Academic writing, whether it is a research paper, a thesis, a dissertation, or a paper to be presented at a conference, has to follow certain guidelines depending on the academic discipline it falls under. The guidelines, which are written in books referred to as style guides, tell the format the paper must take, the ways that sources used for reference or quoted from must be given credit to – both in the text of the paper and, in more detail, at the end of the paper in the “Reference” or “Works Cited” section, and the guidelines for writing the paper itself. These style guides will also explain how to cite and document original research that the author has conducted.
When you are conducting research and writing an academic paper, whether it is for a class or to publish your research, make sure that you obtain a copy of the correct style guide. Below are the current editions of styleguides:
The Modern Language Association (MLA), which is used in the subject area of humanities, such as English, currently uses the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition, published in 2009.
Papers that need to be written in Chicago style (CMS), which is used for the subject areas of history, currently uses the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, published in 2010.
Many papers in various areas of social sciences, such as psychology and education, will use American Psychological Association (APA) style formatting. The most up-to-date style guide for APA is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition, published in 2009.
Scientific papers and research are often written using CSE. The current manual for this type of paper is called the Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, And Publishers, published in 2006.
There are other, more specialized style guides in use as well. Writers of newspaper articles connected with the Associated Press (AP) presently use The Associated Press Stylebook 2009.
Although the style guides listed above are the current editions, it is important that you always check to see that you have the most current and up-to-date edition. Rules for citing sources and other areas of style guides change over time.
A style guide will give writers information about how to format their papers according to specific guidelines. These guides also explain how writers are supposed to document and give credit to the sources they used to do their research and write their paper. It is vital that writers of papers using these formats follow all the guidelines exactly. The idea behind a style guide is that all papers in a certain subject area or discipline follow a consistent format. When using a style guide to write an academic paper or article, paying attention to the details is vital. For example, in any paper that you write, you will, of course, cite websites differently than books, which are cited in a different way from journal articles. In addition, each style guide will have differing guidelines on how to cite these sources. The good news is that once you have used a style guide several times, it becomes much more familiar, which makes writing your papers or research easier.
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