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Research Paper Format Guidelines

13 Nov 2018

Writing a research paper is not that difficult providing you know what to start from and what pitfalls you can face. We’ve prepared a short guide to ease this task and make it less challenging. Here you will find tips on how to write an outline for your paper, what sections it is supposed to include, how to choose a good title and reliable sources, and so on. Special attention will be paid to the specifics of research paper format, structure and the related details you shouldn’t leave out of account. Overall, academic writing requires attention to details and a bit of patience, as well as enough time for proofreading every assignment. In simple words, just keep calm and write on!

research paper format

How to format a research paper and write an outline

As required by the most widespread essay paper format, a good assignment should include Introduction, Body, and Conclusion:

  • Introduction

This part of an essay is one of the most difficult to write. It is supposed to take only 10% of the general word count, but that’s also where you need to shortly outline the topic and provide the necessary background information, as well as identify a strong thesis statement or a key argument. The key thing is to make the reader interested in the rest of your work and clearly state your main idea.

  • Body

In this part, you are to present facts and premises in support of your thesis statement. Within one paragraph, it’s better to stick to one major fact. As for the word count, it should include at least three sentences, but no more than 200 words. Don’t forget to add the transition sentence at the end. Overall, you can include as many paragraphs as necessary, but don’t wander from the main subject.

  • Conclusion

That’s where you need to summarize the essay. Don’t introduce any new facts or citations. The key thing is to show how the facts you’ve introduced earlier support your thesis.

READ ALSO: Examples of research paper outlines

Layout tips

Attempting to adhere to college research paper format can be rather challenging. In order to succeed, you should be indeed attentive. The good news is that formatting a research paper is a skill that can be developed, which means that the entire process will require less time and effort in the future.

There are several types of format for a research paper, like MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago, etc. In other words, formatting requirements can differ!

Here is a list of key details:

  • Submit your essay on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch.
  • For MLA and APA formats, set 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Check if you need the title page (it is not required in MLA, for example).
  • For MLA and APA formats, double-space your essay.
  • Use Times New Roman of 12-point font size.
  • Add headers with page numbers at the top-right corner of the page. Don’t number paragraphs unless required by instructions.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin.
  • For essays larger than 5-6 pages, add a table of contents, as well as mind adding headings and subheadings to improve readability.
  • For essays in APA format, write Abstract and Conclusion on separate pages.

Main sections of a research paper

As stated in most research paper guidelines, the main sections are:

  • Title page

It includes the title of your essay, as well as your name and institutional affiliation.

  • Abstract

This is a broad overview of a paper. It takes from 100 to 300 words, so short assignments don’t require abstracts.

  • Introduction

State the thesis statement and explains why the issue is important.

  • Literature review

Describe the previous researches related to your topic.

  • Materials and Methods

This part explains the research methodology. In particular, you’re to write how you collected data and what methods you used.

  • Results

Present the results of your research.

  • Discussion/Conclusion

Analyze the results and discuss how they relate to the previous researches.

  • References

Provide an alphabetized list of all the sources you were using.

How to choose a title, find reliable sources and proofread your paper

To create a strong thesis statement, provide arguments to support it, as well as carry out all instructions as required by the format of a research paper is only half the work. There are several details you should not forget to pay attention to.

The first one is title since trying to pick up a good one can be quite challenging. It should give readers an understanding of what your essay is about and create a desire to read it. Try writing the title after you finish your essay, even though doing the opposite might seem more logical. This will not only save your time but will give you a clear idea of what your title should be.

Reliable sources are another important thing. Avoid such sources as Wikipedia and use books and scholarly journals instead. A list of reliable sources on your Reference page creates a good impression of your paper, at the very least.

Finally, don’t forget about proofreading after you finish your assignment. Pay attention to possible mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Also, try to eliminate unnecessary words: it will make your sound more concise.

Steps of writing process

Before you start to write, make sure you’ve defined the subject. You are to present something new and interesting to your audience, but still, you’d better not select too complicated subjects. After this, you will need to brainstorm the existing literature, as well as pick up sources you are going to refer to when writing. Imagine that your thesis is an endpoint, while the paragraphs in your paper are the steps you’re to make to reach it.

Next, write a rough draft. It shouldn’t take much of your time as you will need to edit the paper and write the final draft after you finish. Still, don’t forget to cite the sources you’re using. Revise your draft and check whether all the paragraphs have a topic sentence and whether each of your ideas is supported by evidence. Finally, write the final draft. It should support your thesis statement, as well as be clearly organized and properly formatted. Finally, allow yourself a break and proofread your assignment.

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Writing tips

Here are several tips you might find useful:

  • Try to make your introduction as strong and clear as possible. It’s a common mistake when students start their essays with too generic sentences that do not reflect any position or make readers interested in the topic.
  • Each type of format for a research paper sets its own requirements as for in-text citations and Reference page. Consult online guidelines to fulfill all of them.
  • Since you will probably be using online sources, try to avoid such domain name extensions as .com or .net. Instead, use sources from .gov (government), .edu (educational institutions), and .org (nonprofit organizations) websites.
  • Mind the word count. Sentences should be no longer than 30 words.
  • Don’t overindulge with linking words and phrases. When used correctly, they make the text cohesive and easier to read. If used when unnecessary, they make your essay too wordy.

In summary

Writing a research paper can be both a challenging and rewarding experience, that is why many students choose EduBirdie to buy a research paper online. The crucial thing is to allow yourself enough time to do this. Define the subject of your assignment, carefully learn the existing literature, prepare an outline and an argumentative thesis, and start writing! Pay special attention to the research paper format and consult the online guides in order not to leave any important details out of account. The last but not least step is proofreading. Finally, ask yourself a question: would you personally enjoy reading your assignment? If your answer is “Yes,” you’ve probably succeeded!

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