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010_RFW6e_Writing_APA_Papers_(pages_476-528) -...

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Writing APA Papers Most writing assignments in the social sciences are either re- ports of original research or reviews of the literature written about a research topic. Often an original research report con- tains a “review of the literature” section that places the writer’s project in the context of previous research. Most social science instructors will ask you to document your sources with the American Psychological Association (APA) system of in-text citations and references described in 60. You face three main challenges when writing a social science paper that draws on sources: (1) supporting a thesis, (2) citing your sources and avoiding plagiarism, and (3) integrating quo- tations and other source material. Examples in this section are drawn from research a student conducted for a review of the literature on treatments for child- hood obesity. Luisa Mirano’s paper appears on pages 515–28. 57 Supporting a thesis Most assignments ask you to form a thesis, or main idea, and to support that thesis with well-organized evidence. In a paper re- viewing the literature on a topic, this thesis analyzes the often competing conclusions drawn by a variety of researchers. 57a Form a thesis. A thesis, which usually appears at the end of the introduction, is a one-sentence (or occasionally a two-sentence) statement of your central idea. You will be reading articles and other sources that address a central research question. Your thesis will ex- press a reasonable answer to that question, given the current state of research in the field. Here, for example, is a research question posed by Luisa Mirano, a student in a psychology class, followed by a thesis that answers the question. 476 Writing APA papers APA 57
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RESEARCH QUESTION Is medication the right treatment for the escalating problem of childhood obesity? POSSIBLE THESIS Understanding the limitations of medical treatments for children highlights the complexity of the childhood obesity problem in the United States and underscores the need for physicians, advocacy groups, and policymakers to search for other solutions. ON THE WEB > dianahacker.com/rules Research exercises > APA > E-ex 57–1 57b Organize your evidence. The American Psychological Association encourages the use of headings to help readers follow the organization of a paper. For an original research report, the major headings often follow a standard model: Method, Results, Discussion. The introduction is not given a heading; it consists of the material between the title of the paper and the first heading. For a literature review, headings will vary. The student who wrote about treatments for childhood obesity used four ques- tions to focus her research; the questions then became head- ings in her paper (see pp. 515–28).
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