Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers

There are several different types of articles appropriate f or publication in the APA or American Psychological Association style. These include reports of empirical studies, literature reviews, theoretical articles, methodological articles, and case studies.

Each of these types of articles follows a proscribed format. Refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition for the most up to date and comprehensive details of setting up your manuscript.

This paper will serve as a general guide only, and as always, your instructor has the final word on the format and style required for the assigned paper.


A research paper presents the results of your investigations on a selected topic. Based on your own thoughts and the facts and ideas you have gathered from a variety of sources, a research paper is a creation that is uniquely yours.

The experience of gathering, interpreting, and documenting information, developing and organizing ideas and conclusions, and communicating them clearly will prove to be an important and satisfying part of your education.

Generally, the formatting of citations recommended below is based on the American Psychological Association guidelines. Your instructor may require another format. It is important to follow consistently and accurately a recommended format that is clear and concise and that has been approved by your teacher.

This guide may suffice for most students’ needs for most academic purposes, but for advanced research projects it is by no means a substitute for the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Sixth Edition (2010). That handbook can be purchased in most bookstores and copies should be available in every college and municipal library.

This guide and a guide similar to this one, but based on the MLA style, are available online.

“Your best source of advice on all these matters is, of course, your instructor and your library professionals” (Darling, 2008, p. 98).

Once your topic has been approved, gather information from authoritative sources: pertinent books, encyclopedias, and articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers.

Librarians will be happy to show you how to use the various research tools within the library and may suggest other sources of information. Important new resources are now available to you through electronic services which provide many learning and reference tools as well as access to the Internet, where you can often…

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