How to Structure an APA Research Paper Properly

Compiling an APA research paper is quite a tricky task to accomplish. Despite many years of experience, we still tend to make mistakes while formatting a paper according to APA style. This guideline presents to your attention some minuscule details, the structure, and the essential features of a typical APA research paper, which your scientific work should contain. If you know the methodological standards and refresh the previous knowledge, this task will never be challenging any longer. Let’s set the ball rolling!

APA Research Paper: Format

The basic requirements for formatting the paper remain the same: double-spaced lines, 1″ margins on each side of the page, font: 12pt Times New Roman. Despite the importance of taking into account these common features, you should double-check the requirements described in the guideline of the scientific periodical before submitting the paper. This way, you will ensure the formatting and structuring of your writing according to their demands. Moreover, the number of technical errors will be reduced.

APA Research Paper: Main Sections

An experimental report is one of the most widespread forms, which is used to present the results of the experimental study in a certain area of interest or, putting it simply, your thesis. The structure of this piece of writing should be the same as the steps you take while conducting the research. Therefore, your target audience will have a perfect guide to your work and will easily find the section that particularly interests them.

All in all, your APA research paper should cover the ensuing areas of interest:

  • Introduction: the magnitude of the research, the question it raises, and the problem itself.

  • Method section: the steps you take to prove your standpoint, the way you will solve the problem.

  • Result section: the outcomes and your findings; the changes they bring to the modern academic world.

  • Discussion section: the analysis of your findings and which directions are open for future investigations.

This article provides you with detailed information on the paper’s structure.

The sections are presented in chronological order, namely from the very beginning to the annexes.

  1. The title page

On the very first page, the following data should be typed:

  • The title itself, which is in the upper half of the page; is recommended to use not more than 12 words and to eradicate meaningless words from the title (you are forbidden to use abbreviations as well).

  • The author’s name;

  • The institution affiliation.

All pages of an APA research paper, except for the first one, should have a running head with the title of your paper in the left upper footer.

It will lend you a helping hand!

  1. The abstract

Remember that the pages of your abstract should contain the running head. Moreover, the word “abstract” should be placed in the center of the page, but do not italicize, bold, underline, or put quotation marks.

The abstract of your APA research paper should be one single paragraph with at least 150 symbols but not more than 250 symbols in length. It is obligatory to cover in this part of the paper the research topic, methods, results, the people involved in the investigation, and the analysis of the information. Also, introducing the conclusions you have arrived at would be highly appreciated.

In case you want to add the keywords to make it easier for researchers to find your APA research paper in databases, write “Keywords:” in italics in the next paragraph and list the keywords.

  1. The introduction

A more detailed description of the theoretical background, the authors you have referred to, as well as introducing the problem you are going to examine in the APA research paper, are presented in the introductory paragraphs. Bear in mind to state your point of view and include the thesis statement, which ought to be underlined.

  1. The method section

This section is a perfect place to describe the participants of your research and introduce the experiment or any other method you utilized to gather the information. A short overview of the analysis method should follow. Mind to briefly cover the questionnaires or other implemented materials yet add them to the Appendix section. Otherwise, it will break the flow of presenting your research.

  1. The results

It would be wise to lay the results of your investigation in a figure or a table. Nonetheless, do not duplicate the information from the text yet mention some additional statistics. Pay closer attention to rather descriptive information on your results, and do not attempt to discuss it in this section.

  1. The discussion

It is high time to present your bright ideas on the research. Since you have already introduced the description of your findings, concentrate on their interpretation. Needless to say, you are about to suggest the future scopes of investigation and improvement in this section.

Off-top: each of your paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence, which will not only present the idea but also serve as a transition. Thus, you will ensure the coherence of the paper. As for formatting, underline each topic sentence throughout the paper.

If you question the length of each paragraph, it should be somewhere from 4 to 6 sentences. Do not pad out your writing, mention only reliable and viable information, which will support your thesis statement with solid evidence.

Conclude your APA research paper by reiterating the main points of your research and summarizing the themes. Emphasize your arguments to show that your thesis has been proven.

  1. References and citations

Notwithstanding the considerable number of articles in this section, it is still pretty hard to cite the sources properly. Some previous postings on referencing software and printed pieces will come to your aid.

Make sure to use at least three primary source materials, i.e. JSTOR scholarly papers, archival material, government publications, memoirs, diaries, artifacts, and books, or any other printed pieces published at those times.

Ancillary sources could be not more than three, and they under no account could be the main supporting evidence. Imprint on your memory that referring to Wikipedia and blogs is not allowed in the scientific community.

The additional sources are as follows:

  • Most influential Think Tanks (Council on Foreign Relations, Research, ANd Development (RAND) Corporation, etc.)

  • Popular newspapers and journals (The Economist, NY Times, The Washington Post, etc.)

By the way, not more than two in-class readings could be used as direct sources.

The total number of references should be from seven to eleven. It is strenuously advised not to rely on one source and to evolve your APA research paper around it.

APA style gives priority to the in-text citations. This means you should better avoid using footnotes and endnotes. In order not to be accused of plagiarism, use the ideas, thoughts, and figures from a particular source, which needs to be cited. Remember the importance of the bibliography!

  1. Appendices (if needed)

  2. Tables and Figures

This section will be used if some of your graphs or statistic tables are too large to directly insert them in the main body.

APA Research Paper: Tips

As far as we are done with the structure of an APA research paper, let us give you some valuable pieces of advice.

All of them are general and easy, albeit people tend to ignore such obvious stuff.

  1. We cannot fail to refer to the fact that an APA research paper is a social science piece but not an opinion one. This means that it is strongly forbidden to be subjective or to use the first person singular/plural. Make sure to restructure your writing into the third person singular.

  2. Critical thinking and analysis are an integral part of writing scientific papers.

  3. Devise an outline before starting writing.

  4. Keep the paper well-structured and organized. Do not underestimate the value of coherent writing.

  5. Do you remember that you need to underline your thesis and the topic sentences?

  6. Contractions, clichés, slang, and colloquial language are forbidden.

  7. The preposition could not end the sentence.

  8. Put the finishing touches to the APA research paper by proofreading for spelling and grammar mistakes, typos, punctuation, or ambiguity.

  9. The proportions of your paper should be correct.

  10. How many sources are there in your reference section? Do you overly rely on one of them?

  11. The originality of your APA research paper should score 15-25% according to Turnitin.

  12. Last but not least, do not procrastinate, never postpone writing, and meet the deadline!

Presumably, this article will be your perfect guide to writing an APA research paper. Wish you good luck and inspiration in your endeavors!


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