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How To Write A Research Paper

Step-By-Step Tutorial With Examples + FREE Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | March 2024

For many students, crafting a strong research paper from scratch can feel like a daunting task – and rightly so! In this post, we’ll unpack what a research paper is, what it needs to do , and how to write one – in three easy steps. 🙂 

Overview: Writing A Research Paper

What (exactly) is a research paper.

  • How to write a research paper
  • Stage 1 : Topic & literature search
  • Stage 2 : Structure & outline
  • Stage 3 : Iterative writing
  • Key takeaways

Let’s start by asking the most important question, “ What is a research paper? ”.

Simply put, a research paper is a scholarly written work where the writer (that’s you!) answers a specific question (this is called a research question ) through evidence-based arguments . Evidence-based is the keyword here. In other words, a research paper is different from an essay or other writing assignments that draw from the writer’s personal opinions or experiences. With a research paper, it’s all about building your arguments based on evidence (we’ll talk more about that evidence a little later).

Now, it’s worth noting that there are many different types of research papers , including analytical papers (the type I just described), argumentative papers, and interpretative papers. Here, we’ll focus on analytical papers , as these are some of the most common – but if you’re keen to learn about other types of research papers, be sure to check out the rest of the blog .

With that basic foundation laid, let’s get down to business and look at how to write a research paper .

Research Paper Template

Overview: The 3-Stage Process

While there are, of course, many potential approaches you can take to write a research paper, there are typically three stages to the writing process. So, in this tutorial, we’ll present a straightforward three-step process that we use when working with students at Grad Coach.

These three steps are:

  • Finding a research topic and reviewing the existing literature
  • Developing a provisional structure and outline for your paper, and
  • Writing up your initial draft and then refining it iteratively

Let’s dig into each of these.

Need a helping hand?

how to write a research report template

Step 1: Find a topic and review the literature

As we mentioned earlier, in a research paper, you, as the researcher, will try to answer a question . More specifically, that’s called a research question , and it sets the direction of your entire paper. What’s important to understand though is that you’ll need to answer that research question with the help of high-quality sources – for example, journal articles, government reports, case studies, and so on. We’ll circle back to this in a minute.

The first stage of the research process is deciding on what your research question will be and then reviewing the existing literature (in other words, past studies and papers) to see what they say about that specific research question. In some cases, your professor may provide you with a predetermined research question (or set of questions). However, in many cases, you’ll need to find your own research question within a certain topic area.

Finding a strong research question hinges on identifying a meaningful research gap – in other words, an area that’s lacking in existing research. There’s a lot to unpack here, so if you wanna learn more, check out the plain-language explainer video below.

Once you’ve figured out which question (or questions) you’ll attempt to answer in your research paper, you’ll need to do a deep dive into the existing literature – this is called a “ literature search ”. Again, there are many ways to go about this, but your most likely starting point will be Google Scholar .

If you’re new to Google Scholar, think of it as Google for the academic world. You can start by simply entering a few different keywords that are relevant to your research question and it will then present a host of articles for you to review. What you want to pay close attention to here is the number of citations for each paper – the more citations a paper has, the more credible it is (generally speaking – there are some exceptions, of course).

how to use google scholar

Ideally, what you’re looking for are well-cited papers that are highly relevant to your topic. That said, keep in mind that citations are a cumulative metric , so older papers will often have more citations than newer papers – just because they’ve been around for longer. So, don’t fixate on this metric in isolation – relevance and recency are also very important.

Beyond Google Scholar, you’ll also definitely want to check out academic databases and aggregators such as Science Direct, PubMed, JStor and so on. These will often overlap with the results that you find in Google Scholar, but they can also reveal some hidden gems – so, be sure to check them out.

Once you’ve worked your way through all the literature, you’ll want to catalogue all this information in some sort of spreadsheet so that you can easily recall who said what, when and within what context. If you’d like, we’ve got a free literature spreadsheet that helps you do exactly that.

Don’t fixate on an article’s citation count in isolation - relevance (to your research question) and recency are also very important.

Step 2: Develop a structure and outline

With your research question pinned down and your literature digested and catalogued, it’s time to move on to planning your actual research paper .

It might sound obvious, but it’s really important to have some sort of rough outline in place before you start writing your paper. So often, we see students eagerly rushing into the writing phase, only to land up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on in multiple

Now, the secret here is to not get caught up in the fine details . Realistically, all you need at this stage is a bullet-point list that describes (in broad strokes) what you’ll discuss and in what order. It’s also useful to remember that you’re not glued to this outline – in all likelihood, you’ll chop and change some sections once you start writing, and that’s perfectly okay. What’s important is that you have some sort of roadmap in place from the start.

You need to have a rough outline in place before you start writing your paper - or you’ll end up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on.

At this stage you might be wondering, “ But how should I structure my research paper? ”. Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but in general, a research paper will consist of a few relatively standardised components:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology

Let’s take a look at each of these.

First up is the introduction section . As the name suggests, the purpose of the introduction is to set the scene for your research paper. There are usually (at least) four ingredients that go into this section – these are the background to the topic, the research problem and resultant research question , and the justification or rationale. If you’re interested, the video below unpacks the introduction section in more detail. 

The next section of your research paper will typically be your literature review . Remember all that literature you worked through earlier? Well, this is where you’ll present your interpretation of all that content . You’ll do this by writing about recent trends, developments, and arguments within the literature – but more specifically, those that are relevant to your research question . The literature review can oftentimes seem a little daunting, even to seasoned researchers, so be sure to check out our extensive collection of literature review content here .

With the introduction and lit review out of the way, the next section of your paper is the research methodology . In a nutshell, the methodology section should describe to your reader what you did (beyond just reviewing the existing literature) to answer your research question. For example, what data did you collect, how did you collect that data, how did you analyse that data and so on? For each choice, you’ll also need to justify why you chose to do it that way, and what the strengths and weaknesses of your approach were.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that for some research papers, this aspect of the project may be a lot simpler . For example, you may only need to draw on secondary sources (in other words, existing data sets). In some cases, you may just be asked to draw your conclusions from the literature search itself (in other words, there may be no data analysis at all). But, if you are required to collect and analyse data, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the methodology section. The video below provides an example of what the methodology section might look like.

By this stage of your paper, you will have explained what your research question is, what the existing literature has to say about that question, and how you analysed additional data to try to answer your question. So, the natural next step is to present your analysis of that data . This section is usually called the “results” or “analysis” section and this is where you’ll showcase your findings.

Depending on your school’s requirements, you may need to present and interpret the data in one section – or you might split the presentation and the interpretation into two sections. In the latter case, your “results” section will just describe the data, and the “discussion” is where you’ll interpret that data and explicitly link your analysis back to your research question. If you’re not sure which approach to take, check in with your professor or take a look at past papers to see what the norms are for your programme.

Alright – once you’ve presented and discussed your results, it’s time to wrap it up . This usually takes the form of the “ conclusion ” section. In the conclusion, you’ll need to highlight the key takeaways from your study and close the loop by explicitly answering your research question. Again, the exact requirements here will vary depending on your programme (and you may not even need a conclusion section at all) – so be sure to check with your professor if you’re unsure.

Step 3: Write and refine

Finally, it’s time to get writing. All too often though, students hit a brick wall right about here… So, how do you avoid this happening to you?

Well, there’s a lot to be said when it comes to writing a research paper (or any sort of academic piece), but we’ll share three practical tips to help you get started.

First and foremost , it’s essential to approach your writing as an iterative process. In other words, you need to start with a really messy first draft and then polish it over multiple rounds of editing. Don’t waste your time trying to write a perfect research paper in one go. Instead, take the pressure off yourself by adopting an iterative approach.

Secondly , it’s important to always lean towards critical writing , rather than descriptive writing. What does this mean? Well, at the simplest level, descriptive writing focuses on the “ what ”, while critical writing digs into the “ so what ” – in other words, the implications . If you’re not familiar with these two types of writing, don’t worry! You can find a plain-language explanation here.

Last but not least, you’ll need to get your referencing right. Specifically, you’ll need to provide credible, correctly formatted citations for the statements you make. We see students making referencing mistakes all the time and it costs them dearly. The good news is that you can easily avoid this by using a simple reference manager . If you don’t have one, check out our video about Mendeley, an easy (and free) reference management tool that you can start using today.

Recap: Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are:

  • To choose a research question and review the literature
  • To plan your paper structure and draft an outline
  • To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing

Remember, this is just a b ig-picture overview of the research paper development process and there’s a lot more nuance to unpack. So, be sure to grab a copy of our free research paper template to learn more about how to write a research paper.

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Chapter 11: Presenting Your Research

Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major sections of an APA-style research report and the basic contents of each section.
  • Plan and write an effective APA-style research report.

In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report , an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section. At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.

Sections of a Research Report

Title page and abstract.

An APA-style research report begins with a  title page . The title is centred in the upper half of the page, with each important word capitalized. The title should clearly and concisely (in about 12 words or fewer) communicate the primary variables and research questions. This sometimes requires a main title followed by a subtitle that elaborates on the main title, in which case the main title and subtitle are separated by a colon. Here are some titles from recent issues of professional journals published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Sex Differences in Coping Styles and Implications for Depressed Mood
  • Effects of Aging and Divided Attention on Memory for Items and Their Contexts
  • Computer-Assisted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Child Anxiety: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
  • Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect, and Behaviour?

Below the title are the authors’ names and, on the next line, their institutional affiliation—the university or other institution where the authors worked when they conducted the research. As we have already seen, the authors are listed in an order that reflects their contribution to the research. When multiple authors have made equal contributions to the research, they often list their names alphabetically or in a randomly determined order.

In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study. Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal Psychological Science .

  • “Smells Like Clean Spirit: Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior”
  • “Time Crawls: The Temporal Resolution of Infants’ Visual Attention”
  • “Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues”
  • “Apocalypse Soon?: Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs”
  • “Serial vs. Parallel Processing: Sometimes They Look Like Tweedledum and Tweedledee but They Can (and Should) Be Distinguished”
  • “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words: The Social Effects of Expressive Writing”

Individual researchers differ quite a bit in their preference for such titles. Some use them regularly, while others never use them. What might be some of the pros and cons of using cute article titles?

For articles that are being submitted for publication, the title page also includes an author note that lists the authors’ full institutional affiliations, any acknowledgments the authors wish to make to agencies that funded the research or to colleagues who commented on it, and contact information for the authors. For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary.

The  abstract  is a summary of the study. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word  Abstract . The first line is not indented. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions. Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.

Introduction

The  introduction  begins on the third page of the manuscript. The heading at the top of this page is the full title of the manuscript, with each important word capitalized as on the title page. The introduction includes three distinct subsections, although these are typically not identified by separate headings. The opening introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting, the literature review discusses relevant previous research, and the closing restates the research question and comments on the method used to answer it.

The Opening

The  opening , which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting. To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behaviour (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003 [1] ). Concrete examples are often very useful here. According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report:

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p. 191)

The following would be much better:

The individual who holds two beliefs that are inconsistent with one another may feel uncomfortable. For example, the person who knows that he or she enjoys smoking but believes it to be unhealthy may experience discomfort arising from the inconsistency or disharmony between these two thoughts or cognitions. This feeling of discomfort was called cognitive dissonance by social psychologist Leon Festinger (1957), who suggested that individuals will be motivated to remove this dissonance in whatever way they can (p. 191).

After capturing the reader’s attention, the opening should go on to introduce the research question and explain why it is interesting. Will the answer fill a gap in the literature? Will it provide a test of an important theory? Does it have practical implications? Giving readers a clear sense of what the research is about and why they should care about it will motivate them to continue reading the literature review—and will help them make sense of it.

Breaking the Rules

Researcher Larry Jacoby reported several studies showing that a word that people see or hear repeatedly can seem more familiar even when they do not recall the repetitions—and that this tendency is especially pronounced among older adults. He opened his article with the following humourous anecdote:

A friend whose mother is suffering symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tells the story of taking her mother to visit a nursing home, preliminary to her mother’s moving there. During an orientation meeting at the nursing home, the rules and regulations were explained, one of which regarded the dining room. The dining room was described as similar to a fine restaurant except that tipping was not required. The absence of tipping was a central theme in the orientation lecture, mentioned frequently to emphasize the quality of care along with the advantages of having paid in advance. At the end of the meeting, the friend’s mother was asked whether she had any questions. She replied that she only had one question: “Should I tip?” (Jacoby, 1999, p. 3)

Although both humour and personal anecdotes are generally discouraged in APA-style writing, this example is a highly effective way to start because it both engages the reader and provides an excellent real-world example of the topic under study.

The Literature Review

Immediately after the opening comes the  literature review , which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length. However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies. Instead, it constitutes a kind of argument for why the research question is worth addressing. By the end of the literature review, readers should be convinced that the research question makes sense and that the present study is a logical next step in the ongoing research process.

Like any effective argument, the literature review must have some kind of structure. For example, it might begin by describing a phenomenon in a general way along with several studies that demonstrate it, then describing two or more competing theories of the phenomenon, and finally presenting a hypothesis to test one or more of the theories. Or it might describe one phenomenon, then describe another phenomenon that seems inconsistent with the first one, then propose a theory that resolves the inconsistency, and finally present a hypothesis to test that theory. In applied research, it might describe a phenomenon or theory, then describe how that phenomenon or theory applies to some important real-world situation, and finally suggest a way to test whether it does, in fact, apply to that situation.

Looking at the literature review in this way emphasizes a few things. First, it is extremely important to start with an outline of the main points that you want to make, organized in the order that you want to make them. The basic structure of your argument, then, should be apparent from the outline itself. Second, it is important to emphasize the structure of your argument in your writing. One way to do this is to begin the literature review by summarizing your argument even before you begin to make it. “In this article, I will describe two apparently contradictory phenomena, present a new theory that has the potential to resolve the apparent contradiction, and finally present a novel hypothesis to test the theory.” Another way is to open each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the main point of the paragraph and links it to the preceding points. These opening sentences provide the “transitions” that many beginning researchers have difficulty with. Instead of beginning a paragraph by launching into a description of a previous study, such as “Williams (2004) found that…,” it is better to start by indicating something about why you are describing this particular study. Here are some simple examples:

Another example of this phenomenon comes from the work of Williams (2004).

Williams (2004) offers one explanation of this phenomenon.

An alternative perspective has been provided by Williams (2004).

We used a method based on the one used by Williams (2004).

Finally, remember that your goal is to construct an argument for why your research question is interesting and worth addressing—not necessarily why your favourite answer to it is correct. In other words, your literature review must be balanced. If you want to emphasize the generality of a phenomenon, then of course you should discuss various studies that have demonstrated it. However, if there are other studies that have failed to demonstrate it, you should discuss them too. Or if you are proposing a new theory, then of course you should discuss findings that are consistent with that theory. However, if there are other findings that are inconsistent with it, again, you should discuss them too. It is acceptable to argue that the  balance  of the research supports the existence of a phenomenon or is consistent with a theory (and that is usually the best that researchers in psychology can hope for), but it is not acceptable to  ignore contradictory evidence. Besides, a large part of what makes a research question interesting is uncertainty about its answer.

The Closing

The  closing  of the introduction—typically the final paragraph or two—usually includes two important elements. The first is a clear statement of the main research question or hypothesis. This statement tends to be more formal and precise than in the opening and is often expressed in terms of operational definitions of the key variables. The second is a brief overview of the method and some comment on its appropriateness. Here, for example, is how Darley and Latané (1968) [2] concluded the introduction to their classic article on the bystander effect:

These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the more bystanders to an emergency, the less likely, or the more slowly, any one bystander will intervene to provide aid. To test this proposition it would be necessary to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could plausibly occur. Each subject should also be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behaviour during the emergency. Finally, the experimental situation should allow for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects’ reaction to the emergency. The experiment reported below attempted to fulfill these conditions. (p. 378)

Thus the introduction leads smoothly into the next major section of the article—the method section.

The  method section  is where you describe how you conducted your study. An important principle for writing a method section is that it should be clear and detailed enough that other researchers could replicate the study by following your “recipe.” This means that it must describe all the important elements of the study—basic demographic characteristics of the participants, how they were recruited, whether they were randomly assigned, how the variables were manipulated or measured, how counterbalancing was accomplished, and so on. At the same time, it should avoid irrelevant details such as the fact that the study was conducted in Classroom 37B of the Industrial Technology Building or that the questionnaire was double-sided and completed using pencils.

The method section begins immediately after the introduction ends with the heading “Method” (not “Methods”) centred on the page. Immediately after this is the subheading “Participants,” left justified and in italics. The participants subsection indicates how many participants there were, the number of women and men, some indication of their age, other demographics that may be relevant to the study, and how they were recruited, including any incentives given for participation.

Three ways of organizing an APA-style method. Long description available.

After the participants section, the structure can vary a bit. Figure 11.1 shows three common approaches. In the first, the participants section is followed by a design and procedure subsection, which describes the rest of the method. This works well for methods that are relatively simple and can be described adequately in a few paragraphs. In the second approach, the participants section is followed by separate design and procedure subsections. This works well when both the design and the procedure are relatively complicated and each requires multiple paragraphs.

What is the difference between design and procedure? The design of a study is its overall structure. What were the independent and dependent variables? Was the independent variable manipulated, and if so, was it manipulated between or within subjects? How were the variables operationally defined? The procedure is how the study was carried out. It often works well to describe the procedure in terms of what the participants did rather than what the researchers did. For example, the participants gave their informed consent, read a set of instructions, completed a block of four practice trials, completed a block of 20 test trials, completed two questionnaires, and were debriefed and excused.

In the third basic way to organize a method section, the participants subsection is followed by a materials subsection before the design and procedure subsections. This works well when there are complicated materials to describe. This might mean multiple questionnaires, written vignettes that participants read and respond to, perceptual stimuli, and so on. The heading of this subsection can be modified to reflect its content. Instead of “Materials,” it can be “Questionnaires,” “Stimuli,” and so on.

The  results section  is where you present the main results of the study, including the results of the statistical analyses. Although it does not include the raw data—individual participants’ responses or scores—researchers should save their raw data and make them available to other researchers who request them. Several journals now encourage the open sharing of raw data online.

Although there are no standard subsections, it is still important for the results section to be logically organized. Typically it begins with certain preliminary issues. One is whether any participants or responses were excluded from the analyses and why. The rationale for excluding data should be described clearly so that other researchers can decide whether it is appropriate. A second preliminary issue is how multiple responses were combined to produce the primary variables in the analyses. For example, if participants rated the attractiveness of 20 stimulus people, you might have to explain that you began by computing the mean attractiveness rating for each participant. Or if they recalled as many items as they could from study list of 20 words, did you count the number correctly recalled, compute the percentage correctly recalled, or perhaps compute the number correct minus the number incorrect? A third preliminary issue is the reliability of the measures. This is where you would present test-retest correlations, Cronbach’s α, or other statistics to show that the measures are consistent across time and across items. A final preliminary issue is whether the manipulation was successful. This is where you would report the results of any manipulation checks.

The results section should then tackle the primary research questions, one at a time. Again, there should be a clear organization. One approach would be to answer the most general questions and then proceed to answer more specific ones. Another would be to answer the main question first and then to answer secondary ones. Regardless, Bem (2003) [3] suggests the following basic structure for discussing each new result:

  • Remind the reader of the research question.
  • Give the answer to the research question in words.
  • Present the relevant statistics.
  • Qualify the answer if necessary.
  • Summarize the result.

Notice that only Step 3 necessarily involves numbers. The rest of the steps involve presenting the research question and the answer to it in words. In fact, the basic results should be clear even to a reader who skips over the numbers.

The  discussion  is the last major section of the research report. Discussions usually consist of some combination of the following elements:

  • Summary of the research
  • Theoretical implications
  • Practical implications
  • Limitations
  • Suggestions for future research

The discussion typically begins with a summary of the study that provides a clear answer to the research question. In a short report with a single study, this might require no more than a sentence. In a longer report with multiple studies, it might require a paragraph or even two. The summary is often followed by a discussion of the theoretical implications of the research. Do the results provide support for any existing theories? If not, how  can  they be explained? Although you do not have to provide a definitive explanation or detailed theory for your results, you at least need to outline one or more possible explanations. In applied research—and often in basic research—there is also some discussion of the practical implications of the research. How can the results be used, and by whom, to accomplish some real-world goal?

The theoretical and practical implications are often followed by a discussion of the study’s limitations. Perhaps there are problems with its internal or external validity. Perhaps the manipulation was not very effective or the measures not very reliable. Perhaps there is some evidence that participants did not fully understand their task or that they were suspicious of the intent of the researchers. Now is the time to discuss these issues and how they might have affected the results. But do not overdo it. All studies have limitations, and most readers will understand that a different sample or different measures might have produced different results. Unless there is good reason to think they  would have, however, there is no reason to mention these routine issues. Instead, pick two or three limitations that seem like they could have influenced the results, explain how they could have influenced the results, and suggest ways to deal with them.

Most discussions end with some suggestions for future research. If the study did not satisfactorily answer the original research question, what will it take to do so? What  new  research questions has the study raised? This part of the discussion, however, is not just a list of new questions. It is a discussion of two or three of the most important unresolved issues. This means identifying and clarifying each question, suggesting some alternative answers, and even suggesting ways they could be studied.

Finally, some researchers are quite good at ending their articles with a sweeping or thought-provoking conclusion. Darley and Latané (1968) [4] , for example, ended their article on the bystander effect by discussing the idea that whether people help others may depend more on the situation than on their personalities. Their final sentence is, “If people understand the situational forces that can make them hesitate to intervene, they may better overcome them” (p. 383). However, this kind of ending can be difficult to pull off. It can sound overreaching or just banal and end up detracting from the overall impact of the article. It is often better simply to end when you have made your final point (although you should avoid ending on a limitation).

The references section begins on a new page with the heading “References” centred at the top of the page. All references cited in the text are then listed in the format presented earlier. They are listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. If two sources have the same first author, they are listed alphabetically by the last name of the second author. If all the authors are the same, then they are listed chronologically by the year of publication. Everything in the reference list is double-spaced both within and between references.

Appendices, Tables, and Figures

Appendices, tables, and figures come after the references. An  appendix  is appropriate for supplemental material that would interrupt the flow of the research report if it were presented within any of the major sections. An appendix could be used to present lists of stimulus words, questionnaire items, detailed descriptions of special equipment or unusual statistical analyses, or references to the studies that are included in a meta-analysis. Each appendix begins on a new page. If there is only one, the heading is “Appendix,” centred at the top of the page. If there is more than one, the headings are “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on, and they appear in the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

After any appendices come tables and then figures. Tables and figures are both used to present results. Figures can also be used to illustrate theories (e.g., in the form of a flowchart), display stimuli, outline procedures, and present many other kinds of information. Each table and figure appears on its own page. Tables are numbered in the order that they are first mentioned in the text (“Table 1,” “Table 2,” and so on). Figures are numbered the same way (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and so on). A brief explanatory title, with the important words capitalized, appears above each table. Each figure is given a brief explanatory caption, where (aside from proper nouns or names) only the first word of each sentence is capitalized. More details on preparing APA-style tables and figures are presented later in the book.

Sample APA-Style Research Report

Figures 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style empirical research report, although many high-level and low-level style conventions can be seen here too.

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Key Takeaways

  • An APA-style empirical research report consists of several standard sections. The main ones are the abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references.
  • The introduction consists of an opening that presents the research question, a literature review that describes previous research on the topic, and a closing that restates the research question and comments on the method. The literature review constitutes an argument for why the current study is worth doing.
  • The method section describes the method in enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study. At a minimum, it consists of a participants subsection and a design and procedure subsection.
  • The results section describes the results in an organized fashion. Each primary result is presented in terms of statistical results but also explained in words.
  • The discussion typically summarizes the study, discusses theoretical and practical implications and limitations of the study, and offers suggestions for further research.
  • Practice: Look through an issue of a general interest professional journal (e.g.,  Psychological Science ). Read the opening of the first five articles and rate the effectiveness of each one from 1 ( very ineffective ) to 5 ( very effective ). Write a sentence or two explaining each rating.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and identify where the opening, literature review, and closing of the introduction begin and end.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and highlight in a different colour each of the following elements in the discussion: summary, theoretical implications, practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

Long Descriptions

Figure 11.1 long description: Table showing three ways of organizing an APA-style method section.

In the simple method, there are two subheadings: “Participants” (which might begin “The participants were…”) and “Design and procedure” (which might begin “There were three conditions…”).

In the typical method, there are three subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”).

In the complex method, there are four subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Materials” (“The stimuli were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”). [Return to Figure 11.1]

  • Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J. M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. R. Roediger III (Eds.),  The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist  (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ↵
  • Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 , 377–383. ↵

A type of research article which describes one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors.

The page at the beginning of an APA-style research report containing the title of the article, the authors’ names, and their institutional affiliation.

A summary of a research study.

The third page of a manuscript containing the research question, the literature review, and comments about how to answer the research question.

An introduction to the research question and explanation for why this question is interesting.

A description of relevant previous research on the topic being discusses and an argument for why the research is worth addressing.

The end of the introduction, where the research question is reiterated and the method is commented upon.

The section of a research report where the method used to conduct the study is described.

The main results of the study, including the results from statistical analyses, are presented in a research article.

Section of a research report that summarizes the study's results and interprets them by referring back to the study's theoretical background.

Part of a research report which contains supplemental material.

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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

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Research Method

Home » Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

Table of Contents

Research Paper Formats

Research paper format is an essential aspect of academic writing that plays a crucial role in the communication of research findings . The format of a research paper depends on various factors such as the discipline, style guide, and purpose of the research. It includes guidelines for the structure, citation style, referencing , and other elements of the paper that contribute to its overall presentation and coherence. Adhering to the appropriate research paper format is vital for ensuring that the research is accurately and effectively communicated to the intended audience. In this era of information, it is essential to understand the different research paper formats and their guidelines to communicate research effectively, accurately, and with the required level of detail. This post aims to provide an overview of some of the common research paper formats used in academic writing.

Research Paper Formats

Research Paper Formats are as follows:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) format
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) format
  • Chicago/Turabian style
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) format
  • AMA (American Medical Association) style
  • Harvard style
  • Vancouver style
  • ACS (American Chemical Society) style
  • ASA (American Sociological Association) style
  • APSA (American Political Science Association) style

APA (American Psychological Association) Format

Here is a general APA format for a research paper:

  • Title Page: The title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation. It should also include a running head, which is a shortened version of the title, and a page number in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Abstract : The abstract is a brief summary of your paper, typically 150-250 words. It should include the purpose of your research, the main findings, and any implications or conclusions that can be drawn.
  • Introduction: The introduction should provide background information on your topic, state the purpose of your research, and present your research question or hypothesis. It should also include a brief literature review that discusses previous research on your topic.
  • Methods: The methods section should describe the procedures you used to collect and analyze your data. It should include information on the participants, the materials and instruments used, and the statistical analyses performed.
  • Results: The results section should present the findings of your research in a clear and concise manner. Use tables and figures to help illustrate your results.
  • Discussion : The discussion section should interpret your results and relate them back to your research question or hypothesis. It should also discuss the implications of your findings and any limitations of your study.
  • References : The references section should include a list of all sources cited in your paper. Follow APA formatting guidelines for your citations and references.

Some additional tips for formatting your APA research paper:

  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font throughout the paper.
  • Double-space all text, including the references.
  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches.
  • Use a hanging indent for the references (the first line should be flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines should be indented).
  • Number all pages, including the title page and references page, in the upper right-hand corner.

APA Research Paper Format Template

APA Research Paper Format Template is as follows:

Title Page:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • A brief summary of the main points of the paper, including the research question, methods, findings, and conclusions. The abstract should be no more than 250 words.

Introduction:

  • Background information on the topic of the research paper
  • Research question or hypothesis
  • Significance of the study
  • Overview of the research methods and design
  • Brief summary of the main findings
  • Participants: description of the sample population, including the number of participants and their characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)
  • Materials: description of any materials used in the study (e.g., survey questions, experimental apparatus)
  • Procedure: detailed description of the steps taken to conduct the study
  • Presentation of the findings of the study, including statistical analyses if applicable
  • Tables and figures may be included to illustrate the results

Discussion:

  • Interpretation of the results in light of the research question and hypothesis
  • Implications of the study for the field
  • Limitations of the study
  • Suggestions for future research

References:

  • A list of all sources cited in the paper, in APA format

Formatting guidelines:

  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point font (Times New Roman or Arial)
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Page numbers in the top right corner
  • Headings and subheadings should be used to organize the paper
  • The first line of each paragraph should be indented
  • Quotations of 40 or more words should be set off in a block quote with no quotation marks
  • In-text citations should include the author’s last name and year of publication (e.g., Smith, 2019)

APA Research Paper Format Example

APA Research Paper Format Example is as follows:

The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

University of XYZ

This study examines the relationship between social media use and mental health among college students. Data was collected through a survey of 500 students at the University of XYZ. Results suggest that social media use is significantly related to symptoms of depression and anxiety, and that the negative effects of social media are greater among frequent users.

Social media has become an increasingly important aspect of modern life, especially among young adults. While social media can have many positive effects, such as connecting people across distances and sharing information, there is growing concern about its impact on mental health. This study aims to examine the relationship between social media use and mental health among college students.

Participants: Participants were 500 college students at the University of XYZ, recruited through online advertisements and flyers posted on campus. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 25, with a mean age of 20.5 years. The sample was 60% female, 40% male, and 5% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming.

Data was collected through an online survey administered through Qualtrics. The survey consisted of several measures, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression symptoms, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) for anxiety symptoms, and questions about social media use.

Procedure :

Participants were asked to complete the online survey at their convenience. The survey took approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlations, and multiple regression analysis.

Results indicated that social media use was significantly related to symptoms of depression (r = .32, p < .001) and anxiety (r = .29, p < .001). Regression analysis indicated that frequency of social media use was a significant predictor of both depression symptoms (β = .24, p < .001) and anxiety symptoms (β = .20, p < .001), even when controlling for age, gender, and other relevant factors.

The results of this study suggest that social media use is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety among college students. The negative effects of social media are greater among frequent users. These findings have important implications for mental health professionals and educators, who should consider addressing the potential negative effects of social media use in their work with young adults.

References :

References should be listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. For example:

  • Chou, H. T. G., & Edge, N. (2012). “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: The impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(2), 117-121.
  • Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.

Note: This is just a sample Example do not use this in your assignment.

MLA (Modern Language Association) Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) Format is as follows:

  • Page Layout : Use 8.5 x 11-inch white paper, with 1-inch margins on all sides. The font should be 12-point Times New Roman or a similar serif font.
  • Heading and Title : The first page of your research paper should include a heading and a title. The heading should include your name, your instructor’s name, the course title, and the date. The title should be centered and in title case (capitalizing the first letter of each important word).
  • In-Text Citations : Use parenthetical citations to indicate the source of your information. The citation should include the author’s last name and the page number(s) of the source. For example: (Smith 23).
  • Works Cited Page : At the end of your paper, include a Works Cited page that lists all the sources you used in your research. Each entry should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publication information, and the medium of publication.
  • Formatting Quotations : Use double quotation marks for short quotations and block quotations for longer quotations. Indent the entire quotation five spaces from the left margin.
  • Formatting the Body : Use a clear and readable font and double-space your text throughout. The first line of each paragraph should be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

MLA Research Paper Template

MLA Research Paper Format Template is as follows:

  • Use 8.5 x 11 inch white paper.
  • Use a 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper, including the title page and works cited page.
  • Set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Use page numbers in the upper right corner, beginning with the first page of text.
  • Include a centered title for the research paper, using title case (capitalizing the first letter of each important word).
  • Include your name, instructor’s name, course name, and date in the upper left corner, double-spaced.

In-Text Citations

  • When quoting or paraphrasing information from sources, include an in-text citation within the text of your paper.
  • Use the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence, before the punctuation mark.
  • If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence, only include the page number in parentheses.

Works Cited Page

  • List all sources cited in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.
  • Each entry should include the author’s name, title of the work, publication information, and medium of publication.
  • Use italics for book and journal titles, and quotation marks for article and chapter titles.
  • For online sources, include the date of access and the URL.

Here is an example of how the first page of a research paper in MLA format should look:

Headings and Subheadings

  • Use headings and subheadings to organize your paper and make it easier to read.
  • Use numerals to number your headings and subheadings (e.g. 1, 2, 3), and capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • The main heading should be centered and in boldface type, while subheadings should be left-aligned and in italics.
  • Use only one space after each period or punctuation mark.
  • Use quotation marks to indicate direct quotes from a source.
  • If the quote is more than four lines, format it as a block quote, indented one inch from the left margin and without quotation marks.
  • Use ellipses (…) to indicate omitted words from a quote, and brackets ([…]) to indicate added words.

Works Cited Examples

  • Book: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Year.
  • Journal Article: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, volume number, issue number, publication date, page numbers.
  • Website: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Webpage.” Title of Website, publication date, URL. Accessed date.

Here is an example of how a works cited entry for a book should look:

Smith, John. The Art of Writing Research Papers. Penguin, 2021.

MLA Research Paper Example

MLA Research Paper Format Example is as follows:

Your Professor’s Name

Course Name and Number

Date (in Day Month Year format)

Word Count (not including title page or Works Cited)

Title: The Impact of Video Games on Aggression Levels

Video games have become a popular form of entertainment among people of all ages. However, the impact of video games on aggression levels has been a subject of debate among scholars and researchers. While some argue that video games promote aggression and violent behavior, others argue that there is no clear link between video games and aggression levels. This research paper aims to explore the impact of video games on aggression levels among young adults.

Background:

The debate on the impact of video games on aggression levels has been ongoing for several years. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure to violent media, including video games, can increase aggression levels in children and adolescents. However, some researchers argue that there is no clear evidence to support this claim. Several studies have been conducted to examine the impact of video games on aggression levels, but the results have been mixed.

Methodology:

This research paper used a quantitative research approach to examine the impact of video games on aggression levels among young adults. A sample of 100 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 was selected for the study. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that measured their aggression levels and their video game habits.

The results of the study showed that there was a significant correlation between video game habits and aggression levels among young adults. The participants who reported playing violent video games for more than 5 hours per week had higher aggression levels than those who played less than 5 hours per week. The study also found that male participants were more likely to play violent video games and had higher aggression levels than female participants.

The findings of this study support the claim that video games can increase aggression levels among young adults. However, it is important to note that the study only examined the impact of video games on aggression levels and did not take into account other factors that may contribute to aggressive behavior. It is also important to note that not all video games promote violence and aggression, and some games may have a positive impact on cognitive and social skills.

Conclusion :

In conclusion, this research paper provides evidence to support the claim that video games can increase aggression levels among young adults. However, it is important to conduct further research to examine the impact of video games on other aspects of behavior and to explore the potential benefits of video games. Parents and educators should be aware of the potential impact of video games on aggression levels and should encourage young adults to engage in a variety of activities that promote cognitive and social skills.

Works Cited:

  • American Psychological Association. (2017). Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/violent-video-games
  • Ferguson, C. J. (2015). Do Angry Birds make for angry children? A meta-analysis of video game influences on children’s and adolescents’ aggression, mental health, prosocial behavior, and academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646-666.
  • Gentile, D. A., Swing, E. L., Lim, C. G., & Khoo, A. (2012). Video game playing, attention problems, and impulsiveness: Evidence of bidirectional causality. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 1(1), 62-70.
  • Greitemeyer, T. (2014). Effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(4), 530-548.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chicago/Turabian Formate is as follows:

  • Margins : Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the paper.
  • Font : Use a readable font such as Times New Roman or Arial, and use a 12-point font size.
  • Page numbering : Number all pages in the upper right-hand corner, beginning with the first page of text. Use Arabic numerals.
  • Title page: Include a title page with the title of the paper, your name, course title and number, instructor’s name, and the date. The title should be centered on the page and in title case (capitalize the first letter of each word).
  • Headings: Use headings to organize your paper. The first level of headings should be centered and in boldface or italics. The second level of headings should be left-aligned and in boldface or italics. Use as many levels of headings as necessary to organize your paper.
  • In-text citations : Use footnotes or endnotes to cite sources within the text of your paper. The first citation for each source should be a full citation, and subsequent citations can be shortened. Use superscript numbers to indicate footnotes or endnotes.
  • Bibliography : Include a bibliography at the end of your paper, listing all sources cited in your paper. The bibliography should be in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, and each entry should include the author’s name, title of the work, publication information, and date of publication.
  • Formatting of quotations: Use block quotations for quotations that are longer than four lines. Indent the entire quotation one inch from the left margin, and do not use quotation marks. Single-space the quotation, and double-space between paragraphs.
  • Tables and figures: Use tables and figures to present data and illustrations. Number each table and figure sequentially, and provide a brief title for each. Place tables and figures as close as possible to the text that refers to them.
  • Spelling and grammar : Use correct spelling and grammar throughout your paper. Proofread carefully for errors.

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Template

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Template is as folows:

Title of Paper

Name of Student

Professor’s Name

I. Introduction

A. Background Information

B. Research Question

C. Thesis Statement

II. Literature Review

A. Overview of Existing Literature

B. Analysis of Key Literature

C. Identification of Gaps in Literature

III. Methodology

A. Research Design

B. Data Collection

C. Data Analysis

IV. Results

A. Presentation of Findings

B. Analysis of Findings

C. Discussion of Implications

V. Conclusion

A. Summary of Findings

B. Implications for Future Research

C. Conclusion

VI. References

A. Bibliography

B. In-Text Citations

VII. Appendices (if necessary)

A. Data Tables

C. Additional Supporting Materials

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Example

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Political Engagement

Name: John Smith

Class: POLS 101

Professor: Dr. Jane Doe

Date: April 8, 2023

I. Introduction:

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. People use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with friends and family, share their opinions, and stay informed about current events. With the rise of social media, there has been a growing interest in understanding its impact on various aspects of society, including political engagement. In this paper, I will examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement, specifically focusing on how social media influences political participation and political attitudes.

II. Literature Review:

There is a growing body of literature on the impact of social media on political engagement. Some scholars argue that social media has a positive effect on political participation by providing new channels for political communication and mobilization (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996; Putnam, 2000). Others, however, suggest that social media can have a negative impact on political engagement by creating filter bubbles that reinforce existing beliefs and discourage political dialogue (Pariser, 2011; Sunstein, 2001).

III. Methodology:

To examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement, I conducted a survey of 500 college students. The survey included questions about social media use, political participation, and political attitudes. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Iv. Results:

The results of the survey indicate that social media use is positively associated with political participation. Specifically, respondents who reported using social media to discuss politics were more likely to have participated in a political campaign, attended a political rally, or contacted a political representative. Additionally, social media use was found to be associated with more positive attitudes towards political engagement, such as increased trust in government and belief in the effectiveness of political action.

V. Conclusion:

The findings of this study suggest that social media has a positive impact on political engagement, by providing new opportunities for political communication and mobilization. However, there is also a need for caution, as social media can also create filter bubbles that reinforce existing beliefs and discourage political dialogue. Future research should continue to explore the complex relationship between social media and political engagement, and develop strategies to harness the potential benefits of social media while mitigating its potential negative effects.

Vii. References:

  • Delli Carpini, M. X., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. Yale University Press.
  • Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin.
  • Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon & Schuster.
  • Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Republic.com. Princeton University Press.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Format

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Research Paper Format is as follows:

  • Title : A concise and informative title that accurately reflects the content of the paper.
  • Abstract : A brief summary of the paper, typically no more than 250 words, that includes the purpose of the study, the methods used, the key findings, and the main conclusions.
  • Introduction : An overview of the background, context, and motivation for the research, including a clear statement of the problem being addressed and the objectives of the study.
  • Literature review: A critical analysis of the relevant research and scholarship on the topic, including a discussion of any gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Methodology : A detailed description of the methods used to collect and analyze data, including any experiments or simulations, data collection instruments or procedures, and statistical analyses.
  • Results : A clear and concise presentation of the findings, including any relevant tables, graphs, or figures.
  • Discussion : A detailed interpretation of the results, including a comparison of the findings with previous research, a discussion of the implications of the results, and any recommendations for future research.
  • Conclusion : A summary of the key findings and main conclusions of the study.
  • References : A list of all sources cited in the paper, formatted according to IEEE guidelines.

In addition to these elements, an IEEE research paper should also follow certain formatting guidelines, including using 12-point font, double-spaced text, and numbered headings and subheadings. Additionally, any tables, figures, or equations should be clearly labeled and referenced in the text.

AMA (American Medical Association) Style

AMA (American Medical Association) Style Research Paper Format:

  • Title Page: This page includes the title of the paper, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and any acknowledgments or disclaimers.
  • Abstract: The abstract is a brief summary of the paper that outlines the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of the study. It is typically limited to 250 words or less.
  • Introduction: The introduction provides a background of the research problem, defines the research question, and outlines the objectives and hypotheses of the study.
  • Methods: The methods section describes the research design, participants, procedures, and instruments used to collect and analyze data.
  • Results: The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and concise manner, using graphs, tables, and charts where appropriate.
  • Discussion: The discussion section interprets the results, explains their significance, and relates them to previous research in the field.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion summarizes the main points of the paper, discusses the implications of the findings, and suggests future research directions.
  • References: The reference list includes all sources cited in the paper, listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

In addition to these sections, the AMA format requires that authors follow specific guidelines for citing sources in the text and formatting their references. The AMA style uses a superscript number system for in-text citations and provides specific formats for different types of sources, such as books, journal articles, and websites.

Harvard Style

Harvard Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title page: This should include the title of your paper, your name, the name of your institution, and the date of submission.
  • Abstract : This is a brief summary of your paper, usually no more than 250 words. It should outline the main points of your research and highlight your findings.
  • Introduction : This section should introduce your research topic, provide background information, and outline your research question or thesis statement.
  • Literature review: This section should review the relevant literature on your topic, including previous research studies, academic articles, and other sources.
  • Methodology : This section should describe the methods you used to conduct your research, including any data collection methods, research instruments, and sampling techniques.
  • Results : This section should present your findings in a clear and concise manner, using tables, graphs, and other visual aids if necessary.
  • Discussion : This section should interpret your findings and relate them to the broader research question or thesis statement. You should also discuss the implications of your research and suggest areas for future study.
  • Conclusion : This section should summarize your main findings and provide a final statement on the significance of your research.
  • References : This is a list of all the sources you cited in your paper, presented in alphabetical order by author name. Each citation should include the author’s name, the title of the source, the publication date, and other relevant information.

In addition to these sections, a Harvard Style research paper may also include a table of contents, appendices, and other supplementary materials as needed. It is important to follow the specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or academic institution when preparing your research paper in Harvard Style.

Vancouver Style

Vancouver Style Research Paper format is as follows:

The Vancouver citation style is commonly used in the biomedical sciences and is known for its use of numbered references. Here is a basic format for a research paper using the Vancouver citation style:

  • Title page: Include the title of your paper, your name, the name of your institution, and the date.
  • Abstract : This is a brief summary of your research paper, usually no more than 250 words.
  • Introduction : Provide some background information on your topic and state the purpose of your research.
  • Methods : Describe the methods you used to conduct your research, including the study design, data collection, and statistical analysis.
  • Results : Present your findings in a clear and concise manner, using tables and figures as needed.
  • Discussion : Interpret your results and explain their significance. Also, discuss any limitations of your study and suggest directions for future research.
  • References : List all of the sources you cited in your paper in numerical order. Each reference should include the author’s name, the title of the article or book, the name of the journal or publisher, the year of publication, and the page numbers.

ACS (American Chemical Society) Style

ACS (American Chemical Society) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Style is a citation style commonly used in chemistry and related fields. When formatting a research paper in ACS Style, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Paper Size and Margins : Use standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper with 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Font: Use a 12-point serif font (such as Times New Roman) for the main text. The title should be in bold and a larger font size.
  • Title Page : The title page should include the title of the paper, the authors’ names and affiliations, and the date of submission. The title should be centered on the page and written in bold font. The authors’ names should be centered below the title, followed by their affiliations and the date.
  • Abstract : The abstract should be a brief summary of the paper, no more than 250 words. It should be on a separate page and include the title of the paper, the authors’ names and affiliations, and the text of the abstract.
  • Main Text : The main text should be organized into sections with headings that clearly indicate the content of each section. The introduction should provide background information and state the research question or hypothesis. The methods section should describe the procedures used in the study. The results section should present the findings of the study, and the discussion section should interpret the results and provide conclusions.
  • References: Use the ACS Style guide to format the references cited in the paper. In-text citations should be numbered sequentially throughout the text and listed in numerical order at the end of the paper.
  • Figures and Tables: Figures and tables should be numbered sequentially and referenced in the text. Each should have a descriptive caption that explains its content. Figures should be submitted in a high-quality electronic format.
  • Supporting Information: Additional information such as data, graphs, and videos may be included as supporting information. This should be included in a separate file and referenced in the main text.
  • Acknowledgments : Acknowledge any funding sources or individuals who contributed to the research.

ASA (American Sociological Association) Style

ASA (American Sociological Association) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title Page: The title page of an ASA style research paper should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, and the institutional affiliation. The title should be centered and should be in title case (the first letter of each major word should be capitalized).
  • Abstract: An abstract is a brief summary of the paper that should appear on a separate page immediately following the title page. The abstract should be no more than 200 words in length and should summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Main Body: The main body of the paper should begin on a new page following the abstract page. The paper should be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides, and should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font. The main body of the paper should include an introduction, a literature review, a methodology section, results, and a discussion.
  • References : The reference section should appear on a separate page at the end of the paper. All sources cited in the paper should be listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Each reference should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publication information, and the date of publication.
  • Appendices : Appendices are optional and should only be included if they contain information that is relevant to the study but too lengthy to be included in the main body of the paper. If you include appendices, each one should be labeled with a letter (e.g., Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.) and should be referenced in the main body of the paper.

APSA (American Political Science Association) Style

APSA (American Political Science Association) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title Page: The title page should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, the name of the course or instructor, and the date.
  • Abstract : An abstract is typically not required in APSA style papers, but if one is included, it should be brief and summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Introduction : The introduction should provide an overview of the research topic, the research question, and the main argument or thesis of the paper.
  • Literature Review : The literature review should summarize the existing research on the topic and provide a context for the research question.
  • Methods : The methods section should describe the research methods used in the paper, including data collection and analysis.
  • Results : The results section should present the findings of the research.
  • Discussion : The discussion section should interpret the results and connect them back to the research question and argument.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion should summarize the main findings and implications of the research.
  • References : The reference list should include all sources cited in the paper, formatted according to APSA style guidelines.

In-text citations in APSA style use parenthetical citation, which includes the author’s last name, publication year, and page number(s) if applicable. For example, (Smith 2010, 25).

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Lab Report Format: Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

On This Page:

In psychology, a lab report outlines a study’s objectives, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions, ensuring clarity and adherence to APA (or relevant) formatting guidelines.

A typical lab report would include the following sections: title, abstract, introduction, method, results, and discussion.

The title page, abstract, references, and appendices are started on separate pages (subsections from the main body of the report are not). Use double-line spacing of text, font size 12, and include page numbers.

The report should have a thread of arguments linking the prediction in the introduction to the content of the discussion.

This must indicate what the study is about. It must include the variables under investigation. It should not be written as a question.

Title pages should be formatted in APA style .

The abstract provides a concise and comprehensive summary of a research report. Your style should be brief but not use note form. Look at examples in journal articles . It should aim to explain very briefly (about 150 words) the following:

  • Start with a one/two sentence summary, providing the aim and rationale for the study.
  • Describe participants and setting: who, when, where, how many, and what groups?
  • Describe the method: what design, what experimental treatment, what questionnaires, surveys, or tests were used.
  • Describe the major findings, including a mention of the statistics used and the significance levels, or simply one sentence summing up the outcome.
  • The final sentence(s) outline the study’s “contribution to knowledge” within the literature. What does it all mean? Mention the implications of your findings if appropriate.

The abstract comes at the beginning of your report but is written at the end (as it summarises information from all the other sections of the report).

Introduction

The purpose of the introduction is to explain where your hypothesis comes from (i.e., it should provide a rationale for your research study).

Ideally, the introduction should have a funnel structure: Start broad and then become more specific. The aims should not appear out of thin air; the preceding review of psychological literature should lead logically into the aims and hypotheses.

The funnel structure of the introducion to a lab report

  • Start with general theory, briefly introducing the topic. Define the important key terms.
  • Explain the theoretical framework.
  • Summarise and synthesize previous studies – What was the purpose? Who were the participants? What did they do? What did they find? What do these results mean? How do the results relate to the theoretical framework?
  • Rationale: How does the current study address a gap in the literature? Perhaps it overcomes a limitation of previous research.
  • Aims and hypothesis. Write a paragraph explaining what you plan to investigate and make a clear and concise prediction regarding the results you expect to find.

There should be a logical progression of ideas that aids the flow of the report. This means the studies outlined should lead logically to your aims and hypotheses.

Do be concise and selective, and avoid the temptation to include anything in case it is relevant (i.e., don’t write a shopping list of studies).

USE THE FOLLOWING SUBHEADINGS:

Participants

  • How many participants were recruited?
  • Say how you obtained your sample (e.g., opportunity sample).
  • Give relevant demographic details (e.g., gender, ethnicity, age range, mean age, and standard deviation).
  • State the experimental design .
  • What were the independent and dependent variables ? Make sure the independent variable is labeled and name the different conditions/levels.
  • For example, if gender is the independent variable label, then male and female are the levels/conditions/groups.
  • How were the IV and DV operationalized?
  • Identify any controls used, e.g., counterbalancing and control of extraneous variables.
  • List all the materials and measures (e.g., what was the title of the questionnaire? Was it adapted from a study?).
  • You do not need to include wholesale replication of materials – instead, include a ‘sensible’ (illustrate) level of detail. For example, give examples of questionnaire items.
  • Include the reliability (e.g., alpha values) for the measure(s).
  • Describe the precise procedure you followed when conducting your research, i.e., exactly what you did.
  • Describe in sufficient detail to allow for replication of findings.
  • Be concise in your description and omit extraneous/trivial details, e.g., you don’t need to include details regarding instructions, debrief, record sheets, etc.
  • Assume the reader has no knowledge of what you did and ensure that he/she can replicate (i.e., copy) your study exactly by what you write in this section.
  • Write in the past tense.
  • Don’t justify or explain in the Method (e.g., why you chose a particular sampling method); just report what you did.
  • Only give enough detail for someone to replicate the experiment – be concise in your writing.
  • The results section of a paper usually presents descriptive statistics followed by inferential statistics.
  • Report the means, standard deviations, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for each IV level. If you have four to 20 numbers to present, a well-presented table is best, APA style.
  • Name the statistical test being used.
  • Report appropriate statistics (e.g., t-scores, p values ).
  • Report the magnitude (e.g., are the results significant or not?) as well as the direction of the results (e.g., which group performed better?).
  • It is optional to report the effect size (this does not appear on the SPSS output).
  • Avoid interpreting the results (save this for the discussion).
  • Make sure the results are presented clearly and concisely. A table can be used to display descriptive statistics if this makes the data easier to understand.
  • DO NOT include any raw data.
  • Follow APA style.

Use APA Style

  • Numbers reported to 2 d.p. (incl. 0 before the decimal if 1.00, e.g., “0.51”). The exceptions to this rule: Numbers which can never exceed 1.0 (e.g., p -values, r-values): report to 3 d.p. and do not include 0 before the decimal place, e.g., “.001”.
  • Percentages and degrees of freedom: report as whole numbers.
  • Statistical symbols that are not Greek letters should be italicized (e.g., M , SD , t , X 2 , F , p , d ).
  • Include spaces on either side of the equals sign.
  • When reporting 95%, CIs (confidence intervals), upper and lower limits are given inside square brackets, e.g., “95% CI [73.37, 102.23]”
  • Outline your findings in plain English (avoid statistical jargon) and relate your results to your hypothesis, e.g., is it supported or rejected?
  • Compare your results to background materials from the introduction section. Are your results similar or different? Discuss why/why not.
  • How confident can we be in the results? Acknowledge limitations, but only if they can explain the result obtained. If the study has found a reliable effect, be very careful suggesting limitations as you are doubting your results. Unless you can think of any c onfounding variable that can explain the results instead of the IV, it would be advisable to leave the section out.
  • Suggest constructive ways to improve your study if appropriate.
  • What are the implications of your findings? Say what your findings mean for how people behave in the real world.
  • Suggest an idea for further research triggered by your study, something in the same area but not simply an improved version of yours. Perhaps you could base this on a limitation of your study.
  • Concluding paragraph – Finish with a statement of your findings and the key points of the discussion (e.g., interpretation and implications) in no more than 3 or 4 sentences.

Reference Page

The reference section lists all the sources cited in the essay (alphabetically). It is not a bibliography (a list of the books you used).

In simple terms, every time you refer to a psychologist’s name (and date), you need to reference the original source of information.

If you have been using textbooks this is easy as the references are usually at the back of the book and you can just copy them down. If you have been using websites then you may have a problem as they might not provide a reference section for you to copy.

References need to be set out APA style :

Author, A. A. (year). Title of work . Location: Publisher.

Journal Articles

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Article title. Journal Title, volume number (issue number), page numbers

A simple way to write your reference section is to use Google scholar . Just type the name and date of the psychologist in the search box and click on the “cite” link.

google scholar search results

Next, copy and paste the APA reference into the reference section of your essay.

apa reference

Once again, remember that references need to be in alphabetical order according to surname.

Psychology Lab Report Example

Quantitative paper template.

Quantitative professional paper template: Adapted from “Fake News, Fast and Slow: Deliberation Reduces Belief in False (but Not True) News Headlines,” by B. Bago, D. G. Rand, and G. Pennycook, 2020,  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General ,  149 (8), pp. 1608–1613 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000729 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Qualitative paper template

Qualitative professional paper template: Adapted from “‘My Smartphone Is an Extension of Myself’: A Holistic Qualitative Exploration of the Impact of Using a Smartphone,” by L. J. Harkin and D. Kuss, 2020,  Psychology of Popular Media ,  10 (1), pp. 28–38 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000278 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

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How to Write a Report (2023 Guide & Free Templates)

how to write a report, 2023 guide on how to write a report plus free templates

You have a report due in a few days, but you’re still procrastinating like a pro.

Sounds familiar?

If you’ve been staring at a blank page, wondering how to write a report the best way possible, you’re not alone. For many, writing a report, especially for the first time, can feel like rolling a giant boulder uphill.

The good news is that from a first draft to creating reports that people love to read is a skill you can develop and polish over time.

Whether you’re a student, a professional, or someone who wants to up their report-writing game, keep reading for a 2023 guide and step-by-step instructions on how to write a report. Plus, learn about the basic report format.

You’ll also get access to report templates that you can edit and customize immediately and learn about a tool to make reports online (no need to download software!). You can also jump right into customizing templates by creating a free account .

What is report writing?

Report writing is a way of communicating information, data, insight, or analysis. It’s an essential skill that will come in handy in various settings, from academic research or diving into historical events to business meetings.

But creating a report can be a bit intimidating at first.

In its simplest form, report writing starts with researching and gathering all the information, analyzing your findings, and presenting it in a way that’s easy for your audience to understand.

Sounds easy enough, right? 

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. We’ll guide you through every step of the process to write an entire report from a rough draft and data in the next section. 

But first, let’s get to know the different types of reports.

Types of reports

Reports come in all shapes and sizes, and the type of report you write will depend on your specific goals and audience. Each type of report has its unique purpose, format, and style.

financial review report, how to write a report

The most common types of reports are: 

  • Academic report – These include school reports, book reports, thesis reports, or analytical reports between two opposing ideas.
  • Business report – Business reports range from annual reports to SWOT analyses . The goal of business reports is to communicate ideas, information, or insights in a business setting.
  • Research report –  Research reports are often more scientific or methodological in nature. They can take the form of case studies or research papers. 

Learn more : 20 Types of Reports and When to Use Them (Plus Templates)

How to write a report without feeling overwhelmed

Breaking down the report writing process into three stages can make it much more manageable for you, especially if it’s your first time to create one. 

These three stages are: 

  • Pre-writing stage
  • Writing stage
  • Post-writing stage

Let’s take a look at the steps for each stage and how to write a good report in 2023 that you can be proud of.

Stage 1: Pre-writing 

The pre-writing stage is all about preparation. Take some time to gather your thoughts and organize your main idea. Write a summary first.

Here are important steps to help you deal with the overwhelm of creating an insightful report. 

Understand the purpose of your report

Knowing your purpose will help you focus and stay on track throughout the process. Dig into the why of your report through these questions:

  • Who is your intended reader? Are you familiar with your audience’s language and how they think?
  • What are you trying to achieve with your report? Are you trying to inform, persuade, or recommend a course of action to the reader? 

Research your topic

It’s time to gather as much information as you can about your topic. This might involve reading books, articles, and other reports. You might also need to conduct interviews with subject matter experts.

Pro tip on how to write a report : Pick reputable sources like research papers, recently-published books, and case studies by trustworthy authors. 

Make a report outline

An outline is a roadmap for your report. It covers your title, introduction, thesis statement, main points, and conclusion. Organizing your thoughts this way will help you keep focus and ensure you cover all the necessary information.

example of a business report outline

While you can create a report without creating an outline, you could write a better report with an outline. An outline helps you organize your facts and important points on paper. 

Stage 2: Writing

Once you have completed the pre-writing stage, it’s time to write your report. 

Follow the proper report writing format

You will feel a lot of resistance at this point because this is where most of the tedious work of report writing happens. However, the process can be a breeze if you follow a proper structure and report writing format.

The structure of your report can vary depending on the type of report you’re creating, but the report writing format below can serve as a guide for anyone.

  • Title page. This is the first page of your report and should include the report’s title, the author’s name, the date of presentation or submission, and any other relevant information, such as your name or the organization’s name.
  • Table of Contents (TOC ). This section contains subsections of your report and their corresponding page numbering.  A well-written TOC will help readers navigate your report easily and find the information they need.
  • Brief summary . This part provides an overview of the report’s particular purpose, subject, methodology, key findings, and recommendations. This section is often called the executive summary in corporate reports.
  • Introduction . The introduction should provide background information about the topic and explain why the report was written. It should also state the aims and objectives of your report and give an overview of the methodology used to gather and analyze the data. Make sure you include a powerful topic sentence.
  • Main body. The main body of the report should be divided into subsections, each dealing with a specific aspect of the topic. These sections should be clearly labeled and organized in a logical order. In most reports, this is also the part where you explain and present your findings, analysis, and recommendations.
  • Conclusion. Summarize the main points of your report and provide a final summary, thought, or suggestions. Review your thesis statement. The conclusion also includes any limitations of the study and areas for further research or future action.
  • References . This section should include a list of all the sources cited in the report, like books, journal articles, websites, and any other sources used to gather information on your subject.
  • Appendices . In the appendices section, you should include any additional information relevant to the report but not in the article’s main body. This might consist of raw data, event details, graphs, charts, or tables.

With all these key report elements, your readers can look forward to an informative, well-organized, and easy-to-read report.

Pro tips: Remember to use clear and concise language in your essay. It is also required to follow a specific type of formatting set by your organization or instructor.

Plus, use the active voice when you can because it helps improve clarity. To write a report essay in a passive voice makes it sound less concise.

Reports should usually be written in the third person.

Edit and proofread the article

Once you have completed your first essay draft, take some time to edit and proofread your work. Look for spelling mistakes and grammar errors, as well as any areas where the flow of your article could be improved. Review your topic sentence.

If hiring a professional editor isn’t possible, have a colleague or someone else read your rough draft and provide feedback. You can also use tools like Grammarly and the Hemingway App . 

Stage 3: Post-writing

You’re almost there! This stage is about finalizing your report and ensuring it is ready to be shared. 

Format your report

Ensure your report is formatted correctly, with clear and easy-to-read fonts, headings, and subheadings.

Incorporate visuals

Adding visuals to your report article is another great way to help your audience understand complex information more easily.

From charts to illustrations, the right visual can help highlight and explain key points, events, trends, and patterns in your data, making it easier for the reader to interpret the information.

an example of a report that uses visuals effectively, written report

Want to check out more templates? Get access to the template gallery today .

However, it’s important to use visuals sparingly and ensure they are relevant and effectively support the texts. You will learn more about effectively incorporating visuals into your report as you scroll down below to the next sections. 

Share your report

Once your report is complete, share it with your audience. This might involve submitting it to your boss, presenting it to a group, or sharing it online.

A final note for this section: Remember to take your time, stay organized, and most importantly, have fun! Writing a report can be a rewarding experience, especially if you get positive feedback when you present.

How to add visuals to your report

Adding visuals to your report is more than just putting a graph or chart for every piece of information.

There are no hard and fast rules but use the pointers below as guidelines:

  • Each visual in your report should have a purpose. Don’t just add a pie chart or bar graph for the sake of adding one. Your visual of choice should offer clarity to readers that’s impossible to achieve with words alone. Piktochart’s report maker lets you search for free stock images and illustrations to add to any page with drag and drop.
  • Add captions, legends, or arrows to your visuals when possible. For more technical reports, graphics are either Tables or Figures. Number them in order of appearance (Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, etc.) and give each a descriptive title.
  • Place the visual close to the relevant text on the page.
  • Document the source of the visual, citing it in both the caption and references section if necessary.
  • Make the graphic stand out with colors, borders, boxes, spacing, and frames.

a report about customer satisfaction results with graphs, charts, and icons

Learn more : How to Improve Your Data Visualization Design in 6 Steps 

Write reports like a pro with Piktochart’s easy-to-edit report templates

Creating reports from scratch can be time-consuming. The great news is you don’t have to make reports from scratch like how it used to be in the 90s and early 2000s. Organizations of all shapes and sizes now understand that you can also create the perfect report with the help of templates.

For example, Piktochart offers a variety of fully customizable templates, allowing you to easily add your branding, colors, and text within the online editor. You can visualize your thesis statement and first draft in less than an hour. It’s also possible to start writing directly in the tool, adding graphics page by page.

These templates range from reports for school presentations to sales reports. By editing them, you can create professional-looking reports without the hassle of formatting and design.

Here are some examples of Piktochart’s professionally-designed templates. If you can’t pick one that matches your report writing format and needs, create a free Piktochart account to get access to more templates. 

Survey report template 

This survey report template includes clear visualizations, making your report findings easier to understand. From customer surveys to employee satisfaction reports, this template is quite versatile. 

an employee satisfaction survey report template by Piktochart

Research report template 

This research report template is perfect for anyone looking to create a thorough and professional research report. The template includes all the necessary sections to help you easily organize your research and present your findings in a concise document.

research report template by Piktochart

Corporate report template 

Looking for a corporate report template example with an editable table of contents and foreword? This template is the perfect fit!

Whether you’re presenting to investors or sharing information with your team, this corporate report template will help you create a polished and informative executive summary for any corporate organization.

corporate report template by Piktochart

Case study report template

Whether you’re conducting a business case study or an academic case study, this case study report template can help you earn your readers’ trust. This template is specifically designed with fashion as its main theme, but you can edit the photos and details to make it more on-brand with your niche.

case study report template

Marketing report template

Use this template to create comprehensive marketing reports. The template includes editable sections for social media, data from search engines, email marketing, and paid ads. 

monthly marketing report template by Piktochart

Financial report template 

With this customizable finance report template, you don’t need to make a financial report from scratch. Once you’ve written your content, save your report in PDF or PNG formats.

finance report template by Piktochart

Annual report template 

This annual report template is the right template for creating a professional and informative executive summary of your organization’s performance over the past year. This template was designed for HR annual reports, but you can also repurpose it for other types of yearly reports. 

annual review template by Piktochart showing how to write a report

See more report templates by creating a free Piktochart account . 

Quick checklist for better report writing

Before you submit or present your report, use the quick checklist below to help ensure that your report is well-structured, accurate, clear, and properly cited. Most of all, you must ensure that your report meets your audience’s expectations and has all the information and details they need. 

Purpose and audience

  • Does the report address its purpose and meet the needs of the intended audience?

Structure and organization

  • Is the material appropriately arranged in sections?
  • Have irrelevant details been removed?

Accuracy and analysis

  • Has all the material been checked for accuracy?
  • Are graphs and tables clearly labeled? Check the page numbers too.
  • Is the data in graphs or tables analyzed and explained in words?
  • Does the discussion or conclusion show how the results relate to the objectives mentioned in the introduction?
  • Have the results been compared with existing research from the literature survey?

Writing style and clarity

  • Is the report written in a tone that’s indicated in the brand style guide (for corporate reports)? Does it avoid colloquialisms or contractions? 
  • Does it follow the organization’s specific guidelines for writing style? 
  • Is it jargon-free and clearly written? Have you translated technical terms into simpler words?
  • Use the active voice when you can because it helps improve clarity. A written report in a passive voice may make it sound less concise. 

Acknowledgment and citation

  • Have all ideas and event data taken from or inspired by someone else’s work been acknowledged with a reference?
  • Have all illustrations and figures taken from someone else’s work been cited correctly?

Proofreading

  • Has the report been carefully proofread for typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes?

Make engaging and effective reports quickly with Piktochart

Writing a report is a must-have skill for anyone looking to communicate more effectively in their personal and professional lives. 

With the steps we’ve provided in this guide, anyone can learn how to write a report that is informative, engaging, and comprehensive.

Plus, the free templates we highlighted are valuable for individuals looking to create reports quickly and efficiently. They can also be used to transform a longer report filled with texts into something more engaging and easy to digest.

Sign up for a free Piktochart account today, and look forward to writing reports with its library of modern, customizable report templates. 

Piktochart offers professionally designed templates for all your visual communication needs. It is your one-stop shop for presentations , posters , logos , email signatures , infographics , and more. Customize all templates according to your brand assets in seconds. Get started for free today.

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how to write a research report template

Research report template

A research report describes the results of a survey, interviews, focus groups or any other type of qualitative or quantitative research. Even if they aren’t necessarily “researchers”, most international development practitioners will still need to write a basic research report at some point in their career. Either for a baseline or endline survey, needs assessment, or to describe the results of interviews or focus groups with program participants. This template can be used as a starting point for any type of basic research report (qualitative or quantitative).

Download research report template

This research report template is appropriate when:

  • You need to write a report after conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups, or any other type of qualitative or quantitative research.
  • You need to write a report for a simple baseline or endline survey, or needs assessment.

This research report template is NOT appropriate when:

  • You need to write an academic research report.
  • You need to write a report for a very complex or large research project (you could start with this template, but it would need a lot of modifications).

The Research Report Template by tools4dev is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License . All other content is  © tools4dev .

Photo by  Horia Varlan

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10 September 2017

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How to write an introduction for a research paper

Learn how to write a strong and efficient research paper introduction by following the suitable structure and avoiding typical errors.

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An introduction to any type of paper is sometimes misunderstood as the beginning; yet, an introduction is actually intended to present your chosen subject to the audience in a way that makes it more appealing and leaves your readers thirsty for more information. After the title and abstract, your audience will read the introduction, thus it’s critical to get off to a solid start.  

This article includes instructions on how to write an introduction for a research paper that engages the reader in your research. You can produce a strong opening for your research paper if you stick to the format and a few basic principles.

What is an introduction to a research paper?

An introduction is the opening section of a research paper and the section that a reader is likely to read first, in which the objective and goals of the subsequent writing are stated. 

The introduction serves numerous purposes. It provides context for your research, explains your topic and objectives, and provides an outline of the work. A solid introduction will establish the tone for the remainder of your paper, enticing readers to continue reading through the methodology, findings, and discussion. 

Even though introductions are generally presented at the beginning of a document, we must distinguish an introduction from the beginning of your research. An introduction, as the name implies, is supposed to introduce your subject without extending it. All relevant information and facts should be placed in the body and conclusion, not the introduction.

Structure of an introduction

Before explaining how to write an introduction for a research paper , it’s necessary to comprehend a structure that will make your introduction stronger and more straightforward.

A good hook

A hook is one of the most effective research introduction openers. A hook’s objective is to stimulate the reader’s interest to read the research paper.  There are various approaches you may take to generate a strong hook:  startling facts, a question, a brief overview, or even a quotation. 

Broad overview

Following an excellent hook, you should present a wide overview of your major issue and some background information on your research. If you’re unsure about how to begin an essay introduction, the best approach is to offer a basic explanation of your topic before delving into specific issues. Simply said, you should begin with general information and then narrow it down to your relevant topics.

After offering some background information regarding your research’s main topic, go on to give readers a better understanding of what you’ll be covering throughout your research. In this section of your introduction, you should swiftly clarify your important topics in the sequence in which they will be addressed later, gradually introducing your thesis statement. You can use some  The following are some critical questions to address in this section of your introduction: Who? What? Where? When? How? And why is that?

Thesis statement

The thesis statement, which must be stated in the beginning clause of your research since your entire research revolves around it, is the most important component of your research.

A thesis statement presents your audience with a quick overview of the research’s main assertion. In the body section of your work, your key argument is what you will expose or debate about it. An excellent thesis statement is usually very succinct, accurate, explicit, clear, and focused. Typically, your thesis should be at the conclusion of your introductory paragraph/section.

Tips for writing a strong introduction

Aside from the good structure, here are a few tips to make your introduction strong and accurate:

  • Keep in mind the aim of your research and make sure your introduction supports it.
  • Use an appealing and relevant hook that catches the reader’s attention right away.
  • Make it obvious to your readers what your stance is.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of your subject.
  • Provide your reader with a road map to help them understand what you will address throughout the research.
  • Be succinct – it is advised that your opening introduction consists of around 8-9 percent of the overall amount of words in your article (for example, 160 words for a 2000 words essay). 
  • Make a strong and unambiguous thesis statement.
  • Explain why the article is significant in 1-2 sentences.
  • Remember to keep it interesting.

Mistakes to avoid in your introduction

Check out what not to do and what to avoid now that you know the structure and how to write an introduction for a research paper .

  • Lacking a feeling of direction or purpose.
  • Giving out too much.
  • Creating lengthy paragraphs.
  • Excessive or insufficient background, literature, and theory.
  • Including material that should be placed in the body and conclusion.
  • Not writing enough or writing excessively.
  • Using too many quotes.

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How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper

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  1. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

    We've covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are: To choose a research question and review the literature. To plan your paper structure and draft an outline. To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing.

  2. How to Write a Research Paper

    Create a research paper outline. Write a first draft of the research paper. Write the introduction. Write a compelling body of text. Write the conclusion. The second draft. The revision process. Research paper checklist. Free lecture slides.

  3. Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA

    Plan and write an effective APA-style research report. In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report, an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. ... Sample APA-Style Research Report. Figures 11.2 ...

  4. Research Paper Format

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  5. Research Report

    Thesis. Thesis is a type of research report. A thesis is a long-form research document that presents the findings and conclusions of an original research study conducted by a student as part of a graduate or postgraduate program. It is typically written by a student pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master's or Doctoral degree, although it ...

  6. PDF Writing a Research Report

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  7. PDF Formatting a Research Paper

    Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper (e.g., Works Cited). Begin your text on a new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Fig. 1. The top of the first page of a research paper.

  8. Sample papers

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

  9. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences. Example: 1 Body paragraph one. 1.1 First point. 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point. 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point.

  10. PDF How to Write an Effective Research REport

    Abstract. This guide for writers of research reports consists of practical suggestions for writing a report that is clear, concise, readable, and understandable. It includes suggestions for terminology and notation and for writing each section of the report—introduction, method, results, and discussion. Much of the guide consists of ...

  11. Research Paper

    The methods section of a research paper describes the research design, the sample selection, the data collection and analysis procedures, and the statistical methods used to analyze the data. ... You can write Research Paper by the following guide: Choose a Topic: The first step is to select a topic that interests you and is relevant to your ...

  12. 13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

    Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch. Use double-spaced text throughout your paper. Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point). Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section.

  13. Research Paper Format

    Research paper format is an essential aspect of academic writing that plays a crucial role in the communication of research findings.The format of a research paper depends on various factors such as the discipline, style guide, and purpose of the research. It includes guidelines for the structure, citation style, referencing, and other elements of the paper that contribute to its overall ...

  14. How to Write a Lab Report: Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

    Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Article title. Journal Title, volume number (issue number), page numbers. A simple way to write your reference section is to use Google scholar. Just type the name and date of the psychologist in the search box and click on the "cite" link. Next, copy and paste the APA reference into the ...

  15. APA Sample Paper

    Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper , APA Sample Professional Paper This resource is enhanced by Acrobat PDF files. Download the free Acrobat Reader. Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student and professional papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication).

  16. How to Write a Report (2023 Guide & Free Templates)

    Annual report template. This annual report template is the right template for creating a professional and informative executive summary of your organization's performance over the past year. This template was designed for HR annual reports, but you can also repurpose it for other types of yearly reports. Annual Review.

  17. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  18. Research report template

    This template can be used as a starting point for any type of basic research report (qualitative or quantitative). Download research report template. This research report template is appropriate when: You need to write a report after conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups, or any other type of qualitative or quantitative research.

  19. Formatting and using a journal template

    How to format your research paper. Go to Taylor & Francis Online and search for the title of your chosen journal using the search bar. Select the relevant journal and click on the instructions for authors tab. Read your target journal's instructions for authors, and find out about its formatting guidelines. Below are a list of Word templates ...

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  21. How to write an introduction for a research paper

    Make it obvious to your readers what your stance is. Demonstrate your knowledge of your subject. Provide your reader with a road map to help them understand what you will address throughout the research. Be succinct - it is advised that your opening introduction consists of around 8-9 percent of the overall amount of words in your article ...

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  23. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: "A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management".

  24. Research Paper Submission Form Template for Universities

    The Research Paper Submission Form Template requires the WPForms Pro License, the Post Submissions Addon, and the Signature Addon. These allow educators to gather information about the research paper and the student submitting it and obtain necessary approvals. Fields include: Title of Research: Captures the main title of the research paper.

  25. Hello GPT-4o

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  26. Reporting Research Results in APA Style

    Include these in your results section: Participant flow and recruitment period. Report the number of participants at every stage of the study, as well as the dates when recruitment took place. Missing data. Identify the proportion of data that wasn't included in your final analysis and state the reasons.