Academic Writing Lessons: Learning The APA Dissertation Format


If you are writing your dissertation, you need to be cognizant of the format required of you. APA format is one of the most common. It requires you to have the following components:

  • Cover page with running head
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Literature review
  • Methods and materials
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix

That being said, one of the most important components to learning the APA dissertation format is proper research.

Conducting Research


  • Look for recent publications first. If you are searching online, there are often filtering tools that let you change the date of publication, allowing you to narrow it down to sources published within the last few years. By looking at sources published in the last few years, the benefits are two-fold. The first is that you can find up to date information on the topic. The second is that these works will often have earlier works in their bibliography which can save you a great deal of research time locating supplementary articles or publications.
  • If you are able to afford it, make photocopies of the information that you need. It is significantly faster than trying to write down everything by hand and it reduces the likelihood of error. If you are taking notes by hand, make sure you have extra note cards with you, the larger the better. The bigger cards can be used one for each piece of evidence or each quote you find. This will help you to keep track of each piece of evidence. You can also use multiple colors for the cards, and have one color represent key arguments or ideas, and another color represent the different pieces of evidence you have found. If you choose to take notes on a computer rather than by hand, it is imperative that you have your information backed up on multiple sources to ensure there is no loss of data should something go wrong.

It is equally important that no matter what source you use for taking notes, you have to include a complete notation of the source for your notes. If you are writing a quote, write down the page number and bibliographic material. If you are writing down a fact, cite the source and the page number. This will save you hours and hours of frantic searches at the library trying to track down the one source you used.

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