Research Paper Format
Research paper format is the particular structure and arrangement a research paper takes. Document formats differ across disciplines because research papers in varying fields have different structural and stylistic needs. In addition, research paper formats may differ according to the demands of a particular instructor or subject. However, most research paper formats can assume to take some variation of the format outlined below.
A document's format refers to the way in which the article is organized—its structure—as well as to the way the article is physically presented on a page. The physical presentation of a article's format will vary depending on the particular style guidelines the article is following—MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. These style guidelines will dictate the margins the document should have, the system of headings it should use, the type of fonts that are appropriate, the way the article's secondary sources should be referenced, whether or not the report has a title page and how it should be presented, the way the references page should look, and any other details of the physical look.
The structure of research paper format will also vary somewhat depending on the type of style guidelines the article is following, but in general, the structure will present its information by beginning with a contextualizing introduction that leads up to a thesis paragraph, progressing to a development section of several pages that presents valid research supporting the thesis statement, and ending with a conclusion that makes suggests about the implications of what the research presented in the report reveals about the thesis. A distinguishing characteristic of research paper format that separates it from essay format is that research paper formats must progress in a general-to-specific order. Often, writers are free to be creative in their presentation of information. This is not the case in an analysis assignment. In order to facilitate understanding and readability, it should begin by providing background and contextualizing information, and then gradually delve into more complex ideas. This assists the report reader in following the claims, arguments, and examples made.
In certain paper styles—particularly APA—there is a specific way in which the structural element of research paper format must proceed. APA organizes research texts through a progression of specific sections, all of which are labeled with headings. Writing APA research papers therefore requires strict adherence to the report format outlined in the APA's Publication Manual. Other style sheets are somewhat more flexible; this requires the writer to make his or her own decisions about the best way to organize the report to facilitate understanding and cohesion. When determining such a report format, writers should be sure to follow the general-to-specific guideline and organize their document in a way that guides the reader fluidly through the information presented in the text.
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