All research papers and many other written papers will begin with an abstract page that is numbered as page 2. The abstract is a brief summary of the paper or research project and should be about 100 to 120 words long. Like the rest of the paper, it should be double-spaced. Your professor will tell you if a course paper should include an abstract page. If you need to include an abstract in your paper, you would use the heading shown above. Do not use the title of your paper as the heading for the abstract page. Start the introduction of your paper on a new page.
Guide to Formatting Psychology Papers: APA Style
If you have used an abstract, the third page of the paper will start with the introduction section. If you have not used an abstract, then page two will be the beginning of your paper. You will use the title of your paper as the first-level heading (see above for example).
APA Style Headings
Headings and subheadings are used to help organize the paper into coherent sections that guide the reader from topic to topic. The heading style you use is dependent upon the number of headings you will be using in your paper. Most papers will have 1-3 levels of headings.
One Level Headings
If you are only using one level of heading (you have no subheadings under a main heading), then each heading is centered, with the first letter of each main word capitalized. The text starts on the next double-spaced line and is indented. Do not underline this heading.
Two Level Headings
If you will have subheadings under a major heading, you use headings that are flush with the left margin, have the first letter of each main word capitalized, and are italicized. The text begins on the next-double-spaced line, indented. When you are ready to go on to your next major section, you would once again return to using a main heading (centered).
Next level of heading. If you had subsections under a topic that had a second level heading, you would then use the heading style shown above. This level heading is indented from the left margin, italicized, has only the first letter of the first word capitalized and ends with a period (.). The text begins after two spaces and on the same line as the heading.
Use of Quotations
The APA style manual provides the following guidelines for quoting material that has fewer than 40 words. “Incorporate a short quotation (fewer than 40 words) into text, and enclose the quotation with double quotation marks” (APA, 2001, p. 117). Note that the author, publication year, and page number for the source of your quotation are included in parentheses.
The APA style manual (APA, 2001, p. 118) also provides examples of this type of quotation style: “Miele (1993) found that “the ‘placebo effect’, which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner” (p. 276). Both styles are correct.
If you are quoting a passage that has more than 40 words, you will need to use the block quotation format. This requires you to indent the passage 5 spaces or .5”, double-space it, and put the page number(s) at the end. If the quotation has more than one paragraph, indent the additional paragraphs another .5” or 5 spaces. Here is an example of a block quotation.
Keller et al. (1994) found the following:
Now is the time for all good students to come to the aid of their department. Now is the time for all good students to come to the aid of their department. Now is the time for all good students to come to the aid of their department. (p. 36)
In Paragraph Or Sentence
When using a series of items within a sentence or paragraph, use lower case letters in parentheses as shown below.
The participant’s three choices were (a) working alone, (b) working with a partner, or (c) working in a group of three.
When using a series of items as separate paragraphs, use the following format. Notice that parentheses are not used in this format.
The hypotheses tested in our study were:
1.Psychology majors will have better social skills than computer science majors.
2.Computer science majors will have higher scores on a test of mathematical ability than psychology majors.
3.Both psychology and computer science majors will have better problem solving skills than undeclared students.
“The general rule governing APA style on the use of numbers is to use figures to express numbers 10 and above and words to express numbers below 10” (APA, 2001, p. 122). Avoid beginning a sentence with a number.
Exceptions to the rule
If you are combining numbers below and above 10, then use figures for both. Use figures when the number is a unit of measure, a statistical or mathematical function, a specific date or time, an amount of money, or number of participants in a study or group.
Most of your papers will contain information gathered from outside sources such as journal articles, books, newspapers, magazines, and web sites. All information obtained from outside sources must be referenced within the body of your paper and included in a reference page at the end of your paper. All references cited in the reference page must be found in your paper. Examples of several formats for referencing your sources are included in this guide and more information on referencing can be found in your APA Publication Manual (2001).
References In Text
When summarizing or quoting original sources in the text of your paper, you are to follow various rules that apply to authors' names, number of authors, dates, and type of reference. When the reference has more than one author, use the word "and" or the symbol "&" depending upon whether the reference appears in parentheses. The date in parentheses is the publication year. If no date is available, use the n.d. abbreviation. Note that only the last names of authors are used in the citations (unless you happen to have two different citations where the primary authors have the same last name, in which case you include the first initials of both authors). When referencing an idea from more than one resource in a paragraph, put the different references in alphabetical order by the first author's last name and then separate references with a semi-colon. If a source has no identified author (e.g. an organization, a web site, a dictionary) the name of the organization, web site, or the title of the article or book is used in place of the author.
Several examples of different references are shown below.
• Sawyer (1997) found that students who attended class regularly had higher average exam scores than students who missed more than 3 class periods.
• In their review of the literature regarding adolescent antisocial behavior, Jones, White, and Johnson (1998) found that boys from families with significant physical abuse were more aggressive than boys from families without abuse.
• While J. Smith and Green (1987) found a negative effect of stress on task performance, M. Smith, Blac, and Cohen (2002) found a positive effect.
• A review of the literature suggests that there is a different in the effects of Prozac depending on the age and gender of the depressed person (King & Avery, 2000; Thomas, 1999).
• The textbook was well received when first published (University of Pittsburgh, 1993). (This is an example of a group author.)
• Many web sites are now available for patients wishing more information on Alzheimer's Disease (Alzheimer's Association, n.d.; National Institute for Mental Health, 2003; Understanding Alzheimer's Disease, 2003).
If you have several authors (3-6) in a reference, you first reference the source with all the authors' names but subsequent references in the text use only the first author's name and the et al. abbreviation. For a reference by two authors, include both names each time that you cite it. Note the following examples.
First reference in paper:
• Keller, Craig, Launius, Loher, & Cooledge (2003) described the use of portfolios as part of their assessment of undergraduate psychology majors.
Subsequent reference in paper:
• Several psychology departments have begun concerted efforts to assess the learning and teaching effectiveness of their programs (Carter, Smith, & Grace, 1999; Keller et al., 2003; Thomas, 1998).
Information included in a paper that was obtained by personal communication (a letter, e-mail, course lecture, personal discussion, phone conversation, etc.) is referenced in the text only and is not included in the reference page. Reference a personal communication in the text as follows:
• M. Lowe (personal communication, April 18, 2003) notes that researchers have demonstrated these effects in human as well as animal subjects. OR
• Other researchers, however, have demonstrated these effects in human as well as animal subjects (R. Thompson, personal communication, January 27, 2003).
The reference page always starts on a new page at the end of the paper. The reference page(s) should have the same heading with page numbers as used in the rest of the paper. The page uses a main heading and the word References.
The following are samples of citations used in the reference page. Remember, any citation used in your paper (other than personal communication) must be referenced in the reference page. Also any reference in the reference page must be cited in the paper. Only the initials for the first and middle names (if given) are used. If the author is not known, then the organization, web site, or title is used in place of the author. Reference citations are put in alphabetical order by the primary (first) author’s last name.
(Note: these examples are ordered by type of reference. In a reference page, all the references, regardless of type, would be alpha order by primary author’s last name and you would not use the headings books, journals, etc.)
Books, Edited Books, & Chapters in Books
Feil, R. N. (1988). Computer-assisted psychological evaluations: How to create testing programs in BASIC. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Exchange.
Keller, P. A. (Ed.). (1994). Academic paths: Career decisions and experiences of psychologists. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.
Keller, P., Craig, F., Launius, M., Loher, B., & Cooledge, N. (2004). Using portfolios to assess program learning outcomes. In D. Dunn, C. M. Mehrotra, & J. S. Halonen, (Eds.), Measuring up: Assessment challenges and practices for psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Craig, F., & Deichert, N. (2002). Can male-provided social support buffer the cardiovascular responsivity to stress in men? It depends on the nature of the support provided. International Journal of Men’s Health, 1, 105-119.
Keller, P. A., Murray, J. D., & Hargrove, D. S. (1999). A rural mental health research agenda: Defining context and setting priorities. Journal of Rural Health, 15, 316-325.
Launius, M. (1997). College student attendance: Attitudes and academic performance. The College Student Journal, 31, 86 - 92.
Electronic Resources (electronic journal, web sites, data bases, etc.)
Chou, L., McClintock, R., Moretti, F., & Nix, D. H. (1993). Technology and education: New wine in new bottles: Choosing pasts and imagining educational futures. Retrieved August 24, 2000, from Columbia University, Institute for Learning Technologies Web site: http://ww.ilt.columbia.edu//publications/papers/newwine1.html.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2003). Study boosts confidence in potential screening tool for Alzheimer's Disease. Retrieved June 2, 2003 from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/events/prbiomarker.cfm
Rolling Stone. (2001). Mathews gets devilish. Retrieved June 2, 2003 from http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=18143
(More examples of how to cite electronic resources can be found at the American Psychological Association’s web site: http://www.apastyle.org/elecsource.html).
Papers and Poster Presentations
Keller, P. A., Loher, B., Launius, M. H., Craig, F., & Cooledge, N. (2002, September). Using portfolios to assess undergraduate learning outcomes. Paper presented at Measuring Up: Best Practices in Assessment in Psychology Education, Atlanta, GA.
Launius, M. H., & Kuffner Hirt, M. J. (2003, February). Characteristics do make a difference: Leadership/management roles. Workshop presented at the Western Executive Development Conference, Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Management, Farmington, PA.
Ruby, J., & Fulton, C. (1993, June). Beyond redlining: Editing software that works. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Washington, DC.
Header w/page number at .5” from the top of page, 1” from right edge of page, and right justified. Header should usually be a short version of your title. Insert the page number in the header, starting with the title page.
1” margins all around on all pages; left-justify only.
Use a 12 point font and double-space text throughout paper.
Title page information is centered about 3.5” from top of page. The format shown below is an example of what your title page should look like for all your psychology course papers.
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