[Instructional text in this template is contained in square brackets ([…]). After reading the instructional text, please delete it, and use the document as a template for your own paper. To keep the correct format, edit the running head, cover page, headings, and reference list with your own information, and add your own body text. Save this template in a file for future use and information.
The running head is an abbreviated title of the paper. The running head is located at the top of pages of a manuscript or published article to identify the article for readers. The running head should be a maximum of 50 characters, counting letters, punctuation, and spaces between words. The words “Running head” are on the cover page but not on the rest of the document. The running head title is all capital letters. Page 1 begins on the cover page. The entire document should be double-spaced, have 1-inch margins on all sides, and use 12-point Times New Roman font.]
Full Title of Paper
Learner’s Full Name
[An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of a paper. This section is optional, so check assignment requirements. The abstract allows readers to quickly review the key elements of a paper without having to read the entire document. This can be helpful for readers who are searching for specific information and may be reviewing many documents. The abstract may be one of the most important paragraphs in a paper because readers often decide if they will read the document based on information in the abstract. An abstract may not be required in some academic papers; however, it can still be an effective method of gaining the reader’s attention. For example, an abstract will not be required for Capella’s first course, PSYC3002. The following sentences serve as an example of what could be composed as an abstract for this paper: The basic elements of APA style will be reviewed, including formatting of an APA style paper, in-text citations, and a reference list. Additional information will address the components of an introduction, how to write effective paragraphs using the MEAL plan, and elements of a summary and conclusion section of a paper.]
Full Title of Paper
[In APA style, the heading “Introduction” is not used; instead the introduction appears under the paper’s full title. An effective introduction often provides an obvious statement of purpose to help the reader know what to expect while helping the writer to focus and stay on task. For example, this paper will address several components necessary to effectively write an academic paper including (a) how to write an introduction, (b) how to write effective paragraphs using the MEAL plan, and (c) how to properly use APA style.
An introduction may consist of four main components including (a) the position statement, thesis, or hypothesis, which describes the author’s main position; (b) the purpose, which outlines the objective of the paper; (c) the background, which is general information that is needed to understand the content of the paper; and (d) the approach, which is the process or methodology the author uses to achieve the purpose of the paper. Authors may choose to briefly reference sources that will be identified later on in the paper as in this example (American Psychological Association, 2010a; American Psychological Association, 2010b; Walker, 2008).]
Level One Section Heading is Centered, Bold, Uppercase and Lowercase
[Using section headings can be an effective method of organizing an academic paper. The section headings should not be confused with the running head, which is a different concept described in the cover page of this document. Section headings are not required according to APA style; however, they can significantly improve the quality of a paper. This is accomplished because section headings help both the reader and the author.]
Level Two Section Heading is Flush Left, Bold, Uppercase and Lowercase
[The heading style recommended by APA consists of five levels (American Psychological Association, 2010a, p. 62). This document contains two levels to demonstrate how headings are structured according to APA style. Immediately before the previous paragraph, a Level 1 heading was used. That section heading describes how a Level 1 heading should be written, which is centered, bold, and using uppercase and lowercase letters. For another example, see the section heading “Writing an Effective Introduction” on page 3 of this document. The heading is centered, bold, and uses uppercase and lowercase letters (compared to all uppercase in the running head at the top of each page). If used properly, section headings can significantly contribute to the quality of a paper by helping the reader who wants to understand the information in the document, and the author who desires to effectively describe the information in the document.]
Section Headings Help the Reader
[Section headings serve multiple purposes including (a) helping readers understand what is being addressed in each section, (b) breaking up text to help readers maintain an interest in the paper, and (c) helping readers choose what they want to read. For example, if the reader of this document wants to learn more about writing an effective introduction, the previous section heading clearly states that is where information can be found. When subtopics are needed to explain concepts in greater detail, different levels of headings are used according to APA style.]
Section Headings Help the Author
[Section headings do not only help the reader, they help the author organize the document during the writing process. Section headings can be used to arrange topics in a logical order, and they can help an author manage the length of the paper. In addition to an effective introduction and the use of section headings, each paragraph of an academic paper can be written in a manner that helps the reader stay engaged. Capella University promotes the use of the MEAL plan to serve this purpose.]
The MEAL Plan
[The MEAL plan is a model used by Capella University to help learners effectively compose academic discussions and papers. Each component of the MEAL plan is critical to writing an effective paragraph. The acronym MEAL is based on four components of a paragraph (M = Main point, E = Evidence or Example, A = Analysis, and L = Link). The following section includes a detailed description and examples of each component of the MEAL plan.
When writing the content sections of an academic paper (as opposed to the introduction or conclusion sections), the MEAL plan can be an effective model for designing each paragraph. A paragraph begins with a description of the main point, which is represented by the letter “M” of the MEAL plan. For example, the first sentence of this paragraph clearly states the main point is a discussion of the MEAL plan. Once the main point has been made, evidence and examples can be provided.
The second component of a paragraph contains evidence or examples, which is represented by the letter “E” in the MEAL plan. An example of this component of the MEAL plan is actually (and ironically) this sentence, which provides an example of an example. Evidence can be in the form of expert opinions from research. For example, evidence shows that plagiarism can occur even when it is not intended if sources are not properly cited (Marsh, Landau, & Hicks, 1997; Walker, 2008). The previous sentence provides evidence supporting why evidence is used in a paragraph.
Analysis, which is represented by the letter “A” of the MEAL plan, should be based on the author’s interpretation of the evidence. An effective analysis might include a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments, as well as the author’s interpretations of the evidence and examples. If a quote is used, the author will likely provide an analysis of the quote and the specific point it makes for the author’s position. Without an analysis, the reader might not understand why the author discussed the information that the reader just read. For example, the previous sentence was an analysis by the author of why an analysis is performed when writing paragraphs in academic papers.
Even with the first three elements of the MEAL plan, it would not be complete without the final component. The letter “L” of the MEAL plan refers to information that “links” the current and the subsequent paragraphs. The link helps the reader understand what will be discussed in the next paragraph. It summarizes the author’s reasoning and shows how the paragraph fits together and leads (that is, links) into the next section of the paper. For example, this sentence might explain that once the MEAL plan has been effectively used when writing the body of an academic paper, the final section is the summary and conclusion section.]
[A summary and conclusion section, which can also be the discussion section of an APA style paper, is the final opportunity for the author to make a lasting impression on the reader. The author can begin by restating opinions or positions and summarizing the most important points that have been presented in the paper. For example, this paper was written to demonstrate to readers how to effectively use APA style when writing academic papers. Various components of an APA style paper that were discussed or displayed in the form of examples include a running head, title page, introduction section, levels of section headings and their use, in-text citations, the MEAL plan, a conclusion, and the reference list.]
American Psychological Association. (2010a). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychological Association. (2010b). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
Marsh, R. L., Landau, J. D., & Hicks, J. L. (1997). Contributions of inadequate source
monitoring to unconscious plagiarism during idea generation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 23(4), 886–897. doi: 10.1037/0278- 7322.214.171.1246
Walker, A. L. (2008). Preventing unintentional plagiarism: A method for strengthening
paraphrasing skills. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 35(4), 387–395. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213904438?accountid=27965
[Always begin a reference list on a new page. Use a hanging indent after the first line of each reference. The reference list is in alphabetical order by first author’s last name. A reference list only contains sources that are cited in the body of the paper, and all sources cited in the body of the paper must be contained in the reference list.
The reference list above contains an example of how to cite a source when two documents are written in the same year by the same author. The year is also displayed using this method for the corresponding in-text citations as in the next sentence. The author of the first citation (American Psychological Association, 2010a) is also the publisher, therefore, the word “Author” is used in place of the publisher’s name.
When a digital object identifier (DOI) is available for a journal article, it should be placed at the end of the citation. If a DOI is not available, a uniform resource locator (URL) should be used. The Marsh, Landau, and Hicks (1997) reference is an example of how to cite a source using a DOI. The Walker (2008) reference is an example of how to cite a source using a URL.]