An APA dissertation is one of the most time-consuming and research-intensive projects that any student will have to take on during his or her college years. APA dissertations are not only required to be well-written and comprehensive research papers, they must be formatted according to the style guidelines of the American Psychological Association. APA style guidelines are used for many varieties of humanities papers, not just those written on psychology-related topics.
All APA reports should follow a few basic guidelines. These guidelines include the following:
- have a properly-formatted cover page.
- include double-spaced text except for certain exceptions such as quotes.
- have one-inch margins.
- include a header with an abbreviated title and page number.
- include a bibliography.
- include the following sections/chapters:
- Literature review
- Data, Analysis, and Results
Many instructors require that students begin their APA dissertations at the end. That is, by gathering all of their reference material. The listing of references that a student has when he or she begins an APA dissertation is, by no means, a set-in-stone listing that can not include any additional references. Many students find that as they write their APA dissertation, they come across the need to acquire additional references to answer questions that arise while writing their document or that add clarification to their existing information.
An APA dissertation must be either qualitative or quantitative. Many students who are undertaking the writing of an APA dissertation don't understand the difference between a qualitative and a quantitative paper. In short, a quantitative APA dissertation used statistical numerical data to support the thesis. The writer knows in advance what he or she is looking for and formats his or her research in order to prove his or her thesis. This does not mean, however, that the thesis is correct and the statistical data gathered during the research may, in fact, disprove the researcher's thesis. Disproving a thesis is not necessarily a bad outcome for an APA thesis writer as the point of the thesis is conducting the research and writing a good paper rather than merely substantiating a theory.
A qualitative APA dissertation is one that uses words, pictures, and/or objects as the data to be analyzed. A debate has raged for some time about which type of dissertation is the most credible but most writers and instructors alike agree that the proof is in the end result, not necessarily the format of the APA reference project. For more information on how to write an APA dissertation, consult a copy of the latest version of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
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