APA Style Research Report Example: Structuring Your Study

Creating a well-structured research report that follows APA style guidelines can be challenging for any scientist or academic.

This post provides a complete walkthrough of how to format each section of an APA style research report to clearly showcase your study and findings.

You'll see examples and explanations for crafting an effective title page, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and reference list. By the end, you'll have a solid template to apply for structuring your own APA-formatted research reports.

Introduction to APA Style Research Reports

What is an APA Style Research Report?

An APA style research report is a document presenting empirical research findings formatted according to APA manual guidelines. It communicates original research concisely and precisely to inform an academic audience.

Key elements of an APA research report include:

  • Title page with running head, title, author name(s), and institutional affiliation

  • Abstract summarizing the key details of the report

  • Introduction presenting background and stating hypotheses or research questions

  • Method section explaining the research design, materials, procedure

  • Results reporting key data and statistical analyses

  • Discussion interpreting the findings and stating conclusions

  • References listing sources cited in APA format

Purpose and Goals

APA research reports allow researchers to share methodologies and findings, driving scientific progress. They aim to demonstrate sound research design and provide impactful implications.

Specific goals of APA style research reports include:

  • Communicating research effectively to peers

  • Providing transparency and allowing reproducibility

  • Sharing generalizable insights to advance the field

  • Establishing credibility through rigorous methodology

Basic Structure

APA reports contain key sections like a title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion and references. Each serves a specific purpose within the overall document.

The basic structure ensures that critical details are presented logically so readers can readily assess the study and apply the knowledge shared. Adhering to APA format also facilitates indexing in databases.

What is APA format for research report?

APA format provides guidelines for structuring, formatting, and citing sources in a research paper or report. Here are the key elements of APA format for a research report:

Title Page

The title page includes the paper's full title, author names and affiliations, author note, running head, and page number. Center all text on the page vertically and horizontally.


The abstract is a brief summary of the key details in your paper - typically 150-250 words. It covers the research topic, questions, methods, results, and conclusions.


The introduction orients the reader to the research topic and questions. It provides background context and briefly summarizes relevant prior research. State the purpose and rationale for the study.


The method section provides details on the procedures, participants, materials, measures, and design of the study. This allows readers to evaluate and potentially replicate the methodology.


The results section reports key findings, including statistics, to answer the research questions. Present results clearly and objectively without interpretation. Use tables and figures to help summarize data.


In the discussion, analyze and interpret the results, connect them back to prior research, note limitations, and discuss implications. This section involves more subjective analysis and interpretation.


The reference list contains full details on all sources cited in APA format. List references alphabetically by authors' last names.

Following proper APA format ensures your research report is structured clearly and enables readers to efficiently assess your study and findings. Using consistent guidelines also demonstrates credibility and academic rigor.

What is APA format and example?

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is a set of guidelines for writing scientific papers. APA format provides rules on how to structure, format, cite sources, and write in a clear, scientific manner.

Some key elements of APA format include:

  • Title page with running head, title, author name, and affiliation

  • Abstract summarizing the key details of the paper

  • In-text citations with author name and date, e.g. (Smith, 2022)

  • Reference list of all sources cited in the paper

An example of a paper in APA format might look like:

Title Page

Running head: FACTORS INFLUENCING MEMORY Title: The Role of Emotion on Eyewitness Memory Author name: Jane Smith Affiliation: University of California


This paper explores the interaction between emotion and memory retention in eyewitnesses. Key findings suggest emotional events are remembered more vividly but with less accuracy.


Eyewitness testimony is a crucial form of evidence in criminal trials (Loftus, 1979). However, memory accuracy can be affected by many factors, including the emotion experienced during the event. Past research has found...

Using the standard APA format creates consistency and ensures scientific papers are organized logically. This enhances readability for the audience and assists peer-review processes. Adhering to APA guidelines also lends credibility and professionalism to scientific writing.

What is APA format for student research?

APA format provides guidelines for structuring, formatting, and citing sources in academic writing. For student research papers and reports, key elements of APA format include:

Margins and Font

  • 1 inch margins on all sides of the page

  • Accessible font like Times New Roman 12pt

  • Double spaced lines throughout

Title Page

The title page should include:

  • Full title of the paper

  • Author name(s)

  • Institutional affiliation


The abstract is a brief summary of the key details in your paper, including:

  • Research topic, questions, and methods

  • Major findings and conclusions

  • Implications of the research

It concisely outlines the overall purpose and content to help readers quickly understand what your paper covers.

Main Body

The main body presents the key details of your research. This includes:

  • Introduction

  • Methodology

  • Results

  • Discussion/Conclusion

Use APA heading styles throughout to organize content into sections and sub-sections as needed.


The reference list cites all sources mentioned in your paper. It starts on a new page at the end of the document. Format references in APA style.

Following proper APA format for student papers enhances readability. It also demonstrates your ability to produce scholarly writing aligned with accepted academic standards.

What is the method section of an APA Style research report?

The method section provides the core details on how you conducted your research study. As outlined in the APA manual, this section should comprehensively describe:


  • Key characteristics like demographics, total number, how they were recruited

  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria

  • Statistical power analysis to determine appropriate sample size


  • Apparatus, instruments, devices, or metrics used to collect data

  • Validated scales, surveys, or assessments leveraged


  • Step-by-step process followed to carry out the study

  • Conditions participants were exposed to

  • Instructions provided to participants

Essentially, your APA format methods section should clearly outline the participants, materials, and procedures so other researchers can fully understand and even replicate your study if needed. The level of detail and description should be thorough and comprehensive.

To see examples and templates, refer to the APA Style research report method section illustrations from the official APA Style website.

Crafting a Title Page

The title page is the first page of an APA style research report and serves as a cover page presenting key metadata about the paper. Properly formatting the title page according to APA guidelines demonstrates adherence to scholarly conventions.

Header Formatting

The header of an APA format research report should be centered and double-spaced. It should include the full title of the paper, the author names, and the institutional affiliation.

For example:

The Role of Media in Body Image Perceptions: An Experimental Study

John Smith, Jane Doe, and Bob Wilson Brigham Young University

Title Formatting

The title itself should be bolded and capitalized, succinctly communicating the key variables and sample used in the study. Aim for a title length of 10 to 12 words.

For example:

The Role of Media in Body Image Perceptions: An Experimental Study

Author Name Order

List author names in order of their relative contributions, with each name structured as last name followed by first and middle initials. The author who contributed most significantly is listed first.

For example:

John Smith, Jane Doe, and Bob Wilson

With a properly formatted title page following APA guidelines, researchers demonstrate their credibility and command of scholarly writing conventions from the outset. Referencing an apa format template word document can help in structuring an APA-style title page.

Writing an Impactful Abstract

Formatting Guidelines

Formatting Guidelines

Abstracts should be limited to 250 words, formatted in a single paragraph with no indentation. The section header, "Abstract", should be centered and bolded.

Structuring Methods and Findings

Structuring Methods and Findings

Briefly summarize the key methods used in the study, providing enough clarity that the work could be replicated by others. Report the most important findings and results concisely, including key statistics. Aim to balance brevity with sufficient methodological and results detail.

Stating Conclusions

Stating Conclusions

Clearly state the conclusions of the study based on the results obtained. Consider the implications of the findings and emphasize the study's contributions to knowledge in the field or to practice.

Introducing the Research

Funnel Structure

When structuring the introduction section of an APA research report, it's best to use a funnel approach. This means starting broad with background information and funneling down to the specifics of your study.

First provide context by summarizing the general area or problem your research aims to address. Then give an overview of relevant prior research and how your study builds on or departs from it. Finally, state the purpose and rationale behind your research along with precise hypotheses or research questions.

This funnel structure moves smoothly from the big picture down to the narrow focus of your investigation in a logical flow.

Literature Synthesis

The literature synthesis involves analyzing and summarizing earlier works related to your research area. The goal is to give readers context by showing what questions have already been investigated, what methods were used, and what findings emerged.

Point out inconsistencies in past findings or gaps in the literature that your study intends to address. Show how your work synthesizes, critiques, and builds on prior studies to advance collective understanding. Use this section to articulate precisely how your investigation fills important gaps in the literature.

Hypotheses Overview

The final piece of the introduction is stating your study's hypotheses or research questions. These hypotheses should flow logically from the preceding sections on background, prior research, and rationale.

Be as precise as possible in wording each hypothesis. Include the variables involved and the specific relationship or difference you expect to find between them. For example, "We hypothesize that variable A will be positively correlated with variable B" or "We expect group C to score higher on measure D than group E."

Check that each hypothesis connects to the broader goals and purpose of your research. This allows readers to clearly grasp what you aimed to study and why before transitioning to the method and results sections.

Explaining the Methodology

The method section provides critical details on how the study was conducted, offering a blueprint for other researchers to replicate and validate the findings. This section should clearly highlight key strategies used to accurately detail the study procedures.

Participant Description

When describing the study participants, be sure to identify key attributes of the sample, including:

  • Sample size

  • Demographic breakdown (e.g. age, gender, education level)

  • Population group represented

Providing these details allows readers to determine if the sample is representative and if findings may generalize to larger groups.

Study Design

The study design overview explains:

  • Independent and dependent variables

  • Controls and comparisons

  • Overall sequence of study procedures

Succinctly convey the cause-effect logic and flow of experimental conditions that were created. This allows others to recreate the study methodology.

Materials or Measures

Detail any original or existing tools used in the study, including:

  • Surveys and questionnaires

  • Intervention materials given to participants

  • Stimulus sets or equipment

For existing measures, cite source and note validity and reliability data if available. For original tools, describe development process and measures taken to maximize quality.

Thoroughly describing materials and measures enables methodological transparency and supports research integrity.

Reporting Results

The results section reports main statistical findings without interpretation. This section offers best practices for presenting analyses.

Statistical Assumptions

Document checks of assumptions underlying analyses such as normality of distribution, homogeneity of variance, or sphericity. For example, report the Shapiro-Wilk test for normality or Levene's test for equality of variances. Statistical assumptions should be checked and reported transparently.

Sequence Findings

Structure results sequentially per hypothesis, following the order presented earlier. Use headers reflecting each analysis. For example:

## Hypothesis 1
The first hypothesis predicted that... Report the test name, test statistic, degrees of freedom, p-value, and effect size. 

## Hypothesis 2 
The second hypothesis stated... Present the relevant statistical details similarly.

Sequencing findings by hypothesis aids reader comprehension and flow.

APA Statistical Style

Apply APA style to statistics including italicized test names, n sizes in parentheses, proper use of p, F, t, and Greek symbols. For example:

A one-way ANOVA found significant differences across conditions, _F_(2, 57) = 4.51, p = .015, η2 = .14. 

Adhering to correct APA statistical style lends credibility and ensures professional communication.

Discussing the Outcomes

Overview Major Outcomes

The discussion section should start by clearly stating the key findings from the research study. This includes restating the main hypotheses or research questions and whether they were supported or not based on the results.

For example:

"The results supported our hypothesis that participants in the treatment group would have lower anxiety levels after completing the 8-week mindfulness program compared to the control group."

It can also be helpful to identify any interesting or unexpected patterns in the findings.

Interpret Results

Next, offer possible explanations for the findings by comparing and contrasting them with previous research studies. Consider how your results fit with existing theories and knowledge in the field.

For example:

"The findings that mindfulness training reduced anxiety levels align with previous studies showing the benefits of mindfulness-based therapies on mental health (citations). One potential reason is that mindfulness teaches non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and emotions, leading to less rumination and worrying behaviors that characterize anxiety disorders (citation)."

Use citations to ground your interpretations in the scientific literature.

Acknowledge Limitations

An important part of the discussion section is acknowledging the limitations of the current study. This demonstrates scientific rigor and critical analysis of your own work.

Common limitations include:

  • Small sample sizes that limit generalizability

  • Lack of diversity in the participant sample

  • Self-reported measures that may be biased

  • Correlational designs that prevent determining causation

For example:

"The study had a relatively small sample size of 30 participants from a single geographic area. Future research should replicate these findings with larger and more diverse samples to determine the generalizability of the results."

Suggest priorities for future studies to address these limitations and build upon the current research.

Listing References

Order and Structure

References should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. Use a hanging indent format, with the first line of each reference flush left and subsequent lines indented. There should be one space between each reference.

Formatting Specific Sources

Apply formatting rules based on the type of source:

  • Books: List author last name, first and middle initials, publication year in parentheses, book title in italics, publisher location, and publisher name.

  • Journal articles: List author names, publication year in parentheses, article title without quotes, journal name in italics, volume and issue number, and page range.

  • Online sources: List author names, publication year in parentheses, article or page title, website name in italics, URL, and date accessed.

Matching In-Text Citations

The reference list must match all in-text citations used in the body text of the paper. In-text citations include author last name(s) and year in parentheses. Ensure each in-text citation has a corresponding entry in the reference list with matching author name(s) and publication year.