind
While deciding about the writing style in a research paper you should also consider your audience. You do not need to use a lot of technical terms in a research paper that has to be read by an audience that does not understand it. Write in a manner that the audience can understand and comprehend.
It is a general convention that a research paper is addressed in the “third person”. This convention is useful in many ways because in a research paper you do not want to make yourself the focus of the audience but you want the readers to focus on your findings. The quotations can be written in the language they have appeared on the source otherwise you can write everything else in the third person.
A simple straightforward language can help any type of audience understand your research paper easily. The goal of the research paper is to convey your message properly so your writing style should help you achieve your goal. When you write in a very decorative language your language itself becomes the center of attention and the reader could not focus on what you have described in the research paper.
Guard against biased wording
Guard yourself against biased wording, there are certain topics that are controversial and you might have an opinion but do not assert any opinion without any proof. Whatever you write in your research paper should have sound reason and should not be declared from your own past experiences. Your research paper should be a logical, reliable and credible source of information for the readers.
- Roth, J. A., The Research Paper: Process, Form, and Content, 8th Ed., Wadsworth Pub Co., CA., 1999, Pp-161-164
Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Academic Writing Style,
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Writing Research Papers
- Research Paper Structure
Whether you are writing a B.S. Degree Research Paper or completing a research report for a Psychology course, it is highly likely that you will need to organize your research paper in accordance with American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. Here we discuss the structure of research papers according to APA style.
Major Sections of a Research Paper in APA Style
A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. 1 Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices. These sections are detailed as follows (for a more in-depth guide, please refer to " How to Write a Research Paper in APA Style ”, a comprehensive guide developed by Prof. Emma Geller). 2
What is this paper called and who wrote it? – the first page of the paper; this includes the name of the paper, a “running head”, authors, and institutional affiliation of the authors. The institutional affiliation is usually listed in an Author Note that is placed towards the bottom of the title page. In some cases, the Author Note also contains an acknowledgment of any funding support and of any individuals that assisted with the research project.
One-paragraph summary of the entire study – typically no more than 250 words in length (and in many cases it is well shorter than that), the Abstract provides an overview of the study.
What is the topic and why is it worth studying? – the first major section of text in the paper, the Introduction commonly describes the topic under investigation, summarizes or discusses relevant prior research (for related details, please see the Writing Literature Reviews section of this website), identifies unresolved issues that the current research will address, and provides an overview of the research that is to be described in greater detail in the sections to follow.
What did you do? – a section which details how the research was performed. It typically features a description of the participants/subjects that were involved, the study design, the materials that were used, and the study procedure. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Methods section. A rule of thumb is that the Methods section should be sufficiently detailed for another researcher to duplicate your research.
What did you find? – a section which describes the data that was collected and the results of any statistical tests that were performed. It may also be prefaced by a description of the analysis procedure that was used. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Results section.
What is the significance of your results? – the final major section of text in the paper. The Discussion commonly features a summary of the results that were obtained in the study, describes how those results address the topic under investigation and/or the issues that the research was designed to address, and may expand upon the implications of those findings. Limitations and directions for future research are also commonly addressed.
List of articles and any books cited – an alphabetized list of the sources that are cited in the paper (by last name of the first author of each source). Each reference should follow specific APA guidelines regarding author names, dates, article titles, journal titles, journal volume numbers, page numbers, book publishers, publisher locations, websites, and so on (for more information, please see the Citing References in APA Style page of this website).
Tables and Figures
Graphs and data (optional in some cases) – depending on the type of research being performed, there may be Tables and/or Figures (however, in some cases, there may be neither). In APA style, each Table and each Figure is placed on a separate page and all Tables and Figures are included after the References. Tables are included first, followed by Figures. However, for some journals and undergraduate research papers (such as the B.S. Research Paper or Honors Thesis), Tables and Figures may be embedded in the text (depending on the instructor’s or editor’s policies; for more details, see "Deviations from APA Style" below).
Supplementary information (optional) – in some cases, additional information that is not critical to understanding the research paper, such as a list of experiment stimuli, details of a secondary analysis, or programming code, is provided. This is often placed in an Appendix.
Variations of Research Papers in APA Style
Although the major sections described above are common to most research papers written in APA style, there are variations on that pattern. These variations include:
- Literature reviews – when a paper is reviewing prior published research and not presenting new empirical research itself (such as in a review article, and particularly a qualitative review), then the authors may forgo any Methods and Results sections. Instead, there is a different structure such as an Introduction section followed by sections for each of the different aspects of the body of research being reviewed, and then perhaps a Discussion section.
- Multi-experiment papers – when there are multiple experiments, it is common to follow the Introduction with an Experiment 1 section, itself containing Methods, Results, and Discussion subsections. Then there is an Experiment 2 section with a similar structure, an Experiment 3 section with a similar structure, and so on until all experiments are covered. Towards the end of the paper there is a General Discussion section followed by References. Additionally, in multi-experiment papers, it is common for the Results and Discussion subsections for individual experiments to be combined into single “Results and Discussion” sections.
Departures from APA Style
In some cases, official APA style might not be followed (however, be sure to check with your editor, instructor, or other sources before deviating from standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Such deviations may include:
- Placement of Tables and Figures – in some cases, to make reading through the paper easier, Tables and/or Figures are embedded in the text (for example, having a bar graph placed in the relevant Results section). The embedding of Tables and/or Figures in the text is one of the most common deviations from APA style (and is commonly allowed in B.S. Degree Research Papers and Honors Theses; however you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first).
- Incomplete research – sometimes a B.S. Degree Research Paper in this department is written about research that is currently being planned or is in progress. In those circumstances, sometimes only an Introduction and Methods section, followed by References, is included (that is, in cases where the research itself has not formally begun). In other cases, preliminary results are presented and noted as such in the Results section (such as in cases where the study is underway but not complete), and the Discussion section includes caveats about the in-progress nature of the research. Again, you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first.
- Class assignments – in some classes in this department, an assignment must be written in APA style but is not exactly a traditional research paper (for instance, a student asked to write about an article that they read, and to write that report in APA style). In that case, the structure of the paper might approximate the typical sections of a research paper in APA style, but not entirely. You should check with your instructor for further guidelines.
Workshops and Downloadable Resources
- For in-person discussion of the process of writing research papers, please consider attending this department’s “Writing Research Papers” workshop (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).
- How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
- Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – empirical research) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]
- Writing Research Paper Videos
APA Journal Article Reporting Guidelines
- Appelbaum, M., Cooper, H., Kline, R. B., Mayo-Wilson, E., Nezu, A. M., & Rao, S. M. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for quantitative research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 3.
- Levitt, H. M., Bamberg, M., Creswell, J. W., Frost, D. M., Josselson, R., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for qualitative primary, qualitative meta-analytic, and mixed methods research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 26.
- Formatting APA Style Papers in Microsoft Word
- How to Write an APA Style Research Paper from Hamilton University
- WikiHow Guide to Writing APA Research Papers
- Sample APA Formatted Paper with Comments
- Sample APA Formatted Paper
- Tips for Writing a Paper in APA Style
1 VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (pp. 41-60). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
2 geller, e. (2018). how to write an apa-style research report . [instructional materials]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.
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Types of Research Report
The reason for the types of research report writing is to communicate to the interested persons the complete result of the study in adequate detail and to settle on him the legality of the conclusions.
As the termination of the research investigation, the types of research report contains a portrayal of different stages of the inspection and the conclusions arrived at. Thus it is the last part of a research bustle that gives an explanation of a long expedition on the pathway of finding a new acquaintance or modified facts.
- Various Types of Research Report
Various Types of Research Report Writing
Types of report in research, types of report writing, characteristics of an effective research report , terminology, notation, and writing style , faqs about research report.
Writing a types of research report is a mechanical task as it requires not only dexterity on the part of the researcher but also extensive effort, endurance, and infiltration, a by and large loom to the problem, data, and analysis along with clutch over language and greater neutrality, all springing from significant contemplation.
Goal-Oriented Research Report
Writing a types of research report writing also occupy adequate planning and a gigantic quantity of research. That apart, the exactness of the types of research report writing is also recognized to the lucidity of thought, imagination, and aptitude of the researcher.
Although a specific standard norm for the organization is not doable, a good report writer should always be cognizant about the valuable and purposeful communication with the social order by conveying the interested persons the complete outcome of the lessons so as to make sure each reader to figure out the data and to allow himself to cognize the strength of the conclusions.
Deliberation of certain questions like who says ‘what is it about’, ‘to whom’, ‘in what manner’, and ‘of what use’ will facilitate the researcher in preparing a regular types of research report writing .
No consistent types of research report writing can be prepared to supply to the needs of different categories of audiences. The report should always integrate the substance which will be of alarm to the objective audience, may that be a researcher of basic research or functional research, practitioners, strategy formulators, funding agents or sponsors, or even the common public. To a report writer, the prima facie task may come into view as an easy matter, but in real terms, this is a phenomenal task as uncertainty about goal-oriented group results in ineffective communication.
However, different types of Research Reports writing are as follows:-
1. Journal Articles
It is helpful to make acquainted yourself with the diverse types of articles published by journals. Although it may emerge that there are a great number of types of articles published due to the broad assortment of names they are published under, most articles published are one of the following types- creative Research, evaluation Articles, Short Reports, or Letters, Case Studies, Methodologies.
This is the most widespread type of journal manuscript used to put out full reports of data from research. It may be called an Original Article or Research Article, depending on the journal. The Original Research arrangement is suitable for many unusual fields and different types of studies. It embraces full Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion segments.
These papers converse brief reports of data from original research that editors consider will be motivating to many researchers and that will be liable to encourage further research in the field. As they are comparatively short in size, the set-up is functional for scientists with results that are time responsive. This layout often has firm length limits, so some untried details may not be published in anticipation of the authors write a full Original Research document. These papers are in addition sometimes called Concise Communications .
Review Articles offer a broad abstract of research on a definite topic, and a standpoint on the state of the field and where it is being directed. They are frequently written by leaders in a meticulous discipline after enticement from the editors of a journal. Reviews are often widely read and are exceedingly cited. Reviews generally mention approximately 100 primary examination articles.
These articles account for precise instances of interesting phenomena. A purpose of Case Studies is to make other researchers conscious of the opportunity that an explicit phenomenon might transpire. This type of study is frequently used in medicine to account for the happening of formerly unknown or emerging pathologies.
These articles current a new investigational method, test, or course of action. The method described may either be entirely new or may proffer a better edition of an existing method. The article should portray a verifiable advance on what is presently accessible.
2. Technical Research Reports
One of the major forms of communication in engineering is the scientific report. In the place of work, the report is a real working document written by engineers for clients, executives, and other engineers. This means every testimony has a rationale beyond the simple presentation of information. Some common purposes are to:
- persuade a government agency of the consequence of a particular course of action
- sway a client that your clarification will fulfill their needs
- induce the public that a proposed venture will bring remuneration
- persuade a government or council to approve a particular course of action
- influence a client to prefer one design over another
- plead your case before an organization to partner with your company on a plan
3. Monographs or Books
Research monographs can be reformatted editions of dissertations, theses, or other noteworthy research reports. Monographs are published by academia presses and profitable scholarly publishers.
A summit of distinction is that authors may get a royalty reimbursement for monographs, whereas, for a good number of other research broadcasting, such as journal articles and conference papers, authors do not accept direct payment.
As a profitable work, a monograph will characteristically be edited to be decipherable to a more universal or specific audience, depending on to whom the publisher will be marketing the book.
The distribution of a research monograph will likely be individuals with anecdotal levels of proficiency in the field, ranging from students to academics, practitioners to arrange people. When writing, you can presuppose the reader will have some curiosity about the topic, but he or she may not have many milieus in the field.
The required complexity or quality of research of a Monograph can fluctuate by country, university, or program, and the required lowest study period. The word “Monograph” can at times be used to describe a discourse without relation to obtaining an academic extent. The term “Monograph” is also used to pass on to the general state of an essay or analogous work.
4. Professional Meetings
A meeting needs a clear purpose declaration. The exact goal for the specific meeting will evidently relate to the whole goal of the group or committee. Formative your purpose is central to a successful meeting and getting.
A meeting should not be scheduled just because it was held at the same time last month or because it is a standing committee. Members will show antipathy towards the intrusion into their schedules and hastily perceive the short of purpose.
Similarly, if the need for a meeting crops up, one should not dash into it without planning. An inadequately planned meeting announced at the last minute is in no doubt to be less than useful.
People may be powerless to change their schedules, may fall short to concentrate, or may hinder the advancement and debate of the group because of their nonappearance. Those who concentrate may feel stalled because they needed more time to organize and present all-inclusive results to the assemblage or committee.
A seminar may be defined as an assembly of people for the intention of discussing a stated topic. Such gatherings are typically interactive sessions where the participants fit into place in discussions about the demarcated topic. The sessions are frequently headed or led by one or two presenters who dole out to maneuver the discussion along the preferred conduit.
A seminar may have numerous purposes or just one purpose. For a case in point, a seminar may be for the rationale of education, such as a lecture, where the contributor engages in the discussion of an academic subject for the intention of gaining a superior approach to the subject. Other forms of instructive seminars might be held to notify some skills or acquaintance to the participants.
A symposium is a public meeting concerning a theme in which people give presentations. If your knitting club holds a symposium, assorted knitters will give presentations about no matter what has to do with knitting. A symposium can be a one-time consultation or a regular meeting, but it will most likely include some quantity of discussion or public speeches on a picky subject.
Many people who will be present at symposiums will be an ingredient of the audience for numerous of the presentations, but throughout the route of the event, give their own arrangement or be part of a board conversation.
The main dissimilarity between a symposium and a discussion is that a symposium has a propensity to be alike to a conference, but lesser. The definition of a symposium isn’t totally noticeable.
However, similarly to a workshop, a symposium tends to core on a meticulous matter rather than a more general premise. Usually, a number of experts will come together in order to present their ideas and papers to one another.
A symposium is typically completed in a solo day. Symposiums may be more impressive than a conference, with prominence on authority presenting their work and occasionally discussing it afterward (though not to the degree of a seminar). To conclude, symposiums will normally be smaller than a convention or a seminar.
This is an inventory of our most popular workshop filament. It is suggested that institutions commence with an opening workshop in grave thinking. Any of these strands can be united to focus on the ambition and needs of your institution.
The presenters can converse workshop possibilities with you, and formulate recommendations pedestal to your needs. This is strappingly recommended for those who have not beforehand taken a foundational workshop in significant thinking.
We need to focus, therefore, on teaching students to learn not haphazard bits and pieces of information, but systems, an organized association of concepts, active modes of accepted wisdom.
Each session is designed to construct on the preceding sessions and cultivates mounting knowledge of and skill in critical researches. Explicit topics include the intellectual standards necessary for in-depth, higher-order learning, the essential expressions of critical thinking, the micro-skills and macro-abilities of significant thinking, and the consequence of exactitude in language usage.
Reports in research are recorded data prepared by researchers following the analysis of information gathered by carrying out organized research, on average in the appearance of surveys or qualitative methods. Reports more often than not are spread athwart a cosmic horizon of topics but are focused on communicating information about a scrupulous topic and a very alcove target market. The principal motive of research reports is to put across integral details about a study for marketers to think about while designing new stratagems.
Definite events, facts, and other information based on episodes need to be relayed on to the people in charge, and creating research reports is the most successful communication device. Ideal research reports are tremendously accurate in the offered information with a comprehensible intention and conclusion.
There should be a spotless and structured layout for these reports to be valuable in relaying information. Variations of organizational characters and their goals have given birth to various types of research report writing in different categories of research. The types of reports keeping a proper congruency with the type of research fall under the subsequent variations as mentioned below:-
Research is very important for launching a fresh product/service or a new attribute. The markets today are tremendously impulsive and competitive due to new competitors every day that may or may not provide effective products. An organization needs to construct the right decisions at the right time to be germane in such a market with updated products that be adequate customer demands.
The details of a research report may transform with the rationale of research but the main components of a statement will remain invariable. The research comes close to the market researcher also sways the style of writing reports. Here are seven key components of an industrious types of research report writing :
Research Report Summary
The whole purpose along with the general idea of research is to be included in a précis which is a combination of paragraphs in length. All the numerous components of the research are explained in succinct under the report outline. It should be interesting as much as necessary to incarcerate all the key elements of the report.
There always is a principal goal that the researcher is trying to accomplish through a report. In the overture section, he/she can swathe answers related to this target and establish a hypothesis that will be included to endeavor and answer it in a facet. This section should respond to an integral question: “What is the current situation of the goal?” Ensuing to the research was conducted, did the organization tops the goal fruitfully or they are unmoving a work in growth; provide such details in the preamble part of the research report.
This is the most important segment of the report where all the important information lies. The readers can put on data for the topic along with analyzing the eminence of provided satisfied and the research can also be approved by other market researchers. Thus, this piece needs to be vastly informative with each facet of research discussed in detail. Information needs to be expressed in sequential order according to its main concern and import. Researchers should comprise references in case they gained information from nearby techniques.
A small narrative of the results the length with calculations conducted to accomplish the goal will form this segment of results. Usually, the description after data investigation is carried out in the debate part of the report.
The results are discussed in tremendous detail in this sector along with a proportional analysis of reports that could perhaps exist in the same sphere. Any aberration uncovered during the research will be deliberated in the dialogue section. While writing research reports, the researcher will have to unite the dots on how the results will be relevant in the factual world.
Research References and Conclusion
Terminate all the research findings along with mentioning each and every author, piece, or any comfortable piece from where references were taken.
Things to Consider While Writing Report
The final step in the research course is writing the research report. Every step of the process is vital for a legitimate study, as inattention at any stage will concern the quality of not immediately that part but the entire study. In a way, this last step is the nearly all decisive portion as it is throughout the types of report that the findings of the cram and their implication have corresponded to the supervisor and readers.
Most of the researchers will not be responsive to the quantity and quality of work that has gone into the study. While to a great extent hard work and heed may have been put into every phase of the research, all readers distinguish the report specifically out of the whole work. Therefore, the whole venture can be spoiled if the report is not sound.
In addition to the considerate of research methodology, the eminence of the report depends on winning such things as the written communication skills and lucidity of contemplation, the ability to articulate thoughts in a reasonable and chronological way, and the researcher’s knowledge support of the subject vicinity.
Experience of Investigator
Another chief determinant is the experience of the investigator in research writing: the more experience the researcher gets hold of, the more efficient investigator the person becomes in writing a research report. The use of algebraic procedures further strengthens the potency of the conclusions and points of view as they enable the researcher to set and designate the strength of an association.
Use of Graphs
The use of graphs to demonstrate the findings, though not indispensable, will make the information more effortlessly understood by the readers. As stated in the preceding chapter, whether or not graphs are used depends ahead on the rationale for which the result is to be used. The main disparity between research and other writings is in the quantity of control, thoroughness and concern required. Research writing is controlled in the wisdom that the researcher needs to be tremendously vigilant about what she writes, the words she opts for, the way she puts across the ideas, and the legality and verifiability of the basis for the conclusions she draws.
Another significant parameter that discerns research writing from other writing is the towering degree of scholarly severity required. Research writing must be completely accurate, lucid, free of haziness, logical, and brief. Report writing should not be based upon suppositions about knowledge of the readers about the study. One should bear in mind that she must be able to preserve whatever she writes. A Research Report should not contain any ornamental and shallow language. Even the best researchers make a number of summaries before writing up their ultimate one.
Communication of Findings
The way findings are communicated differs in quantitative and qualitative research. As mentioned earlier, in qualitative research the findings are mostly communicated in evocative or narrative set-up written around the major themes, events, or discourses that come out from the research findings. The main intention is to describe the discrepancy in a phenomenon, circumstances, event, or chapter without making an endeavor to quantify the difference.
One of the ways of the inscription of a qualitative report can be described parallel to the data analysis process, in one hand. On the other hand, the writing in the research leaned toward quantitative data, in the count to being descriptive, also includes its quantification. Depending upon the idea of the study, statistical procedures and tests can also turn into a part of the research writing to bear the findings.
To develop an outline before beginning the research report is crucial. This involves a process of decision making how a researcher is going to divide her report into different chapters and also planning the elementary content of each chapter. In developing Chapterization, the sub-objectives of the study or the major noteworthy themes that emerged from the substantial analysis can make available massive supervision.
It is vital to develop the chapters around more or less the significant sub-objectives or themes of the aspired study. Depending upon the weight of a premise, either the researcher needs to devote a complete chapter to it or merge it with related themes to structure one chapter.
As the methodology is concerned, the first chapter of the research report should be a general introduction to the study, covering the majority of the research project tender and pointing out the deviations, if any, from the novel plan.
All the facts and information presented in the research report not only have to be bias-free, but they also have to be 100% truthful. Proof-reading and fact-checking is constantly what you do as a thumb rule prior to submitting a report. Reports are written with much scrutiny. The purpose of report writing is indispensable to notify the reader about an issue, minus one’s estimation on the topic. It’s basically a rendering of facts, as it is.
Even if one gives conjecture, firm analysis, charts, tables, and data are provided. In many cases, what is required is your proposition for an unambiguous case after a realistic report. That depends on why you are writing the report and who you are writing it for in the primary place. Knowing your audience’s purpose for asking for that report is very imperative as it sets the track of the facts alerted on your report.
Based on some special characteristics, a writing style of a report can be of a definite kind. For example, familiar reports in the office recognized contexts may not be apposite. In that case, even if your report is on the summit and the best, just the structure or format or language could effort against the report.
All Types of Writing Style of Research Reports and their Explanation
Long Report and Short Reports
These kinds of reports are fairly clear, as the name suggests. A two-page report or from time to time referred to as a memorandum is petite, and a thirty-page report is utterly long. But what makes a clear splitting up of short reports or long reports can be observed by that longer reports are by and large written in a formal style.
Internal and External Reports
As the forename suggests, an in-house report stays within a definite organization or faction of people. In the case of office scenery, internal reports are for within the institute. We get ready with the external reports, such as a news report in the newspaper about a happening or the yearly reports of companies for distribution exterior to the organization. We also call these public reports.
Vertical and Lateral Reports
This is about the pecking order of the reports’ definitive target. If the report is for your administration or for your mentees, it’s a perpendicular report. Wherever a track of upwards or downwards comes into the suggestion, we call it a vertical report. Lateral reports, on the other hand, lend a hand in harmonization within the organization. A report traveling flanked by units of the identical organization level is a lateral report.
Periodic reports are sent out on frequently pre-scheduled dates. In most cases, their route is aloft and serves as running control by the management. Some, like annual reports, is not upright but is a Government authorization to be periodic in character.
Formal and Informal Reports
Formal reports are scrupulously structured. They have a focal point on detachment and organization, enclose a deeper aspect, and the writer must write them in a style that abolishes factors like personal pronouns. Informal reports are frequently short messages with free-flowing, relaxed use of language. We commonly describe the domestic report/memorandum as an informal report.
Informational and Analytical Reports
Informational reports such as attendance reports, annual budget reports, monthly financial reports, etc. lug intentional information from one area of an organization to maybe a superior system. Analytical reports like scientific research, feasibility reports, and employee assessment show attempts to resolve genuine problems. These analytical reports usually necessitate suggestions at the closing stages.
These kinds of reports are like a lean-to to the analytical or problem-solving reports. A pitch is a document one prepares to portray how one organization can offer a way out to a problem they are facing. There is habitually always a call to arrange a report in a trade set-up. The end target is usually very solution-tilting. Therefore, we call such kinds of reports as proposal reports.
These kinds of reports comprise marketing reports, fiscal reports, accounting reports, and a range of other reports that supply a function solely. By and large, we can contain almost all reports in most of these categories. Moreover, we can embrace a particular report on numerous kinds of reports
Types of Research Report writing with Example
This section is intended to facilitate researchers to write more efficient and more readable research reports. It will be helpful to people who are in general good writers but have slight or no familiarity with writing different types of the research reports; may also be cooperative to people who are experienced at writing this category of research report but whose reports are not as decipherable and effective as they might be.
It also focuses on the problems that take place in the writing of a fastidious type of research report. Many people who inscribe reports of experimental research studies also write theoretical papers, methodological papers, spot papers, book reviews, or other types of piece of writing. Therefore, this concluding section is aimed to be a compendium of supportive instruction.
An effective Types of research report writing has the following 4 distinctiveness:
- Focus : It emphasizes the imperative information.
- Accuracy : It does not deceive the reader.
- Clarity : It does not baffle the reader.
- Conciseness : It does not fritter away the reader’s time.
The research report helps your table and carry out the study because it compels you to imagine systematically about what you want the study to achieve. You can commence writing the introductory segment of the report as soon as you have determined on the universal approach your study will go after. You can start writing the results piece of the report before you draw to a close analyzing the data. The decisions you build in creating these tables and figures will facilitate you to choose how to analyze your data.
Terminology must be chosen to maintain the degree of your target readers’ understandings. Types of research report writing comprise technical terms. Before you start writing the report, make a decision on who your intended readers are. If you don’t know whether those readers will be recognizable with the technical terms you propose to use, make an attempt to discover that out. Moreover, you need to avoid labels that have overloaded meaning which implies to the labels that incorporate more information than the dimension of the patchy data actually provides.
You also need to avoid using terms like Type I blunder and Type II inaccuracy. When readers see a recognizable term, they anticipate that term to have its common meaning. If the meaning you propose is not exactly identical to the usual meaning of the term, the readers will be baffled. Therefore, it is better to use a dissimilar term. If you bring in a new term, make certain the readers appreciate the appropriate meaning of that term.
In this article, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about research reports to help you better understand how to write and format them effectively.
A report is a given written version of “somewhat that one has pragmatically witnessed, heard, done, or explored”.
An interesting topic and solid thesis; Good structure and organization; Referenced supporting ideas; Strong claims and arguments; Correct grammar and spelling.
A good way to improve your writing skills is by reading and using other reports as a model of how yours should look like. Seeing different writing styles will help you to develop your own.
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MLA, APA, & CMS: How to Properly Format Your Papers
Knowing the styles and when to use them.
In academic writing, how you present your information (technically) is often seen as important as the ideas you are putting forth. Proper citing, quoting and referencing of source material allows you to convey your breadth of research in a language commonly shared by others in your discipline. Giving others a chance to review and compare your work under these established guidelines enables your instructors to better see the work on its own merits, opposed to getting sidetracked by technical inefficiencies.
You MUST follow the rules like every other student: this is not an area where you want to stand out for doing things your own way. Writing for any academic purpose carries with it certain expectations and formatting consistencies, and a failure to properly understand how or why you cite your sources in a specific way can have negative effects on your written projects and communications.
The Big Three: APA, MLA, and CMS
There are three main "Schools of Style" used to properly format an academic paper, referred to as APA, MLA, or CMS.
- APA style : These are the official guidelines put forth by the American Psychological Association, now in its sixth edition. This is the preference of the social sciences, so if you are studying sociology, psychology, medicine, or social work you are going to know APA style.
- MLA style : The Modern Language Association provides guidelines you will be familiar with if you are focused on the Humanities: so artists, English majors, and theatre students will know MLA as they have used this style now for more than half a century.
- CMS style : These are the style guidelines put forth in the Chicago Manual of Style , now in its 16th edition. CMS style is predominantly seen in the humanities, particularly with literature students and those who study advanced segments of history and/or the arts.
While these formatting methods will share many characteristics such as margins and spacing, how they attribute references to source materials is the main differentiator. For example, APA lists "references" while MLA calls the same thing "works cited" - a small but important distinction that might actually affect your grade.
Typically, you are going to use one style for most of your classes and communications, but there is certainly the possibility that you'll need to know how to use any one of these three common styles. The good news is it is not hard to get up-to-speed on any one of them and use them properly.
Get the Latest Updates Regardless of which style you are using, it is imperative to get the most recent version of the guidelines to ensure your paper is as accurate as it can be. Each of the sources have updated their guidelines multiple times over the years, so working with the current standards is goal one.
- APA style guidelines: http://www.apastyle.org
- MLA style guidelines: http://www.mla.org/style
- CMS style guidelines: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/
APA and MLA are the most common styles to use, but CMS is not unheard of - just not as common for undergrads. CMS is commonly used in traditional book publishing and academic publishing situations, so if you are doing post-graduate writing, it is good to know.
The main thing that seems to be changing in the rules for all of them is about the proper attribution of web-related sources, so you are going to want to re-check that you are working from the most recent versions of whichever style guide you need.
Beware the Pitfalls
The common mistakes being made in properly styling citations and references might be as simple as not downloading the most recent updates; however, it may also be a case where students are simply not understanding how to infuse referencing properly.
He continues: "While some common APA formatting errors may be issues due to changes in updated guidelines (APA 5 vs. APA 6), there are other, perhaps more common instances where a student fails to properly reference the source materials within writing assignments. This is particularly true when citing content from the Internet. Understanding how to properly reference and cite source materials adds power to any student paper, because the papers can be used to show a proper understanding and blending of source ideas - a critical concept in higher learning."
"Some of the changes to the guidelines seem very dubious and meticulous," he continues, "but standards are there so an evaluator can assess the weight of the material without bias. Many of my students might complain about it, but the ones that succeed are the ones who are actively trying to use citing resources to their own argument's advantage."
Common MLA Mistakes APA students are not the only ones who have common mistakes in formatting - as evidenced by the following insight offered from Dr. Margaret Walters of Kennesaw State University , where she and her students have used primarily MLA guidelines in their writing, editing and literature classes. Dr. Walters has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate level writing courses at Kennesaw State University for over 15 years.
Dr. Walters said, "The most common problems I see with MLA style occur in the writing, meaning the text itself, not the bibliography or Works Cited...though there are often some problems to address there, too. In the text, the most common problems are:
- putting a period before and sometimes after the parenthetical citation, as in: ".... and this point is made early on." (Smith 127).
- placing the closing quotation mark after the citation in parenthesis instead of after the quote: " .... and this point is made early on (Smith 127)".
- placing quotation marks inside commas and periods instead of after them: Smith tells us that among the most important rules are the ones regarding use of commas", yet he does not explain how this happens". (127) [those writing British English use the opposite rule--quotation marks inside end punctuation]."
Dr. Walters continued: "In the Works Cited, the most common MLA-related problems are:
- not alphabetizing (even though this is the easiest rule to follow)
- mixing up MLA and APA style; e.g. using initials for first names when MLA says use full first names and middle initials
- leaving off the place of publication - it should be New York: Penguin, 2009 but will instead say Penguin, 2009
- not knowing rules for using quotations marks or when to underline / italicize
"Students get it right most of the time," Dr. Walters states. "I think the underlying problem is an unwillingness to use the style sheets, handouts, or even the MLA handbook. If they use the resources offered, most students are not going to struggle to meet the guidelines."
Get More Help
Both Dr. Walters and Professor Long advise students to use strong and verifiable resources to make your formatting job easier. Both instructors advise checking out the OWL (Online Writing Lab) Resources offered by Purdue in addition to the links to the sites listed above.
The writing center at your own university may hold lots of great information and people to help you understand what to do in each situation you face. Not every situation calls for the same style guide, so checking with the experts on your campus is always a smart idea.
For a quick reference, you can also use the handy visual aids created by Capital Community College on MLA and APA styled papers: ( http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/library/citing.htm ) or look at the MLA vs. APA comparison chart created by the University Writing Center at Appalachian State University .
The Bottom Line
The reality is, depending on your discipline, there may be only one type of style that you need to use, ever. However, this is not saying the rules for how to properly cite resources and references is not going to continue to change and evolve over time. You will be held responsible for being current.
As a student or in post-college academic writing, you want your work to shine and to always show your best efforts. This means checking on the rules to properly style and format your papers. Use the links and information above to help ensure you are forever properly dotting your I's and crossing your T's according to the latest and greatest rules.
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- Content Alert Services
- Evaluating Sources
- Primary Sources
- Secondary Sources
- Tiertiary Sources
- Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
- Qualitative Methods
- Quantitative Methods
- Using Non-Textual Elements
- Limitations of the Study
- Common Grammar Mistakes
- Writing Concisely
- Avoiding Plagiarism
- Footnotes or Endnotes?
- Further Readings
Academic writing refers to a style of expression that researchers use to define the intellectual boundaries of their disciplines and specific areas of expertise. Characteristics of academic writing include a formal tone, use of the third-person rather than first-person perspective (usually), a clear focus on the research problem under investigation, and precise word choice. Like specialist languages adopted in other professions, such as, law or medicine, academic writing is designed to convey agreed meaning about complex ideas or concepts within a community of scholarly experts and practitioners.
Academic Writing. Writing Center. Colorado Technical College; Hartley, James. Academic Writing and Publishing: A Practical Guide . New York: Routledge, 2008; Ezza, El-Sadig Y. and Touria Drid. T eaching Academic Writing as a Discipline-Specific Skill in Higher Education . Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2020.
Importance of Good Academic Writing
The accepted form of academic writing in the social sciences can vary considerable depending on the methodological framework and the intended audience. However, most college-level research papers require careful attention to the following stylistic elements:
I. The Big Picture Unlike creative or journalistic writing, the overall structure of academic writing is formal and logical. It must be cohesive and possess a logically organized flow of ideas; this means that the various parts are connected to form a unified whole. There should be narrative links between sentences and paragraphs so that the reader is able to follow your argument. The introduction should include a description of how the rest of the paper is organized and all sources are properly cited throughout the paper.
II. Tone The overall tone refers to the attitude conveyed in a piece of writing. Throughout your paper, it is important that you present the arguments of others fairly and with an appropriate narrative tone. When presenting a position or argument that you disagree with, describe this argument accurately and without loaded or biased language. In academic writing, the author is expected to investigate the research problem from an authoritative point of view. You should, therefore, state the strengths of your arguments confidently, using language that is neutral, not confrontational or dismissive.
III. Diction Diction refers to the choice of words you use. Awareness of the words you use is important because words that have almost the same denotation [dictionary definition] can have very different connotations [implied meanings]. This is particularly true in academic writing because words and terminology can evolve a nuanced meaning that describes a particular idea, concept, or phenomenon derived from the epistemological culture of that discipline [e.g., the concept of rational choice in political science]. Therefore, use concrete words [not general] that convey a specific meaning. If this cannot be done without confusing the reader, then you need to explain what you mean within the context of how that word or phrase is used within a discipline.
IV. Language The investigation of research problems in the social sciences is often complex and multi- dimensional . Therefore, it is important that you use unambiguous language. Well-structured paragraphs and clear topic sentences enable a reader to follow your line of thinking without difficulty. Your language should be concise, formal, and express precisely what you want it to mean. Do not use vague expressions that are not specific or precise enough for the reader to derive exact meaning ["they," "we," "people," "the organization," etc.], abbreviations like 'i.e.' ["in other words"], 'e.g.' ["for example"], or 'a.k.a.' ["also known as"], and the use of unspecific determinate words ["super," "very," "incredible," "huge," etc.].
V. Punctuation Scholars rely on precise words and language to establish the narrative tone of their work and, therefore, punctuation marks are used very deliberately. For example, exclamation points are rarely used to express a heightened tone because it can come across as unsophisticated or over-excited. Dashes should be limited to the insertion of an explanatory comment in a sentence, while hyphens should be limited to connecting prefixes to words [e.g., multi-disciplinary] or when forming compound phrases [e.g., commander-in-chief]. Finally, understand that semi-colons represent a pause that is longer than a comma, but shorter than a period in a sentence. In general, there are four grammatical uses of semi-colons: when a second clause expands or explains the first clause; to describe a sequence of actions or different aspects of the same topic; placed before clauses which begin with "nevertheless", "therefore", "even so," and "for instance”; and, to mark off a series of phrases or clauses which contain commas. If you are not confident about when to use semi-colons [and most of the time, they are not required for proper punctuation], rewrite using shorter sentences or revise the paragraph.
VI. Academic Conventions Citing sources in the body of your paper and providing a list of references as either footnotes or endnotes is a key feature of academic writing. It is essential to always acknowledge the source of any ideas, research findings, data, paraphrased, or quoted text that you have used in your paper as a defense against allegations of plagiarism. Even more important, the scholarly convention of citing sources allow readers to identify the resources you used in writing your paper so they can independently verify and assess the quality of findings and conclusions based on your review of the literature. Examples of other academic conventions to follow include the appropriate use of headings and subheadings, properly spelling out acronyms when first used in the text, avoiding slang or colloquial language, avoiding emotive language or unsupported declarative statements, avoiding contractions [e.g., isn't], and using first person and second person pronouns only when necessary.
VII. Evidence-Based Reasoning Assignments often ask you to express your own point of view about the research problem. However, what is valued in academic writing is that statements are based on evidence-based reasoning. This refers to possessing a clear understanding of the pertinent body of knowledge and academic debates that exist within, and often external to, your discipline concerning the topic. You need to support your arguments with evidence from scholarly [i.e., academic or peer-reviewed] sources. It should be an objective stance presented as a logical argument; the quality of the evidence you cite will determine the strength of your argument. The objective is to convince the reader of the validity of your thoughts through a well-documented, coherent, and logically structured piece of writing. This is particularly important when proposing solutions to problems or delineating recommended courses of action.
VIII. Thesis-Driven Academic writing is “thesis-driven,” meaning that the starting point is a particular perspective, idea, or position applied to the chosen topic of investigation, such as, establishing, proving, or disproving solutions to the questions applied to investigating the research problem. Note that a problem statement without the research questions does not qualify as academic writing because simply identifying the research problem does not establish for the reader how you will contribute to solving the problem, what aspects you believe are most critical, or suggest a method for gathering information or data to better understand the problem.
IX. Complexity and Higher-Order Thinking Academic writing addresses complex issues that require higher-order thinking skills applied to understanding the research problem [e.g., critical, reflective, logical, and creative thinking as opposed to, for example, descriptive or prescriptive thinking]. Higher-order thinking skills include cognitive processes that are used to comprehend, solve problems, and express concepts or that describe abstract ideas that cannot be easily acted out, pointed to, or shown with images. Think of your writing this way: One of the most important attributes of a good teacher is the ability to explain complexity in a way that is understandable and relatable to the topic being presented during class. This is also one of the main functions of academic writing--examining and explaining the significance of complex ideas as clearly as possible. As a writer, you must adopt the role of a good teacher by summarizing complex information into a well-organized synthesis of ideas, concepts, and recommendations that contribute to a better understanding of the research problem.
Academic Writing. Writing Center. Colorado Technical College; Hartley, James. Academic Writing and Publishing: A Practical Guide . New York: Routledge, 2008; Murray, Rowena and Sarah Moore. The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach . New York: Open University Press, 2006; Johnson, Roy. Improve Your Writing Skills . Manchester, UK: Clifton Press, 1995; Nygaard, Lynn P. Writing for Scholars: A Practical Guide to Making Sense and Being Heard . Second edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2015; Silvia, Paul J. How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007; Style, Diction, Tone, and Voice. Writing Center, Wheaton College; Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.
Understanding Academic Writing and Its Jargon
The very definition of research jargon is language specific to a particular community of practitioner-researchers . Therefore, in modern university life, jargon represents the specific language and meaning assigned to words and phrases specific to a discipline or area of study. For example, the idea of being rational may hold the same general meaning in both political science and psychology, but its application to understanding and explaining phenomena within the research domain of a each discipline may have subtle differences based upon how scholars in that discipline apply the concept to the theories and practice of their work.
Given this, it is important that specialist terminology [i.e., jargon] must be used accurately and applied under the appropriate conditions . Subject-specific dictionaries are the best places to confirm the meaning of terms within the context of a specific discipline. These can be found by either searching in the USC Libraries catalog by entering the disciplinary and the word dictionary [e.g., sociology and dictionary] or using a database such as Credo Reference [a curated collection of subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, guides from highly regarded publishers] . It is appropriate for you to use specialist language within your field of study, but you should avoid using such language when writing for non-academic or general audiences.
Problems with Opaque Writing
A common criticism of scholars is that they can utilize needlessly complex syntax or overly expansive vocabulary that is impenetrable or not well-defined. When writing, avoid problems associated with opaque writing by keeping in mind the following:
1. Excessive use of specialized terminology . Yes, it is appropriate for you to use specialist language and a formal style of expression in academic writing, but it does not mean using "big words" just for the sake of doing so. Overuse of complex or obscure words or writing complicated sentence constructions gives readers the impression that your paper is more about style than substance; it leads the reader to question if you really know what you are talking about. Focus on creating clear, concise, and elegant prose that minimizes reliance on specialized terminology.
2. Inappropriate use of specialized terminology . Because you are dealing with concepts, research, and data within your discipline, you need to use the technical language appropriate to that area of study. However, nothing will undermine the validity of your study quicker than the inappropriate application of a term or concept. Avoid using terms whose meaning you are unsure of--do not just guess or assume! Consult the meaning of terms in specialized, discipline-specific dictionaries by searching the USC Libraries catalog or the Credo Reference database [see above].
Additional Problems to Avoid
In addition to understanding the use of specialized language, there are other aspects of academic writing in the social sciences that you should be aware of. These problems include:
- Personal nouns . Excessive use of personal nouns [e.g., I, me, you, us] may lead the reader to believe the study was overly subjective. These words can be interpreted as being used only to avoid presenting empirical evidence about the research problem. Limit the use of personal nouns to descriptions of things you actually did [e.g., "I interviewed ten teachers about classroom management techniques..."]. Note that personal nouns are generally found in the discussion section of a paper because this is where you as the author/researcher interpret and describe your work.
- Directives . Avoid directives that demand the reader to "do this" or "do that." Directives should be framed as evidence-based recommendations or goals leading to specific outcomes. Note that an exception to this can be found in various forms of action research that involve evidence-based advocacy for social justice or transformative change. Within this area of the social sciences, authors may offer directives for action in a declarative tone of urgency.
- Informal, conversational tone using slang and idioms . Academic writing relies on excellent grammar and precise word structure. Your narrative should not include regional dialects or slang terms because they can be open to interpretation. Your writing should be direct and concise using standard English.
- Wordiness. Focus on being concise, straightforward, and developing a narrative that does not have confusing language . By doing so, you help eliminate the possibility of the reader misinterpreting the design and purpose of your study.
- Vague expressions (e.g., "they," "we," "people," "the company," "that area," etc.). Being concise in your writing also includes avoiding vague references to persons, places, or things. While proofreading your paper, be sure to look for and edit any vague or imprecise statements that lack context or specificity.
- Numbered lists and bulleted items . The use of bulleted items or lists should be used only if the narrative dictates a need for clarity. For example, it is fine to state, "The four main problems with hedge funds are:" and then list them as 1, 2, 3, 4. However, in academic writing, this must then be followed by detailed explanation and analysis of each item. Given this, the question you should ask yourself while proofreading is: why begin with a list in the first place rather than just starting with systematic analysis of each item arranged in separate paragraphs? Also, be careful using numbers because they can imply a ranked order of priority or importance. If none exists, use bullets and avoid checkmarks or other symbols.
- Descriptive writing . Describing a research problem is an important means of contextualizing a study. In fact, some description or background information may be needed because you can not assume the reader knows the key aspects of the topic. However, the content of your paper should focus on methodology, the analysis and interpretation of findings, and their implications as they apply to the research problem rather than background information and descriptions of tangential issues.
- Personal experience. Drawing upon personal experience [e.g., traveling abroad; caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease] can be an effective way of introducing the research problem or engaging your readers in understanding its significance. Use personal experience only as an example, though, because academic writing relies on evidence-based research. To do otherwise is simply story-telling.
NOTE: Rules concerning excellent grammar and precise word structure do not apply when quoting someone. A quote should be inserted in the text of your paper exactly as it was stated. If the quote is especially vague or hard to understand, consider paraphrasing it or using a different quote to convey the same meaning. Consider inserting the term "sic" in brackets after the quoted text to indicate that the quotation has been transcribed exactly as found in the original source, but the source had grammar, spelling, or other errors. The adverb sic informs the reader that the errors are not yours.
Academic Writing. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Academic Writing Style. First-Year Seminar Handbook. Mercer University; Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Cornell University; College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Murray, Rowena and Sarah Moore. The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach . New York: Open University Press, 2006; Johnson, Eileen S. “Action Research.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education . Edited by George W. Noblit and Joseph R. Neikirk. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020); Oppenheimer, Daniel M. "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly." Applied Cognitive Psychology 20 (2006): 139-156; Ezza, El-Sadig Y. and Touria Drid. T eaching Academic Writing as a Discipline-Specific Skill in Higher Education . Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2020; Pernawan, Ari. Common Flaws in Students' Research Proposals. English Education Department. Yogyakarta State University; Style. College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Invention: Five Qualities of Good Writing. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012; What Is an Academic Paper? Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.
Structure and Writing Style
I. Improving Academic Writing
To improve your academic writing skills, you should focus your efforts on three key areas: 1. Clear Writing . The act of thinking about precedes the process of writing about. Good writers spend sufficient time distilling information and reviewing major points from the literature they have reviewed before creating their work. Writing detailed outlines can help you clearly organize your thoughts. Effective academic writing begins with solid planning, so manage your time carefully. 2. Excellent Grammar . Needless to say, English grammar can be difficult and complex; even the best scholars take many years before they have a command of the major points of good grammar. Take the time to learn the major and minor points of good grammar. Spend time practicing writing and seek detailed feedback from professors. Take advantage of the Writing Center on campus if you need help. Proper punctuation and good proofreading skills can significantly improve academic writing [see sub-tab for proofreading you paper ].
Refer to these three basic resources to help your grammar and writing skills:
- A good writing reference book, such as, Strunk and White’s book, The Elements of Style or the St. Martin's Handbook ;
- A college-level dictionary, such as, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary ;
- The latest edition of Roget's Thesaurus in Dictionary Form .
3. Consistent Stylistic Approach . Whether your professor expresses a preference to use MLA, APA or the Chicago Manual of Style or not, choose one style manual and stick to it. Each of these style manuals provide rules on how to write out numbers, references, citations, footnotes, and lists. Consistent adherence to a style of writing helps with the narrative flow of your paper and improves its readability. Note that some disciplines require a particular style [e.g., education uses APA] so as you write more papers within your major, your familiarity with it will improve.
II. Evaluating Quality of Writing
A useful approach for evaluating the quality of your academic writing is to consider the following issues from the perspective of the reader. While proofreading your final draft, critically assess the following elements in your writing.
- It is shaped around one clear research problem, and it explains what that problem is from the outset.
- Your paper tells the reader why the problem is important and why people should know about it.
- You have accurately and thoroughly informed the reader what has already been published about this problem or others related to it and noted important gaps in the research.
- You have provided evidence to support your argument that the reader finds convincing.
- The paper includes a description of how and why particular evidence was collected and analyzed, and why specific theoretical arguments or concepts were used.
- The paper is made up of paragraphs, each containing only one controlling idea.
- You indicate how each section of the paper addresses the research problem.
- You have considered counter-arguments or counter-examples where they are relevant.
- Arguments, evidence, and their significance have been presented in the conclusion.
- Limitations of your research have been explained as evidence of the potential need for further study.
- The narrative flows in a clear, accurate, and well-organized way.
Boscoloa, Pietro, Barbara Arféb, and Mara Quarisaa. “Improving the Quality of Students' Academic Writing: An Intervention Study.” Studies in Higher Education 32 (August 2007): 419-438; Academic Writing. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Academic Writing Style. First-Year Seminar Handbook. Mercer University; Bem, Daryl J. Writing the Empirical Journal Article. Cornell University; Candlin, Christopher. Academic Writing Step-By-Step: A Research-based Approach . Bristol, CT: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2016; College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Style . College Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Invention: Five Qualities of Good Writing. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012; What Is an Academic Paper? Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.
Considering the Passive Voice in Academic Writing
In the English language, we are able to construct sentences in the following way: 1. "The policies of Congress caused the economic crisis." 2. "The economic crisis was caused by the policies of Congress."
The decision about which sentence to use is governed by whether you want to focus on “Congress” and what they did, or on “the economic crisis” and what caused it. This choice in focus is achieved with the use of either the active or the passive voice. When you want your readers to focus on the "doer" of an action, you can make the "doer"' the subject of the sentence and use the active form of the verb. When you want readers to focus on the person, place, or thing affected by the action, or the action itself, you can make the effect or the action the subject of the sentence by using the passive form of the verb.
Often in academic writing, scholars don't want to focus on who is doing an action, but on who is receiving or experiencing the consequences of that action. The passive voice is useful in academic writing because it allows writers to highlight the most important participants or events within sentences by placing them at the beginning of the sentence.
Use the passive voice when:
- You want to focus on the person, place, or thing affected by the action, or the action itself;
- It is not important who or what did the action;
- You want to be impersonal or more formal.
Form the passive voice by:
- Turning the object of the active sentence into the subject of the passive sentence.
- Changing the verb to a passive form by adding the appropriate form of the verb "to be" and the past participle of the main verb.
NOTE: Consult with your professor about using the passive voice before submitting your research paper. Some strongly discourage its use!
Active and Passive Voice. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Diefenbach, Paul. Future of Digital Media Syllabus. Drexel University; Passive Voice. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.
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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper
- Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
- Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.
In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:
- AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
- APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
- Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
- MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
- Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines
While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.
If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.
Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.
Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:
- Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
- Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
- Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.
General Formatting Guidelines
This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.
These are the major components of an APA-style paper:
Body, which includes the following:
- Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
- In-text citations of research sources
- References page
All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.
The title page of your paper includes the following information:
- Title of the paper
- Author’s name
- Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
- Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)
List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.
The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.
In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.
Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.
Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.
Margins, Pagination, and Headings
APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.
Use these general guidelines to format the paper:
- Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
- Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
- Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
- Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
- Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.
Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:
- Your title page
- The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
- Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract
APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.
The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:
- Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
- Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
- The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
- The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
- The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.
Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .
Table 13.1 Section Headings
A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.
Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.
Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:
Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.
In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.
This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.
Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).
Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.
Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).
Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.
As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”
Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.
David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).
Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.
Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.
Writing at Work
APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:
- MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
- Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
- Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.
The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.
The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:
- The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
- The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
- The full title of the source
- For books, the city of publication
- For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
- For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
- For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located
The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)
In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.
- Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
- Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
- APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
- APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
- In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
- In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.
Writing for Success by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
- Research Report: Definition, Types + [Writing Guide]
One of the reasons for carrying out research is to add to the existing body of knowledge. Therefore, when conducting research, you need to document your processes and findings in a research report.
With a research report, it is easy to outline the findings of your systematic investigation and any gaps needing further inquiry. Knowing how to create a detailed research report will prove useful when you need to conduct research.
What is a Research Report?
A research report is a well-crafted document that outlines the processes, data, and findings of a systematic investigation. It is an important document that serves as a first-hand account of the research process, and it is typically considered an objective and accurate source of information.
In many ways, a research report can be considered as a summary of the research process that clearly highlights findings, recommendations, and other important details. Reading a well-written research report should provide you with all the information you need about the core areas of the research process.
Features of a Research Report
So how do you recognize a research report when you see one? Here are some of the basic features that define a research report.
- It is a detailed presentation of research processes and findings, and it usually includes tables and graphs.
- It is written in a formal language.
- A research report is usually written in the third person.
- It is informative and based on first-hand verifiable information.
- It is formally structured with headings, sections, and bullet points.
- It always includes recommendations for future actions.
Types of Research Report
The research report is classified based on two things; nature of research and target audience.
Nature of Research
- Qualitative Research Report
This is the type of report written for qualitative research . It outlines the methods, processes, and findings of a qualitative method of systematic investigation. In educational research, a qualitative research report provides an opportunity for one to apply his or her knowledge and develop skills in planning and executing qualitative research projects.
A qualitative research report is usually descriptive in nature. Hence, in addition to presenting details of the research process, you must also create a descriptive narrative of the information.
- Quantitative Research Report
A quantitative research report is a type of research report that is written for quantitative research. Quantitative research is a type of systematic investigation that pays attention to numerical or statistical values in a bid to find answers to research questions.
In this type of research report, the researcher presents quantitative data to support the research process and findings. Unlike a qualitative research report that is mainly descriptive, a quantitative research report works with numbers; that is, it is numerical in nature.
Also, a research report can be said to be technical or popular based on the target audience. If you’re dealing with a general audience, you would need to present a popular research report, and if you’re dealing with a specialized audience, you would submit a technical report.
- Technical Research Report
A technical research report is a detailed document that you present after carrying out industry-based research. This report is highly specialized because it provides information for a technical audience; that is, individuals with above-average knowledge in the field of study.
In a technical research report, the researcher is expected to provide specific information about the research process, including statistical analyses and sampling methods. Also, the use of language is highly specialized and filled with jargon.
Examples of technical research reports include legal and medical research reports.
- Popular Research Report
A popular research report is one for a general audience; that is, for individuals who do not necessarily have any knowledge in the field of study. A popular research report aims to make information accessible to everyone.
It is written in very simple language, which makes it easy to understand the findings and recommendations. Examples of popular research reports are the information contained in newspapers and magazines.
Importance of a Research Report
- Knowledge Transfer: As already stated above, one of the reasons for carrying out research is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, and this is made possible with a research report. A research report serves as a means to effectively communicate the findings of a systematic investigation to all and sundry.
- Identification of Knowledge Gaps: With a research report, you’d be able to identify knowledge gaps for further inquiry. A research report shows what has been done while hinting at other areas needing systematic investigation.
- In market research, a research report would help you understand the market needs and peculiarities at a glance.
- A research report allows you to present information in a precise and concise manner.
- It is time-efficient and practical because, in a research report, you do not have to spend time detailing the findings of your research work in person. You can easily send out the report via email and have stakeholders look at it.
Guide to Writing a Research Report
A lot of detail goes into writing a research report, and getting familiar with the different requirements would help you create the ideal research report. A research report is usually broken down into multiple sections, which allows for a concise presentation of information.
Structure and Example of a Research Report
This is the title of your systematic investigation. Your title should be concise and point to the aims, objectives, and findings of a research report.
- Table of Contents
This is like a compass that makes it easier for readers to navigate the research report.
An abstract is an overview that highlights all important aspects of the research including the research method, data collection process, and research findings. Think of an abstract as a summary of your research report that presents pertinent information in a concise manner.
An abstract is always brief; typically 100-150 words and goes straight to the point. The focus of your research abstract should be the 5Ws and 1H format – What, Where, Why, When, Who and How.
Here, the researcher highlights the aims and objectives of the systematic investigation as well as the problem which the systematic investigation sets out to solve. When writing the report introduction, it is also essential to indicate whether the purposes of the research were achieved or would require more work.
In the introduction section, the researcher specifies the research problem and also outlines the significance of the systematic investigation. Also, the researcher is expected to outline any jargons and terminologies that are contained in the research.
- Literature Review
A literature review is a written survey of existing knowledge in the field of study. In other words, it is the section where you provide an overview and analysis of different research works that are relevant to your systematic investigation.
It highlights existing research knowledge and areas needing further investigation, which your research has sought to fill. At this stage, you can also hint at your research hypothesis and its possible implications for the existing body of knowledge in your field of study.
- An Account of Investigation
This is a detailed account of the research process, including the methodology, sample, and research subjects. Here, you are expected to provide in-depth information on the research process including the data collection and analysis procedures.
In a quantitative research report, you’d need to provide information surveys, questionnaires and other quantitative data collection methods used in your research. In a qualitative research report, you are expected to describe the qualitative data collection methods used in your research including interviews and focus groups.
In this section, you are expected to present the results of the systematic investigation.
This section further explains the findings of the research, earlier outlined. Here, you are expected to present a justification for each outcome and show whether the results are in line with your hypotheses or if other research studies have come up with similar results.
This is a summary of all the information in the report. It also outlines the significance of the entire study.
- References and Appendices
This section contains a list of all the primary and secondary research sources.
Tips for Writing a Research Report
- Define the Context for the Report
As is obtainable when writing an essay, defining the context for your research report would help you create a detailed yet concise document. This is why you need to create an outline before writing so that you do not miss out on anything.
- Define your Audience
Writing with your audience in mind is essential as it determines the tone of the report. If you’re writing for a general audience, you would want to present the information in a simple and relatable manner. For a specialized audience, you would need to make use of technical and field-specific terms.
- Include Significant Findings
The idea of a research report is to present some sort of abridged version of your systematic investigation. In your report, you should exclude irrelevant information while highlighting only important data and findings.
- Include Illustrations
Your research report should include illustrations and other visual representations of your data. Graphs, pie charts, and relevant images lend additional credibility to your systematic investigation.
- Choose the Right Title
A good research report title is brief, precise, and contains keywords from your research. It should provide a clear idea of your systematic investigation so that readers can grasp the entire focus of your research from the title.
- Proofread the Report
Before publishing the document, ensure that you give it a second look to authenticate the information. If you can, get someone else to go through the report, too, and you can also run it through proofreading and editing software.
How to Gather Research Data for Your Report
- Understand the Problem
Every research aims at solving a specific problem or set of problems, and this should be at the back of your mind when writing your research report. Understanding the problem would help you to filter the information you have and include only important data in your report.
- Know what your report seeks to achieve
This is somewhat similar to the point above because, in some way, the aim of your research report is intertwined with the objectives of your systematic investigation. Identifying the primary purpose of writing a research report would help you to identify and present the required information accordingly.
- Identify your audience
Knowing your target audience plays a crucial role in data collection for a research report. If your research report is specifically for an organization, you would want to present industry-specific information or show how the research findings are relevant to the work that the company does.
- Create Surveys/Questionnaires
A survey is a research method that is used to gather data from a specific group of people through a set of questions. It can be either quantitative or qualitative.
A survey is usually made up of structured questions, and it can be administered online or offline. However, an online survey is a more effective method of research data collection because it helps you save time and gather data with ease.
You can seamlessly create an online questionnaire for your research on Formplus . With the multiple sharing options available in the builder, you would be able to administer your survey to respondents in little or no time.
Formplus also has a report summary too l that you can use to create custom visual reports for your research.
Step-by-step guide on how to create an online questionnaire using Formplus
- Sign into Formplus
In the Formplus builder, you can easily create different online questionnaires for your research by dragging and dropping preferred fields into your form. To access the Formplus builder, you will need to create an account on Formplus.
Once you do this, sign in to your account and click on Create new form to begin.
- Edit Form Title : Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, “Research Questionnaire.”
- Edit Form : Click on the edit icon to edit the form.
- Add Fields : Drag and drop preferred form fields into your form in the Formplus builder inputs column. There are several field input options for questionnaires in the Formplus builder.
- Edit fields
- Click on “Save”
- Form Customization: With the form customization options in the form builder, you can easily change the outlook of your form and make it more unique and personalized. Formplus allows you to change your form theme, add background images, and even change the font according to your needs.
- Multiple Sharing Options: Formplus offers various form-sharing options, which enables you to share your questionnaire with respondents easily. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization’s social media pages. You can also send out your survey form as email invitations to your research subjects too. If you wish, you can share your form’s QR code or embed it on your organization’s website for easy access.
Always remember that a research report is just as important as the actual systematic investigation because it plays a vital role in communicating research findings to everyone else. This is why you must take care to create a concise document summarizing the process of conducting any research.
In this article, we’ve outlined essential tips to help you create a research report. When writing your report, you should always have the audience at the back of your mind, as this would set the tone for the document.
Create Online Surveys for your Research Report on Formplus
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- Formplus Blog
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Organizing Academic Research Papers: Purpose of Guide
Purpose of guide.
- Design Flaws to Avoid
- Glossary of Research Terms
- Narrowing a Topic Idea
- Broadening a Topic Idea
- Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
- Academic Writing Style
- Choosing a Title
- Making an Outline
- Paragraph Development
- Executive Summary
- Background Information
- The Research Problem/Question
- Theoretical Framework
- Citation Tracking
- Content Alert Services
- Evaluating Sources
- Primary Sources
- Secondary Sources
- Tertiary Sources
- What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
- Qualitative Methods
- Quantitative Methods
- Using Non-Textual Elements
- Limitations of the Study
- Common Grammar Mistakes
- Avoiding Plagiarism
- Footnotes or Endnotes?
- Further Readings
- Annotated Bibliography
- Dealing with Nervousness
- Using Visual Aids
- Grading Someone Else's Paper
- How to Manage Group Projects
- Multiple Book Review Essay
- Reviewing Collected Essays
- About Informed Consent
- Writing Field Notes
- Writing a Policy Memo
- Writing a Research Proposal
This guide is intended to help you organize and write a quality academic research paper. Also included are recommendations regarding how to manage specific course assignments. Note that, if you have specific questions about how to write a research paper, you should always seek advice from your professor before you begin. Specific requirements stated by your professor will always supersede instructions provided in these general guidelines.
Thanks to Dr. Robert V. Labaree of the Von KleinSmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs, University of Southern California Libraries , for sharing the content of this guide.
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