A research paper is a piece of academic writing that requires a more abstract, critical, and thoughtful level of inquiry than you might be used to. But not to worry, you'll gradually pick up that mindset the more you envelop yourself in tutorial discussions and lectures at the college level and of course, the more you write. Not just research papers but any paper, period.
APA style, or APA format are the terms commonly used to describe the writing style guidelines which are developed, maintained, and periodically revised and updated by the American Psychological Association (APA) .
APA Documentation Style
The APA's Publication Manual covers all aspects of the writing and publishing process including: organizing, writing, formatting, keying, and submitting a manuscript for publication. It provides detailed guidance on editorial style as well as on the appropriate standards for publishing research in accordance with ethical principles of scientific publishing. APA documentation style (similar to the MLA style) calls for "in-text" citations of sources of information to be listed within the text where they are referenced, rather than in footnotes and endnotes, as some systems call for.
APA Paper Format and Citations
The publication mentioned above covers literally thousands of technical details for the writing and publishing of papers, and should be consulted if that level of detail is required. Nevertheless, there are a number of overall rules and general guidelines, which are normally sufficient for the preparation of most APA papers at the undergraduate level:
Overall Paper Format - APA
- The paper should be typed and double-spaced, on standard 8 ½" x 11", 20-pound white paper.
- All four outside margins should be set at 1 inch.
- As many as applicable of the following sections should appear in the paper, each one beginning on a separate page: abstract, text, references, appendices, author identification notes, footnotes, tables, figure captions, figures.
- Each section should have a running header on the first line of the page, flush right.
- The manuscript title on the first page should begin about 1/3 of the way down the page. The title block on that page should include: full title (one or more lines), writer's name, course name and number, instructor's name, and the date - all centered on double-spaced lines
- A running header with consecutive page numbering should appear flush right in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the manuscript title page. This running header will appear one-half inch from the top of the page, and should contain a short version of the manuscript title, followed by the page number.
In-Text Citation of Sources - APA
- In general, APA in-text documentation format uses the author-date style of citation, with the author's name, followed by the year of publication, cited within the body text of an article. The complete details on the source document are included in the "References" list at the end of the paper.
- Normally, an in-text citation will be introduced with a "signal phrase" that includes the author's last name, followed by the year of publication in parentheses. The page number in the source document, preceded by a "p.", should appear in parentheses immediately after the quotation.
- In cases when the author's name is not in the signal phrase, enclose the author's last name, the year, and the page number, in parentheses at the end of the quotation.
- If the work cited has two authors, name both authors in the signal phrase and in parentheses at the end of the quotation. For the latter, separate their names with the "&" symbol.
- For more than two authors, identify all of the authors in the introductory signal phrase or in the parentheses the first time they are named.
- If the author is an organization with a long cumbersome name, use the entire name in the body text the first time it is used, with the acronym for the organization enclosed in parentheses, followed by the year.