How to Write an Excellent Research Paper
Without Losing Points for Incorrect APA Formatting
Darin L. Gerdes
Good writing is not enough to guarantee a good grade. Effective writing must be formatted correctly. This paper explains how to write a paper in APA format. The paper clearly outlines every aspect of writing a research paper in APA format. By reading this paper, you the student, will learn how to properly format your papers, and you will have a clear example of proper format to draw upon for future reference.
How to Write an APA Paper Without
Losing Points for Incorrect APA Formatting
Good writing includes a number of elements. You must have good ideas. You must use good grammar (e.g. don’t use contractions). It is generally helpful to include a subject and verb in every sentence. Each paragraph should only contain one basic thought. A thesis statement should send the reader a clear direction. This thesis question should be answered by the time that the reader finishes reading the document. To write an essay or paper in proper APA format, you need to be familiar with the basic rules of APA Manual 5 (2001). This paper explains basic rules of APA and simultaneously teaches by example. Think of the rules as a righteous standard for good writing (Gerdes, 2003). That is, it is a standard that gives credit where credit is due, and, therefore it keeps the writer from inadvertently committing plagiarism by plundering the work of others (Bastiat, 1850/1968). Webster (1828) defined a rule as: That which is established as a principle, standard or directory; that by which any thing is to be adjusted or regulated, or to which it is to be conformed; that which is settled by authority or custom for guidance and direction.
Webster also defined an essay as, “In literature, a composition intended to prove or illustrate a particular subject; usually shorter and less methodical and finished than a system” (Webster, 1828). This has been your first lesson. In the last two paragraphs, you have seen two ways to properly cite in APA. The fundamental basics of writing APA format are covered below: the cover page, the abstract, the body, reference pages and appendices. Read the entire paper once. Then, for quick reference, you can reread the applicable section that you need. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001), commonly referred to as the APA Manual, also has a sample paper that you can use for reference. (pp. 306-320). To illustrate the need for proper format, decide for yourself what makes more sense to you--the previous two paragraphs or the following sentence: “u shud rite gud sew u ken get yur reder 2 no wat u meen wen u rite.” If this sentence was a little difficult, it is because the rules of spelling and grammar, which were established for clarity, were violated for the convenience of one who may not have understood the rules. Herein lies the point. Proper format helps your instructor understand what you have to say. The outline, consistency of writing, and proper APA formatting, help you clarify your thoughts. More importantly, it helps you earn the grade that you desire. Studies have shown that the physical presentation of the paper can influence the grade up to two letter grades (Olney, 1991).
Creating the Cover Page
The cover page is the first impression that your professor will have of your presentation. A simple, clear coversheet, consistent with the APA format will impress your professor. A cover sheet with pictures, plastic covers, or folders will not add to your grade. Do not do it. A lack of a cover sheet will also impress your professor (negatively). Jesus may have said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1, NIV). However, He also said, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:20). Your...