Scientists frequently communicate the results of their work in research reports. They tell others what study they performed, why they did it, what they discovered, and what it means.
Regardless of the specific discipline involved, experimental research reports follow a general APA format:
Table of Contents
Methods and Materials
Appendices (if necessary)
The separate sections are described below. Additional helpful information about writing a research paper can be found on the Guidelines.
Your paper should follow this APA Experimental Report format; this should include being
typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, and carefully edited. Your paper should not exceed 20 pages, not including appendices, tables, and figures. Each section of the paper should
be clearly labeled with a section title.
You should acknowledge the assistance of those who helped with your study:
You should keep this section brief, but be sure to identify major contributions.
ex. "I thank Backwoods Paper Company for needed supplies, research space, and
advice..." "I thank the following for advice and guidance: Mr. James Sprague (my teacher), Ms. Joy Adams, Mr. Todd Reed, and Ms. Rita Iretowsha (fellow students)..."
Why did you choose this subject, and why is it important?
What hypotheses did you test?
Based upon your reading, what
results did you anticipate, and why?
The introduction should address these and similar questions. To tackle the last question, some literature (library) research will be necessary. If you include information from other
sources to explain what is currently known about the topic and why you are anticipating certain results, be sure to cite those references in the body of your paper. (See the References section for details.) Assume that the reader is scientifically literate, but may not be familiar with the specifics of your study.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that all research must have world-shaking consequences to the human race. That certainly is not true. You may be simply
investigating a small facet of the life history of some creature. If so, don't bother fabricating a story simply to "justify" your work.
Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper.
Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.
Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page "References" centered at the top of the page (do NOT bold, underline, or use quotation
marks for the title). All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.
All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
Authors' names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work for up to and including seven authors. If the work has more than
seven authors, list the first six authors and then use ellipses after the sixth author's name. After the ellipses, list the last author's name of the work. Reference list entries should
be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
If you have more than one article by the same author, single-author references or multiple-author references with the exact same authors in the exact same order are listed in order
by the year of publication, starting with the earliest.
Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
When referring to books, chapters, articles, or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the
title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.
Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.
Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections.
When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text,
for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference
to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the
Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials:
ex. D. Jones
If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source: Permanence and Change. Exceptions
apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs:
ex. Writing New Media, There Is Nothing Left to Lose
(Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media.)
When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word:
Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon:
ex. "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's Vertigo"
Italicize or underline the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums:
ex. The Closing of the American
Mind; The Wizard of Oz; Friends
Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles:
"Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds"; "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."
Appendices contain supplemental information such as lists of terms, definitions, or questionnaires that are useful but not essential to the body of the research paper. If you have a
large table of raw data, but most of it is not essential to the discussion in your paper, you could include the complete table as an appendix. A smaller table with a subset of data (or a
summary of the data) could then be included in the body of your paper. If you have more than one set of materials to include, give each a number: Appendix 1, Appendix 2, etc.