Different Styles Of Writing Research Papers

Previously, we discussed the issue of what a research paper really is and have come to conclusion that ideally

a research paper is your own thoughts based on your thorough analysis of what you previously knew and what you managed to research about your topic

So what, right? Theoretically, this is the most important thing you should know about academic writing. Practically, this doesn't make our lives easier. But here is one thing that WILL facilitate your writing, guaranteed. Read this carefully:

KNOW WHAT YOU WRITE.

One of the most important elements of an A+ Grade paper is the understanding you the student have of these different research papers types and your ability to write each type of paper according to the expected paper format. While the type of research paper is usually stated in the paper requirement information provided by your tutor, there are times when the paper type will be implied rather than directly stated and this is where an accurate interpretation of the paper requirements is so important to a good passing grade. In the paragraphs below are some hints on what may be expected in seven different research paper types, which are:

  1. Argumentative papers,
  2. Analytical papers,
  3. Definition papers,
  4. Compare and contrast papers,
  5. Cause and effect papers,
  6. Reports, and
  7. Interpretive papers.

Argumentative papers

ARGUMENTATIVE PAPERS present two sides of a controversial issue in the one paper. A good argumentative paper will include in-text citations from researchers that present logical facts from both sides of an issue, and will conclude with the author analyzing the pros and cons of each argument. The confusing element of an argumentative paper is that the author is expected to favor one side more than the other on an issue, but the research and analysis must be un-emotive and factual and include both sides of the argument. For example a student may be asked to complete a paper on "The importance of nature and nurture on a child's predicted teenage behavior." The author may believe that either nature or nurture may be more important from their own research on the issue but a good paper on this topic will include information from researchers on both sides of the problem, and even in this case information from researchers that believe both sides are equally important.

Analytical papers

ANALYTICAL PAPERS also include information from a range of sources but the focus on this type of research paper is in analyzing the different viewpoints represented from a factual rather than opinionated standpoint. The author of an analytical paper may focus on the findings, methodology or conclusions of other researchers and will conclude such a paper with a summation of the findings and a suggested framework for further study on the issue.

Definition papers

DEFINITION PAPERS are relatively self-explanatory. They describe a topic from a factual standpoint that is usually devoid of emotion or the opinion of the author. Although the definition research paper will include facts from a variety of sources, this information is left unanalyzed and contains only actual facts found in another's research paper findings. While a definition paper might be considered difficult to write especially by those students who enjoy discussing issues from their own perspective a good definition paper can provide a valuable information framework for other argumentative or analytical reports on the same topic.

Compare and contrast papers

COMPARE AND CONTRAST PAPERS are often used in literature courses to compare two different authors, or stories from a particular genre. However they can also be required in social sciences to compare two different theoretical viewpoints; in philosophy to compare the thoughts of two philosophical frameworks and even in business studies where different leadership styles could be compared for example. The important part of a compare and contrast paper is that while both elements in the paper need to be described succinctly, the main part of the paper will be the comparison and contrasting examples provided by the author to support a thesis.

Cause and effect papers

CAUSE AND EFFECT PAPERS trace the probable or expected results from a particular action or policy in a logical progression that is easily followed by the reader. Used in business and education fields in particular a good cause and effect paper will not only outline the predicted results from the action/situation specified, but also where applicable show the range of results that could arise from this one situation through to its logical conclusion.

Reports

REPORTS often follow a memorandum or similar business format and they are often written to outline a case study situation. For example a report could be commissioned by your tutor to describe the key issues in a workplace scenario - perhaps from a human resources standpoint. The report would include a summary of the situation to date; an identification of the main issue or concern; a breakdown of the elements of this main issue and then recommendations on how to address the issue based on research on the topic. While a comparison essay for example will use "If…but" or similar statements, the report will c

ontain short factual sentences devoid of emotion. Reports usually include an executive summary that takes the place of an abstract in this type of research paper, as well as supporting evidence in the form of appendix, graphs and tables.

Interpretive papers

INTERPRETIVE PAPERS are often required by tutors in literature, humanities and social sciences and they require the student to use the theoretical knowledge gained in a course of study to a particular case study example such as a piece of art or a poem in literary fields; a business situation in a management course; or a psychological case profile in either sociology or psychology fields. The key element of an interpretive paper is evidence that the student has written the paper based on an established theoretical framework and has used supporting data to back up the thesis statement and findings of the paper.

The variety of formats and genres for research papers can appear a bit daunting at first glance but as you work through this course you will come to understand the fundamental differences in these paper types, and how you can structure your research papers to best showcase the expert information you have acquired through your course of learning. As most university grade courses include up to 80% of their marking component on comprehensive answer (read 'correct usage of a research paper type'), it is really important that you correctly define what type of paper you are to write and what you need to include in it. In my next lesson, I will give you specific templates for ALL types of papers you will need. With these templates, you will be able to write research papers of any type without an effort. I hope your participation in this course can realistically help you achieve the A+ grade you want to graduate with.

Apart from the above-mentioned 7 types of papers you are to write while in college, there are 30+ more types of academic papers you should know about. I'll talk about them in later posts.

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1. Citing Sources – General

As a writer of academic papers, you must document any source of information which you use in your research papers, articles, presentations and any kind of scientific projects.

If you properly document the original works of other authors your ideas are based upon, it makes easy for the readers to see and consult the resources you used. Furthermore, accurate and proper quoting shall help you avoid plagiarism, which is considered a serious breach of academic conduct.

There are 3 methods of including other writer’s work into your paper. They are citing (quoting), paraphrasing and summarizing.

Citation should repeat the original text word-for-word and include a reference to the original writer of the source document.

Paraphrasing means retelling a passage of the original text using your own words and sentence structures. The author of the original must also be referenced.

Summarizing means reproducing only the most important ideas and main points of the source using your own words. It usually summarizes a larger statement in a form of a shorter explanation. However, the original source must be referenced, too.

When you have to incorporate other author’s ideas into your text, you should first decide which approach to use.

You should use direct citation in a situation when the exact wording of a passage is important, so that you can be sure you have reproduced the original accurately.

You might also use citation if the original statement is very well formulated and you feel it will enrich your writing.

Paraphrasing is widely used in research papers and argumentative essays, showing your supervisors you understand a source text well and may reformulate it and find and emphasize its main points. It also helps change the stylistic characteristics of your source, adapting it to the readers (for example, if you use it for a presentation of some scientific topic before your class) and omitting unnecessary details.

The purpose of a summary is similar to that of a paraphrasing, but it helps making a long text shorter, explaining a lengthy chapter, article or a book in a brief essay or even in a single paragraph.

There is a list of useful resources on citation and writing in general:

Documentation Style Handouts in PDF
Writing Center at Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU), Savannah, GA Annotated Bibliography, APA, Chicago-Turabian, and MLA Documentation, plus Grammar-Mechanics Handouts and Exercises, Regents’ Handouts, Writing Process Handouts, all available in PDF.

KnightCite: A Project of the Hekman Library
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI Free Citation Generator for MLA, APA and Chicago styles.
Site created by Justin Searls, Student Intern, Teaching & Learning Digital Studio, Calvin Information Technology.

Slate: Citation Machine
Online tool that creates MLA and APA citations instantly.
This web tool was created by David Warlick of The Landmark Project on October 29, 2000 and is part of the Landmarks for Schools web site for teachers.

2. Citing Electronic Sources

Students often ask how to cite electronic (digitized) primary sources.

At present, students often access their sources using electronic means, because a large portion of information has become available in the electronic format. Using electronic or online sources is convenient, but you have to know how to cite them properly.

Due to the fact that different disciplines and fields of knowledge require different styles, no universal example for citing electronic sources can be provided. You should look for a particular style guideline used in your field (MLA, APA, Chicago Style etc.). They address citing electronic sources, too.

Citing Sources
Saint John Ward Chipman Library, University of New Brunswick, NB APA Style, MLA Style, Related Resources, Navigating EResearch.

How to Cite Electronic Sources
The Learning Page, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
MLA and Turabian citation examples for Films, Legal Documents and Government Publications, Maps, Photographs, Recorded Sound, Special Presentations, and Texts. Includes links to Citation Guidelines.

3. APA Style (American Psychological Association)

Using a particular citing/formatting style can simplify the editors’ work because every author adheres to the same format, as well as make it easier for the audience to follow the author’s ideas because they are organized according to a familiar structure. Demonstrating that you know and follow the style requirements of your field will also make your work more credible and trusted.

APA Style is often used for citation and formatting in social sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Linguistics, Economics, Criminology, as well as the areas of Business and Nursing). It also deals with the overall writing style, content organization and preparation of a paper for publication, if needed.

Thus, we recommend having a look at their manual as well as other online sources.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed.

APA Documentation
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Get a quick orientation to APA, Create APA parenthetical citations, Create an APA reference list, Format a paper using APA guidelines, Format APA headings for a paper, Review APA usage and style guidelines, and Locate other APA resources on the Web.

APA Style Guide 6th Edition
USM Libraries, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS
Examples of APA citations for books, journals, other media, and electronic information.

The Basics of APA Style (requires audio)
From APA Online, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC
A useful tutorial following the 6th Edition of APA’s Publication Manual, © 2009.
There are also some useful FAQs.

Understanding Electronic Sources from American Psychological Association (APA)
Excerpted from the new 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

4. MLA Style (Modern Language Association)

MLA Style of citation and formatting is widely used in the field of Art, Liberal Arts, and Humanities.

Its approach is to give a writer a universal formatting tool which can be applied to various kinds of sources (citing different kinds of sources, like research papers, articles, essays, government publications, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, charts, spoken interviews, sound recordings, web sites, films and illustrations and more). With the development of the Internet, texts may be found online in any format, and new designs and presentation forms are invented. That is why MLA offers a writer a number of general principles finding them more important than a rigid set of rules for every particular source.

Again there is a manual you can use.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition

Citing Film and Video in slightly adapted version of MLA style – with Examples
Citing TV and Radio – with Examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

Citing Web Sources MLA Style
Vanguard University of Southern California
1998 MLA Web citation style. In-text Citation, Works Cited, Examples of Typical Web Sites, and Citing from Web Site Databases.

We have prepared a number of articles on particular subjects available on this website for your convenience.

Guidelines on How to Write a Bibliography in MLA Style
Works Cited, References, Bibliography – What’s the Difference?
How to Write a Bibliography – Examples in MLA Style
How to Write Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Style
First Footnotes and Endnotes – Examples in MLA Style
Parenthetical References – Examples in MLA Style
Footnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page
Endnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page
Parenthetical References in MLA Style – Sample Page
Works Cited in MLA Style – Sample Page
Quoting Passages Using MLA Style
St. Francis Xavier Secondary School Library, Mississauga, ON

MLA Documentation
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
General information about MLA parenthetical citations, Using the MLA abbreviation guidelines, Using the MLA quotation guidelines, Formatting MLA parenthetical citations, Create an MLA Works Cited Page, and Format the MLA Works Cited page. Includes a section on Numbered References.

MLA Online
University of Houston Libraries
Examples show the correct format for citing online sources in Modern Language Association (MLA) style.

MLA Parenthetical Documentation
LEO: Literacy Education Online, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
How to correctly document different types of sources using MLA Parenthetical Documentation: Author(s) name, Multivolume works, Classic literary works, Special cases.

Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format
The Purdue University Online Writing Lab, West Lafayette, IN
Using APA format, Formatting in Sociology, Handling quotations in text, Works Cited list, Footnotes and Endnotes, Paper format.

5. CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style

A specialized style guide for citing and creating electronic sources. It is a a special manual that addresses the complications and peculiarities associated with online publishing and offers the rules of online citation to students, researchers and the wide public.

The Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice Walker, Todd Taylor

6. CBE Style – Council of Biology Editors

Used mostly to write research papers and cite sources within the Biology domain. Such works must always adhere to the requirements of Scientific Style and Format, following the rules of Scientific Writing.

CBE Documentation
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Use the citation-sequence system, Create a CBE citation-sequence reference list, Use the name-year system, and Create a CBE name-year reference list.

Citing Online Media Resources (web sites, online media files, etc.)
Adapted from the Columbia Guide to Online Style, by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor. Citation styles described are Humanities Style.
With examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

7. Harvard Style

Harvard Style of citation in quite similar to APA Style in terms of use. It is used mostly in the humanities field. While APA is common for the USA, Harvard Style is popular in the UK and Australia.

The Bluebook:
A Uniform System of Citation,
aka “Harvard Citator” published by Harvard Law Review Association
in conjunction with Columbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal 18th edition (January 1, 2005)

Interactive Citation Workbook for The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and ALWD Citation Manual by Tracy L. McGaugh (Book)

Writing a Bibliography (Harvard System)
Dickson College, Canberra, Australia
Essay Writing, Locating Information – Effective Reading, Selecting Information – Note Taking, Bibliographies, Examples of Bibliographic Entries, Points to Remember, and Textual References or Citations (including Parenthetical Reference examples).

8. Chicago Manual of Style / Turabian Style

Chicago Style and Turabian Style are also similar. They are designed be used first of all in history and economics.

Turabian Style is basically a modification of Chicago Style for the needs of students. It is used in history, literature, and arts. There is also a style used in the scientific field, in natural and social sciences. Turabian Style guide includes the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style.

The recent edition of Kate L. Turabian A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is aligned with the newest Chicago Manual of Style to match its requirements.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed.

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide
From the Chicago Manual of Style Online.
Provides examples on writing footnotes, in-text citations, reference-list entries and bibliographical citations for both print and electronic sources using Chicago Style.

Chicago/Turabian Documentation
Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Get a quick orientation to note systems, Create Chicago/Turabian first references, Create Chicago/Turabian subsequent references, and Create a Chicago/Turabian Works Cited page.

9. Resumé Writing and Cover Letters

Preparing a good resume and cover letter is important for anyone seeking a job because if these documents are well-written, they help to create a good impression and get a desired positon.

A job applicant should be careful about the content and form of their CV and cover letter. They should use a particular wording and follow a specific structure and formatting requirements.

An efficient resume means a properly written one demonstrating your expertise and credentials and shall help you get an interview from a company.

While a resume highlights your experience and skills, a good cover letter is intended to demonstrate how your knowledge and experience match the position you are currently applying for, therefore it has to be specific and targeted.

The provided information, structure, language, tone and other details of a CV and cover letter should be carefully chosen to help you reach your goal. You might make use of the efficient resume samples and templates found below.

Developing Resumes: Selecting a Resume Style from TTG Consultants.
How to Write Resume in English from About.com – English as 2nd Language (ESL).
How to Write a Resume.org. Resume Writing Tips, Resume Writing & Distribution Services.
ASCII Resumes: How to Create a Plain-Text Version of Your Resume from About.com – Career Planning.
The Resume as a Sales Tool from TTG Consultants.
Resume Writing Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes.
Resumes and Letters: Sample Resumes from Monster Career Center.

Cover Letter Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes.
FAQs about Cover Letters by William S. Frank.
Writing Cover Letters: Sample Cover Letters from Monster Career Center.

10. Writing – Grammar Guides

When writing on any assignment, it is critical to avoid grammar, stylistic, spelling and other kinds of mistakes and write properly and accurately. A text full of errors will create a poor impression, no matter how important and profound are the ideas it provides.

It is wise to start improving your style by consulting the classic book by William Strunk first.

The Elements of Style
Fourth Edition
by William Strunk, Jr.

This classic book by William Strunk, Jr. on the Elements of Style includes: Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, Words & Expressions Commonly Misused, An Approach to Style with a List of Reminders: Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more. See details of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. online at Bartleby.com.

Common Errors in English Usage by Paul Brians

Common Errors in English
By Dr. Paul Brians, Professor of English, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Based on Common Errors in English Usage: The Book.

The Grammar Zone
From English-Zone.com
Adjectives and Adverbs, Articles, Comparatives and Superlatives, Clauses, Conditionals, Confusing Words, Nouns, Numbers, Prepositions and Conjunctions, Pronouns, and Questions. Site includes Verbs, Idioms, Paragraph Writing, and more.

The Online English Grammar
By Anthony Hughes
Free but copyrighted material. Sound files to learn to pronounce alphabet. Table of contents. Alphabetical subject index. Grammar clinic. English language practice pages. (Slow loading).

11. Writing – Research Guides

To write a research paper successfully, first thing you need is to know about the formal requirements and the general approach to academic writing you have to be familiar with. It is recommended to make your statement specific, definitive and clear and avoid using unnecessary informal elements. Writing a research paper might be tricky, so there is an extensive list of tips and instructions to follow.

Guide on How to Write University Essays, Courseworks, Assignments and Dissertations
by Verena Vaneeva
Contents include: How to write an Essay, Coursework or Report, Marketing or Marketing Communications Campaign, Dissertation, How to define Issue or Argument, Research Methods, Dissertation Structure.

How to Write an A+ Research Paper
St. Francis Xavier Secondary School, Mississauga, ON
Step by step guide on how to write an excellent research paper quickly and successfully.

Online Writing Lab
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Tutorial Center for Writers. Online Writing Labs (OWLs), Internet Search Tools, Resources for Writers and Teachers, Purdue Resources, Links to other WWW writing resources.

QuickStudy: Library Research Guide
University of Minnesota Libraries, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN
Learn How to Use the Library: Starting Your Research, Designing a Research Strategy, Find Books, Articles, Web Sites, Facts, Reviews, and More, Evaluating and Citing Sources, and Searching the MLA International Bibliography. Includes an Instructor’s Manual for QuickStudy.

The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing : Short 7th or 2004 edition by Rise B. Axelrod, Charles R. Cooper

A Student’s Guide to Research with the WWW
Saint Louis University, MO
Tutorial guide to conducting research on the WWW for first year college students. Anatomy of a Web page. Evaluating Web sources. Web page types. Web search strategies. Citing online sources. Glossary.

The Writers’ Workshop
Department of English, Northern Illinois University.
Students’ Resources include Editor’s Grammar and Mechanics, Quoting and Quotations, Citing Sources: The MLA Way, and Plagiarism: A MUST read. See also Tutors’ Resources, Instructors’ Resources, and Visitors’ Resources.

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