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Writing a Research Paper

The key to success when writing a research paper often falls on the style in which it is written. The required style will be given to you, along with all the other particular details of the paper, by your professor and the wise student will follow these guidelines to the last letter. A brilliant message is often degraded (and “D” graded) when the style guidelines are loosely followed or ignored.

In most cases, all your collegiate term papers will be submitted to the same college or university but this centralized final destination doesn't necessarily mean writing a research paper in the same style throughout is required of the institution. In fact, most subjects have particular writing guidelines that are based upon styles determined by professionals writing in a particular field of business after graduation. The student gets training in college for writing professionally in the appropriate style once a career path has been established.


Writing a research paper in the scientific arena will require many different details than the details which must be followed exactly when writing a paper for journalism classes. The student writing in the appropriate style for journalism will need to become familiar with a completely different style when writing about literature. The medical field requires different styles than the legal field and the research paper written for a Spanish-language class will be different than that written for a Russian-language class.

The style guidelines required when writing a research paper describe the correct way to use grammar, punctuation, capitalization, format, and even spelling. These guidelines are usually available as a writing manual published by the professional organization overseeing a particular industry and they are updated regularly. For example, in 2005 the American Psychological Association (APA) issued the latest edition of APA Publication Manual, its fifth revision since 1992.

If you are ready to start writing a research paper and aren't clear on what style is required of your professor, just ask. He or she will most likely direct you to the preferred style guide published for that particular field or industry. Use it meticulously and your brilliant message won't get muddled or misinterpreted by writing in the wrong style.