Chapter 9-4: The APA-format Research Essay
A research essay examines or argues a point of view that is supported by researched material from several different sources.
Finding a Topic
A research essay aims to relate the topic to a central idea or problem. Create questions that can help narrow down the topic and make the essay more specific.
Is white meat healthier than red meat?
What are the possible side effects of eating red meat?
Are some meats contaminated?
Is the main idea or focus of the essay.
Use the guiding questions created about the topic to help create a thesis statement.
The thesis should be a full sentence, not a question.
Guiding question: What are the possible side effects of eating red meat?
Thesis: Consuming meat can have negative effects on the environment and human health.
The beginning sentence of each body paragraph.
A full sentence should give the reader an idea about what the paragraph will be about.
Sources can be from online, academic articles or journals, magazines, books or newspapers.
Complete Source Information
When citing sources, try to write down as much information as possible about the source to avoid plagiarism.
Books, Magazines, Newspapers
Author's full name
Title of Book, Article, Magazine, Newspaper, Journal
Publishing info (including the name of publisher, date and city where it was published)
Page numbers used
Author's full name
Title of Article and Website
Full website URL
Publisher or sponsor of the site (if not the same as the wesbite title)
Update or publication date
Always carefully evaluate an online source to make sure it's credible.
Are the information and website up to date?
Who published the information, and how well-known/reliable is the site?
Who is the author? Are they an expert or known as a reliable source in that area? Do they offer an unbiased opinion?
Is there advertising on the site? Could that affect the information posted?
Are there multiple authors stating the same information? Information is always more reliable when the same facts come from multiple credible sources.
Every time you use information found by someone else (text, ideas, images, quotes), you must cite that source or you will be committing plagiarism.
Plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as your own. This is taken extremely seriously in academic settings.
The two most common citation styles are from the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
MLA tends be used in the humanities field, and APA in the science or social sciences fields. This page focus on APA Format.
When summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting, cite the source in the body of the text and on the references page.
Sources Cited in Text: Print
Sources Cited in Text: Online
APA "Works Cited" List
Put the references list at the end of the research essay.
Follow the basic guidelines below:
Write "References" at the top center of the page and the page number in the top right corner.
Sources should be listed in Alphabetical Order by the author's last name or title if there is no author.
Indent all the following lines of the entry after the first line. This is called a "hanging indent."
Everything should be double-spaced.
Information Included in reference entries:
Author's Full Name
Last name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (if available).
Year of publication in parentheses.
Italicize titles for longer works like books, magazines, websites or newspapers.
Quotations for short works like articles, book chapters, or newspaper editorials.
Use this for shorter works like articles, book chapters and editorials from a larger source with a different title.
Anyone else that contributed to the source like an editor, illustrator, narrator or adapted the work.
Edition, Version, Volume, Issue Number
List editions (4th ed., Updated Ed.)
Put the volume and issue number together (vol. 5, no. 2)
Write the full name of the publisher or the sponsor website.
URL or DOI
Include a digital object identifier (DOI) if available. If not available, include a URL.
Sample APA "References" Page Entries
Check out How to Cite a Book in APA Style from Scribbr to see the format and examples for APA references.