How to Write my APA Papers
Credible information is the basic thing when it comes to writing a research paper, an essay or even a term paper. As a writer, you do not have all the information on your mind. For this reason, you have to consult what other writers have done and use their ideas. There are several citation styles! APA cited papers are however common especially in social sciences. How do I write my APA papers?
When you want to write good academic papers, there must be citations. It’s a way of acknowledging the efforts of the people from whom you have gathered the information from. They also did a hard job putting their books or journals or materials together.
The writers need to be acknowledged. After a careful study of other sources, you will notice that they also cite other people in their works. This is true in the cases of books. If a college student writes a research paper and refuses to show the source of the ideas, that culminates into plagiarism. What happens when you plagiarize? There are many consequences of plagiarizing research. Please read some of them here.
In college students’ essays, you should never plagiarize. You may ask yourself, what happens if you plagiarize in college. Seattle PI gives you the most common repercussions. They Include;
- Failure of the entire class
- Education sanctions
- The Issue being Written on your transcript
The American Psychological Association is used to cite social sciences research papers. Scholars in the area of medicine and education have also taken up APA citation. A lot of guidelines, rules and formatting formalities are required for APA cited papers.
Most people, therefore, find the writing style very complicated. With a little bit of time and patience, you can maneuver the style with ease.
The General Format
The style is useful for in-text citation and for reference page. For in-text citation, the last name of the author and the year of publication are written in parenthesis. For instance where the name of the author has already been mentioned in the sentences, just cite the year of publication.
Your APA essay should be typed on a double-spaced standard-sized paper measuring 8.5″ x 11″. It should have one inch margins. The font should be should be clear and easy to read. The recommended font is Times New Roman, 12pt.
You should also include the Page Header. This is called the Running Head. Generally, this is the summary of your essay title. It should not exceed 50 characters, spacing and punctuation included. The page header should be in CAPITAL LETTERS and flush on the left. On the First Page, you should write the words Running Head followed by the Page Header (Running Head: THE TITLE OF YOUR PAPER). The page numbers should be on the right side of each page.
The APA research essay should have four sections. They include; Title page, Abstract, Main body and the References respectively.
The Title Page
As discussed above, the title page should have the Title of the Paper, the Name of the Author and the Institutional Affiliation.
In summary, the title page should be formatted as follows;
Running Head: TITLE OF YOUR ESSAY (This should be on the upper margin or the header of the page)
Title of the Paper
Name of the Author
The above part of the APA research paper should be done on the upper half of the page.
The Title of the Paper should be done in mixed upper and lower case letters. No abbreviations are allowed.
The Name of the Author should start with the Your First Name, followed by the Initials of the Middle Names, and then, your Last Name.
The Institutional Affiliation, which comes below the name of the author/authors indicates the location where the research was conducted. This link helps you see examples of APA style papers, 6th edition with illustrations. It will help you to avoid common mistakes many writers commit. Remember, your tutor forms the opinion on the quality of your paper from the title page.
How to write the Abstract of APA Cited Papers
Here, you will begin a new page. This is page number two. You will label the title of page as “Abstract”. Do not bold, italicize, format, bold or put quotation mark. The word should be aligned at the center.
Beginning from the next line, write a brief summary (between 150 and 250 words) of your main points. Here, mention your research topic, research questions, participants in your research, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. If necessary, you are allowed to include the possible implications of your research and the connection your research will have with any future work that may be done.
In some instances, you can include the keywords; (in italics), followed by the list of your keywords written normally. The importance of the keywords id to help other scholars to find your work in databases.
The Component Parts
Your research paper should have three main sections; the Introduction, the discussion and the conclusion. The length of the content of each of the above sections is determined by the overall length of the paper. If you are writing an APA format dissertation of two hundred pages, the three is automatically longer. It depends on the instructions you have been given by your supervisor.
The purpose of the introduction is to answer three important questions.
- What is the paper all about?
- Why should I read it?
- What should I do after reading?
The above questions should be answered so as to hook the reader to the last letter of your essay. The answers should be found through;
- Setting the context by providing the general information about your essay.
- Justifying why the main idea of the paper the paper is relevant for the reader. Your main aim is to make your paper worth reading.
- Stating the thesis statement or the main claim of your paper. At this stage, the reader should clearly know the position they you are taking in the whole paper. When doing this, you should show three important traits;
- Your ability to reason soundly
- Your balanced emotional appeal
- Your credibility as the author
The tone of the essay should be fully professional. You should not use “I”. It should be, This research paper will do abcd.
How to Write the Body of my APA Essay
The body of the essay should
- Start from general information.
- The researcher should then show the direction or focus of the paper. This is done by telling the reader. Simply said, narrating.
- The paper should then show the specifics. This is where you show and support your claims.
- Here, you support your claim with tangible data. You should compare data from other researchers.
- last stage is making conclusions.
The body is constituted by a number of paragraphs. They are determined by the length of the paper. Each paragraph should have;
- The transition sentence: It ensures the ideas in the new paragraph are in harmony with the previous paragraph. The sentence should introduce the idea guiding the new sentence.
- The topic sentence: This enlightens the reader on what the specific paragraph will discuss.
- Evidence: This is where your support your claims in the paragraph. You give more information and analysis.
- A wrap up: This is the sentence that justifies the reason as to why the information and analysis support your position.
How should a good discussion be cited?
In the discussion section, you give all the information that you have gathered. You must cite all borrowed ideas, data and quotes. Citing pages in APA is simple. You use the author’s last name and the year the work was published. If the name of the author is Michael Johnson, you will just put, (Johnson, 2015)…
Many lecturers do not find your work natural and authentic especially if you put all your references at the end of each paragraph. This might be inferred to mean that all ideas in the paragraph come from external sources. You can also start your paragraph or sentence by mentioning the name of the author of the works you cited.
You can say… According to Johnson (2016), the number of people… or, the number of people who write APA papers every year is 2M as observed by Academics (2016). You can also say… The observation by Johnson (2016) on…. All these formats are acceptable and natural.
Citing a source with no author in APA is another problem that makes APA style college papers become hard. Basically, you treat the name of the author as Anonymous. You will therefore write the word Anonymous and the year of publication. e.g. Anonymous (1993).
If you are citing a source written by two authors, you write their last names and the year. For instance, According to the research conducted by Kim and Kong (1979), the number… or …facts in the recent research show that more college students wrote good essay papers in APA (Kim & Kong, 1979). In the first case you use “and” but in the second case, you use an ampersand (&).
When citing a source composed by three to five authors, always use “and” between the names of the last two authors. Separate the rest with a comma in the body.
Jose, Un, Michaels, Shacko and Jim, (1974). You can also put all of them in a bracket.e.g. (Jose, Un, Michaels, Shacko, & Jim, 1974). Here, you only mention all of them in the first citation. In the subsequent citations within the same text, only mention the surname of the first author followed by “et al” and the year. For instance, (Jose et al., 1974) or …. Jose et al. (1974) found that…
In APA papers with more than six authors, you write the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” throughout the body of your paper.
When writing APA essays with an Organization as the author, you write the Name of the Organization and the year. According to American Psychological Organization (1994) or (American Psychological Organization, 1994). In the cases, where the organization has a popular abbreviation, your first citation should be: (American Psychological Association [APA], 1994). In the subsequent citations, you use the abbreviation e.g. (APA, 1994) or According to APA (1994)…
In instances where you want to cite two works, in the same in-text citation, line or paragraph, use; (Shacko, 2002; Jim, 1983). You can also write, “According to Shacko (2002) and Jim (1983)…
When citing works by the same author written in the same year, you will use lower case letters e.g. Research by Kong (1981a) illustrated that… by Kong (1981b)
This is a brief summary of your paper. The conclusion. You should not introduce new ideas or facts that you had not mentioned before.
In APA referenced research papers, the works cited paged is labeled ‘References’. It starts on a new page. The page appears after you complete writing the paper. It is the last part of the paper.
References should not be written in bold and it should appear at the top of the page. Format it by centering it. Remember you should not put quotations on it or underline it.
Just like in the body of APA essay papers, you should double space the references. Write the last name before the first name. The first letter of the last name is considered when it comes to compiling the list. The list should appear in an alphabetical order.
There are times when you cite an author more than once but from different books or sources in APA cited papers. When writing the reference, start with the earliest publication then followed by others.
Capitalize the first word in books, magazines, articles and web pages. Otherwise for journal articles, major words are capitalized. This does not involve conjunctions or prepositions. They can only be written in capital letters if they appear as the first words in a subtitle or title.
The titles for books are in italics for APA cited papers. This mostly happens when the titles are long. If they are short as in the case for stories, poems, essays, and journal articles, they should not be written in italics. Quotations marks are inserted instead of italicizing.
The basic format for writing the reference is; Authors last name, initials for the first name, Year publication, Title, City, and the Publisher.
Other General APA Guidelines
When citing personal communication like letters, interviews, or other personal messages, you mention the name of the source of the communication (the person), then acknowledge the fact that it is a personal communication and then indicate the date. For instance, (E. Michaels, personal communication, June 9, 2009). You can also write… E. D. Joseph discovered that APA citation is not easy (personal communication, December 3, 2014)… This kind of citation is however not listed in the references.
At times, you could be required to cite indirect sources i.e. citing a source written by one author but quoted by another. Stephen posited that…(as cited in James, 2010, p. 1020). Cite the source and include it in the references. It is however advisable to locate the original material and cite it instead.
In instances where you cite a source with no author and date given, use the tile of the source and “n.d” to indicate “no date”. e.g. A recent study showed that college students succeeded with less reading (“Essays and APA,” n.d.).
Most online sources like websites do not have page numbers. Sources without page numbers make it hard to direct your readers to the location of the original text. It is however your responsibility to help them to locate the source. In case the webpage has numbered paragraphs, put the name of the author followed by the year and paragraph number (use the abbreviation “para”). e.g. (Harry, 2012, para. 5) or Harry (1998), argued that… (APA Style Papers, para. 3). You should note that using the pages of a printed copy is misleading because different printers have different settings.
For authors with the same surnames/last names, you use the initials of the first name and the surname. For instance, (T. James, 2001; B. James, 2000).
Types of APA Style Papers
The most common types of papers in APA Style are literature reviews and experimental reports. Both of them have distinguishing characteristics.
A Literature review consists of three sections i.e. Title page, introduction and reference page respectively. The length of the paper determines if you will add an abstract. It is noteworthy that a literature review and an annotated bibliography are not one and the same thing.
Many social sciences require you to do your own experimental research. The structure and the components are deeper. The paper should answer the following questions;
- What reasons makes the topic important?
- What is your research problem?
- What did you do to ameliorate the problem?
- What results did you get?
- What are interpretation of the results?
The experimental research has 9 sections. They are Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results/Findings, Discussion, References, Appendices(if required), and Tables and/or figures (if required). The parts follow each other in the sequence above.
You can also write other college papers in APA format.
APA Format Abbreviations
Abbreviations are used in instances where they are standard or universal. They are not supposed to mar the reader’s understanding. Additionally, they should be used to save space. Always write the whole term or phrase the first time and abbreviations thereafter.
Only some units of time should be abbreviated. e.g. you should not abbreviate day, week, month, or year. You should instead abbreviate hr, min, and s.
In APA citations, you are allowed to abbreviate the authors’ first and middle names.
The following abbreviations are common in APA. The table below has been adopted from Owl Purdue.
|APA Citation Abbreviations|
|revised edition||Rev. ed.|
|Second Edition||2nd ed.|
|Editor(s)||Ed. or Eds.|
|Page(s)||p. or pp.|
|Volume(s)||Vol. or Vols.|
|Technical Report||Tech. Rep.|
Tips for writing in APA
- Focus on writing. Since APA cited papers have a lot of set guidelines, they can distract you. To be able to write without a problem, concentrate on the content first.
- Gather all the information needed then write the paper without concentrating on the style a lot. After you complete writing, go through the paper as you format it. Some people prefer to include the in-text citation as they continue to write. Some writers may find this distracting.
- All text is written in active voice. The difference between passive and active voice is the doer of the action. For passive, the action is performed on the subject. The subject performs the action in active form. Some lecturers can go as far as disqualifying the paper if you use passive voice to write it.
- Keep a record of the reference list. The reference material is the sources where you have gathered your information from. As you gather helpful information, note down the details of the sources. You will use this to make the reference list as the last step in writing an APA cited paper. This is important for two reasons. First, in case you need to refer to it later, it will be easy. Secondly, it will save you time when it comes to referencing. Since you will not need to look for the sources again, this will save you a lot of time. When referencing, you will only need to organize the sources alphabetically.
- Plagiarism is not allowed in all kind of writing. If your work is confirmed to have some form of plagiarism, you can suffer serious consequences. To avoid it, make sure you cite appropriately. You can also avoid it by first understanding the information before writing it down. Any information that you gather from books or other sources should be paraphrased.
- Language use. The style is against the use of first person. When writing an APA cited paper, avoid using slang language. For phrases like it’s, use it is, write cannot instead of can’t.
- Proofread the paper. This is not the final step in writing; you should do it as you write. Grammatical, spelling errors can be corrected by proofreading your work.
Plan your proofreading on days when you are not writing the paper. It is advisable that you proofread after taking a break from writing. During the break, you will be able to look at the paper objectively. The mistakes will be clear and vivid to you.
- The lecturer’s instruction should be followed at all times. Even though APA has set guidelines, the teacher might direct you to use a format that is contrary to the acceptable APA format. In such a case, consult your lecturer. Better yet, follow the instruction even if they contradict the ones from APA.
APA cited research papers have many guidelines but they are easy to follow. The best way for you to master the style is by writing many papers. Practice makes perfect and the more papers you write, the better you will become at it.
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