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Research paper is a compulsory assignment in most colleges and universities. The component that makes it one of the toughest academic papers is its format. You have to format the assignment as per the professor’s given instructions or else it will be rejected mercilessly. This component is significant because it keeps a smooth flow of the details and the quality intact. Thus, readers are able to skim the academic paper effectively.

Before beginning the format, you first have to sketch an outline of your paper. This is yet another critical component that provides the writer with a framework or map of the entire paper. By following this map you are assured to end up with a well-written paper.

Outlining

  • Start it with the introduction. Make three sub-points under this section, detailing key points that this section will cover.
    • An attention-grabbing opening
    • Background information of the topic
    • Thesis statement
  • Come to the second section and name it “Body”. Make three sub-points along with three more sub-points within the initial three.
    • Paragraph 1
      • Topic Sentence 1
      • Topic Sentence 2
      • Topic Sentence 3
    • Paragraph 2
      • Topic Sentence 1
      • Topic Sentence 2
      • Topic Sentence 3
    • Paragraph 3
      • Topic Sentence 1
      • Topic Sentence 2
      • Topic Sentence 3
  • The third section will be the conclusion.
  • Finally, the last section of your paper will be the “Reference page” where all the sources will be presented in alphabetical order.

Formatting

It demands a proper structure of the paper. All the different aspects of an academic paper’s format should be considered to produce a well-formatted and well-written work. These important aspects may include:

  • Paper Type
    The paper type in the word processor should be set to letter size, i.e., 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Only one side of the paper should be used for printing the text.
  • Title Page
    It is the first page of the academic paper and it should contain proper information, formatted in the proper style.
  • Spacing
    Usually double spacing is used throughout the paper to ensure better readability.
  • Font Type
    Depending on the style of the format, font type may differ.
  • Page Margin
    Proper spacing should be used on each side of the paper.
  • Indentation
    Indentation between each paragraph should be set according to the instructed style.
  • Page Numbers
    It allows proper indexing of each chapter and sub-chapter of the paper. It should be presented on each page.
  • Citation Style/Quoting
    Using proper citation style is quite a delicate matter. Therefore, the writer needs to be specific and should choose only the right quoting style, i.e., in accordance with the instructed formatting-style.

Does All This Sound Too Hectic To Remember?
Wait…. The Problems Have Just Started

  • Other than outlining and formatting, students also get confused when it comes to developing an ideal thesis statement.
  • Most students are foreigners with poor English skills. They are prone to get stuck when sifting research materials and different literatures.
  • They don’t have sufficient time to solely focus on the research paper as they have lots of other assignments to write as well.
  • The main problem arises when students are not familiar with the different formatting style such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. They don’t know how the given format is incorporated in the paper.

Students who let these problems get the better of them are never able to produce an ideal paper, thus their papers are rejected mercilessly and they end up with bad grades.

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Use these general guidelines for Research Paper Format

APAAMAMLA
Style Use active voice.
Be specific and concise.
Avoid poetic or figurative language; scientific writing is good for APA.
Use past or present perfect tense (researchers have shown) for a lit review and description.
Use past tense when referring to results and experiments previously conducted.
Active voice is preferred.
Flush left (with an uneven right margin)
Use active voice
Use present tense when referring to events that happen within the literature
Remain consistent with tense (especially important to keep in mind when writing about historic non-fiction)
Formatting 1” margins
Times New Roman, size 12 font
Double-spaced
Indent all new paragraphs
Text is double-spaced and left aligned (pg. 37)
Call for 1″ margins, 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
1” margins
An easily readable font (most professors prefer Times New Roman.)
Size 12 font
Double-spaced
Title Page “Running head” and TITLE flush left, and page number flush right at top of page.
Double-click the header; click ‘different first page,’ and then insert page number on the right side.
Type ‘Running head:’ and your title (or shortened version of your title if the original is longer than 50 characters) in all caps (e.g. Running head: TITLE OR SHORTENED TITLE).
On subsequent pages use just the title or shortened title in all caps.
The following information will be centered in the upper-middle of the page (approx. 5-6 double-spaced lines down):
Title of Paper (first, last, and all important words capitalized)
Your name and institute name
AMA does not give specific formatting requirements for a title page. It only provides the information that should be included.
Title
Authors’ Name
Degrees (above bachelors)
E-mail Addresses
Institutional Affiliation
Word Count (for text only, excluding title, abstract, references, tables, and figures)
Create a running header with your last name and page number in the upper right-hand corner (with only one space between name and number) one half inch from the top
In the upper left-hand corner, type your name, professor’s name, course name, and date
Center the title of your paper just below following standard capitalization rules for titles
Abstract The word “Abstract” should be centered on the first line.
150-250 words long
Brief, comprehensive summary of the paper
Do not indent the first line of the abstract.
The abstract is not an introduction to the paper and will not contain any citations.
See pp. 25-27 of the APA manual for what information to include in an abstract.
If required, one line under the abstract, indent once, and insert and italicize Keywords followed by a colon. Then,
“The abstract of a research report summarizes the main points of an article: (1) the study objective or background, (2) the study design and methods, (3) primary results, and (4) principal conclusions.” (pg. 20)
Structured Abstract (pg. 20-23)
Used for reports of original data, systematic reviews, and clinical reviews.
Uses predetermined headings depending on the type of report.
separated by commas, insert 3-6 of your paper’s keywords. Usually limited to 250 words, though some journals allow for 300 words. (pg. 21)
Unstructured Abstract (pg. 23-24)
Used for any other major manuscript.
No more than 150 words
Keywords
Located at the end of the Abstract
3-10 terms that represent the key concepts
Main Body Before writing, center the Paper Title on the first line. Your introduction will begin on the next line, unless your professor asks for a heading to be included for the introduction. In that case, “Introduction” will be on the second line as a level 1 heading. The text of an AMA paper typically consists of four sections: (pg. 25)
Introduction
Methods
Results
Discussion
References
Your paper should include a thesis statement, “a single sentence the formulates both your topic and your point of view . . . your answer to the central question or problem you have raised”
Use only one space after a period unless professor prefers two
Indent the first line of each paragraph ½ of an inch
Use block quotes sparingly and only when the prose quotation exceeds four lines
Include parenthetical citations in your paper whenever you use another person’s words or ideas. Usually this will include the author’s last name and a page reference with no punctuation:
Headings APA papers must use headings to separate paper sections and establish a hierarchy of information.
Always use headings in order, beginning with level 1
For each section, include at least two subsection headings or none at all. This follows the same principle as an outline: section one would be divided into sections A and B or more. A cannot stand alone.
First level: centered, boldface, uppercase and lowercase heading
Second level: left-aligned, boldface, uppercase and lowercase heading
Third level: indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period
Fourth level: indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period
Fifth level: indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period
The text of an AMA paper typically consists of four sections: (pg. 25)
Introduction
Methods
Results
Discussion
References
In-Text Citations An in-text citation is used whenever another author’s work is directly quoted or paraphrased.
Citations for paraphrases use an author/date format: (Author, Publication Year)
The citation for a direct quote should also include the page number
You can move information from the in-text citations to other parts of the sentence that the quote is part of as long as all required elements are present.
Any quotation longer than 39 words should be made into a freestanding block of text and have the quotation marks removed. Block quotes should be indented one-half inch from the left margin and end with the in-text citation outside of the period.
If no author is given, use a shortened version of the title in the citation.
If the publication date is unknown, use “n.d.” in its place.
If you are using an electronic source that does not include page numbers, use paragraph numbers with the in-text citation including the author and date.
For works with 3 or more authors, list up to 5 in the first citation
For citations that have 6 or more authors, cite the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”
Each reference is cited consecutively using a superscript Arabic numeral.
Multiple references can be cited by listing each in order in the superscript citation, separated by a comma.
Specific page numbers within a source can be cited by placing the page reference in parentheses after the citation number.
Citation numbers come after commas and periods, but before a colon or semicolon.
References Center “References” in the middle of a new page to begin references page.
If a work has more than 7 authors, list the first 6 followed by an ellipsis. Include the last author immediately after the ellipsis as the final author mentioned.
There are only two types of sources that are cited only in-text and not mentioned on the references page: classical works and personal communications. The Bible is considered a classical work in APA. When citing the Bible in-text, include the reference and version used: e.g. (1 Cor. 13:1, Revised Standard Version)
Excluding abbreviations and proper nouns, capitalize only the first word of article titles.
Evenly double-space references, use hanging indents, and alphabetize all entries.
References are numbered and listed in the order they appear in the text.
The following is the minimum acceptable data necessary for references:
Print Journals: Author(s). Article title. Journal Name. Year;vol. (issue No.): inclusive pages.
Online Journals: Author(s). Article title. Journal Name. Year; vol(issue No.): inclusive pages. URL. Accessed [date].
Print Books: Author(s). Book Title. Edition number (if it is the second edition or above). City, State (or Country) of publisher: Publisher’s name; copyright year.
Online Books: Author(s). Book Title. Edition number (if it is the second edition or above). City,
State (or Country) of publisher: Publisher’s name; copyright year. URL. Accessed [date].
Website: Author (or, if no author is available, the name of the organization responsible for the site). Title (or, if no title is available, the name of the organization responsible for the site). Name of the website. URL. Accessed [date].
Reference List Book
Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.
Article in a periodical
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number (issue number), pages.
Article from an online periodical
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number(issue number if available). Retrieved from http://www.someaddress.com/full/url/
Website
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address
These are the elements and the proper punctuation in a citation if they were all present in a source:
Author. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.
Book:
Model: Last name, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
Work in an anthology:
Model: Last name, First name. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Other Contributors, Publisher, Publication Date. Location.
Journal article retrieved from database:
Model: Author. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Number, Publication Date, Location.
Website:
Model: Author (if available). “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Other Contributors, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.