Tips on preparing APA format research papers

The various documentation formats have been developed with due consideration to the requirements of certain subjects. But their usage is not restricted to the subjects they were developed for. The most commonly used formats in the documentation of academic research papers are APA, MLA, Chicago and Harvard styles. APA style was developed for the documentation of psychology research, by the American Psychological association. But APA format research papers are quite commonly used for research papers in subjects like social sciences.

APA refreshes its style once in a while to accommodate the new requirements and to apply improved methods of formatting. Hence while referring to the APA style manual to format your research paper, make sure that you have the latest manual of style.

The unique features of APA style are as follows:

• The APA style uses a part of the main heading as a ‘running head’ on the top right hand portion of all the pages, alongside the page number. This running head would not be a full sentence but a phrase which can stand on its own and which makes complete sense. It should not be the complete title. You may choose the most relevant portion of the main title as the running head of your APA format research paper.

• The bibliographical reference page, in APA format, is to be separated from the main document. The sources are to be cited under the heading of ‘References’. This list is to be arranged in alphabetical order of the authors’ surnames.

• APA style strictly forbids the use of footnotes for the purpose of citing sources. If you wish to give additional information on any of the points in your research paper, which is irrelevant to be mentioned as a part of it, footnotes can be used. It is to be considered an exceptional situation and to be used only when necessary. But citations should never be included in an APA format footnote.

• APA format also asks for parenthetical references, given within the text next to the cited information, in the order of “”surname of the author, year of publication). This information will help the readers in linking it to the reference page.

Understanding these basic aspects of the style may not be enough to complete your research paper. The various types of sources are to be cited as per the rules of the style which will have to found out from the style manual. Preparing APA format research papers is not something you should keep for the last minute. APA is very strict about its rules and failing to adhere to them can cause you to lose marks.

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