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Research Papers

Many courses require a research paper as one of the graded activities. Students should review each course syllabus and communicate with their instructors regarding specific requirements for their research papers, including topic, length of paper, due date, etc.

APA Format

All research papers must be submitted in American Psychological Association (APA) style format. Information about APA style, including an APA style tutorial, APA example paper, research paper guidelines, and helpful links are available at NAU’s Learning Resource Center website located in the Student Portal.

Research Paper Guidelines

Each research paper should include a cover page and abstract as shown in the APA example paper at NAU’s Learning Resource Center website. Each research paper should also comply with the following guidelines:


  • Identifies the subject and states the thesis.
  • Includes an attention getter to capture the reader’s interest.


  • Provides support for the thesis presented in the introduction.
  • Each paragraph in the body includes a clear topic sentence that expresses the central idea of the paragraph.
  • All of the sentences in a paragraph contribute to the idea in the topic sentence to produce paragraph unity.
  • Paragraphs lead the reader logically from one section to another; transitions are used to make connections between ideas easier to follow and contribute to the smoothness of the paper.


Is brief and relates to what has been written previously by mentioning major ideas, interpreting the significance of the material in the body, making predictions, using an anecdote, and/or stating a quote or question.

Audience Awareness

Written for a general audience or writer makes it clear to the reader if writing for a special audience.

Grammar and Mechanics

  • Uses appropriate grammar and punctuation.
  • Uses conventional spelling.
  • Uses correct APA style in the title page, headings, pagination, internal citations, references page and font size.
  • Uses print or electronic books, research journals, periodicals, and electronic database references. No more than one non-juried/non-refereed Internet site (contains material that has not undergone professional peer review).

Argumentation (if applicable)

  • A problem or issue that allows for differences of opinion is stated.
  • Possible positions that may be taken on the issue are identified.
  • The position taken in the paper is stated.
  • Proof is offered to support that the position taken is reasonable.
  • Objections to the position are anticipated and addressed (acknowledged/accepted or refuted).
  • The position is restated.
  • Two or more methods of development are used: description, narration, example, process, comparison/contrast, classification/division, cause/effect or demonstration.

Skwire, D., & Wiener, H. S. (2002). Student’s book of college English: Rhetoric readings, handbook (9th ed.). New York: Longman.