The Writing Center

Research Paper Style Checklist


  1. When you put in a quote, have you written at least one sentence to explain that quote?  (You should not put the quote in without adding more of your own voice to the paper.)
  1. Is every sentence sparklingly clear regarding whose thoughts are whose?  That is, if the sentence has no citation, that means you the writer are expressing your thoughts; if the sentence has a citation, you are either paraphrasing or quoting.  You cannot just write one citation at the end of a paragraph and expect the reader to figure out which sentences refer to some research and which are your own thoughts.
  1. Are there quotes in your introduction?  If so, you might want to remove them and write more generally.  Introductions do not give away information from the body of the report.
  1. Have you introduced each quote with a signal phrase?  A signal phrase can be the usual “Christopher Pinner says,” or it can use more interesting verbs (look up signal phrases in your handbook and you will find many more like notes, reports, outlines, explains, commented, and so forth).
  1. When you use a block quote (for quotes over 4 lines), have you indented 5 spaces from the left margin (not the right) and double spaced? 
  1. When you discuss your research, have you given the history of that research in the introduction?  Have you discussed why people studied that topic and what they found?   If the topic was neglected, did you discuss why no one studied it? 
  1. When you discuss your research, have you discussed how researchers approached it?  Do you have any questions or problems with the way researchers approached it?
  1. Do you mention the strongest points of the research you are presenting?
  1. Do you mention the directions researchers need to pursue in the conclusion?
  1. Did you answer the most important question: is your voice leading the paper throughout (and not the voices of all the researchers)?

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