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The most frequently used research paper formats

When you are writing a research paper the most frequently used paper formats are as follows:

  • APA format for social and behavioral science research papers as well as many scientific research papers
  • MLA format for literature related research papers
  • Harvard format for many other genres not included above
  • Chicago format for many other genres not included above

All four relate to how your cover page is set up and what chapters or sections you include within the report. In many cases you will use APA for a science based paper because it includes a literature review and background section as well as a methodology section. For literature research papers you do not need these areas and instead have a simple cover sheet and basic essay format of introduction followed by body and then conclusion.

All four formats have a specific citation and reference section requirements based on the source used and the number of authors for that source. Each guide can be found online for those who need help citing or referencing a more complicated source.

With this type of writing it is important to note that in a lot of cases you will show the readers something new about the text. Your essay will employ an objective and serious tone. In most cases this is the standard tone you should use. There are a few exceptions where a light tone may be appropriate but this is not one of them. When you draft your argument you should use the “claims and evidence” approach. This means that you need to be specific about every point you make regarding the text at hand. Whenever you discuss something you need to back up the point with evidence that the reader will know is appropriate and credible. Whatever you say just be sure there is evidence to support the claims.

You should try and find evidence that is taken from the actual text. If you want to argue something in the text about a character or his development then you should back that up with speeches or events from the text. There is another form of evidence you can use too. It is called criticism. This comes from other writers. You can refer to evaluations or comments on the text made by other authors in the field. You can treat these comments as derived from an expert.


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