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Understanding APA Format
If you’re writing academically, chances are you’ve been tasked with writing a paper that follows APA style. Although there’s a learning curve involved with adhering to APA style, it’s possible to learn the basics so you can turn in your assignments.
What Is APA Style?
APA is the official academic style of the American Psychological Association. This style was created in 1929 when a group of professionals worked together to devise a set of style rules for scientific writing as a means of making these documents easier to read and understand.
If an assignment indicates APA style, you will need to adhere to these style rules. These guidelines ensure that your document is consistent and uniform with elements such as punctuation, headings and subheadings, abbreviations, numbers, tables and figures and citations.
Main Sections of a Document
APA style dictates the format of the main sections of a document.
The title page includes a running head, the author’s name and the school.
The abstract is a succinct summary of the document. APA style dictates that abstracts be no more than 250 words, although some instructors give leeway regarding the length.
The main body of the document is the text of the essay or report. Some reports are divided into separate sections.
Your reference section follows the body. It includes a list of references you cited in your document.
How to Reference APA Style
In-text citations appear within the text, identifying any information you cite. APA format for in-text citations includes the author’s name and the date of the publication.
The reference page always begins on a new page with the title “References” centered at the top. Include all entries in alphabetical order, and each entry’s first line begins at the left margin, and additional lines are indented. Place titles of newspapers, magazines, journals and books in italics, and double-space the reference section.
Double-check that all of your sources appear as both in-text citations and in the reference section.
Use an APA Sample Paper
An APA style example can be helpful if you’re learning this style and trying to apply it to a writing assignment. Many schools and universities maintain resource web pages with APA samples to show students how to follow this style.
More APA Tips
If you’re struggling with creating APA citations and references, use a citation machine to check your work. You simply fill in the citation and click a button, and the tool tells you if you made any errors.
Consider hiring an academic editor to check your work after you finish writing. The editor can find and correct errors to make sure your document adheres to APA.
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How to Write an Outline in APA Format
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Amanda Tust is a fact-checker, researcher, and writer with a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
- Before Starting Your Outline
- How to Create an Outline
Writing a psychology paper can feel like an overwhelming task. From picking a topic to finding sources to cite, each step in the process comes with its own challenges. Luckily, there are strategies to make writing your paper easier—one of which is creating an outline using APA format .
Here we share what APA format entails and the basics of this writing style. Then we get into how to create a research paper outline using APA guidelines, giving you a strong foundation to start crafting your content.
At a Glance
APA format is the standard writing style used for psychology research papers. Creating an outline using APA format can help you develop and organize your paper's structure, also keeping you on task as you sit down to write the content.
APA Format Basics
Formatting dictates how papers are styled, which includes their organizational structure, page layout, and how information is presented. APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association (APA).
Learning the basics of APA format is necessary for writing effective psychology papers, whether for your school courses or if you're working in the field and want your research published in a professional journal. Here are some general APA rules to keep in mind when creating both your outline and the paper itself.
Font and Spacing
According to APA style, research papers are to be written in a legible and widely available font. Traditionally, Times New Roman is used with a 12-point font size. However, other serif and sans serif fonts like Arial or Georgia in 11-point font sizes are also acceptable.
APA format also dictates that the research paper be double-spaced. Each page has 1-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right), and the page number is to be placed in the upper right corner of each page.
Both your psychology research paper and outline should include three key sections:
- Introduction : Highlights the main points and presents your hypothesis
- Body : Details the ideas and research that support your hypothesis
- Conclusion : Briefly reiterates your main points and clarifies support for your position
Headings and Subheadings
APA format provides specific guidelines for using headings and subheadings. They are:
- Main headings : Use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV)
- Subheadings: Use capital letters (A, B, C, D)
If you need further subheadings within the initial subheadings, start with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3), then lowercase letters (a, b, c), then Arabic numerals inside parentheses [(1), (2), (3)]
Before Starting Your APA Format Outline
While APA format does not provide specific rules for creating an outline, you can still develop a strong roadmap for your paper using general APA style guidance. Prior to drafting your psychology research paper outline using APA writing style, taking a few important steps can help set you up for greater success.
Review Your Instructor's Requirements
Look over the instructions for your research paper. Your instructor may have provided some type of guidance or stated what they want. They may have even provided specific requirements for what to include in your outline or how it needs to be structured and formatted.
Some instructors require research paper outlines to use decimal format. This structure uses Arabic decimals instead of Roman numerals or letters. In this case, the main headings in an outline would be 1.0, 1.2, and 1.3, while the subheadings would be 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, and so on.
Consider Your Preferences
After reviewing your instructor's requirements, consider your own preferences for organizing your outline. Think about what makes the most sense for you, as well as what type of outline would be most helpful when you begin writing your research paper.
For example, you could choose to format your headings and subheadings as full sentences, or you might decide that you prefer shorter headings that summarize the content. You can also use different approaches to organizing the lettering and numbering in your outline's subheadings.
Whether you are creating your outline according to your instructor's guidelines or following your own organizational preferences, the most important thing is that you are consistent.
When getting ready to start your research paper outline using APA format, it's also helpful to consider how you will format it. Here are a few tips to help:
- Your outline should begin on a new page.
- Before you start writing the outline, check that your word processor does not automatically insert unwanted text or notations (such as letters, numbers, or bullet points) as you type. If it does, turn off auto-formatting.
- If your instructor requires you to specify your hypothesis in your outline, review your assignment instructions to find out where this should be placed. They may want it presented at the top of your outline, for example, or included as a subheading.
How to Create a Research Paper Outline Using APA
Understanding APA format basics can make writing psychology research papers much easier. While APA format does not provide specific rules for creating an outline, you can still develop a strong roadmap for your paper using general APA style guidance, your instructor's requirements, and your own personal organizational preferences.
Typically you won't need to turn your outline in with your final paper. But that doesn't mean you should skip creating one. A strong paper starts with a solid outline. Developing this outline can help you organize your writing and ensure that you effectively communicate your paper's main points and arguments. Here's how to create a research outline using APA format.
Start Your Research
While it may seem like you should create an outline before starting your research, the opposite is actually true. The information you find when researching your psychology research topic will start to reveal the information you'll want to include in your paper—and in your outline.
As you research, consider the main arguments you intend to make in your paper. Look for facts that support your hypothesis, keeping track of where you find these facts so you can cite them when writing your paper. The more organized you are when creating your outline, the easier it becomes to draft the paper itself.
If you are required to turn in your outline before you begin working on your paper, keep in mind that you may need to include a list of references that you plan to use.
Draft Your Outline Using APA Format
Once you have your initial research complete, you have enough information to create an outline. Start with the main headings (which are noted using Roman numerals I, II, III, etc.). Here's an example of the main headings you may use if you were writing an APA format outline for a research paper in support of using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety :
- What CBT Is
- How CBT Helps Ease Anxiety
- Research Supporting CBT for Anxiety
- Potential Drawbacks of CBT for Anxiety and How to Overcome Them
Under each main heading, list your main points or key ideas using subheadings (as noted with A, B, C, etc.). Sticking with the same example, subheadings under "What CBT Is" may include:
- Basic CBT Principles
- How CBT Works
- Conditions CBT Has Been Found to Help Treat
You may also decide to include additional subheadings under your initial subheadings to add more information or clarify important points relevant to your hypothesis. Examples of additional subheadings (which are noted with 1, 2, 3, etc.) that could be included under "Basic CBT Principles" include:
- Is Goal-Oriented
- Focuses on Problem-Solving
- Includes Self-Monitoring
Begin Writing Your Research Paper
The reason this step is included when drafting your research paper outline using APA format is that you'll often find that your outline changes as you begin to dive deeper into your proposed topic. New ideas may emerge or you may decide to narrow your topic further, even sometimes changing your hypothesis altogether.
All of these factors can impact what you write about, ultimately changing your outline. When writing your paper, there are a few important points to keep in mind:
- Follow the structure that your instructor specifies.
- Present your strongest points first.
- Support your arguments with research and examples.
- Organize your ideas logically and in order of strength.
- Keep track of your sources.
- Present and debate possible counterarguments, and provide evidence that counters opposing arguments.
Update Your Final Outline
The final version of your outline should reflect your completed draft. Not only does updating your outline at this point help ensure that you've covered the topics you want in your paper, but it also gives you another opportunity to verify that your paper follows a logical sequence.
When reading through your APA-formatted outline, consider whether it flows naturally from one topic to the next. You wouldn't talk about how CBT works before discussing what CBT is, for example. Taking this final step can give you a more solid outline, and a more solid research paper.
American Psychological Association. About APA Style .
Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Types of outlines and samples .
Mississippi College. Writing Center: Outlines .
American Psychological Association. APA style: Style and Grammar Guidelines .
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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APA Research Paper Outline: Examples and Template
06 Mar 2022
❔Why Is Research Paper Format Necessary?
☝️Concept & Purposes of Research Paper Outline
📑Understanding the APA Outline Format
✒️The Basic APA Outline Format
📃APA Style Outline Template Breakdown
📌Full Sentence Outline Format
📝Decimal Outline Format
💡Tips for Writing an Outline: Organize Your Ideas
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- APA paper outline discusses the study's core concepts.
- The research paper outlines to define the link between your ideas and the thesis.
- It provides you with manageable portions that you can handle.
- The research paper's APA outline enables the detection of structural faults or gaps.
- As shown in the example, it must clearly comprehend the subject at hand.
APA outline example
Understanding the apa outline format, apa paper outline example.
- Headings & Subheadings
- 1-inch margins on the top, bottom, left, and right.
- The page number on the upper right corner.
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- Summarize your key arguments.
- Explain how these concepts support your ultimate stance, as shown in APA outline example below.
The Basic APA Outline Format
Apa style outline template breakdown, full sentence outline format, apa research paper outline example, know how to structure your paper.
- 12-point Times New Roman
- 0" between paragraphs
- 1" margin all around
- double spaced (275 words/page) / single-spaced (550 words/page)
- 0.5" first line of a paragraph
PapersOwl editors can also format your paper according to your specific requirements.
APA Paper Outline Format Example
Decimal outline format, first paragraph: hook and thesis.
- The first paragraph is a sentence or two that introduces the central concept of your article.
- Introduce your topic or subject of study where your research is applicable as a context for further research.
- Explain why the mentioned issue is essential or relevant to the audience.
- A thesis statement is a claim that you make throughout your whole essay.
- The topic phrase is the first point in any writing to support a thesis statement.
- Give an explanation or provide evidence to support your point.
- Provide verifiable facts, figures, and/or citations from credible sources in your writing. It helps in the substantiating assertion.
- Include as many supporting statements and related evidence in your decimal outline.
Decimal APA outline format example
Decimal apa outline format layout, tips for writing an outline: organize your ideas, a definite goal, parallelism, coordination, subordination, avoid redundancy, wrap it up in a good way.
- Thesis statement
- Techniques employed
- Body of paper
- Conclusions section
- List of references
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Types of Outlines and Samples
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This is the most common type of outline and usually instantly recognizable to most people. The formatting follows these characters, in this order:
- Roman Numerals
- Capitalized Letters
- Arabic Numerals
- Lowercase Letters
If the outline needs to subdivide beyond these divisions, use Arabic numerals inside parentheses and then lowercase letters inside parentheses. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.
The sample PDF in the Media Box above is an example of an outline that a student might create before writing an essay. In order to organize her thoughts and make sure that she has not forgotten any key points that she wants to address, she creates the outline as a framework for her essay.
What is the assignment?
Your instructor asks the class to write an expository (explanatory) essay on the typical steps a high school student would follow in order to apply to college.
What is the purpose of this essay?
To explain the process for applying to college
Who is the intended audience for this essay?
High school students intending to apply to college and their parents
What is the essay's thesis statement?
When applying to college, a student follows a certain process which includes choosing the right schools and preparing the application materials.
Full Sentence Outlines
The full sentence outline format is essentially the same as the Alphanumeric outline. The main difference (as the title suggests) is that full sentences are required at each level of the outline. This outline is most often used when preparing a traditional essay. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.
The decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline. The added benefit is a system of decimal notation that clearly shows how every level of the outline relates to the larger whole. Select the "Sample Outlines" PDF in the Media Box above to download the sample of this outline.
Writing Center Outlines: Outlines
In this section, you'll find resources on creating Outlines. APA style does not require any specific formatting for outlines because APA style is intended for published texts and academic essays.
Creating an Outline
An outline is a drafting tool to help you plan your paper. An outline provides structure for the sections and/or paragraphs of your paper, depending on the scope of your project. Please note that APA style does not require any specific formatting for outlines because APA style is intended for published texts and academic essays.
An outline should illustrate the progression of your thesis statement. Since each paragraph should have a main idea supported by evidence, you can use support from your research to outline your paper, paragraph by paragraph
- A thesis statement is a short statement that introduces the argument of your paper as a whole.
- Every paragraph in your paper should begin with a claim/main idea , which will be a debatable assertion or position that requires support. Claims build off one another in order to develop an argument over the course of an essay.
- Every claim should be supported by evidence or support , the proof that validates your claim. Evidence and support usually come from other sources, like peer-reviewed journal articles. This can include facts, data, statistics, anecdotes, and more.
Keep the following tips in mind when creating an outline:
- Remember, outlines should be helpful for you when writing your paper. You should be able to look at your outline and write major sections or paragraphs using the information and ideas in your outline.
- Level 1 bullet points should outline the major topics and ideas of your paper.
- Level 2 bullet points should plan out sub-topics, supporting ideas, and organizational aspects of your essay.
- Level 3 bullet points illustrate an extra level of thought and detail in your outline that you might not need. However, if you have done a lot of research on your topic already, you can use Level 3 bullet points to plan out your analysis for each piece of evidence or where to address specific counterarguments.
- It is not always required, but it can be a good idea to include a references page after your outline. This way, your sources are already organized when you begin drafting your essay.
Full sentence outlines are often accompanied with an APA reference list on a separate page. Quotes within the outline must also utilize APA in-text citations.
Sample Alphanumeric Outline
This downloadable sample alphanumeric outline will help you understand what a completed outline could look like.
Alphanumeric Outline Template
You can use this downloadable alphanumeric outline template to help get you started with your assignment.
This downloadable sample outline will help you understand what a completed outline could look like.
You can use this downloadable outline template to help you get started with your assignment.
- Last Updated: Feb 1, 2023 3:13 PM
- URL: https://csuglobal.libguides.com/outlines
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- APA Style 7th edition
- How to write an APA methods section
How to Write an APA Methods Section | With Examples
Published on February 5, 2021 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on June 22, 2023.
The methods section of an APA style paper is where you report in detail how you performed your study. Research papers in the social and natural sciences often follow APA style. This article focuses on reporting quantitative research methods .
In your APA methods section, you should report enough information to understand and replicate your study, including detailed information on the sample , measures, and procedures used.
Table of contents
Structuring an apa methods section.
Example of an APA methods section
Other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an apa methods section.
The main heading of “Methods” should be centered, boldfaced, and capitalized. Subheadings within this section are left-aligned, boldfaced, and in title case. You can also add lower level headings within these subsections, as long as they follow APA heading styles .
To structure your methods section, you can use the subheadings of “Participants,” “Materials,” and “Procedures.” These headings are not mandatory—aim to organize your methods section using subheadings that make sense for your specific study.
Note that not all of these topics will necessarily be relevant for your study. For example, if you didn’t need to consider outlier removal or ways of assigning participants to different conditions, you don’t have to report these steps.
The APA also provides specific reporting guidelines for different types of research design. These tell you exactly what you need to report for longitudinal designs , replication studies, experimental designs , and so on. If your study uses a combination design, consult APA guidelines for mixed methods studies.
Detailed descriptions of procedures that don’t fit into your main text can be placed in supplemental materials (for example, the exact instructions and tasks given to participants, the full analytical strategy including software code, or additional figures and tables).
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Begin the methods section by reporting sample characteristics, sampling procedures, and the sample size.
Participant or subject characteristics
When discussing people who participate in research, descriptive terms like “participants,” “subjects” and “respondents” can be used. For non-human animal research, “subjects” is more appropriate.
Specify all relevant demographic characteristics of your participants. This may include their age, sex, ethnic or racial group, gender identity, education level, and socioeconomic status. Depending on your study topic, other characteristics like educational or immigration status or language preference may also be relevant.
Be sure to report these characteristics as precisely as possible. This helps the reader understand how far your results may be generalized to other people.
The APA guidelines emphasize writing about participants using bias-free language , so it’s necessary to use inclusive and appropriate terms.
Outline how the participants were selected and all inclusion and exclusion criteria applied. Appropriately identify the sampling procedure used. For example, you should only label a sample as random if you had access to every member of the relevant population.
Of all the people invited to participate in your study, note the percentage that actually did (if you have this data). Additionally, report whether participants were self-selected, either by themselves or by their institutions (e.g., schools may submit student data for research purposes).
Identify any compensation (e.g., course credits or money) that was provided to participants, and mention any institutional review board approvals and ethical standards followed.
Sample size and power
Detail the sample size (per condition) and statistical power that you hoped to achieve, as well as any analyses you performed to determine these numbers.
It’s important to show that your study had enough statistical power to find effects if there were any to be found.
Additionally, state whether your final sample differed from the intended sample. Your interpretations of the study outcomes should be based only on your final sample rather than your intended sample.
Write up the tools and techniques that you used to measure relevant variables. Be as thorough as possible for a complete picture of your techniques.
Primary and secondary measures
Define the primary and secondary outcome measures that will help you answer your primary and secondary research questions.
Specify all instruments used in gathering these measurements and the construct that they measure. These instruments may include hardware, software, or tests, scales, and inventories.
- To cite hardware, indicate the model number and manufacturer.
- To cite common software (e.g., Qualtrics), state the full name along with the version number or the website URL .
- To cite tests, scales or inventories, reference its manual or the article it was published in. It’s also helpful to state the number of items and provide one or two example items.
Make sure to report the settings of (e.g., screen resolution) any specialized apparatus used.
For each instrument used, report measures of the following:
- Reliability : how consistently the method measures something, in terms of internal consistency or test-retest reliability.
- Validity : how precisely the method measures something, in terms of construct validity or criterion validity .
Giving an example item or two for tests, questionnaires , and interviews is also helpful.
Describe any covariates—these are any additional variables that may explain or predict the outcomes.
Quality of measurements
Review all methods you used to assure the quality of your measurements.
These may include:
- training researchers to collect data reliably,
- using multiple people to assess (e.g., observe or code) the data,
- translation and back-translation of research materials,
- using pilot studies to test your materials on unrelated samples.
For data that’s subjectively coded (for example, classifying open-ended responses), report interrater reliability scores. This tells the reader how similarly each response was rated by multiple raters.
Report all of the procedures applied for administering the study, processing the data, and for planned data analyses.
Data collection methods and research design
Data collection methods refers to the general mode of the instruments: surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, neuroimaging, cognitive tests, and so on. Summarize exactly how you collected the necessary data.
Describe all procedures you applied in administering surveys, tests, physical recordings, or imaging devices, with enough detail so that someone else can replicate your techniques. If your procedures are very complicated and require long descriptions (e.g., in neuroimaging studies), place these details in supplementary materials.
To report research design, note your overall framework for data collection and analysis. State whether you used an experimental, quasi-experimental, descriptive (observational), correlational, and/or longitudinal design. Also note whether a between-subjects or a within-subjects design was used.
For multi-group studies, report the following design and procedural details as well:
- how participants were assigned to different conditions (e.g., randomization),
- instructions given to the participants in each group,
- interventions for each group,
- the setting and length of each session(s).
Describe whether any masking was used to hide the condition assignment (e.g., placebo or medication condition) from participants or research administrators. Using masking in a multi-group study ensures internal validity by reducing research bias . Explain how this masking was applied and whether its effectiveness was assessed.
Participants were randomly assigned to a control or experimental condition. The survey was administered using Qualtrics (https://www.qualtrics.com). To begin, all participants were given the AAI and a demographics questionnaire to complete, followed by an unrelated filler task. In the control condition , participants completed a short general knowledge test immediately after the filler task. In the experimental condition, participants were asked to visualize themselves taking the test for 3 minutes before they actually did. For more details on the exact instructions and tasks given, see supplementary materials.
Outline all steps taken to scrutinize or process the data after collection.
This includes the following:
- Procedures for identifying and removing outliers
- Data transformations to normalize distributions
- Compensation strategies for overcoming missing values
To ensure high validity, you should provide enough detail for your reader to understand how and why you processed or transformed your raw data in these specific ways.
The methods section is also where you describe your statistical analysis procedures, but not their outcomes. Their outcomes are reported in the results section.
These procedures should be stated for all primary, secondary, and exploratory hypotheses. While primary and secondary hypotheses are based on a theoretical framework or past studies, exploratory hypotheses are guided by the data you’ve just collected.
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This annotated example reports methods for a descriptive correlational survey on the relationship between religiosity and trust in science in the US. Hover over each part for explanation of what is included.
The sample included 879 adults aged between 18 and 28. More than half of the participants were women (56%), and all participants had completed at least 12 years of education. Ethics approval was obtained from the university board before recruitment began. Participants were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk; www.mturk.com). We selected for a geographically diverse sample within the Midwest of the US through an initial screening survey. Participants were paid USD $5 upon completion of the study.
A sample size of at least 783 was deemed necessary for detecting a correlation coefficient of ±.1, with a power level of 80% and a significance level of .05, using a sample size calculator (www.sample-size.net/correlation-sample-size/).
The primary outcome measures were the levels of religiosity and trust in science. Religiosity refers to involvement and belief in religious traditions, while trust in science represents confidence in scientists and scientific research outcomes. The secondary outcome measures were gender and parental education levels of participants and whether these characteristics predicted religiosity levels.
Religiosity was measured using the Centrality of Religiosity scale (Huber, 2003). The Likert scale is made up of 15 questions with five subscales of ideology, experience, intellect, public practice, and private practice. An example item is “How often do you experience situations in which you have the feeling that God or something divine intervenes in your life?” Participants were asked to indicate frequency of occurrence by selecting a response ranging from 1 (very often) to 5 (never). The internal consistency of the instrument is .83 (Huber & Huber, 2012).
Trust in Science
Trust in science was assessed using the General Trust in Science index (McCright, Dentzman, Charters & Dietz, 2013). Four Likert scale items were assessed on a scale from 1 (completely distrust) to 5 (completely trust). An example question asks “How much do you distrust or trust scientists to create knowledge that is unbiased and accurate?” Internal consistency was .8.
Potential participants were invited to participate in the survey online using Qualtrics (www.qualtrics.com). The survey consisted of multiple choice questions regarding demographic characteristics, the Centrality of Religiosity scale, an unrelated filler anagram task, and finally the General Trust in Science index. The filler task was included to avoid priming or demand characteristics, and an attention check was embedded within the religiosity scale. For full instructions and details of tasks, see supplementary materials.
For this correlational study , we assessed our primary hypothesis of a relationship between religiosity and trust in science using Pearson moment correlation coefficient. The statistical significance of the correlation coefficient was assessed using a t test. To test our secondary hypothesis of parental education levels and gender as predictors of religiosity, multiple linear regression analysis was used.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Normal distribution
- Measures of central tendency
- Chi square tests
- Confidence interval
- Quartiles & Quantiles
- Cluster sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Thematic analysis
- Cohort study
- Peer review
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Conformity bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Availability heuristic
- Attrition bias
- Social desirability bias
In your APA methods section , you should report detailed information on the participants, materials, and procedures used.
- Describe all relevant participant or subject characteristics, the sampling procedures used and the sample size and power .
- Define all primary and secondary measures and discuss the quality of measurements.
- Specify the data collection methods, the research design and data analysis strategy, including any steps taken to transform the data and statistical analyses.
You should report methods using the past tense , even if you haven’t completed your study at the time of writing. That’s because the methods section is intended to describe completed actions or research.
In a scientific paper, the methodology always comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion . The same basic structure also applies to a thesis, dissertation , or research proposal .
Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.
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How to Write an Outline in APA Format
Some basic formatting to be used while writing an outline in APA format
- The margin of the pages should be set to one inch – left, right, bottom and top.
- The paragraphs should be double spaced. Single spaced paragraphs should never be used while writing an outline in APA format.
- The font should be Times New Roman.
- The font size should be 12 points.
- In addition to the above information, the first page of the outline should contain the following information: name of the student, name of the guide/teacher or professor, title of the paper/course and date of the paper.
The above steps can be easily done using any word processor like Microsoft Word. MS Word has all the options and features that can help you in making and formatting the outline in standard APA format.
Some of the functions of MS Word required to format the outline in APA format are:
- Indenting and Margin: Click on the File menu – Go to Page Setup. Clicking this sub menu will bring a pop-up window box that will show the margins of the document that you are currently working on. Now, to make one-inch margins, set the margin to 1” by entering it manually with the keyboard or by using the up or down arrows provided in the box. Make all the four sides – top, left, bottom and right to 1” and click OK to set it to 1” indenting.
- Paragraph Spacing: To make the paragraph double-spaced, select the paragraphs in the outline. Click on Format menu, select Paragraph. It will open a new box which will be showing the Indents and Spacing tab selected by default. Select the Line Spacing drop down button and select the “Double” option; then click OK. The selected paragraphs of the outline will be double-spaced by performing the above steps.
- Font Style: Generally, MS Word has Times New Roman as the default Font settings in its standard New Document template but if it’s not showing in your word document, you can change it easily by following one of the steps. The first step is to click on the Format Menu, select Font. A new popup box will appear. On the Fonts tab, select the font as Times New Roman from the list of fonts. The second step is to click on the font drop down menu which is positioned on the Formatting toolbar just below the Standard toolbar. The last option is to select whatever text you have typed, right click on the selected text. Select the Font option and change the font style to Times New Roman.
- Font Size: For the font size to be set at 12 points, just repeat the above steps mentioned in the previous paragraph. But instead of selecting the font style, select the font size from the appropriate menu/drop down buttons.
Once the basic formatting level has been achieved, it is now time to organize and layout the main outline above formatting has been done in the outline document, the main outline needs to be constructed. You must be wondering by now: “how to write an outline in APA format”, as the above steps mention how to take care of the formatting, but not the main outline. The following steps will solve your problem in making an outline in APA format:
Basic criteria for making an outline in APA format:
- The main headings (that come topmost on the pages) should always be accompanied by Roman Numerals (I, II, III, etc.) For example, if you are writing an essay on The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB, you should make your heading something like this:
I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB
This is the first and basic step in formatting your outline. After the main heading has been created and formatted with the Roman numeral at the beginning of the heading, it is now time to move to the next formatting level.
- For making a subheading immediately after the main heading, you need to start the subheading sentence with a capital letter (English alphabets). In the above example, the main heading was on The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB. Suppose the subheading was “Introduction to Antibiotics”. The subheading should start with the letter A. (in capitals) and should look something like this:
A. Introduction to Antibiotics
So now the heading and the subheading should look like this:
I. Role of antibiotics in control of TB A. Introduction to Antibiotics
- If you want to add more than one subheading to your main heading, you can do that just by adding the next alphabet in capital letters at the start of the next subheading. For example, if you want to add a second subheading to the above example, say “The effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body”, you should write like this:
B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body
Now the heading and subheading will look like this:
I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB A. Introduction to Antibiotics B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body
- If you want to add further subheadings to the subheading, you should do it with Arab numerals (1,2, 3 and so on). For example, if there is a subheading titled “How Does Antibody React With the Antigen” under the parent heading B, it should be written as:
1. How Does Antibody React With the Antigen?
Now the outline should look something like this:
I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB A. Introduction to Antibiotics B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body 1. How Does Antibody React With the Antigen?
- Now if there are some more subheadings, under the last subheading, it should be followed by lower case letters (a, b, c ….). If there are more subheadings to the parent subheading, then it should start with Arab numerals in parenthesis. An example to elucidate the above is mentioned here for you:
I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB A. Introduction to Antibiotics B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body 1. How Does Antibody React With the Antigen? a. Antigen – antibodies interaction (1) Enzymes That Help in the Interaction of Antigens
Remember that writing an outline in APA format is quite different from writing an outline in MLA format. You should use parallelism in the outline structure, which will help in maintaining uniformity and consistency between the headings and subheadings. Coordination, subordination and division between the headings and subheadings are also an important element to be kept in mind while writing an outline in APA format. Writing an outline in APA format can be a lot easier if the above steps and guidelines are followed.
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