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Important Tips for Writing APA-Style Research Papers

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30 Dec

LiveWebTutors General Blog

Important Tips for Writing APA-Style Research Papers

Research papers are time-consuming complex assignments that contribute to a major portion of student’s marks and grades in their academics. Academic writing is tough but for being successful in college and in your career written communication skills are needed. To achieve this you must work hard to get efficient in the art of writing a paper.

What does APA stand for?

First of all we need to know what APA stands for. It stands for American Psychological Association. Most professional journals require papers to be submitted in accordance with the APA style guide. It is the most accepted format for publication. This form of writing research papers is primarily used to cite sources in Social Sciences like Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology and Education etc. This APA style was originated in an article of 1929 that was published in Psychological Bulletin that laid out the basic guidelines.

For writing a research paper you should get familiar with the APA style and write your papers according to their guidelines. By doing so, a particular journal will only demand minor changes to your draft before submitting.

What are the main characteristics of APA?

It has the following specific characteristics:

  • Running head (A short title appearing at the top of every page of your paper in the header.
  • Numbering of pages start from the title page.
  • Citations within the text i.e. appearing at the end of sentences within the paragraphs (Author last name, date).
  • Times New Roman or another similar type of font like Calibri etc.
  • Double line spacing.
  • Indented paragraphs (First line indentation: 0.5”)
  • Specific style of headings and subheadings.

Key APA Style Issues

There are some points that you need to remember specifically about the APA style:

  • You should write your paper in an impersonal style. That means there should not be any personal statements or anecdotes.
  • The paper should be written in past tense since you are reporting the work that has already been performed.
  • Contractions should not be used (such as “don’t”).
  • While citing an external source, either use the source in the structure of your sentence or give it as a reference at the end of the sentence by placing it in parentheses.

Writing Tips for APA-Style Research Papers

Step I. Selection of a Topic

Choose your topic wisely. The more the topic is challenging, the more you will find interest in doing the research because you will know that you will discover something that is new and unique in its own way and you will enjoy writing your paper. Your topic shouldn’t be too much broad. It should be specific, to the point and manageable. For e.g., if your choice of topic is “Climate Change”, you need to choose your topic as “Reasons for Climate Change” or “Effects of Climate Change on Environment and Human Health”.

Step II. Writing Working Thesis Statement

Preparing a working thesis will lead your investigation to the right direction and will help you remain focused. Your thesis statement need to be specific and concise and it should reflect the type of study that you are working on in your paper.

Research articles or papers can be categorized into three types:

  1. Argumentative – argument on the conclusion
  2. Expository – explaining information
  3. Analytical – Analysis of a particular information

A strong thesis statement is required to show that your project has a clear purpose. Your claims that you have made should be supported by relevant evidence and if the claims you are making is broad, you will require additional evidences to prove yourself correct in front of your readers.

Step III. Doing Extensive Research on Your Topic

You need to look for sufficient primary and secondary sources that need to be credible and focused on the subject of your paper. You should search for enough evidences that show relevancy to your topic and which can support your work. At this point of time, you need to do evaluation of your sources and start their documentation as per a specified citation type or style like APA.

Always use the latest edition of the guide for a specific style. All sources should be cited that you have quoted, paraphrased, and summarized to prevent from any kind of plagiarism.

Step IV. Making a Good and Impressive Outline

You have got lots of great ideas from your research. Now you have to organize them and make it impressive and presentable. Finalizing your thesis and creating a working outline will give you a roadmap on which you have to work and it will keep you organized and focused as well. You should develop some key points that can be used in the form of sub headings for your paper. Organize the information that is relevant and can fit under your sub headings and supports your work subsequently. Do not include any information that are irrelevant and does not fit into your outline.

While writing your outline, make sure you follow the structure of a typical research article or paper that consists of a title page, an abstract, an introduction, a methodology, the results, a discussion and a conclusion.

In case the research article or paper is not so long, its format may comprise of an introduction, the main body, and lastly a conclusion.

Step V. Creating the First Draft

Now create the first draft that should include a title, citations within the text, and a bibliography page. A good and concise title helps you in making a good impression on the readers because this is very first thing that they will see in your paper. It reflects the sense of your paper to the readers. You need to do listing of the keywords that tells about the topic of your paper, the methods and protocols that you have used for your research, and the results that you have found at the end.

Create a line or sentence that should include all the keywords that are listed and eliminate the unnecessary words. Thereafter, link the words that are left. Finally, erase non-required information and organize the words that are left in a logical way. The subtitle can be included.

Afterwards, write an introduction, main body content and a conclusion which are the main sections of your paper. Let us discuss briefly on how we can do it in a correct way.

Writing of the introduction part of a research paper

The introductory paragraph should begin with a challenging question or the statistics or an anecdote or unusual facts, etc.

You should give background info, give explanation about your target or goal, and what is your planning to approach the topic of your paper. Complete the introduction with your thesis statement or your research question.

Writing main body of a paper

The outline prepared by you will help you in writing this section of your paper. But you are free to do revision and you can also do changes. The main thing is to remain focused on your study. Give the points you have to support your prime idea.

You should begin each paragraph in the main body differently using a key point and give your logics or arguments and evidences to support that. You need to write as many paragraphs in the main body as the key points you are using.

Writing a conclusion for a paper

Ending of your paper with again stating your thesis statement is good but you should not repeat it word by word. You can summarize the main points of paper. Tell about the significance of your results or findings that you have achieved during your research. You can also give some ideas based on your findings or you can also suggest future prospects in that area of research.

Now your rough draft is ready that need to be revised.

Making your paper perfect

First draft cannot be written perfectly. So for making a good impact or impression on your instructor or professor as well as for earning high grades, you need to revise your rough draft several times so that your research project will keep focused.

Step VI. Revision, Editing and Proofreading

You need to do changes on a broader scale. Also you should check the arguments, in what flow it is written, and do the necessary changes in the structure of paragraph and its order. Make sure that the ideas of yours are fully developed, also the claims that you have made are supported by relevant and credible evidence. Add some section headings as per your requirement.

The next step is editing. Check and remove words and phrases that are used as fillers, improve your selection of words, and do correct the punctuation and grammatical errors if any. Look for sentences that are incomplete, misplaced changer, confusing words (such as there, their, and they’re), mistakes in spellings, apostrophes in plurals, quotation rules followed or not, comma use, elimination of contracted words.

Read your paper more than once. Read your paper backwards. By doing so, you will be able to find more errors. Read the sentences from last one, and then read the second one, third one and so on. Keep on doing this until you reach the first sentence of your paper.

Ask someone else to review your paper and tell their opinion about it. Let them give their feedback and do the needful changes. Finally, print and proofread your paper to eliminate minor mistakes either grammatical or typographical errors and ensure that your research article is perfect.

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