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Writing Research Papers writing-research-papers

Information and Resources

One of the most important skills that you can learn in this department is how to write a research paper.  For many of you, this will be in fulfillment of the Psychology B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement and/or the Psychology Honors Program Thesis requirement.  You may also be writing an American Psychological Association (APA) formatted research paper for a Psychology course (such as a term paper or a summary of an empirical research paper).  In some cases, such as for certain job, graduate school, and fellowship applications, you may be asked to provide a writing sample; a well-written research paper can be ideal for that purpose.  The ability to write research papers is crucial for those who wish to pursue graduate school and research careers.  To assist with these potential goals, we’ve gathered important information and helpful tips for you.

Should I Use a Specific Format and Style?

In the psychological sciences, it is common for research papers to adhere to the guidelines of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (papers in other fields often use APA format as well).  APA guidelines not only specify the types of sections that a research paper should have, but also the order of those sections, the manner in which scholarly sources should be cited in the text and in a separate references section, appropriate methods of reporting experimental and statistical results, the proper use of language, and other details.  A well-written psychology research paper typically follows those guidelines.

How to Write a Successful Research Paper in APA Style

For more information on writing research papers in APA style, please checking out the following pages.  Here you’ll find details on multiple aspects of the research paper writing process, ranging from how the paper should be structured to how to write more effectively.

  • Structure and Format – the critical components of each section of an APA-formatted research paper (Introduction, Methods, and on), as well as how those sections should be formatted according to APA guidelines.

Structure of Research Papers in APA Style

Formatting Research Papers in APA Style

  • Finding, Evaluating, and Citing References – how to search databases, how to obtain references, how to take notes when reading references, what types of references to use, how to include in-text citations, and how to create an APA-formatted reference list.

Using Databases and Finding References

What Types of References Are Appropriate for Research Papers?

Evaluating References and Taking Notes

Citing References in APA Style

  • Writing a Literature Review, the Writing Process, and Improving Writing – how to write a literature review (an overview or summary of prior research, which is a common technique of introducing a research topic in the early sections of a paper), as well as recommendations for the writing process, improving clarity and conciseness, examples of adequate and better paragraphs, and links to resources on improving writing.

Writing Literature Reviews

Writing Process and Revising

Improving Scientific Writing

  • Avoiding Plagiarism – how to make sure that your research paper represents your writing and ideas and does not erroneously or unethically appropriate the works of others.

Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism

  • How-To Videos – for video guides to the different major sections of research papers, plus literature reviews and references, please see the following:

Writing Research Papers Videos

In addition, you may be interested in downloading “How to Write a Research Paper in APA Style”, a comprehensive guide developed by Prof. Emma Geller, “Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers” (a short summary of multiple aspects of the paper-writing process), and an Example B.S. Degree Research Paper written in APA Style.

Workshops and Downloadable Resources


  • For in-person discussion of the process of writing research papers, please consider attending this department’s “Writing Research Papers” workshop (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).


  • How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [PDF]
  • Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [PDF]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – empirical research) [PDF]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [PDF]

Further Resources


External Resources


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