Guidelines For Writing An APA Style Psychology Research Paper

The American Psychological Association designed a system of writing that ensures all professional papers about psychology are formatted in the same way. This allows the readers to know what to expect when they look at a paper about a topic relating to psychology. Students who take psychology courses learn to use the APA formatting for their research papers. This formatting style can be overwhelming at first, but after some practice that changes.

Where to Find a Manual

The guidelines for writing an APA style paper for a psychology class can be found in a number of places. The two most common are the printed version of the guidelines and an online version. Most college bookstores sell the printed version for students who are taking psychology courses. The online version can be found at the APA’s website and at college writing sites. The APA usually charges customers to buy a copy, but college writing sites will give away the information for free.

Meet Your Instructor’s Requirements

The necessary components in the paper will vary based on your instructor’s requirements. Most research papers will require a title page, the actual paper, and a bibliography. The online college writing sites will offer the details about these pages. They all require the use of specific margins, fonts, and spacing. It is important to follow the instructions accurately so the paper matches the APA requirements. Instructors often deduct points from papers that have even the slightest errors.

Keep Track of Your Sources

When writing the actual paper, it is important to keep track of all of the sources that you use. There are special formatting requirements for the sources that are quoted or paraphrased within the body of the paper. If you get those wrong, your instructor could accuse you of plagiarism. The manuals will show how to use in-text citations properly. Those manuals will also show students how to create the bibliography entries that match the citations. Remember that every source you use needs to be included, no matter how much you use of the source.

Use a Sample Paper for Help

Even if you have a brand new manual, it can be helpful to have a sample paper to use as a template. Remember to never copy any text from the sample paper; just use it to help with formatting. It is easier to see how to space the title page, the body of the paper, and the citations page if you have a sample to use.