APA Research Paper Outline: Examples and Template

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Table of contents

  • 1 Why Is Research Paper Format Necessary?
  • 2.1 Purpose of research paper outline
  • 2.2 APA outline example
  • 3.1 APA paper outline example
  • 3.2 Introduction:
  • 3.4 Conclusion:
  • 4 The Basic APA Outline Format
  • 5 APA Style Outline Template Breakdown
  • 6.1 APA Research Paper Outline Example
  • 6.2 APA Paper Outline Format Example
  • 7.1 First Paragraph: Hook and Thesis
  • 7.2 Main Body
  • 7.3 Conclusion
  • 7.4 Decimal APA outline format example
  • 7.5 Decimal APA outline format layout
  • 8.1 A definite goal
  • 8.2 Division
  • 8.3 Parallelism
  • 8.4 Coordination
  • 8.5 Subordination
  • 8.6 Avoid Redundancy
  • 8.7 Wrap it up in a good way
  • 8.8 Conclusion

Formatting your paper in APA can be daunting if this is your first time. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers a guide or rules to follow when conducting projects in the social sciences or writing papers. The standard APA fromat a research paper outline includes a proper layout from the title page to the final reference pages. There are formatting samples to create outlines before writing a paper. Amongst other strategies, creating an outline is the easiest way to APA format outline template.

Why Is Research Paper Format Necessary?

Consistency in the sequence, structure, and format when writing a research paper encourages readers to concentrate on the substance of a paper rather than how it is presented. The requirements for paper format apply to student assignments and papers submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed publication. APA paper outline template style may be used to create a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation . If you plan to use the style for other types of work like a website, conference poster, or even PowerPoint presentation, you must format your work accordingly to adjust to requirements. For example, you may need different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the formatting rules provided by your institution or publication to ensure its formatting standards are followed as closely as possible. However, to logically structure your document, you need a research paper outline in APA format. You may ask: why is it necessary to create an outline for an APA research paper?

Concept & Purposes of Research Paper Outline

A path, direction, or action plan! Writing short essays without a layout may seem easy, but not for 10,000 or more words. Yet, confusing a table of contents with an outline is a major issue. The table of contents is an orderly list of all the chapters’ front matter, primary, and back matter. It includes sections and, often, figures in your work, labeled by page number. On the other hand, a research APA-style paper outline is a proper structure to follow.

Purpose of research paper outline

An outline is a formalized essay in which you give your own argument to support your point of view. And when you write your apa outline template, you expand on what you already know about the topic. Academic writing papers examine an area of expertise to get the latest and most accurate information to work on that topic. It serves various purposes, including:

  • APA paper outline discusses the study’s core concepts.
  • The research paper outlines to define the link between your ideas and the thesis.
  • It provides you with manageable portions that you can handle.
  • The research paper’s APA outline enables the detection of structural faults or gaps.
  • As shown in the example, it must clearly comprehend the subject at hand.

APA outline example

APA outline template

This research paper outline example will guide you in formatting the layout for a clear direction to work on. It eliminates the inconsistency along with lacking proper substance in the paper.

Understanding the APA Outline Format

It would not be wrong to say there is no standard outline format. The official publishing handbook does not give precise guidelines for preparing an outline. But, it requires certain basic guidelines to follow regarding typeface, font size, structure, margins, etc.

APA paper outline example

Moreover, the final shape of your work relies on your instructor’s specifications and your particular preferences for APA citation format. Though, it would be better to follow some standards for formatting your outline, for instance:

Times New Roman is a widely accessible standard typeface for an APA essay format in 12-point font. However, serif and sans serif fonts like Arial and Georgia are acceptable in font size 11pt.

The text of your paper format should be double-spaced.

The primary headlines use Roman and Arabic numerals to write an outline.

Headings & Subheadings

While writing an APA essay, there are particular standards for utilizing headings in your outline: I – Main headings are numbered by Roman numerals like I, II, III, IV A  – Subheadings are numbered with Capital letters (A, B, C, D) 1  – The APA outline uses Arabic numerals (1-9 type numbers) within those subheadings. a  – Below Arabic number subheadings, lower-case letters are used (a, b, a). [1] – Headings below those subheadings use Arabic numbers enclosed in parenthesis.

APA format offers a standard layout for each paper, such as

  • 1-inch margins on the top, bottom, left, and right.
  • The page number on the upper right corner.

The structure of writing an outline consists of three major sections:

  • Introduction

Introduction:

This section highlights crucial background information.

Explain the primary points that support your ideas.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize your key arguments.
  • Explain how these concepts support your ultimate stance, as shown in APA outline example below.

An outline in APA has three common formats that vary in the numeric sequence of all. To make it easier for you, we have compiled all three templates. You can format your document using these examples for added coherence and structure.

The Basic APA Outline Format

APA research paper outline - Basic

APA Style Outline Template Breakdown

Numbering the APA style format follows five levels of headings that use different alphabets and numbers. For instance, I – Headings use Roman numerals like I, II, and III. A – CAPITAL ALPHABETS”, such as A, B, C, etc. 1 – Headings and subheadings use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3). a – If there are further headings (the fourth level), use lower-case alphabets. [1] – Headings below that (the fifth level) use Arabic numerals enclosed in parentheses, such as [1], [2], [3].

Full Sentence Outline Format

As the name specifies, the full-sentence style outline format requires every line to be a proper sentence. Full-sentence APA style outline is best recommended for essays and speeches. It gives your writing process an idea or a logical path to follow.

APA Research Paper Outline Example

If you are looking for how to write a research paper outline APA in Full Sentence Format, here is an example:

Full Sentence APA format heading utilizes Roman numerals I, II, and III. Every heading must be a full sentence. Here is an APA style paper outline template for the full-sentence format that will clear all your confusion on how to write an outline in full-sentence format.

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APA Paper Outline Format Example

I. Introduction

III. Conclusion

Decimal Outline Format

The decimal outline format for APA research papers differs from other formats. The decimal APA style is simple and uses paragraphs for structure. It contains three main paragraphs, introduction, main body, and conclusion.

First Paragraph: Hook and Thesis

  • The first paragraph is a sentence or two that introduces the central concept of your article.
  • Introduce your topic or subject of study where your research is applicable as a context for further research.
  • Explain why the mentioned issue is essential or relevant to the audience.
  • A thesis statement is a claim that you make throughout your whole essay.
  • The topic phrase is the first point in any writing to support a thesis statement.
  • Give an explanation or provide evidence to support your point.
  • Provide verifiable facts, figures, and/or citations from credible sources in your writing. It helps in the substantiating assertion.
  • Include as many supporting statements and related evidence in your decimal outline.

Finally, when you write an outline, provide a concluding remark to support your claims.

Decimal APA outline format example

1.0 The main heading 1.1 Subheading under the main heading 1.2 Second digit is represented by subheadings under the main headings 1.2.1 Further division adds another digit in decimal format 1.2.2 You can number them as per the number of paragraphs or points, or lines An easy way to write in decimal APA outline format is to remember the structure, i.e.; 1.1.1 = Heading.Paragraph.Sentence/point under paragraph.”

Decimal APA outline format layout

1.0 Main heading 1.1 First paragraph for first heading. 1.2 Second paragraph for first heading. 1.2.1 First point or sentence for the second paragraph. 2.0 Second heading 2.1 Second heading, first paragraph. 2.2 Second heading, second paragraph. 2.2.1 Second, heading, second paragraph, first sentence, or point. 3.0 Decimal working 3.1 You must remember that each digit represents a segment. 3.2 It is easier to remember the placement of numbers. 3.2.1 First digit represents the heading 3.2.2 Second digit represents the paragraph under the main heading <3.2.3 The third digit represents any point or sentence under the paragraph.

Tips for Writing an Outline: Organize Your Ideas

You may feel it is easier to write without outlines, but once you start writing, organizing your ideas or thoughts becomes hard. Even if you have some fantastic ideas, producing an engaging story is practically hard. If you are not first creating an outline or conceptual guides while writing a research paper, you may lose track. A well-written outline is essential in completing your paper and maintaining quality. Establishing your point in paper writing is easy if you create an outline first. You can find an APA research paper outline template that best suits your requirement. Moreover, these tips can help you polish your writing. These tips and sample papers can help you write outstanding outlines without making any hassle.

A definite goal

For better expression, make a list of primary objectives on a title page in a single phrase or less. Your goal should be specific and measurable. If it is too broad or imprecise, you will not achieve anything. If you are working on a large paper format that covers a variety of themes or topics, you may have a more general purpose in mind. But, if you plan to write an essay, the aim should be as specific and clear as possible to be effective.

Breaking things up rather than allowing them to become verbose is known as the division rule. Make sure that each subsection in the document corresponds to its parent heading. If it doesn’t compare to the section, removing it or moving it to another location is better.

Parallelism

It is mainly related to the consistency and structure of the document. It keeps your paper’s layout tidy and also ensures relevancy. For instance, if you begin one heading with a verb, make sure all other headings and subheadings also start with a verb.

Coordination

Having headings aligned is critical to creating a well-organized outline. This rule also applies to subheadings, which is a good thing. If one title is less important than another, consider changing your layout by incorporating it into a subsection instead.

Subordination

Subordination deals with maintaining a connection between your paper’s headings and subheadings. It helps in the proper sequencing of headings and subheadings. Headings should be broad at the outset. At the same time, the subheadings become more particular as they go further into the document.

Avoid Redundancy

While writing a paper outline, look through it many times and cross out any items that aren’t necessary or have no significance. While outlining, make sure to be specific and concise. It will prevent you from adding information that does not supporting your final essay. Remove all the extra information and points while c that weighs you down while you write.

Wrap it up in a good way

Creating an outline does not only help in writing a coherent term paper, but it also helps in ending with precise understanding. Be considerate of your audience’s time and effort when you write an outline in APA, and ensure it serves its purpose. If you still have any doubts about formatting your paper outline, you can use this APA-style research paper outline template to write your document. We have provided Outline Format Example for every style.

People find it hard to write an outline in APA, but if you are aware of the requirements and structure, it’s no breeze. Sometimes, your instructor may alter your paper format by introducing or removing existing sections. As a result, if you come across any templates for an outline in APA, pay close attention to them. If you are looking for a quick answer to how to outline an APA paper, here’s a standard logical sequence of typical parts to include when writing an outline in APA:

  • Thesis statement
  • Techniques employed
  • Body of paper
  • Conclusions section
  • List of references

A well-written outline is an excellent tool for presenting an outstanding paper. Including the key components while writing an outline for a research paper is necessary.

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How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format

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How to Write an Outline in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

research paper outline sample apa style

Amanda Tust is a fact-checker, researcher, and writer with a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

research paper outline sample apa style

  • Before Starting Your Outline
  • How to Create an Outline

Writing a psychology paper can feel like an overwhelming task. From picking a topic to finding sources to cite, each step in the process comes with its own challenges. Luckily, there are strategies to make writing your paper easier—one of which is creating an outline using APA format .

Here we share what APA format entails and the basics of this writing style. Then we get into how to create a research paper outline using APA guidelines, giving you a strong foundation to start crafting your content.

At a Glance

APA format is the standard writing style used for psychology research papers. Creating an outline using APA format can help you develop and organize your paper's structure, also keeping you on task as you sit down to write the content.

APA Format Basics

Formatting dictates how papers are styled, which includes their organizational structure, page layout, and how information is presented. APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Learning the basics of APA format is necessary for writing effective psychology papers, whether for your school courses or if you're working in the field and want your research published in a professional journal. Here are some general APA rules to keep in mind when creating both your outline and the paper itself.

Font and Spacing

According to APA style, research papers are to be written in a legible and widely available font. Traditionally, Times New Roman is used with a 12-point font size. However, other serif and sans serif fonts like Arial or Georgia in 11-point font sizes are also acceptable.

APA format also dictates that the research paper be double-spaced. Each page has 1-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right), and the page number is to be placed in the upper right corner of each page.

Both your psychology research paper and outline should include three key sections:

  • Introduction : Highlights the main points and presents your hypothesis
  • Body : Details the ideas and research that support your hypothesis
  • Conclusion : Briefly reiterates your main points and clarifies support for your position

Headings and Subheadings

APA format provides specific guidelines for using headings and subheadings. They are:

  • Main headings : Use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV)
  • Subheadings: Use capital letters (A, B, C, D)

If you need further subheadings within the initial subheadings, start with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3), then lowercase letters (a, b, c), then Arabic numerals inside parentheses [(1), (2), (3)]

Before Starting Your APA Format Outline

While APA format does not provide specific rules for creating an outline, you can still develop a strong roadmap for your paper using general APA style guidance. Prior to drafting your psychology research paper outline using APA writing style, taking a few important steps can help set you up for greater success.

Review Your Instructor's Requirements

Look over the instructions for your research paper. Your instructor may have provided some type of guidance or stated what they want. They may have even provided specific requirements for what to include in your outline or how it needs to be structured and formatted.

Some instructors require research paper outlines to use decimal format. This structure uses Arabic decimals instead of Roman numerals or letters. In this case, the main headings in an outline would be 1.0, 1.2, and 1.3, while the subheadings would be 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, and so on.

Consider Your Preferences

After reviewing your instructor's requirements, consider your own preferences for organizing your outline. Think about what makes the most sense for you, as well as what type of outline would be most helpful when you begin writing your research paper.

For example, you could choose to format your headings and subheadings as full sentences, or you might decide that you prefer shorter headings that summarize the content. You can also use different approaches to organizing the lettering and numbering in your outline's subheadings.

Whether you are creating your outline according to your instructor's guidelines or following your own organizational preferences, the most important thing is that you are consistent.

Formatting Tips

When getting ready to start your research paper outline using APA format, it's also helpful to consider how you will format it. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Your outline should begin on a new page.
  • Before you start writing the outline, check that your word processor does not automatically insert unwanted text or notations (such as letters, numbers, or bullet points) as you type. If it does, turn off auto-formatting.
  • If your instructor requires you to specify your hypothesis in your outline, review your assignment instructions to find out where this should be placed. They may want it presented at the top of your outline, for example, or included as a subheading.

How to Create a Research Paper Outline Using APA

Understanding APA format basics can make writing psychology research papers much easier. While APA format does not provide specific rules for creating an outline, you can still develop a strong roadmap for your paper using general APA style guidance, your instructor's requirements, and your own personal organizational preferences.

Typically you won't need to turn your outline in with your final paper. But that doesn't mean you should skip creating one. A strong paper starts with a solid outline. Developing this outline can help you organize your writing and ensure that you effectively communicate your paper's main points and arguments. Here's how to create a research outline using APA format.

Start Your Research

While it may seem like you should create an outline before starting your research, the opposite is actually true. The information you find when researching your psychology research topic will start to reveal the information you'll want to include in your paper—and in your outline.

As you research, consider the main arguments you intend to make in your paper. Look for facts that support your hypothesis, keeping track of where you find these facts so you can cite them when writing your paper. The more organized you are when creating your outline, the easier it becomes to draft the paper itself.

If you are required to turn in your outline before you begin working on your paper, keep in mind that you may need to include a list of references that you plan to use.

Draft Your Outline Using APA Format

Once you have your initial research complete, you have enough information to create an outline. Start with the main headings (which are noted using Roman numerals I, II, III, etc.). Here's an example of the main headings you may use if you were writing an APA format outline for a research paper in support of using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety :

  • Introduction
  • What CBT Is
  • How CBT Helps Ease Anxiety
  • Research Supporting CBT for Anxiety
  • Potential Drawbacks of CBT for Anxiety and How to Overcome Them

Under each main heading, list your main points or key ideas using subheadings (as noted with A, B, C, etc.). Sticking with the same example, subheadings under "What CBT Is" may include:

  • Basic CBT Principles
  • How CBT Works
  • Conditions CBT Has Been Found to Help Treat

You may also decide to include additional subheadings under your initial subheadings to add more information or clarify important points relevant to your hypothesis. Examples of additional subheadings (which are noted with 1, 2, 3, etc.) that could be included under "Basic CBT Principles" include:

  • Is Goal-Oriented
  • Focuses on Problem-Solving
  • Includes Self-Monitoring

Begin Writing Your Research Paper

The reason this step is included when drafting your research paper outline using APA format is that you'll often find that your outline changes as you begin to dive deeper into your proposed topic. New ideas may emerge or you may decide to narrow your topic further, even sometimes changing your hypothesis altogether.

All of these factors can impact what you write about, ultimately changing your outline. When writing your paper, there are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • Follow the structure that your instructor specifies.
  • Present your strongest points first.
  • Support your arguments with research and examples.
  • Organize your ideas logically and in order of strength.
  • Keep track of your sources.
  • Present and debate possible counterarguments, and provide evidence that counters opposing arguments.

Update Your Final Outline

The final version of your outline should reflect your completed draft. Not only does updating your outline at this point help ensure that you've covered the topics you want in your paper, but it also gives you another opportunity to verify that your paper follows a logical sequence.

When reading through your APA-formatted outline, consider whether it flows naturally from one topic to the next. You wouldn't talk about how CBT works before discussing what CBT is, for example. Taking this final step can give you a more solid outline, and a more solid research paper.

American Psychological Association. About APA Style .

Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Types of outlines and samples .

Mississippi College. Writing Center: Outlines .

American Psychological Association. APA style: Style and Grammar Guidelines .

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers

The start of the semester is the perfect time to learn how to create and format APA Style student papers. This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and figures, and the reference list. Finally, it concludes by describing how to organize student papers and ways to improve their quality and presentation.

The guidelines for student paper setup are described and shown using annotated diagrams in the Student Paper Setup Guide (PDF, 3.40MB) and the A Step-by-Step Guide to APA Style Student Papers webinar . Chapter 1 of the Concise Guide to APA Style and Chapter 2 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association describe the elements, format, and organization for student papers. Tables and figures are covered in Chapter 7 of both books. Information on paper format and tables and figures and a full sample student paper are also available on the APA Style website.

Basic setup

The guidelines for basic setup apply to the entire paper. Perform these steps when you first open your document, and then you do not have to worry about them again while writing your paper. Because these are general aspects of paper formatting, they apply to all APA Style papers, student or professional. Students should always check with their assigning instructor or institution for specific guidelines for their papers, which may be different than or in addition to APA Style guidelines.

Seventh edition APA Style was designed with modern word-processing programs in mind. Most default settings in programs such as Academic Writer, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs already comply with APA Style. This means that, for most paper elements, you do not have to make any changes to the default settings of your word-processing program. However, you may need to make a few adjustments before you begin writing.

Use 1-in. margins on all sides of the page (top, bottom, left, and right). This is usually how papers are automatically set.

Use a legible font. The default font of your word-processing program is acceptable. Many sans serif and serif fonts can be used in APA Style, including 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia. You can also use other fonts described on the font page of the website.

Line spacing

Double-space the entire paper including the title page, block quotations, and the reference list. This is something you usually must set using the paragraph function of your word-processing program. But once you do, you will not have to change the spacing for the entirety of your paper–just double-space everything. Do not add blank lines before or after headings. Do not add extra spacing between paragraphs. For paper sections with different line spacing, see the line spacing page.

Paragraph alignment and indentation

Align all paragraphs of text in the body of your paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin ragged. Do not use full justification. Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5-in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. For paper sections with different alignment and indentation, see the paragraph alignment and indentation page.

Page numbers

Put a page number in the top right of every page header , including the title page, starting with page number 1. Use the automatic page-numbering function of your word-processing program to insert the page number in the top right corner; do not type the page numbers manually. The page number is the same font and font size as the text of your paper. Student papers do not require a running head on any page, unless specifically requested by the instructor.

Title page setup

Title page elements.

APA Style has two title page formats: student and professional (for details, see title page setup ). Unless instructed otherwise, students should use the student title page format and include the following elements, in the order listed, on the title page:

  • Paper title.
  • Name of each author (also known as the byline).
  • Affiliation for each author.
  • Course number and name.
  • Instructor name.
  • Assignment due date.
  • Page number 1 in the top right corner of the page header.

The format for the byline depends on whether the paper has one author, two authors, or three or more authors.

  • When the paper has one author, write the name on its own line (e.g., Jasmine C. Hernandez).
  • When the paper has two authors, write the names on the same line and separate them with the word “and” (e.g., Upton J. Wang and Natalia Dominguez).
  • When the paper has three or more authors, separate the names with commas and include “and” before the final author’s name (e.g., Malia Mohamed, Jaylen T. Brown, and Nia L. Ball).

Students have an academic affiliation, which identities where they studied when the paper was written. Because students working together on a paper are usually in the same class, they will have one shared affiliation. The affiliation consists of the name of the department and the name of the college or university, separated by a comma (e.g., Department of Psychology, George Mason University). The department is that of the course to which the paper is being submitted, which may be different than the department of the student’s major. Do not include the location unless it is part of the institution’s name.

Write the course number and name and the instructor name as shown on institutional materials (e.g., the syllabus). The course number and name are often separated by a colon (e.g., PST-4510: History and Systems Psychology). Write the assignment due date in the month, date, and year format used in your country (e.g., Sept. 10, 2020).

Title page line spacing

Double-space the whole title page. Place the paper title three or four lines down from the top of the page. Add an extra double-spaced blank like between the paper title and the byline. Then, list the other title page elements on separate lines, without extra lines in between.

Title page alignment

Center all title page elements (except the right-aligned page number in the header).

Title page font

Write the title page using the same font and font size as the rest of your paper. Bold the paper title. Use standard font (i.e., no bold, no italics) for all other title page elements.

Text elements

Repeat the paper title at the top of the first page of text. Begin the paper with an introduction to provide background on the topic, cite related studies, and contextualize the paper. Use descriptive headings to identify other sections as needed (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion for quantitative research papers). Sections and headings vary depending on the paper type and its complexity. Text can include tables and figures, block quotations, headings, and footnotes.

Text line spacing

Double-space all text, including headings and section labels, paragraphs of text, and block quotations.

Text alignment

Center the paper title on the first line of the text. Indent the first line of all paragraphs 0.5-in.

Left-align the text. Leave the right margin ragged.

Block quotation alignment

Indent the whole block quotation 0.5-in. from the left margin. Double-space the block quotation, the same as other body text. Find more information on the quotations page.

Use the same font throughout the entire paper. Write body text in standard (nonbold, nonitalic) font. Bold only headings and section labels. Use italics sparingly, for instance, to highlight a key term on first use (for more information, see the italics page).

Headings format

For detailed guidance on formatting headings, including headings in the introduction of a paper, see the headings page and the headings in sample papers .

  • Alignment: Center Level 1 headings. Left-align Level 2 and Level 3 headings. Indent Level 4 and Level 5 headings like a regular paragraph.
  • Font: Boldface all headings. Also italicize Level 3 and Level 5 headings. Create heading styles using your word-processing program (built into AcademicWriter, available for Word via the sample papers on the APA Style website).

Tables and figures setup

Tables and figures are only included in student papers if needed for the assignment. Tables and figures share the same elements and layout. See the website for sample tables and sample figures .

Table elements

Tables include the following four elements: 

  • Body (rows and columns)
  • Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the table)

Figure elements

Figures include the following four elements: 

  • Image (chart, graph, etc.)
  • Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the figure)

Table line spacing

Double-space the table number and title. Single-, 1.5-, or double-space the table body (adjust as needed for readability). Double-space the table note.

Figure line spacing

Double-space the figure number and title. The default settings for spacing in figure images is usually acceptable (but adjust the spacing as needed for readability). Double-space the figure note.

Table alignment

Left-align the table number and title. Center column headings. Left-align the table itself and left-align the leftmost (stub) column. Center data in the table body if it is short or left-align the data if it is long. Left-align the table note.

Figure alignment

Left-align the figure number and title. Left-align the whole figure image. The default alignment of the program in which you created your figure is usually acceptable for axis titles and data labels. Left-align the figure note.

Bold the table number. Italicize the table title. Use the same font and font size in the table body as the text of your paper. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the table note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.

Figure font

Bold the figure number. Italicize the figure title. Use a sans serif font (e.g., Calibri, Arial) in the figure image in a size between 8 to 14 points. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the figure note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.

Placement of tables and figures

There are two options for the placement of tables and figures in an APA Style paper. The first option is to place all tables and figures on separate pages after the reference list. The second option is to embed each table and figure within the text after its first callout. This guide describes options for the placement of tables and figures embedded in the text. If your instructor requires tables and figures to be placed at the end of the paper, see the table and figure guidelines and the sample professional paper .

Call out (mention) the table or figure in the text before embedding it (e.g., write “see Figure 1” or “Table 1 presents”). You can place the table or figure after the callout either at the bottom of the page, at the top of the next page, or by itself on the next page. Avoid placing tables and figures in the middle of the page.

Embedding at the bottom of the page

Include a callout to the table or figure in the text before that table or figure. Add a blank double-spaced line between the text and the table or figure at the bottom of the page.

Embedding at the top of the page

Include a callout to the table in the text on the previous page before that table or figure. The table or figure then appears at the top of the next page. Add a blank double-spaced line between the end of the table or figure and the text that follows.

Embedding on its own page

Embed long tables or large figures on their own page if needed. The text continues on the next page.

Reference list setup

Reference list elements.

The reference list consists of the “References” section label and the alphabetical list of references. View reference examples on the APA Style website. Consult Chapter 10 in both the Concise Guide and Publication Manual for even more examples.

Reference list line spacing

Start the reference list at the top of a new page after the text. Double-space the entire reference list (both within and between entries).

Reference list alignment

Center the “References” label. Apply a hanging indent of 0.5-in. to all reference list entries. Create the hanging indent using your word-processing program; do not manually hit the enter and tab keys.

Reference list font

Bold the “References” label at the top of the first page of references. Use italics within reference list entries on either the title (e.g., webpages, books, reports) or on the source (e.g., journal articles, edited book chapters).

Final checks

Check page order.

  • Start each section on a new page.
  • Arrange pages in the following order:
  • Title page (page 1).
  • Text (starts on page 2).
  • Reference list (starts on a new page after the text).

Check headings

  • Check that headings accurately reflect the content in each section.
  • Start each main section with a Level 1 heading.
  • Use Level 2 headings for subsections of the introduction.
  • Use the same level of heading for sections of equal importance.
  • Avoid having only one subsection within a section (have two or more, or none).

Check assignment instructions

  • Remember that instructors’ guidelines supersede APA Style.
  • Students should check their assignment guidelines or rubric for specific content to include in their papers and to make sure they are meeting assignment requirements.

Tips for better writing

  • Ask for feedback on your paper from a classmate, writing center tutor, or instructor.
  • Budget time to implement suggestions.
  • Use spell-check and grammar-check to identify potential errors, and then manually check those flagged.
  • Proofread the paper by reading it slowly and carefully aloud to yourself.
  • Consult your university writing center if you need extra help.

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APA Style: Basics

Guidelines: paper format.

The APA Style website includes a great section on Paper Format This link opens in a new window . The 7th edition of APA Style has two types of papers: student papers and professional papers. Please consult your assignment or reach out to your professor or instructor to determine which paper format you should use.

For more information see the above page or the sections linked below:

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Sample Papers

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APA Style Sample Papers

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SNHU OWC Sample Papers

  • APA 7th Edition Sample Paper (SNHU OWC) [pdf] This link opens in a new window APA 7th Edition Sample Paper from the Academic Support Center
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APA Style: Paper Templates & Examples

Sample papers.

  • APA 7th edition sample papers The SCC Library & Academic Support Center teach students to follow 7th edition student formatting rules, unless the instructor states otherwise.

Paper Template

  • Student Paper Template, APA 7 (DOCX) Download this template before you begin writing to make sure your paper is formatted correctly in APA 7th edition format.
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APA Format (6th ed.) for Academic Papers and Essays [Template]

Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on September 4, 2023.

In addition to guidelines for APA citations , there are format guidelines for academic papers and essays. They’re widely used by professionals, researchers and students.

Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr

The most important APA format guidelines in the 6th edition are:

  • Use 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Insert a running head on every page
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch

APA format

Table of contents

Apa format template, running head, reference page, in-text citations and references, setting up the apa format.

Instead of applying the APA guidelines to your document you can simply download the APA format template for Word.

APA Format Template

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research paper outline sample apa style

In the header of each page you include the paper title and page number. If your paper title is longer than 50 characters you should use a shortened version as running head. The page number should be positioned in the top right-hand corner. On the title page the APA running head is preceded by the words “Running head:”.

APA running head example title page

Throughout your paper you use different heading levels. The levels ranging from one to five help structure the document. Major headings, or heading 1, are used for the titles of chapters such as “Methods” or “Results”. Heading levels two to five are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently. These are the APA heading guidelines :

Heading level APA format
Heading 1
Heading 2
Heading 3 The body text begins immediately after the period.
Heading 4 The body text begins immediately after the period.
Heading 5 The body text begins immediately after the point.

Title case capitalization : Capitalize the first, last, and principal words. Sentence case capitalization : Capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns.

Note that you are not required to include a table of contents in APA style , but if you do choose to include one, all headings should be formatted as plain text, with an additional indent for each level.

The APA title page , also called cover page, is the first page of your paper. The regular formatting guidelines regarding font and margins apply. In addition, an APA formatted title page contains:

  • Running head including page number
  • Full paper title (in title case)
  • Author name(s), without titles and degrees
  • Institutional affiliation

Note: APA style has specific guidelines for including more than one author or institutional affiliation on the title page .

APA Title page

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

An APA abstract is a one paragraph (± 250 words) summary of your paper. It introduces the objective or problem statement of the paper and includes information on the method, research results, and conclusions of your research. In a separate article we explain in-depth how to write an abstract .

Although most regular APA formatting guidelines apply, the abstract page also has specific requirements. The abstract starts with a centered heading “Abstract”. In contrast to regular APA headings, no styling is applied. The first line of the paragraph is, unlike regular paragraphs, not indented.

At the end of the abstract, keywords relevant to the research are included. These keywords improve the findability of your paper in databases. Indent the line with keywords and start with the italicized word “Keyword:”, followed by the keywords.

APA format abstract

The APA reference page , also called reference list, is where all sources that are cited in the text are listed. The citations differs for each source type. Aside from the references itself the reference page as a whole also has specific APA formatting guidelines.

The APA reference page example below highlights those guidelines regarding page margins, hanging indent and the reference page title “References”. Furthermore, the reference list is sorted alphabetically . You can easily create APA references with Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator .

APA reference page example

APA reference page format

APA format citations consist of parenthetical citation in the text ( APA 6 in-text citations ) and the full reference in the reference list. For each webpage, journal article, book or any other source specific citation guidelines apply.

To make things easier Scribbr created the free APA Citation Generator that cites every source perfectly. Just enter the URL, journal DOI or book ISBN and both the in-text citation and full reference are generated.

In addition, Scribbr has in-depth APA citation examples for every source type ranging from journal articles and books to YouTube videos and tweets .

This video will demonstrate how to set up the APA format in Google Docs.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2023, September 04). APA Format (6th ed.) for Academic Papers and Essays [Template]. Scribbr. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/6th-edition/archived-format/

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APA 7th Edition Style Guide

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Examples

Literature Review Outline

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research paper outline sample apa style

Literature Review. We all been there, especially those who are currently in high school or college. We get to review different types of literary pieces ranging from short stories , poem , and novels just to name a few. It can be confusing when you have a lot of ideas but you have no idea how to formulate them into one clean thought. It can also be quite frustrating if you have to start from the beginning or back to square one if you forgot a single part of the whole, but don’t worry, here are some literature review outline examples you can download to help you with your problems. Let’s check them out.

What is a Literature Review Outline?

A literature review outline is a structured framework that organizes and summarizes existing research on a specific topic. It helps identify key themes, gaps, and methodologies in the literature. The outline typically includes sections such as introduction, major themes, sub-themes, methodologies, and conclusions, facilitating a clear and comprehensive review of the literature.

Literature Review Format

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. It includes a systematic examination of scholarly article , book , and other sources relevant to the research area. Here’s a guide to structuring a literature review effectively:

Introduction

  • Explain the purpose of the literature review.
  • Define the scope of the review – what is included and what is excluded.
  • State the research question or objective .
  • Provide context or background information necessary to understand the literature review.
  • Highlight the significance of the topic.
  • Organize the literature review by themes, trends, or methodological approaches rather than by individual sources.
  • Use headings and subheadings to categorize different themes or topics.
  • For each theme or section, summarize the key findings of the relevant literature.
  • Highlight major theories, methodologies, and conclusions.
  • Note any significant debates or controversies.
  • Critically evaluate the sources.
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the existing research.
  • Identify gaps or inconsistencies in the literature.
  • Compare and contrast different sources.
  • Synthesize the information to provide a coherent narrative.
  • Show how the different studies are related to one another.
  • Summarize the main findings from the literature review.
  • Highlight the most important insights and their implications.
  • Identify any gaps in the existing research that require further investigation.
  • Suggest areas for future research.
  • Discuss the overall significance of the literature review.
  • Explain how it contributes to the field of study and the specific research question.
  • List all the sources cited in the literature review.
  • Follow the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA , Chicago, etc.) as required by your academic institution.

Research Literature Review Outline Example

I. Introduction Background Information: Provide context and background on the research topic. Explain the importance of the topic in the current research landscape. Purpose of the Review: State the main objectives of the literature review. Clarify the research questions or hypotheses guiding the review. Scope of the Review: Define the scope, including time frame, types of studies, and key themes. Explain any limitations or boundaries set for the review. II. Search Strategy Databases and Sources: List the databases and other sources used to find relevant literature. Keywords and Search Terms: Detail the specific keywords and search terms employed. Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria: Describe the criteria for including or excluding studies. III. Theoretical Framework Relevant Theories: Introduce and explain the key theories and models related to the research topic. Application of Theories: Discuss how these theories provide a foundation for understanding the literature. IV. Review of Literature Thematic Organization: Organize the literature into themes or categories based on common findings or approaches. Example Structure: Theme 1: Impact of Rising Temperatures Summarize key studies and findings. Compare and contrast different research approaches. Theme 2: Changing Precipitation Patterns Highlight significant studies and their results. Discuss any conflicting findings or perspectives. Theme 3: Socioeconomic Factors Review literature focusing on socioeconomic impacts. Analyze how these factors interact with environmental changes. V. Critical Analysis Strengths and Weaknesses: Evaluate the strengths and limitations of the reviewed studies. Discuss the reliability and validity of the methodologies used. Methodological Critique: Assess the methodologies for potential biases and gaps. VI. Discussion and Synthesis Integration of Findings: Synthesize the findings from the literature into a cohesive narrative. Highlight common themes, trends, and gaps. Research Gaps: Identify areas where further research is needed. Suggest potential future research directions. VII. Conclusion Summary of Main Findings: Summarize the key insights and conclusions drawn from the literature review. Importance of the Topic: Reiterate the significance of the research topic. Implications for Future Research: Outline the implications of the findings for future research. VIII. References Citation List: Provide a complete list of all sources cited in the literature review. Follow a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). IX. Appendices (if applicable) Supplementary Material: Include tables, charts, or detailed methodological information that supports the review but is too extensive for the main text.

Thematic Literature Review Outline Example

I. Introduction Background Information: Provide context and background on the research topic. Explain the importance of the topic in the current research landscape. Purpose of the Review: State the main objectives of the literature review. Clarify the research questions or hypotheses guiding the review. Scope of the Review: Define the scope, including time frame, types of studies, and key themes. Explain any limitations or boundaries set for the review. II. Search Strategy Databases and Sources: List the databases and other sources used to find relevant literature. Keywords and Search Terms: Detail the specific keywords and search terms employed. Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria: Describe the criteria for including or excluding studies. III. Thematic Review of Literature Theme 1: Impact of Rising Temperatures Summary of Key Studies: Summarize the findings of major studies related to rising temperatures. Example: “Smith et al. (2020) found that increasing temperatures have led to a 5% decline in crop yields globally.” Comparison of Research Approaches: Compare different methodologies and approaches used in the studies. Example: “While Jones (2018) used a longitudinal study, Brown (2019) employed a cross-sectional analysis.” Theme 2: Changing Precipitation Patterns Summary of Key Studies: Highlight significant studies and their results. Example: “Lee and Wang (2021) reported that altered precipitation patterns have increased the frequency of droughts.” Discussion of Conflicting Findings: Discuss any contradictory findings or differing perspectives. Example: “Contrary to Lee and Wang, Garcia (2020) found minimal impact of precipitation changes on crop health.” Theme 3: Socioeconomic Factors Summary of Key Studies: Review literature focusing on the socioeconomic impacts of climate change. Example: “Davis (2017) highlighted the disproportionate effects on small-scale farmers.” Analysis of Interactions: Analyze how socioeconomic factors interact with environmental changes. Example: “Economic instability exacerbates the vulnerability to climate impacts (Green, 2018).” IV. Critical Analysis Strengths and Weaknesses: Evaluate the strengths and limitations of the reviewed studies. Example: “Many studies provide robust data but often lack consideration of regional variability.” Methodological Critique: Assess the methodologies for potential biases and gaps. Example: “There is a notable reliance on regional data, limiting the generalizability of findings.” V. Discussion and Synthesis Integration of Findings: Synthesize the findings from the literature into a cohesive narrative. Example: “The review indicates a clear trend of climate change negatively impacting agriculture, though the extent varies regionally.” Identification of Gaps: Identify areas where further research is needed. Example: “There is a gap in research on adaptive farming practices and their effectiveness.” VI. Conclusion Summary of Main Findings: Summarize the key insights and conclusions drawn from the literature review. Example: “Overall, rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are significantly affecting agricultural productivity.” Importance of the Topic: Reiterate the significance of the research topic. Example: “Understanding these impacts is crucial for developing effective adaptation strategies.” Implications for Future Research: Outline the implications of the findings for future research. Example: “Future research should focus on adaptive measures to mitigate the adverse effects on agriculture.” VII. References Citation List: Provide a complete list of all sources cited in the literature review. Example: Smith, J. et al. (2020). Impact of Rising Temperatures on Global Crop Yields . Journal of Environmental Studies, 45(3), 234-250. Lee, S. & Wang, H. (2021). Precipitation Patterns and Drought Frequency . Climate Research Journal, 29(2), 98-115. VIII. Appendices (if applicable) Supplementary Material: Include tables, charts, or detailed methodological information that supports the review but is too extensive for the main text. Example: “Appendix A includes a table of regional crop yield changes from 2000 to 2020.”

Literature Review Outline Example in APA Format

1. Title Page Title of the Review Author’s Name Institutional Affiliation Course Name and Number Instructor’s Name Due Date 2. Abstract Summary of the Literature Review Brief overview of the main points Research question or thesis Key findings Implications 3. Introduction Introduction to the Topic General introduction to the subject area Importance of the topic Purpose of the Review Specific objectives of the literature review Research Questions or Hypotheses Main research question(s) or hypotheses guiding the review Organization of the Review Brief outline of the structure of the literature review 4. Theoretical Framework Relevant Theories and Models Description of key theories and models relevant to the topic Application of Theories Explanation of how these theories are applied to the research problem 5. Review of the Literature Historical Context Background and historical development of the research topic Current Research Summary of recent studies and their findings Methodologies Used Overview of research methods used in the studies Themes and Patterns Common themes and patterns identified in the literature Contradictions and Gaps Conflicting findings and gaps in the literature 6. Critical Analysis Evaluation of Key Studies Critical analysis of the most influential studies Strengths and limitations of these studies Comparison of Different Approaches Comparative analysis of different perspectives and methodologies 7. Synthesis of Findings Integration of Theories and Results How the findings integrate with the theoretical framework Overall Trends Summary of the major trends in the literature Gaps in the Research Identification of gaps and areas for further research 8. Conclusion Summary of Main Findings Recap of the most significant findings from the review Implications for Future Research Suggestions for future research directions Practical Applications Implications for practice or policy 9. References Complete Citation of Sources Proper APA format for all sources cited in the literature review 10. Appendices (if necessary) Additional Material Any supplementary material such as tables, figures, or questionnaires

Literature Review Outline Templates & Samples in PDF

1. literature review template.

Literature Review Template

3. Literature Review Outline Template

Literature Review Outline Template

6. Preliminary Outline of Literature Review

Preliminary Outline of Literature Review

7. Literature Review Outline Example

Literature Review Outline Example

8. Printable Literature Review Outline

Printable Literature Review Outline

Types of Literature Review

A literature review is an essential part of academic research, providing a comprehensive summary of previous studies on a particular topic. There are various types of literature reviews, each serving a different purpose and following a unique structure. Here, we explore the main types:

1. Narrative Review

A narrative review, also known as a traditional or descriptive review, provides a comprehensive synthesis of the existing literature on a specific topic. It focuses on summarizing and interpreting the findings rather than conducting a systematic analysis.

2. Systematic Review

A systematic review follows a rigorous and predefined methodology to collect, analyze, and synthesize all relevant studies on a particular research question. It aims to minimize bias and provide reliable findings.

3. Meta-Analysis

A meta-analysis is a subset of systematic reviews that statistically combines the results of multiple studies to arrive at a single conclusion. It provides a higher level of evidence by increasing the sample size and improving the precision of the results.

4. Scoping Review

A scoping review aims to map the existing literature on a broad topic, identify key concepts, theories, and sources, and clarify research gaps. It is often used to determine the scope of future research.

5. Critical Review

A critical review evaluates the quality and validity of the existing literature, often questioning the methodology and findings. It provides a critical assessment and aims to present a deeper understanding of the topic.

6. Theoretical Review

A theoretical review focuses on analyzing and synthesizing theories related to a specific topic. It aims to understand how theories have evolved over time and how they can be applied to current research.

7. Integrative Review

An integrative review synthesizes research on a topic in a more holistic manner, combining perspectives from both qualitative and quantitative studies. It aims to generate new frameworks and perspectives.

8. Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography provides a summary and evaluation of each source in a list of references. It includes a brief description of the content, relevance, and quality of each source.

9. Rapid Review

A rapid review streamlines the systematic review process to provide evidence in a timely manner. It is often used in healthcare and policy-making to inform decisions quickly.

10. Umbrella Review

An umbrella review, or overview of reviews, synthesizes the findings of multiple systematic reviews on a particular topic. It provides a high-level summary and identifies broader patterns and trends.

Purpose of a Literature Review

A literature review is a critical component of academic research, serving multiple important purposes. It provides a comprehensive overview of existing knowledge on a topic, helps identify research gaps, and sets the context for new research. Here are the key purposes of a literature review:

1. Summarizing Existing Research

A literature review summarizes and synthesizes the findings of previous studies related to a specific topic. This helps researchers understand what is already known and what remains to be explored.

2. Identifying Research Gaps

By reviewing existing literature, researchers can identify gaps or inconsistencies in the current knowledge. This allows them to pinpoint areas where further investigation is needed and justify the need for their research.

3. Providing Context and Background

A literature review sets the context for new research by providing background information. It helps readers understand the broader landscape of the topic and how the current study fits into it.

4. Establishing the Theoretical Framework

Literature reviews often involve discussing various theories and models relevant to the topic. This helps establish a theoretical framework for the research, guiding the study’s design and methodology.

5. Demonstrating Researcher Knowledge

Conducting a thorough literature review demonstrates that the researcher is knowledgeable about the field. It shows that they are aware of the key studies, debates, and trends in their area of research.

6. Justifying Research Questions and Methodology

A literature review helps justify the research questions and methodology of a study. By showing how previous studies were conducted and what their limitations were, researchers can argue for their chosen approach.

7. Avoiding Duplication

Reviewing existing literature ensures that researchers do not duplicate previous studies unnecessarily. It helps them build on existing work rather than repeating it.

8. Highlighting Key Findings and Trends

A literature review highlights significant findings and trends in the research area. This helps researchers understand the development of the field and identify influential studies and seminal works.

9. Informing Practice and Policy

In applied fields, literature reviews can inform practice and policy by summarizing evidence on what works and what doesn’t. This helps practitioners and policymakers make evidence-based decisions.

10. Facilitating a Comprehensive Understanding

Overall, a literature review facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the topic. It integrates various perspectives, findings, and approaches, providing a well-rounded view of the research area.

Components of a Literature Review

A well-structured literature review is essential for providing a clear and comprehensive overview of existing research on a particular topic. The following components are typically included in a literature review:

1. Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for the literature review. It provides background information on the topic, explains the review’s purpose, and outlines its scope.

Example: “Over the past decade, research on climate change’s impact on agriculture has proliferated. This literature review aims to synthesize these studies, focusing on the effects of rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns on crop yields.”

2. Search Strategy

The search strategy describes how the literature was identified. This includes the databases and search engines used, search terms and keywords, and any inclusion or exclusion criteria.

Example: “The literature search was conducted using databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and JSTOR. Keywords included ‘climate change,’ ‘agriculture,’ ‘crop yields,’ and ‘precipitation patterns.’ Studies published between 2000 and 2023 were included.”

3. Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework presents the theories and models relevant to the research topic. This section provides a foundation for understanding the studies reviewed.

Example: “This review utilizes the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework to analyze the impact of climate change on agricultural communities, focusing on how environmental changes affect economic stability and food security.”

4. Review of Literature

The core of the literature review, this section summarizes and synthesizes the findings of the selected studies. It is often organized thematically, chronologically, or methodologically.

Example: “Studies from the early 2000s focused on temperature changes, while recent research has shifted to examining precipitation patterns. Common findings include a general decline in crop yields, with significant regional variations.”

5. Critical Analysis

A critical analysis evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the existing research. This involves assessing the methodology, data, and conclusions of the studies reviewed.

Example: “Many studies used longitudinal data to track changes over time, but few incorporated socioeconomic factors. Additionally, the reliance on regional data limits the generalizability of some findings.”

6. Discussion and Synthesis

The discussion and synthesis section integrates the findings from the literature review, highlighting common themes, trends, and gaps. It connects the reviewed studies to the current research question.

Example: “The literature consistently shows that rising temperatures negatively affect crop yields. However, there is a gap in understanding the role of adaptive farming practices, suggesting a need for further research in this area.”

7. Conclusion

The conclusion summarizes the main findings of the literature review. It reiterates the importance of the research topic and outlines the implications for future research.

Example: “In summary, climate change poses a significant threat to agricultural productivity. Future research should focus on adaptive strategies to mitigate these effects and ensure food security.”

8. References

The references section lists all the sources cited in the literature review. It should follow a specific citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.

  • Smith, J. (2021). Climate Change and Crop Yields . Journal of Environmental Science, 12(3), 45-60.
  • Brown, A., & Jones, B. (2019). Precipitation Patterns and Agriculture . Climate Research, 8(2), 34-48.

9. Appendices (if applicable)

Appendices may include supplementary material that is relevant to the literature review but would disrupt the flow of the main text. This could include tables, charts, or detailed methodological information.

Example: “Appendix A includes a table of regional crop yield changes from 2000 to 2020. Appendix B provides a detailed description of the data collection methods used in the reviewed studies.”

How to Write a Literature Review

How to Write a Literature Review

Writing a literature review involves several steps to ensure that you provide a comprehensive, critical, and coherent summary of existing research on a specific topic. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you write an effective literature review:

1. Define Your Topic and Scope

  • Identify your research question or thesis.
  • Decide on the scope (broad topic or specific aspect, time frame, types of studies).

2. Conduct a Comprehensive Literature Search

  • Identify key sources (use academic databases like PubMed, Google Scholar, JSTOR).
  • Use relevant keywords to search for literature.
  • Select relevant studies by reviewing abstracts.

3. Organize the Literature

  • Group studies by themes (methodology, findings, theoretical perspective).
  • Create an outline to structure your review.

4. Summarize and Synthesize the Literature

  • Summarize key findings for each study.
  • Synthesize information by comparing and contrasting studies.

5. Write the Literature Review

  • Introduce the topic.
  • Explain the purpose of the review.
  • Outline the scope.
  • Discuss literature thematically or chronologically.
  • Present summaries and syntheses.
  • Highlight patterns, contradictions, and gaps.
  • Evaluate methodologies and findings.
  • Discuss strengths and weaknesses of studies.
  • Summarize main findings.
  • Reiterate the importance of the topic.

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Organize it thematically, chronologically, or methodologically, depending on what best suits your research question.

How do I choose which studies to include?

Use inclusion and exclusion criteria based on relevance, publication date, and quality of the studies.

What is the difference between a thematic and chronological organization?

Thematic organization groups studies by topics or themes, while chronological organization arranges them by the date of publication.

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Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each study, assess methodologies, and discuss biases or gaps.

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Provide background information, state the purpose of the review, and outline its scope.

How can I synthesize findings from different studies?

Integrate the results to highlight common themes, trends, and gaps, providing a cohesive narrative.

Why are references important in a literature review?

References provide evidence for your review, ensure academic integrity, and allow readers to locate the original sources.

What role do appendices play in a literature review?

Appendices include supplementary material like tables or detailed methodologies that support the review but are too extensive for the main text.

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Watch CBS News

What is Project 2025? What to know about the conservative blueprint for a second Trump administration

By Melissa Quinn , Jacob Rosen

Updated on: July 11, 2024 / 9:40 AM EDT / CBS News

Washington — Voters in recent weeks have begun to hear the name "Project 2025" invoked more and more by President Biden and Democrats, as they seek to sound the alarm about what could be in store if former President Donald Trump wins a second term in the White House.

Overseen by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the multi-pronged initiative includes a detailed blueprint for the next Republican president to usher in a sweeping overhaul of the executive branch.

Trump and his campaign have worked to distance themselves from Project 2025, with the former president going so far as to call some of the proposals "abysmal." But Democrats have continued to tie the transition project to Trump, especially as they find themselves mired in their own controversy over whether Mr. Biden should withdraw from the 2024 presidential contest following his startling debate performance last month.

Here is what to know about Project 2025:

What is Project 2025?

Project 2025 is a proposed presidential transition project that is composed of four pillars: a policy guide for the next presidential administration; a LinkedIn-style database of personnel who could serve in the next administration; training for that pool of candidates dubbed the "Presidential Administration Academy;" and a playbook of actions to be taken within the first 180 days in office.

It is led by two former Trump administration officials: Paul Dans, who was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management and serves as director of the project, and Spencer Chretien, former special assistant to Trump and now the project's associate director.

Project 2025 is spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation, but includes an advisory board consisting of more than 100 conservative groups.

Much of the focus on — and criticism of — Project 2025 involves its first pillar, the nearly 900-page policy book that lays out an overhaul of the federal government. Called "Mandate for Leadership 2025: The Conservative Promise," the book builds on a "Mandate for Leadership" first published in January 1981, which sought to serve as a roadmap for Ronald Reagan's incoming administration.

The recommendations outlined in the sprawling plan reach every corner of the executive branch, from the Executive Office of the President to the Department of Homeland Security to the little-known Export-Import Bank. 

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with advisers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D,C., on June 25, 2019.

The Heritage Foundation also created a "Mandate for Leadership" in 2015 ahead of Trump's first term. Two years into his presidency, it touted that Trump had instituted 64% of its policy recommendations, ranging from leaving the Paris Climate Accords, increasing military spending, and increasing off-shore drilling and developing federal lands. In July 2020, the Heritage Foundation gave its updated version of the book to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

The authors of many chapters are familiar names from the Trump administration, such as Russ Vought, who led the Office of Management and Budget; former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller; and Roger Severino, who was director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Vought is the policy director for the 2024 Republican National Committee's platform committee, which released its proposed platform on Monday. 

John McEntee, former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office under Trump, is a senior advisor to the Heritage Foundation, and said that the group will "integrate a lot of our work" with the Trump campaign when the official transition efforts are announced in the next few months.

Candidates interested in applying for the Heritage Foundation's "Presidential Personnel Database" are vetted on a number of political stances, such as whether they agree or disagree with statements like "life has a right to legal protection from conception to natural death," and "the President should be able to advance his/her agenda through the bureaucracy without hindrance from unelected federal officials."

The contributions from ex-Trump administration officials have led its critics to tie Project 2025 to his reelection campaign, though the former president has attempted to distance himself from the initiative.

What are the Project 2025 plans?

Some of the policies in the Project 2025 agenda have been discussed by Republicans for years or pushed by Trump himself: less federal intervention in education and more support for school choice; work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on food stamps; and a secure border with increased enforcement of immigration laws, mass deportations and construction of a border wall. 

But others have come under scrutiny in part because of the current political landscape. 

Abortion and social issues

In recommendations for the Department of Health and Human Services, the agenda calls for the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its 24-year-old approval of the widely used abortion pill mifepristone. Other proposed actions targeting medication abortion include reinstating more stringent rules for mifepristone's use, which would permit it to be taken up to seven weeks into a pregnancy, instead of the current 10 weeks, and requiring it to be dispensed in-person instead of through the mail.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that is on the Project 2025 advisory board, was involved in a legal challenge to mifepristone's 2000 approval and more recent actions from the FDA that made it easier to obtain. But the Supreme Court rejected the case brought by a group of anti-abortion rights doctors and medical associations on procedural grounds.

The policy book also recommends the Justice Department enforce the Comstock Act against providers and distributors of abortion pills. That 1873 law prohibits drugs, medicines or instruments used in abortions from being sent through the mail.

US-NEWS-SCOTUS-ABORTION-PILL-NEWSOM-TB

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade , the volume states that the Justice Department "in the next conservative administration should therefore announce its intent to enforce federal law against providers and distributors of such pills."

The guide recommends the next secretary of Health and Human Services get rid of the Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force established by the Biden administration before Roe's reversal and create a "pro-life task force to ensure that all of the department's divisions seek to use their authority to promote the life and health of women and their unborn children."

In a section titled "The Family Agenda," the proposal recommends the Health and Human Services chief "proudly state that men and women are biological realities," and that "married men and women are the ideal, natural family structure because all children have a right to be raised by the men and women who conceived them."

Further, a program within the Health and Human Services Department should "maintain a biblically based, social science-reinforced definition of marriage and family."

During his first four years in office, Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military. Mr. Biden reversed that policy , but the Project 2025 policy book calls for the ban to be reinstated.

Targeting federal agencies, employees and policies

The agenda takes aim at longstanding federal agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. The agency is a component of the Commerce Department and the policy guide calls for it to be downsized. 

NOAA's six offices, including the National Weather Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, "form a colossal operation that has become one of the main drivers of the climate change alarm industry and, as such, is harmful to future U.S. prosperity," the guide states. 

The Department of Homeland Security, established in 2002, should be dismantled and its agencies either combined with others, or moved under the purview of other departments altogether, the policy book states. For example, immigration-related entities from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Health and Human Services should form a standalone, Cabinet-level border and immigration agency staffed by more than 100,000 employees, according to the agenda.

The Department of Homeland Security logo is seen on a law enforcement vehicle in Washington on March 7, 2017.

If the policy recommendations are implemented, another federal agency that could come under the knife by the next administration, with action from Congress, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The agenda seeks to bring a push by conservatives to target diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, initiatives in higher education to the executive branch by wiping away a slew of DEI-related positions, policies and programs and calling for the elimination of funding for partners that promote DEI practices.

It states that U.S. Agency for International Development staff and grantees that "engage in ideological agitation on behalf of the DEI agenda" should be terminated. At the Treasury Department, the guide says the next administration should "treat the participation in any critical race theory or DEI initiative without objecting on constitutional or moral grounds, as per se grounds for termination of employment."

The Project 2025 policy book also takes aim at more innocuous functions of government. It calls for the next presidential administration to eliminate or reform the dietary guidelines that have been published by the Department of Agriculture for more than 40 years, which the authors claim have been "infiltrated" by issues like climate change and sustainability.

Immigration

Trump made immigration a cornerstone of his last two presidential runs and has continued to hammer the issue during his 2024 campaign. Project 2025's agenda not only recommends finishing the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but urges the next administration to "take a creative and aggressive approach" to responding to drug cartels at the border. This approach includes using active-duty military personnel and the National Guard to help with arrest operations along the southern border.

A memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that prohibits enforcement actions from taking place at "sensitive" places like schools, playgrounds and churches should be rolled back, the policy guide states. 

When the Homeland Security secretary determines there is an "actual or anticipated mass migration of aliens" that presents "urgent circumstances" warranting a federal response, the agenda says the secretary can make rules and regulations, including through their expulsion, for as long as necessary. These rules, the guide states, aren't subject to the Administration Procedure Act, which governs the agency rule-making process.

What do Trump and his advisers say about Project 2025?

In a post to his social media platform on July 5, Trump wrote , "I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they're saying and some of the things they're saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them."

Trump's pushback to the initiative came after Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said in a podcast interview that the nation is "in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be."

The former president continued to disavow the initiative this week, writing in another social media post  that he knows nothing about Project 2025.

"I have not seen it, have no idea who is in charge of it, and, unlike our very well received Republican Platform, had nothing to do with it," Trump wrote. "The Radical Left Democrats are having a field day, however, trying to hook me into whatever policies are stated or said. It is pure disinformation on their part. By now, after all of these years, everyone knows where I stand on EVERYTHING!"

While the former president said he doesn't know who is in charge of the initiative, the project's director, Dans, and associate director, Chretien, were high-ranking officials in his administration. Additionally, Ben Carson, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Trump; John Ratcliffe, former director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration; and Peter Navarro, who served as a top trade adviser to Trump in the White House, are listed as either authors or contributors to the policy agenda.

Still, even before Roberts' comments during "The War Room" podcast — typically hosted by conservative commentator Steve Bannon, who reported to federal prison to begin serving a four-month sentence last week — Trump's top campaign advisers have stressed that Project 2025 has no official ties to his reelection bid.

Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, senior advisers to the Trump campaign, said in a November statement that 2024 policy announcements will be made by Trump or his campaign team.

"Any personnel lists, policy agendas, or government plans published anywhere are merely suggestions," they said.

While the efforts by outside organizations are "appreciated," Wiles and LaCivita said, "none of these groups or individuals speak for President Trump or his campaign."

In response to Trump's post last week, Project 2025 reiterated that it was separate from the Trump campaign.

"As we've been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign. We are a coalition of more than 110 conservative groups advocating policy & personnel recommendations for the next conservative president. But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement," a statement on the project's X account said.

The initiative has also pushed back on Democrats' claims about its policy proposals and accused them of lying about what the agenda contains.

What do Democrats say?

Despite their attempts to keep some distance from Project 2025, Democrats continue to connect Trump with the transition effort. The Biden-Harris campaign frequently posts about the project on X, tying it to a second Trump term.

Mr. Biden himself accused his Republican opponent of lying about his connections to the Project 2025 agenda, saying in a statement that the agenda was written for Trump and "should scare every single American." He claimed on his campaign social media account  Wednesday that Project 2025 "will destroy America."

Congressional Democrats have also begun pivoting to Project 2025 when asked in interviews about Mr. Biden's fitness for a second term following his lackluster showing at the June 27 debate, the first in which he went head-to-head with Trump.

"Trump is all about Project 2025," Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman told CNN on Monday. "I mean, that's what we really should be voting on right now. It's like, do we want the kind of president that is all about Project '25?"

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, one of Mr. Biden's closest allies on Capitol Hill, told reporters Monday that the agenda for the next Republican president was the sole topic he would talk about.

"Project 2025, that's my only concern," he said. "I don't want you or my granddaughter to live under that government."

In a statement reiterating her support for Mr. Biden, Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida called Project 2025 "MAGA Republicans' draconian 920-page plan to end U.S. democracy, give handouts to the wealthy and strip Americans of their freedoms."

What are Republicans saying about Project 2025?

Two GOP senators under consideration to serve as Trump's running mate sought to put space between the White House hopeful and Project 2025, casting it as merely the product of a think tank that puts forth ideas.

"It's the work of a think tank, of a center-right think tank, and that's what think tanks do," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

He said Trump's message to voters focuses on "restoring common sense, working-class values, and making our decisions on the basis of that."

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance raised a similar sentiment in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," saying organizations will have good ideas and bad ideas.

"It's a 900-page document," he said Sunday. "I guarantee there are things that Trump likes and dislikes about that 900-page document. But he is the person who will determine the agenda of the next administration."

Jaala Brown contributed to this report.

Melissa Quinn is a politics reporter for CBSNews.com. She has written for outlets including the Washington Examiner, Daily Signal and Alexandria Times. Melissa covers U.S. politics, with a focus on the Supreme Court and federal courts.

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Who's speaking at the 2024 RNC? Here's a full rundown of people on the list

See full RNC roll call of states vote results for the 2024 Republican nomination

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