Checklist: Writing a research paper

A research paper is an extended piece of writing based on in-depth independent research. It may involve conducting empirical research or analyzing primary and secondary sources.

Writing a good research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic and advance an original argument. To convincingly communicate your ideas, you need a logical structure and a clear style that follows the conventions of academic writing.

When you’ve finished writing your paper, use this checklist to evaluate your work.

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How to write your graduate school resume

When you apply for graduate school, you’ll usually be asked to submit a resume or CV along with your application. A graduate school resume should give a focused, concise overview of relevant experiences and achievements.

The exact sections you include depend on your experiences and on the focus of the program you’re applying to. Ensure your resume gives full details of:

  • Your college education
  • Relevant work experience
  • Relevant voluntary and extracurricular experience
  • Any awards, honors, publications, or other relevant achievements
  • Any relevant skills, certifications, and memberships

The main difference from a regular resume is that you’ll put more emphasis on your education and academic interests to show that you’re a good candidate for graduate school.

Download the Word templates and adjust them to your own purposes.

Resume template 1 Resume Template 2

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APA vs MLA: The key differences

The main differences between APA and MLA style

APA and MLA are two of the most commonly used citation styles.

The APA manual (published by the American Psychological Association) is mostly used in social science and education fields.

The MLA handbook (published by the Modern Language Association) is mostly used in humanities fields.

In both styles, a source citation consists of:

  • A brief parenthetical citation in the text
  • A full reference at the end of the paper

However, citations look slightly different in each style, with different rules for things like title capitalization, author names, and placement of the date.

There are also some differences in layout and formatting. Download the Word templates for a correctly formatted paper in either style.

APA template MLA template

This article follows the 8th edition of MLA style and the 6th edition of APA style. The 7th edition of the APA manual is expected to be widely used from spring 2020 onwards.

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An introduction to sampling methods

When you conduct research about a group of people, it’s rarely possible to collect data from every person in that group. Instead, you select a sample. The sample is the group of individuals who will actually participate in the research.

To draw valid conclusions from your results, you have to carefully decide how you will select a sample that is representative of the group as a whole. There are two types of sampling methods:

  • Probability sampling involves random selection, allowing you to make statistical inferences about the whole group.
  • Non-probability sampling involves non-random selection based on convenience or other criteria, allowing you to easily collect initial data.

You should clearly explain how you selected your sample in the methodology section of your paper or thesis.

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How to cite a lecture in MLA

In MLA (8th edition), the Works Cited entry for a lecture looks like this:

MLA lecture citation format

Lecturer Last Name, First Name. “Title of Lecture.” Course or Event Name, Date, Venue, City. Descriptive label.

MLA lecture citation example

Dent, Gina. “Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology.” Moving together: Activism, Art & Education, 16 May 2018, The Black Archives, Amsterdam. Lecture.

This format also applies to other types of oral presentation, such as a conference panel or a public talk.

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MLA footnotes and endnotes

In MLA style, when you refer to a source, you use a parenthetical citation in the main text. Footnotes and endnotes can be used for two purposes:

  • Bibliographic notes: mentioning additional sources that are relevant to your point
  • Content notes: adding extra information or explanation that doesn’t fit into the main text

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes appear at the very end of the paper. MLA permits the use of either type.

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Creating an MLA heading

The first page of your MLA format paper starts with a four-line left-aligned heading containing:

  • Your full name
  • Your instructor’s name
  • The course name and number
  • The date of submission

After the heading, the title of the paper is centred on a new line. The heading and title do not take any special styling, and should be the same font and size as the rest of the paper.

MLA style does not require a separate cover page. The main body of your paper starts on the same page, directly under the title.

Include your name and the page number right-aligned in the header on every page.

Download the MLA heading template (Word)

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How to do survey research

Survey research means collecting information about a group of people by asking them questions and analyzing the results. To conduct an effective survey, follow these six steps:

  1. Determine who will participate in the survey
  2. Decide the type of survey (mail, online, or in-person)
  3. Design the survey questions and layout
  4. Distribute the survey
  5. Analyze the responses
  6. Write up the results

Surveys are a flexible method of data collection that can be used in many different types of research.

Continue reading: How to do survey research