A research paper is documentation of a research work. The purpose of documentation of research work is to preserve the research findings for future references; therefore a standard research paper format is used in documenting research work. There are two set of standards that are followed while writing a research paper.
• Modern Language Association or MLA – mainly used for documenting research work done in liberal arts and humanities.
• American Psychological Association or APA used for writing research papers on subjects in social and behavioral sciences.
The research paper topic will have to be chosen carefully. Since the topic is central to the research work, and quality of research paper depends on the topic. At times taking professional help in identifying research ideas helps in preparation for a superior quality research paper.
Once the research work has been completed the next challenge is to write the research paper. The subject of research will indicate the standard research paper format that should be followed. The MLA or APA formats do have few differences in the guidelines for writing. But it is mandatory to follow the guidelines of the formats. The institution at times gives guidelines that need to be followed along with the guidelines of these formats. A comparative analysis of the guidelines of the two will explain the similarity of the formats. Both in MLA and APA format the following guidelines are similar:
Margins: One inch on all sides
Font: 12 pt times New Roman (APA guidelines require that figures be written in Arial)
Spacing: Double Spaced all throughout
Alignment: Left justified
Indention for paragraph: Half inch indention (Five spaces in MLA and five to seven spaces in APA)
The dissimilarity of the two formats emerges when the writer is faced with the question of how to cite research paper that had been consulted during the research. The dissimilarity is not restricted to citations of references. The two formats differ in terms of research paper outline rubric as well. The guidelines for formatting the title page are different in MLA than from APA. A research paper writer would like to include illustrations in the form of tables or graphs along with figures in the research paper. In a standard research paper format as per MLA guidelines, the graphs, tables and figures are to be placed closed to the text referring to those illustrations. The method of including illustrations is quite different under APA format.
To a researcher writing a research paper as per the guidelines of either of the formats can be daunting. Also since the researcher would like to devote more time to research and consulting references, it can be a problem citing those references that have been consulted. One way out can be to entrust the writing of a research paper to those who specializes in such jobs. These professional would write a research a paper as per standard research paper format. This will leave more time with the researcher to concentrate on the research work and at the same time the research will be documented in a proper format.