A research paper is a document built around a particular factual topic or thesis that's substantially supported by factual information and that incorporates critical thinking skills and evidence. Research papers will have the topic or thesis statements, pages of citations, and extensive paragraphs full of all of the supporting facts. In many cases, there will be specific research paper guidelines someone needs to do for a research paper. Research papers will also have guidelines related to the thesis statements and topics.
In many cases, research papers more or less serve as a showcase for the research that someone has done on a particular topic, and portions of research papers will more or less summarize huge chunks of the research that someone did. It is the job of the writer to bring order to the huge collection of research and to find some way to bring it all together, giving all of this information structure and using it to support an overarching idea.
Format for a Research Paper
Margins. The specific guidelines related to a research paper will usually vary from professor to professor or teacher to teacher. However, there are usually limitations on the margins of the pages. Margins are less important in an age where no one writes research papers by hand. However, people will usually be limited to margins of one inch or so in order to avoid a situation where people make the margins bigger to artificially inflate the page count.
Page Count. Research papers will typically have page count requirements, and people often try to find a way around those. Teachers usually have to find some way to eliminate the most common tricks. Naturally, having overly wide or overly narrow margins makes a document much less readable. Having a certain number of characters on a particular page in a document makes the entire piece much more readable, and guidelines for the margins are built in recognition of that fact.
Research Paper Structure. Most research papers will have title pages that just inform the reader of the title, the writer, and the date on which the paper was written. After that, people have the body of the paper. Then, writers will have to include their Works Cited pages that list all of the sources that they used. In some cases, people will also have to include the works that they consulted, even if they did not actually use all of their research in the paper. Some Works Cited pages will be longer than others.
Page Numbers. Research papers will typically have numbered pages since most of them should be long enough to demonstrate a large breadth of information. Placing the page numbers in the center of the document makes more sense in most cases, although some teachers might prefer the page numbers to be aligned to the left or the right edge of the paper for whatever reason.
Paragraph Numbers. In some cases, people will need to number paragraphs. However, numbering paragraphs tends to affect the readability of a document, and not all teachers will require it. Coming up with subheadings for the different paragraphs will often work better.
Spacing. Requirements for spacing vary. Indentations for paragraphs were once required. However, these kinds of indentations are less common in the Information Age. Many modern teachers might just ask people to skip one line between paragraphs in order to signify paragraph breaks, which is more similar to what people will see on the Internet today and more similar to the documents that students are likely to encounter at a later date.
Some teachers will require double spacing. Usually, double spacing and spacing between paragraphs are going to be considered overkill, but the requirements for the format of a research paper are always going to vary. All of the normal rules about spacing between words apply with research papers. There needs to be a space between the words in a document. However, there might be some specific rules about the spacing involving citations. Some teachers require people to put the citation before a period in a sentence, and other teachers require people to put the period before the citation. There really are no generic guidelines for this sort of thing.
APA and MLA Formats
APA and MLA formats are similar in nature. Different professors and teachers may have different requirements regarding the use of APA and MLA formats. APA formatting is more common for formal academic writing, and the majority of papers that people will write during high school, college, and graduate school will just use MLA formatting. MLA formatting is more casual.
One distinguishing feature is that the APA style does not use footnotes. People just use in-text citations for the APA style of formatting. The in-text citations will then correspond to the Works Cited pages at the end of the document. People can use endnotes or footnotes in the MLA style. However, the MLA style can also involve simple in-text citations as well.
The formatting of the citations themselves will vary between the APA style of formatting and the MLA style of formatting. These style guidelines actually change, so people should stay up-to-date with the current standards for the formatting. Many of these styles will go back and forth with regards to how to cite a website, for instance, in accordance with the changes to the Internet that have occurred over the years.
Professional Research Papers
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