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APA Format. Learning Objectives. Identify the 7 major sections of a research paper as required by APA format Identify common errors in using APA format. Major Sections of the Paper. There are 7 essential sections: 3 short & 4 long. Short sections: Title page – title, authors, etc.

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learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Identify the 7 major sections of a research paper as required by APA format
  • Identify common errors in using APA format
major sections of the paper
Major Sections of the Paper
  • There are 7 essential sections: 3 short & 4 long.
  • Short sections:
    • Title page – title, authors, etc.
    • Abstract – 1 paragraph gist of paper
    • References – list of works cited
long sections
Long Sections
  • Introduction – lit review, research question or hypothesis
  • Method – what you did
  • Results – what you found
  • Discussion – what it means
1 title page
1. Title Page
  • First page of APA format paper
  • Components
    • 1. Page header
    • 2. Page number
    • 3. Running head
    • 4. Title
    • 5. Author(s)
    • 6. Affiliation(s)
2 abstract
2. Abstract
  • Single paragraph description of study
  • Usually contains info about
    • Research question or hypothesis
    • Participants
    • Methods
    • Findings
    • Summary statement/conclusion
abstract format
Abstract Format
  • 1. Page header and page number top right
  • 2. Abstract is centered, A is capped
  • 3. Abstract has own page
  • 4. Paragraph is blocked, not indented
  • 5. No more than 150 words.
abstract example
Abstract Example



Individual differences 2




An objective assessment of exploration of cats that were presented a novel environment was compared to owners’ assessments of their cats’ curiosity (N=34 neighborhood cats). The novel environment consisted of a carpeted maze…

3 introduction
3. Introduction
  • Contains
    • Thesis statement – broad description of the problem
    • Review of relevant literature
    • Research question or hypothesis
introduction format
Introduction format
  • Title repeats, Introduction implied.
  • Header and page 3
  • Indent paragraphs
  • Citations for previous studies.
    • Citations follow APA format (tons of rules for citations).
sample introduction
Sample Introduction

Individual Differences 3

Individual Differences in

Cats in Our Neighborhood

Curiosity is often thought to have killed the

cat (Paws & Claws, 1999). But is it more likely to have killed some cats

than others? Can we reliably distinguish differences in how curious our

feline friends really are?

4 method
4. Method
  • Contains
    • Participants –who (aka subjects)
    • Apparatus – equipment, mazes, etc.
    • Materials – surveys, vodka, whatever
    • Procedure – what actually happens
participants in methods aka subjects
Participants (in Methods, aka subjects)
  • How many (N=?)
  • Demographics (sex, age, race, time on the job, etc.)
  • Who they were from the study standpoint (business executives, Ford mechanics, psychiatric patients, students in research methods)
procedure in methods
Procedure (in Methods)
  • Step-by-step account of what happened
  • Details are enough for replication, but no unnecessary detail
  • Procedure is flush left and underline, cap the P only
sample method
Sample Method

Individual Differences 16



A total of N=32 neighborhood cats

agreed to participate after intense

negotiation. There were 10 male and 22…

5 results
5. Results
  • Contains
    • Type of analysis used (e.g., ANOVA, t-test, correlation, chi-square)
    • Statistical findings
      • Statistical test used (e.g., F test)
      • Statistical significance levels (e.g, p<.05)
      • Means, correlations or other statistics (e.g., SD=5)
      • Reference to tables and figures that show the findings (e.g., see Table 1)
results format
Results format
  • Results R is capped and word is centered –third major section (intro, method, results, discussion)
  • Put results either in (a) text or (b) tables and figures, not both. If it’s in a table, you don’t need to repeat it in the text.
results example
Results example

Individual Differences 20


Results for both owners’ and cats’ curiosity

scores are summarized in Table 1. The boxplots

for both distributions can be seen in Figure 1.

6 discussion
6. Discussion
  • Contains
    • Recap of study question or hypothesis
    • Conclusions that can be drawn from the study
    • Comparison of current results with the literature (previous studies)
    • Study limits and future research agenda
discussion format
Discussion Format
  • Discussion has capped D and word is centered (4th main section).
  • Use left flush heading to separate major sections of the discussion.
discussion example
Discussion example

Individual Differences 20


Are some cats more curious than

others? According to our results, the answer

appears to be “yes.” As can be seen in

Table 1, clear evidence that …

7 references
7. References
  • Contains
    • Complete list of works cited
    • No works that were read but not cited
    • Reference format is complicated and detailed. Rules available in detail from APA and Smith & Davis
  • APA articles will sometimes have an appendix or two. This is technical work for specialists. May include mathematical proofs, unpublished test items or surveys other details.
  • You will have these as part of your projects.