Research Paper Style
Many students wrongly assume that research paper style is the way in which the project is worded or organized. Though this is indeed an aspect of research paper style, the language and syntax structure of any text is simply referred to as writing style. The style of a reference report is more correctly defined as the type of structure, presentation, and manner of citation the report employs. Research paper style varies depending on the discipline for which the project is written, but there are three primary research paper styles used in college courses: APA, MLA, and Chicago.
APA style is dictated by the American Psychological Association (APA) in its Publication Manual. Though issued by an organization that focuses on the study of psychology, APA style is now the most prevalent research paper style for all courses in the social sciences. APA is focused on the presentation of contemporary research and on the scientific analysis and reporting of information. APA research paper style is organized by various headings and subheadings to facilitate understanding of the topic. One important element of APA style that students should keep in mind is that unlike other report styles, APA style prefers the use of paraphrase over quotation. Furthermore, APA research paper style demands that the year of publication of every external source used in the article is cited within the text itself. This is because in the social sciences, wherein research changes regularly, it is important for readers to know when a study was published.
MLA style is the style preferred and designed by the Modern Language Association. MLA style is the common research paper style for the humanities. MLA does not have fixed structural dictates in the same way that APA does, because research papers in the humanities are not reporting on a researcher's study design, but on his or her analysis, and analysis does not require the same breakdown of information that a research study does. Unlike APA, MLA research paper style encourages the use of quotation, and does not require that the year of the study be presented in the text itself. This is because scholarship in the humanities remains relevant over years and decades, rendering it less important when such studies were published.
Chicago Style is the style outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago Style is commonly used in history. In addition, some teachers in the humanities will prefer Chicago over MLA. Unlike APA and MLA, Chicago style is more focused on footnote citations than end note citations.
Each of these research paper styles follows very specific guidelines. Therefore, learners should always carefully reference the manuals for each of the styles in order to determine if they are employing the style correctly.
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