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An APA-style paper includes the following sections: title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references. Your paper may also include one or more tables and/or figures. Different types of information about your study are addressed in each of the sections, as described below.
General formatting rules are as follows:
- Do not put page breaks in between the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections.
- The title page, abstract, references, table(s), and figure(s) should be on their own pages.
- The entire paper should be written in the past tense, in a 12-point font, double-spaced, and with one-inch margins all around.
(see sample on p. 41 of APA manual)
- Title should be between 10-12 words and should reflect content of paper (e.g., IV and DV).
- Title, your name, and Hamilton College are all double-spaced (no extra spaces)
- Create a page header using the “View header” function in MS Word. On the title page, the header should include the following:
- Flush left: Running head: THE RUNNING HEAD SHOULD BE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. The running head is a short title that appears at the top of pages of published articles. It should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing. (Note: on the title page, you actually write the words Running head, but these words do not appear on subsequent pages; just the actual running head does. If you make a section break between the title page and the rest of the paper you can make the header different for those two parts of the manuscript).
- Flush right, on same line: page number. Use the toolbox to insert a page number, so it will automatically number each page.
(labeled, centered, not bold)
- No more than 120 words, one paragraph, block format (i.e., don’t indent), double-spaced.
- State topic, preferably in one sentence. Provide overview of method, results, and discussion
(Do not label as “Introduction.” Title of paper goes at the top of the page—not bold)
The introduction of an APA-style paper is the most difficult to write. A good introduction will summarize, integrate, and critically evaluate the empirical knowledge in the relevant area(s) in a way that sets the stage for your study and why you conducted it. The introduction starts out broad (but not too broad!) and gets more focused toward the end. Here are some guidelines for constructing a good introduction:
- Don’t put your readers to sleep by beginning your paper with the time-worn sentence, Past research has shown....(blah blah blah) They’ll be snoring within a paragraph! Try to draw your reader in by saying something interesting or thought-provoking right off the bat. Take a look at articles you’ve read. Which ones captured your attention right away? How did the authors accomplish this task? Which ones didn’t? Why not? See if you can use articles you liked as a model. One way to begin (but not the only way) is to provide an example or anecdote illustrative of your topic area.
- Although you won’t go into the details of your study and hypotheses until the end of the intro, you should foreshadow your study a bit at the end of the first paragraph by stating your purpose briefly, to give your reader a schema for all the information you will present next.
- Your intro should be a logical flow of ideas that leads up to your hypothesis. Try to organize it in terms of the ideas rather than who did what when. In other words, your intro shouldn’t read like a story of “Schmirdley did such-and-such in 1991. Then Gurglehoff did something-or-other in 1993. Then....(etc.)” First, brainstorm all of the ideas you think are necessary to include in your paper. Next, decide which ideas make sense to present first, second, third, and so forth, and think about how you want to transition between ideas. When an idea is complex, don’t be afraid to use a real-life example to clarify it for your reader. The introduction will end with a brief overview of your study and, finally, your specific hypotheses. The hypotheses should flow logically out of everything that’s been presented, so that the reader has the sense of, “Of course. This hypothesis makes complete sense, given all the other research that was presented.”
- When incorporating references into your intro, you do not necessarily need to describe every single study in complete detail, particularly if different studies use similar methodologies. Certainly you want to summarize briefly key articles, though, and point out differences in methods or findings of relevant studies when necessary. Don’t make one mistake typical of a novice APA-paper writer by stating overtly why you’re including a particular article (e.g., “This article is relevant to my study because…”). It should be obvious to the reader why you’re including a reference without your explicitly saying so. DO NOT quote from the articles, instead paraphrase by putting the information in your own words.
- Be careful about citing your sources (see APA manual). Make sure there is a one-to-one correspondence between the articles you’ve cited in your intro and the articles listed in your reference section.
- Remember that your audience is the broader scientific community, not the other students in your class or your professor. Therefore, you should assume they have a basic understanding of psychology, but you need to provide them with the complete information necessary for them to understand the research you are presenting.
(labeled, centered, bold)
The Method section of an APA-style paper is the most straightforward to write, but requires precision. Your goal is to describe the details of your study in such a way that another researcher could duplicate your methods exactly. The Method section typically includes Participants, Materials and/or Apparatus, and Procedure sections. If the design is particularly complicated (multiple IVs in a factorial experiment, for example), you might also include a separate Design subsection or have a “Design and Procedure” section. Note that in some studies (e.g., questionnaire studies in which there are many measures to describe but the procedure is brief), it may be more useful to present the Procedure section prior to the
Materials section rather than after it.
(labeled, flush left, bold)
- Total number of participants (# women, # men), age range, mean and SD for age, racial/ethnic composition (if applicable), population type (e.g., college students). Remember to write numbers out when they begin a sentence.
- How were the participants recruited? (Don’t say “randomly” if it wasn’t random!) Were they compensated for their time in any way? (e.g., money, extra credit points)
- Write for a broad audience. Thus, do not write, “Students in Psych. 280...” Rather, write (for instance), “Students in a psychological statistics and research methods course at a small liberal arts college….”
- Try to avoid short, choppy sentences. Combine information into a longer sentence when possible.
(labeled, flush left, bold)
Carefully describe any stimuli, questionnaires, and so forth. It is unnecessary to mention things such as the paper and pencil used to record the responses, the data recording sheet, the computer that ran the data analysis, the color of the computer, and so forth. If you included a questionnaire, you should describe it in detail. For instance, note how many items were on the questionnaire, what the response format was (e.g., a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)), how many items were reverse-scored, whether the measure had subscales, and so forth. Provide a sample item or two for your reader. If you have created a new instrument, you should attach it as an Appendix. If you presented participants with various word lists to remember or stimuli to judge, you should describe those in detail here. Use subheadings to separate different types of stimuli if needed. If you are only describing questionnaires, you may call this section “Measures.”
(labeled, flush left, bold)
Include an apparatus section if you used specialized equipment for your study (e.g., the eyetracking machine) and need to describe it in detail.
(labeled, flush left, bold)
What did participants do, and in what order? When you list a control variable (e.g., “Participants all sat two feet from the experimenter.”), explain WHY you did what you did. In other words, what nuisance variable were you controlling for? Your procedure should be as brief and concise as possible. Read through it. Did you repeat yourself anywhere? If so, how can you rearrange things to avoid redundancy? You may either write the instructions to the participants verbatim or paraphrase, whichever you deem more appropriate. Don’t forget to include brief statements about informed consent and debriefing.
(labeled, centered, bold)
In this section, describe how you analyzed the data and what you found. If your data analyses were complex, feel free to break this section down into labeled subsections, perhaps one section for each hypothesis.
- Include a section for descriptive statistics
- List what type of analysis or test you conducted to test each hypothesis.
- Refer to your Statistics textbook for the proper way to report results in APA style. A t-test, for example, is reported in the following format: t (18) = 3.57, p < .001, where 18 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for an independentgroups t test). For a correlation: r (32) = -.52, p < .001, where 32 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for a correlation). For a one-way ANOVA: F (2, 18) = 7.00, p < .001, where 2 represents the dfbetween and 18 represents dfwithin. Remember that if a finding has a p value greater than .05, it is “nonsignificant,” not “insignificant.” For nonsignificant findings, still provide the exact p values. For correlations, be sure to report the r2 value as an assessment of the strength of the finding, to show what proportion of variability is shared by the two variables you’re correlating. For t- tests and ANOVAs, report eta2.
- Report exact p values to two or three decimal places (e.g., p = .042; see p. 114 of APA manual). However, for pvalues less than .001, simply put p < .001.
- Following the presentation of all the statistics and numbers, be sure to state the nature of your finding(s) in words and whether or not they support your hypothesis (e.g., “As predicted, …”). This information can typically be presented in a sentence or two following the numbers (within the same paragraph). Also, be sure to include the relevant means and SDs.
- It may be useful to include a table or figure to represent your results visually. Be sure to refer to these in your paper (e.g., “As illustrated in Figure 1…”). Remember that you may present a set of findings either as a table or as a figure, but not as both. Make sure that your text is not redundant with your tables/figures. For instance, if you present a table of means and standard deviations, you do not need to also report these in the text. However, if you use a figure to represent your results, you may wish to report means and standard deviations in the text, as these may not always be precisely ascertained by examining the figure. Do describe the trends shown in the figure.
- Do not spend any time interpreting or explaining the results; save that for the Discussion section.
(labeled, centered, bold)
The goal of the discussion section is to interpret your findings and place them in the broader context of the literature in the area. A discussion section is like the reverse of the introduction, in that you begin with the specifics and work toward the more general (funnel out). Some points to consider:
- Begin with a brief restatement of your main findings (using words, not numbers). Did they support the hypothesis or not? If not, why not, do you think? Were there any surprising or interesting findings?
- How do your findings tie into the existing literature on the topic, or extend previous research? What do the results say about the broader behavior under investigation? Bring back some of the literature you discussed in the Introduction, and show how your results fit in (or don’t fit in, as the case may be). If you have surprising findings, you might discuss other theories that can help to explain the findings. Begin with the assumption that your results are valid, and explain why they might differ from others in the literature.
- What are the limitations of the study? If your findings differ from those of other researchers, or if you did not get statistically significant results, don’t spend pages and pages detailing what might have gone wrong with your study, but do provide one or two suggestions. Perhaps these could be incorporated into the future research section, below.
- What additional questions were generated from this study? What further research should be conducted on the topic? What gaps are there in the current body of research? Whenever you present an idea for a future research study, be sure to explain why you think that particular study should be conducted. What new knowledge would be gained from it? Don’t just say, “I think it would be interesting to re-run the study on a different college campus" or "It would be better to run the study again with more participants.” Really put some thought into what extensions of the research might be interesting/informative, and why.
- What are the theoretical and/or practical implications of your findings? How do these results relate to larger issues of human thoughts, feelings, and behavior? Give your readers “the big picture.” Try to answer the question, “So what?”
- Final paragraph: Be sure to sum up your paper with a final concluding statement. Don’t just trail off with an idea for a future study. End on a positive note by reminding your reader why your study was important and what it added to the literature.
(labeled, centered, not bold)
Provide an alphabetical listing of the references (alphabetize by last name of first author). Double-space all, with no extra spaces between references. The second line of each reference should be indented (this is called a hanging indent and is easily accomplished using the ruler in Microsoft Word). See the APA manual for how to format references correctly. Examples of references to journal articles start on p. 198 of the manual, and examples of references to books and book chapters start on pp. 202. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) are now included for electronic sources (see pp. 187-192 of APA manual to learn more).
Journal article example:
[Note that only the first letter of the first word of the article title is capitalized; the journal name and volume are italicized. If the journal name had multiple words, each of the major words would be capitalized.]
Ebner-Priemer, U. W., & Trull, T. J. (2009). Ecological momentary assessment of mood disorders and mood dysregulation. Psychological Assessment, 21, 463-475. doi:10.1037/a0017075
Book chapter example:
[Note that only the first letter of the first word of both the chapter title and book title are capitalized.]
Stephan, W. G. (1985). Intergroup relations. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 599-658). New York: Random House.
Gray, P. (2010). Psychology (6th ed.). New York: Worth
There are various formats for tables, depending upon the information you wish to include. See the APA manual. Be sure to provide a table number and table title (the latter is italicized). Tables can be single or double-spaced.
If you have more than one figure, each one gets its own page. Use a sans serif font, such as Helvetica, for any text within your figure. Be sure to label your x- and y-axes clearly, and make sure you’ve noted the units of measurement of the DV. Underneath the figure provide a label and brief caption (e.g., ―Figure 1. Mean evaluation of job applicant qualifications as
a function of applicant attractiveness level‖). The figure caption typically includes the IVs/predictor variables and the DV. Include error bars in your bar graphs, and note what the bars represent in the figure caption: Error bars represent one standard error above and below the mean.
(see pp. 174-179 of APA manual)
When citing sources in your paper, you need to include the authors’ names and publication date. You should use the following formats:
When including the citation as part of the sentence, use AND: “According to Jones and Smith (2003), the…”
When the citation appears in parentheses, use “&”: “Studies have shown that priming can affect actual motor behavior (Jones & Smith, 2003; Klein, Bailey, & Hammer, 1999).” The studies appearing in parentheses should be ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name, and should be separated by semicolons.
If you are quoting directly (which you should avoid), you also need to include the page number.
For sources with three or more authors, once you have listed all the authors’ names, you may write “et al.” on subsequent mentions. For example: “Klein et al. (1999) found that....” For sources with two authors, both authors must be included every time the source is cited. When a source has six or more authors, the first author’s last name and “et al.” are used every time the source is cited (including the first time).
“Secondary source” is the term used to describe material that is cited in another source. If in his article entitled “Behavioral Study of Obedience” (1963), Stanley Milgram makes reference to the ideas of Snow (presented above), Snow (1961) is the primary source, and Milgram (1963) is the secondary source. Try to avoid using secondary sources in your
papers; in other words, try to find the primary source and read it before citing it in your own work. If you must use a secondary source, however, you should cite it in the following way:
Snow (as cited in Milgram, 1963) argued that, historically, the cause of most criminal acts...
The reference for the Milgram article (but not the Snow reference) should then appear in the reference list at the end of your paper.
APA stands for the American Psychological Association. You’ll most likely use APA format if your paper is on a scientific topic. Many behavioral and social sciences use APA’s standards and guidelines.
What are behavioral sciences? Behavior sciences study human and animal behavior. They can include:
- Cognitive Science
What are social sciences? Social sciences focus on one specific aspect of human behavior, specifically social and cultural relationships. Social sciences can include:
- Political Science
- Human Geography
Many other fields and subject areas regularly use this style too. There are other formats and styles to use, such as MLA format and Chicago, among many, many others. If you’re not sure which style to use for your research assignment or project, ask your instructor.
While writing a research paper, it is always important to give credit and cite your sources, which acknowledge others’ ideas and research that you’ve used in your own work. Not doing so can be considered plagiarism, possibly leading to a failed grade or loss of a job. This style is one of the most commonly used citation styles used to prevent plagiarism.
In this guide, you’ll find information related to writing and organizing your paper according to the American Psychological Association’s standards. You’ll also learn how to form proper in-text citations that correspond to an entry in a “Reference List.” Click here for further reading on the style.
Writing and Organizing Your Paper in an Effective Way
This section of our guide focuses on proper paper length, how to format headings, and desirable wording.
Since APA style format is used often in science fields, the belief is “less is more.” Make sure you’re able to get your points across in a clear and brief way. Be direct, clear, and professional. Try not to add fluff and unnecessary details into your paper or writing. This will keep the paper length shorter and more concise.
Using Headings Properly:
Headings serve an important purpose – they organize your paper and make it simple to locate different pieces of information. In addition, headings provide readers with a glimpse to the main idea, or content, they are about to read.
In APA format, there are five levels of headings, each with different sizes and purposes
- Level 1: The largest heading size
- This is the title of your paper
- The title should be centered in the middle of the page
- The title should be bolded
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary (called title capitalization)
- Level 2:
- Should be a bit smaller than the title, which is Level 1
- Place this heading against the left margin
- Use bold letters
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary
- Level 3:
- Should be a bit smaller than Level 2
- Indented in from the left side margin
- Use bold letters
- Only place an uppercase letter at the first word of the heading. All others should be lowercase. The exception is for pronouns as they should begin with a capital letter.
- Level 4:
- Should be a bit smaller than Level 3
- Indented in from the left margin
- Only place an uppercase letter at the first word of the heading. All others should be lowercase. The exception is for pronouns as they should begin with a capital letter.
- Level 5:
- Should be the smallest heading in your paper
Here is a visual example of the levels of headings:
Bullying in Juvenile Detention Centers (Level 1)
Negative Outcomes of Bullying in Detention Centers (Level 2)
Depression (Level 3)
Depression in School (Level 4)
Withdrawal from peers (Level 5)
Withdrawal from staff
Depression at Home (Level 4)
Positive Outcomes of Bullying in Detention Centers
Writing Style Tips:
Writing a paper for scientific topics is much different than writing for English, literature, and other composition classes. Science papers are much more direct, clear, and concise. This section includes key suggestions, from APA, to keep in mind while formulating your research paper.
Research experiments and observations rely on the creation and analysis of data to test hypotheses and come to conclusions. While sharing and explaining the methods and results of studies, science writers often use verbs. When using verbs in writing, make sure that you continue to use them in the same tense throughout the section you’re writing.
Here’s an example:
We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants.
It wouldn’t make sense to add this sentence after the one above:
We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants. Researchers often test solutions by placing them under a microscope.
Notice that the first sentence is in the past tense while the second sentence is in the present tense. This can be confusing for readers.
For verbs in scientific papers, the manual recommends using:
- Past tense or present perfect tense for the explantation of the procedure
- Past tense for the explanation of the results
- Present tense for the explanation of the conclusion and future implications
Even though your writing will not have the same fluff and detail as other forms of writing, it should not be boring or dull to read. The Publication Manual suggests thinking about who will be the main reader of your work and to write in a way that educates them.
Reducing Bias & Labels:
The American Psychological Association strongly objects of any bias towards gender, racial groups, ages of individuals or subjects, disabilities, and sexual orientation. If you’re unsure whether your writing is free of bias and labels or not, have a few individuals read your work to determine if it’s acceptable.
Here are a few guidelines that the American Psychological Association suggests:
- Only include information about an individual’s orientation or characteristic if it is important to the topic or study. Do not include information about individuals or labels if it is not necessary to include.
- If writing about an individual’s characteristic or orientation, make sure to put the person first. Instead of saying, “Diabetic patients,” say, “Patients who are diabetic.”
- Instead of using narrow terms such as, “adolescents,” or “the elderly,” try to use broader terms such as, “participants,” and “subjects.”
- Be mindful when using terms that end with “man” or “men” if they involve subjects who are female. For example, instead of using “Firemen,” use the term, “Firefighter.” In general, avoid ambiguity.
- When referring to someone’s racial or ethnic identity, use the census category terms and capitalize the first letter. Also, avoid using the word, “minority,” as it can be interpreted as meaning less than or deficient.
- When describing subjects, use the words “girls” and “boys” for children who are under the age of 12. The terms, “young woman,” “young man,” “female adolescent,” and “male adolescent” are appropriate for subjects between 13-17 years old. “Men,” and “women,” for those older than 18. Use the term, “older adults.” for individuals who are older. “Elderly,” and “senior,” are not acceptable if used only as nouns. It is acceptable to use these terms if they’re used as adjectives.
Spelling, Abbreviations, Spacing, and other Word & Number Rules:
- Use one space after most punctuation marks unless the punctuation mark is at the end of a sentence. If the punctuation mark is at the end of the sentence, use two spaces afterwards.
- If you’re including an acronym in your paper (like “APA”), it is not necessary to include periods between the letters.
- Use abbreviations sparingly. If too many abbreviations are used in one sentence, it may become difficult for the reader to comprehend the meaning.
- Prior to using an unfamiliar abbreviation, you must type it out in text and place the abbreviation immediately following it in parentheses. Any usage of the abbreviation after the initial description, can be used without the description.
- Example: While it may not affect a patient’s short-term memory (STM), it may affect their ability to comprehend new terms. Patients who experience STM loss while using the medication should discuss it with their doctor.
- If an abbreviation is featured in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as is, then it is not necessary to spell out the meaning. Example: AIDS
- Use an oxford comma. This type of comma is placed before the words and OR or in a series of three items. Example: The medication caused drowsiness, upset stomach, and fatigue.
- Use the same spelling as words found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American English)
- If the word you’re trying to spell is not found in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a second resource is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.
- If attempting to properly spell words in the psychology field, consult the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology
- When writing a possessive singular noun, place the apostrophe before the s. For possessive plural nouns, the apostrophe is placed after the s.
- Singular: Linda Morris’s jacket
- Plural: The Morris’ house
- For hyphens, do not place a space before or after the hyphen: custom-built
- For numbers, use the numeral if the number is more than 10. If it’s less than 10, type it out.
- 14 kilograms
- seven meters
Use of Graphics:
- If you plan to add any charts, tables, drawings, or images to your paper, number them using Arabic numerals. The first graphic, labeled as 1, should be the first one mentioned in the text. Follow them in the appropriate numeral order in which they appear in the text of your paper. Example: Chart 1, Chart 2, Chart 3.
- Only use graphics if they will supplement the material in your text. If they reinstate what you already have in your text, then it is not necessary to include a graphic.
- Include enough wording in the graphic so that the reader is able to understand its meaning, even if it is isolated from the corresponding text. However, do not go overboard with adding a ton of wording in your graphic.
Fundamentals of an APA Citation
Generally, APA citations follow the following format:
Contributors. (Date). Title. Publication Information.
Click here to find additional information about citation fundamentals.
Contributor Information and Titles:
The main contributor(s) of the source (often the name of the author) is placed before the date and title. If there is more than one author, arrange the authors in the same order found on the source. Use the first and middle name initials and the entire last name. Inverse all names before the title.
Smith, J. K. (Date). Title.
Smith, J. K., & Sampson, T. (Date). Title.
Smith, J. K., Sampson, T., & Hubbard, A. J. (Date). Title.
Eight or more:
Smith, J. K., Sampson, T., Hubbard, A. J., Anderson, J., Thompson, T., Silva, P.,…Bhatia, N. (Date). Title.
Other contributor types
Sometimes the main contributor is not an author, but another contributor type, such as an editor for a book, a conductor for a musical piece, or a producer for a film. In this instance, follow the contributor with the contributor type (abbreviate Editor(s) as Ed. or Eds. and most other roles can be spelled out in their entirety).
One contributor examples:
Smith, J. K. (Ed.). (Year published). Title.
Lu, P. (Producer). (Year published). Title.
Two contributors examples:
Smith, J. K., & Sampson, T. (Eds.). (Year published). Title.
Lu, P., & Winters, U. (Producers). (Year published). Title.
Corporate or group authors
Some sources may have corporate or group authors. Write these organizations in their entirety, and place them where you would write the author. If the organization is also the publisher of the source, write “Author” instead of repeating the publisher name.
American Psychological Association. (Date). Title. Washington, DC: Author.
Illinois Department of Industrial Relations. (Date). Title. Springfield, IL: McGraw-Hill
No contributor information
Sometimes you will come across sources with no contributor information. In this instance, do not write the date first. Instead, write the name of the title and then the date, then followed by the remaining appropriate bibliographic data.
Webster’s dictionary. (1995). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
Title Rules – Capitalization and Italics
Article titles and works within larger works, such as chapters and web pages, as well as informally published material are not italicized. Main titles that stand alone, such as those for books and journals, are italicized. Generally, capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title or any subtitles, and the first letter of any proper nouns. For titles of periodicals, such as journals and newspapers, capitalize every principal word.
After the contributor information and title comes the publication information. Below are different publication templates.
Last, F. M. (Date Published). Book title. City, State: Publisher.
Last, F. M. (Date Published). Article title. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), Page(s).
Last, F. M. (Date Published). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume(Issue), Page(s).
Last, F. M. (Date Published). Web page title. Retrieved from Homepage URL
Last, F. M. (Year, Month Day published). Article title. Newspaper Title, Page(s).
Note: If there is no date, use “n.d” in parentheses, which means “no date.
Note: Page numbers for chapters of books and newspapers are preceded by “p.” or “pp.” [plural], while those of magazines and journals are only written with numbers.
For less conventional source types, you can add descriptions about the source after the title, in brackets, immediately after the title. For example, you can add [Brochure] after the title of a brochure (separated by a space) to clarify the type of source you are citing.
Getty Images. (2015, September 19). David Wright #5 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.gettyimages.com/license/489162016
When citing nonperiodical sources, advanced information such as the edition and series information comes before the publication information and immediately after the title, grouped in the same parentheses. See the example below:
Smith, J. (2002). Power. In R. C. Richardson (Ed.), The time of the future (5th ed., Volume 3). Philadelphia, PA: Sage.
Here’s a useful site to help you understand citations a bit more.
How to Format In-Text, or Parenthetical Citations:
Researchers include brief parenthetical citations in their writing to acknowledge references to other people’s work. Generally, parenthetical citations include the last name of the author and year of publication. Page numbers are also included when citing a direct quote.
If some of the information is included in the body of the sentence, exclude it from the parenthetical citation. In-text APA citations typically appear at the end of the sentence, between the last word and the period.
Example of a parenthetical citations without the author’s name in the text:
Harlem had many artists and musicians in the late 1920s (Belafonte, 2008).
Example of a parenthetical citation when author is mentioned in the text:
According to Belafonte, Harlem was full of artists and musicians in the late 1920s (2008).
For parenthetical citations with two authors, format your parenthetical citation like this:
Rallying to restore sanity was a revolutionary undertaking (Stewart & Colbert, 2010).
For parenthetical citations with three to five authors:
- Include all names in the first in-text parenthetical citation, separated by commas and then an ampersand (&).
- Rallying to restore sanity was a revolutionary undertaking (Stewart, Colbert, & Oliver, 2010).
- For all subsequent in-text parenthetical citations, include only the first author, followed by “et al.” and the publication year if it is the first citation in a paragraph.
- The event resulted in thousands of participants flocking to the National Mall in support of the cause (Stewart et al. 2010).
- Stewart et al. (2010) state that the event resulted in thousands of participants flocking to the National Mall in support of the cause.
For parenthetical citations for six or more authors, include only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.” and publication year in ALL parenthetical citations.
The study did not come to any definitive conclusions (Rothschild et al., 2013).
For parenthetical citations for sources without an author:
- If a work has no author, include the first few words of the bibliography entry (in many cases, the title) and the year.
- Use quotation marks around the titles of articles, chapters, and/or websites.
- However, unlike in your reference list, parenthetical citations of articles and chapters should have all major words capitalized.
- Italicize the titles of periodicals, books, brochures, or reports.
- Statistics confirm that the trend is rising (“New Data,” 2013).
- The report includes some bleak results (Information Illiteracy in Academia, 2009).
Citing a part of a work:
When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page number or section identifier, such as a chapters, tables, or figures. Direct quotes should always have page numbers.
Example for citing part of a source in your in-text or parenthetical APA citation:
One of the most memorable quotes is when he says, “You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!” (Green, 2012, p. 272).
If the source does not include page numbers (such as online sources), you can reference specific parts of the work by referencing the:
- Paragraph number (only use if the source includes actual paragraph numbers. Do not count paragraphs) with the abbreviation “para.” (Klein, 2017, para. 7).
- Tables and figures spelled out, starting with capital letters (Klein, 2017, Table 1) or (Klein, 2017, Figure A).
- Chapters spelled out, starting with capital letters (Klein, 2017, Chapter 19).
- Official headings can be spelled out, starting with a capital letter. If they’re lengthy, use the first few words of the title. (Klein, 2017, Methodology section).
- These specific parts can be combined. (Klein, 2017, Chapter 19, para. 8).
Citing groups or corporate authors:
Corporations, government agencies, and associations can be considered the author of a source when no specific author is given.
- Write out the full name of the group in all parenthetical citations
The May 2011 study focused on percentages of tax money that goes to imprisonment over education funding (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 2011).
- You may abbreviate the group name if the group’s name is lengthy and it is a commonly recognized abbreviation in all subsequent parenthetical citations.
The report found that over a half billion of taxpayer dollars went to the imprison residents “from 24 of New York City’s approximately 200 neighborhoods” (NAACP, 2011, p. 2).
Parenthetical citations for classical, biblical, or religious works:
- It is not necessary to create a full APA reference list citation at the end of your project for these source types. Only include in-text, or parenthetical citations, for these sources.
- Cite the translation or version used.
- (Homer, trans. 1998).
- (King James version).
- When citing specific content from these sources, include the paragraph/line numbers that are used in classical works. This information is consistent across versions/editions, and is the easiest way to locate direct quotes from classical works.
- The Bible extols the virtues of love; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor. 13:4 New International Version).
Citing and formatting block quotes:
When directly quoting information from sources in your writing, you may need to format it differently depending on how many words are used.
If a quote runs on for more than 40 words:
- Start the direct quotation on a new line
- Indent the text roughly half an inch from the left margin
- If there are multiple paragraphs in the quotation, indent them an extra half inch
- Remove any quotation marks
- Double-space the text
- Add the parenthetical citation after the final sentence
Packer (2017) states that:
The future of fantasy sports depends on the advocacy of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association to work with various state government agencies on legislation and reform. With over ten executive board members on the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s team, we regularly attend various state legislation sessions when fantasy sports is on the agenda. This ensures that we’re aware of and ready to take action on any changes in legislation. (p.34).
Click here to learn more about parenthetical citing.
When citing electronic or online sources, keep these things in mind:
- When including URLs in the citation, do not place a period at the end.
- If a URL runs across multiple lines of text in the citation, break the URL off before punctuation (e.g., periods, forward slashes) – except http://.
- For journal articles, include the DOI (digital object identifier) in the citation, if there is a DOI number available. DOI numbers are preferred over URLs because DOIs never change, they remain static. URLs on the other hand can become broken or outdated links. Format it as follows: http://dx.doi.org/xxxx
- If no doi is provided, include the URL of the homepage for the journal that published the article. Format it as follows: Retrieved from http://www.xxx
- Do not include database information, such as the name of the database or its publisher.
We include citations in our research projects to prevent plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s work in your own project, but do not acknowledge that author and their original work. You may pretend it’s your own work or change the original author’s work to make your own project seem valid. Plagiarism, while preventable, can result in serious consequences. Click here to learn more about plagiarism.
How to Format an APA Bibliography
- Label the page References and center it at the the top of the page
- Double space the entire list
- Every line after the first line of a citation should be indented one-half inch from the left margin (also known as hanging indentations)
- Alphabetize your entire bibliography list
- Note that on EasyBib.com, when using the EasyBib citation generator, it will format your references list, alphabetized and indented, and ready to hand in!
How to Format an APA Style Paper:
Your teacher may want you to format your paper using the Publication Manual’s guidelines. If you were told to create your citations in APA format, your paper should be formatted using these guidelines.
- Use 8 ½ x 11” paper
- Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides
- The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch
- Use Times New Roman font, size 12
- Double space the entire paper
- Include a page header known as the “running head” at the top of every page. (To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page)
- To create a running head/page header, insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of the page numbers)
- Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters
- If your title is long, this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper.
- APA Format Papers Components: Your essay should include these four major sections:
- An APA format Title Page:
- This page should contain four pieces: the title of the paper, running head, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and an author’s note. Create the page header/running head as described above. *Please note that only on the title page, your page header/running head should include the words “Running Head” before your title in all capital letters. The rest of the pages should not include this in the page header. It should look like this on the title page:
- An APA format Title Page:
- The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay, but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose.
- It should be centered on the page and typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Do not underline, bold, or italicize the title.
- Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.
- All text on the title page should be double-spaced in the same way as the rest of your essay.
- Do not include any titles on the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.
- The institutional affiliation is the location where the author conducted the research.
On the following page, begin with the Running title.
- On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
- On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew.
- This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
- If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords: in italics. Then list your keywords that stand out in your research.
APA Sample Paper Abstract page:
On the following page, begin with the Body of the APA paper.
- Start with the Running title
- On the next line write the title (do not bold, underline, or italicize the title)
- Begin with the introduction. Indent.
- The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based. It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
- Begin a new section with the Method. Bold and center this subtitle The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
- Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes the data. Use charts and graphs to display this data.
- Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.
- Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
- Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
- Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.
** Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and include the author name(s) and the publication year.
Ex: (Wilkonson, 2009).
Sample Body page:
On a new page, write your references.
- Begin with a running title
- Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title)
- Alphabetize and Double-space all entries
- Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.
Sample Reference Page:
How to Cite Various Source Types:
A book is a written work or composition that has been published – typically printed on pages bound together.
Book citations contain the author name, publication year, book title, city and state or country of publication and the publisher name.
Much of the information you need to create a print book citation can be found on the title page. The title page is found within the first couple of pages of the book.
Author, F. M. (Year of Publication). Title of work. Publisher City, State: Publisher.
James, H. (2009). The ambassadors. Rockville, MD: Serenity.
If you need further assistance with citing books, EasyBib’s APA format generator will automatically cite them for you. See more across the site.
Chapter in a Print Book:
A chapter is a specific section, or segment, of a book. Chapters often have their own title or they are numbered.
Author, F. M. (Year of Publication). Title of chapter. In F. M. Editor (Ed.), Title of book (pp. xx-xx). Publisher City, State: Publisher.
Much of the information you will need to create a chapter in a print book citation can be found on the title page. The title page is found within the first couple of pages of the book. You will also need some of the information found on the table of contents. The chapter title, author, and page numbers can be found there.
Shuhua, L. (2007). The night of MidAutumn Festival. In J. S. M. Lau & H. Goldblatt (Eds.), The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature (pp. 95-102). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
An e-book is a written work or composition that has been digitized and is readable through computers or e-readers such as Kindles, iPads, Nooks, etc.
Author, F. M. (Year of Publication). Title of work [E-reader version]. Retrieved from URL
Stoker, B. (2000). Dracula [Kindle HDX version]. Retrieved from http://www.overdrive.com/
Chapter in an E-book:
Author, F. M. (Year of Publication). Title of chapter. In F. M. Editor (Ed.), Title of book [E-reader version] (pp. xx-xx). Retrieved from URL or http://dx.doi.org/xxxx
The Bible and Other Classical Religious Texts:
The Bible and other classical religious texts (such as the Torah, the Qur’an, and others) do not require a citation in the reference list. However, you must include an in-text citation anytime you reference these texts in your writing.
For the in-text citation, when quoting or paraphrasing specific excerpts from the text, include the information about the specific verse, line, page, etc.
If the version of the religious text you are using is relevant, mention it in the first reference in your writing. This can be as either a general reference or a formal in-text citation.
The Bible extols the virtues of love; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor. 13:4 New International Version).
Remember, you only need to cite the version of the religious text used in the first general reference or in-text citation of the source. In all other instances, leave it out.
Scholarly, or academic, journals are often created for specific fields or disciplines. They are issued periodically throughout the year and feature scholarly articles, research studies, and/or reviews.
In journal citations, journal titles are written in title case and followed by the volume number. Both of these fields should be italicized.
Journals found on a database or online:
Author, F. M. (Year of Publication). Article title. Journal Title, Volume Number(Issue Number), pp.-pp. http://dx.doi.org/xxxx or Retrieved from homepage URL
Database information and the retrieval date are not required in journal article citations.
If no DOI is listed, use the periodical homepage URL. Example: Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1936-2706
Trier, J. (2007). “Cool” engagements with YouTube: Part 2. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(7), 598-603. http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/JAAL.50.7.8
Journals found in print:
Author, F. M., Author, F. M. & Author, F. M. (Year of Publication). Article title. Journal Title, Volume Number(Issue Number), page range.
Lin, M.G., Hoffman, E.S., & Borengasser, C. (2013). Is social media too social for class? A case study of Twitter use. Tech Trends, 57(2), 39-45.
If you need help citing your journal articles, EasyBib’s APA generator cites them automatically for you.
A newspaper is a daily or weekly publication that contains news; often featuring articles on political events, crime, business, art, entertainment, society, and sports.
Newspapers found in print:
Author, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Article title. Newspaper Title, pp. xx-xx.
If the article is printed on discontinuous pages, list all of the page numbers/ranges and separate them with a comma (e.g., pp. C2, C4, C7-9.)
Bowman, L. (1990, March 7). Bills target Lake Erie mussels. Pittsburgh Press, p. A4.
Newspapers found online:
Author, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Article title. Newspaper Title. Retrieved from newspaper’s homepage URL
The URL of the newspaper’s homepage is used to avoid broken links
Kaplan, K. (2013, October 22). Flu shots may reduce risk of heart attacks, strokes and even death. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com
If you are using a bibliography tool, like EasyBib’s APA citation machine, make sure you are citing a newspaper article – not a website!
A magazine is a periodical that often contains text and/or graphics that revolve around a specific topic or subject. Most articles in magazines are relatively short in length (compared to journals) and often contain colorful images.
Magazines in print:
Author, F. M. (Year, Month of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume number(Issue number), page range.
The volume number can be found on the publication information page of the magazine. Page numbers are typically found on the bottom corners of an article. If issue number is not provided, omit it from the citation.
Luckerson, V. (2014, January). Tech’s biggest promises for 2014. TIME, 183, 23-25.
Magazines found online:
Author, F. M. (Year, Month of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume number(Issue number). Retrieved from URL of magazine’s homepage or DOI number.
The volume and issue number may not be on the same page as the article. Browse the website before omitting it from the citation.
Luckerson, V. (2014, January). Tech’s biggest promises for 2014. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/
Need further help with your magazine citations? Try EasyBib’s APA formatter.
An online blog generally revolves around one specific subject matter and contains text or graphics that are added by an individual, group, or organization. Individual blog posts are regularly added to a blog site.
Author, F. M. (Year, Month, Day of Publication). Title of blog post [Blog post]. Retrieved from URL
If the author’s full name is not available, the author’s screen name or handle is acceptable to use.
Silver, N. (2013, July 15). Senate control in 2014 increasingly looks like a tossup [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/senate-control-in-2014-increasingly-looks-like-a-tossup/
A website is a group of online pages, placed together, that can contain text and/or images for informational or entertainment purposes. Most websites revolve around a topic or theme. There are news websites, sports, research, shopping, and many other types of websites.
Note that many sources have citation structures for their online versions (e.g., online newspapers, dictionaries, magazine or journal articles). Check the other formats on this page to see if there is a specific citation type in an online format that matches your source.
Website with an author:
Author, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Title of web page [Format]. Retrieved from URL
Only include information about the format in brackets if the website is a unique type of document, such as a PDF.
Limer, E. (2013, October 1). Heck yes! The first free wireless plan is finally here. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/heck-yes-the-first-free-wireless-plan-is-finally-here-1429566597
Website without an author:
Title of web page [Format]. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Retrieved from URL
Only italicize the title if it stands alone (such as a singular online document or complete report). If you’re unsure of whether or not to italicize, then do not italicize the title.
Mongolia. (2016, December 5). Retrieved from https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/mongolia.html
A tweet is a post that is made on the social media site, Twitter.
Last name, F. M. [Username]. (Year, Month Day of Posting). Text of tweet [Tweet]. Retrieved from URL
If the author’s full name is unavailable, only include the username at the beginning of the citation, without brackets.
RealTalkRaph. (2017, September 2). The Patriots are always many moves ahead of every other NFL team. Extreme organizational depth at all skilled positions & a fearless leader [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/RealTalkRaph/status/904061814278955008
YouTube is a popular website that displays videos that are uploaded by individuals and companies.
Uploader’s Last name, F. M. [Username]. (Year, Month Day of Posting). Video title [Video file]. Retrieved from URL
If the author’s full name is unavailable, only include the username at the beginning of the citation, without brackets.
305 Fitness. (2017, August 18). When I grow up [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/a8-svSALTmk
Musical recordings are musical audio clips, songs, or albums. Many are found online and listened to digitally.
Songwriter’s Last name, F. M. (Publication year). Song title [Recorded by F. M. Singer’s Last Name]. On Album title [Audio file]. Retrieved from URL
Only include the information about the individual or band who performs the song if it is different than the name of the author, or songwriter.
Red Hot Chili Peppers. (2006). Tell me baby. On Stadium arcadium [Audio file]. Retrieved from open.spotify.com/track/0itNMuBHye9fu392b4e9oa
Don’t forget, our EasyBib APA reference generator cites your musical recordings and songs for you!
Sheet Music or a Musical Score:
The American Psychological Association’s guidelines do not specify how to cite sheet music. We suggest following the book format when citing sheet music. After the title of the piece, indicate that you are citing sheet music by way of using a descriptor like [Sheet music], [Libretto], or [Musical score]. One major difference between a book and sheet music is that sheet music is written by a composer, not an author. You can specify this fact if you would like, by formatting the beginning of the citation like this:
Composer’s Last name, F. M. (Composer).
Or, treat the composer like an author by not including the word composer in parentheses.
Additionally, sheet music can come as individual work or it can be part of a collection or book.
Sheet music found in print:
Composer’s Last name, F. M. (Year of Publication). Sheet music’s title [Format]. Publisher’s Location: Publisher.
Beethoven, L. (2002). Fur Elise [Sheet music]. New York: Random House.
Sheet music found online:
Composer’s Last name, F. M. (Year of Publication). Sheet music’s title [Format]. Retrieved from URL
Beethoven, L. (Composer). (2002). Fur Elise [Sheet music]. Retrieved from https://www.8notes.com/scores/7063.asp
Producer’s Last name, F. M. (Producer), & Director’s Last name, F. M. (Director). (Year of publication). Title of film [Format]. Retrieved from URL
The format is placed in brackets directly after the title. It can be either DVD, video file, or another medium that the film is found on.
Thomas, E. (Producer), & Nolan C. (Director). (2017). Dunkirk [Video file]. Retrieved from https://watchmovie.info/watch-movie-operation-dunkirk/h0Eq
Remember, you can cite your movies quickly and easily with EasyBib’s APA citation maker. Looking for a free APA citation creator? Trial EasyBib’s APA formatter.
To cite an individual television episode or radio podcast or broadcast streamed online, use the following structure:
Writer’s Last name, F. M. (Writer), & Director’s Last name, F. M. (Director). (Year published). Title of individual episode or podcast [Television series episode or podcast]. In F. M. Producer’s Last name (Executive producer), Television or Podcast series name. Retrieved from URL
Dick, L. (Writer), & Yaitanes, G. (Director). (2009). Simple explanation [Television series episode]. In P. Attanasio (Producer), House, M.D. Retrieved from https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4y4g93
To cite a full television series or podcast/radio broadcast in its entirety, use the following structure:
Producer’s Last name, F. M. (Producer), & Creator’s Last name, F. M. (Creator). (Year aired). Title of television series or podcast series [Television series or podcast series]. Retrieved from URL
Benihoff, D. & Weiss, D. B. (Producers & Creators). (2017). Game of thrones, season 7 [Television series]. Retrieved from http://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones
The EasyBib citation builder automatically cites your TV, radio broadcast, and podcast sources for you!
Thesis or Dissertation:
A thesis is a document submitted to earn a degree at a university. A dissertation is a document submitted to earn an advanced degree, such as a doctorate, at a university.
Many theses and dissertations can be found on databases. For this specific source type, include the name of the database in the citation. In most other source types, the name of the database isn’t included in the citation.
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis). Retrieved from Database Title. (Order number or Accession number).
Knight, K.A. (2011). Media epidemics: Viral structures in literature and new media (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from MLA International Bibliography Database. (Accession No. 2013420395)
If the thesis or dissertation is found on a website, use this structure:
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis). Retrieved from URL
Wilson, P.L. (2011). Pedagogical practices in the teaching of English language in secondary public schools in Parker County (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/11801/1/Wilson_umd_0117E_12354.pdf
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year presented, month). Title of conference paper. Paper presented at the meeting of Name of Organization, Place of Meeting. Retrieved from URL
Briden, J., Burns, V., & Marshall, A. (2007, March). Knowing our students: Undergraduates in context. Paper presented at ACRL National Conference, Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/national/baltimore/papers/184.pdf
Reference lists only include works that can be found by the reader. As a personal interview is not published or “findable,” it should not be included in the reference list. Instead, a personal interview should be referenced as a parenthetical citation. For example: (J. Smith, personal communication, June 18, 2017).
If you would like to include a personal interview as part of your reference list, then include the interviewee, the date of the interview, and the type of interview.
Last name, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Interview). Interview by F. M. Last name [Format of Interview].
Apps are often used on digital devices such smartphones, tablets, and wearables such as smartwatches. Apps are downloaded from an app store by the user. Some apps correlate with a website and some apps stand alone.
Creator’s Last name, F. M. or Company. (Year version was published). App’s Title (Version). [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from URL’s homepage
SoundCloud. (2017). SoundCloud – Music & Audio (Version 5.12.0). [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/
Encyclopedias are reference works that focus on a specific discipline or they may contain information about all general topics. Encyclopedias are often organized in alphabetical order and contain entries, which are brief overviews, of a topic.
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of entry. In F. M. Editor’s Last name (Ed.), Title of encyclopedia (Version). Retrieved from URL
Davis, A. S., & Landis, D. A. (2011) Agriculture. In D. Simberloff & M. Rejmanek (Eds.), Encyclopedia of biological invasions. Retrieved from https://books.google.com
Dictionary entry. (Year published). In Title of dictionary (Version). Retrieved from URL
Donkey. In Oxford English living dictionary. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com
Our EasyBib APA citation generator cites your dictionary entries automatically for you!
Need more information? Click here to learn more about crediting sources.
What is an Abstract?
An abstract is a summary of a scholarly article or scientific study. Scholarly articles and studies are rather lengthy documents and abstracts allow readers to first determine if they’d like to read an article in its entirety or not.
You may come across abstracts while researching a topic. Many databases display abstracts in the search results and also often display them before showing the full text to an article or scientific study. It is important to create a high quality abstract, that accurately communicates the purpose and goal of your paper, as readers will determine if it is worthy to continue reading or not.
If you’re planning on submitting your paper to a journal for publication, first check the journal’s website to learn about abstract and paper requirements.
Here are some helpful suggestions to create a dynamic abstract:
- Feature the main keywords of your project or paper in the abstract. In addition, use the keywords or keyword strings that you think readers will type into the search box. Individuals who are researching the same or similar topics may come across your abstract and find it useful to read or use for their own research purposes.
- Use concise, brief, informative language. You only have a few sentences to share the summary of your entire document, so be direct with your wording.
- Use an active voice, not a passive voice. When writing with an active voice, the subject performs the action. When writing with a passive voice, the subject receives the action.
Active voice: The subjects reacted to the medication.
Passive voice: There was a reaction from the subjects taking the medication.
- Instead of evaluating your project in the abstract, simply report what it contains.
- If a large portion of your work includes the extension of someone else’s research, share this in the abstract and include the author’s last name and the year their work was released.
Categories of Papers:
- Empirical Studies
- Empirical studies take data from observations and experiments to generate research reports. It is different from other types of studies in that it isn’t based on theories or ideas, but on actual data.
- Literature Reviews
- These papers analyze another individual’s work or a group of works. The purpose is to gather information about a current issue or problem and to communicate where we are today. It sheds light on issues and attempts to fill those gaps with suggestions for future research and methods.
- Theoretical Articles
- These papers are somewhat similar to a literature reviews, in that the author collects, examines, and shares information about a current issue or problem, by using others’ research. It is different from literature reviews in that it attempts to explain or solve a problem by coming up with a new theory. This theory is justified with valid evidence.
- Methodological Articles:
- These articles showcase new advances, or modifications to an existing practice, in a scientific method or procedure. The author has data or documentation to prove that their new method, or improvement to a method, is valid. Plenty of evidence is included in this type of article. In addition, the author explains the current method being used in addition to their own findings, in order to allow the reader to understand and modify their own current practices.
- Case Studies:
- Case studies present information related an individual, group, or larger set of individuals. These subjects are analyzed for a specific reason and the author reports on the method and conclusions from their study. The author may also make suggestions for future research, create possible theories, and/or determine a solution to a problem.