Dr Abel Scribe PhD

Resources for Research Papers

Under Construction Under Construction. The Internet can provide a great array resources to aid in crafting a research paper in a particular style. This site provides Google ad-links to some of those that may prove useful, though their help is not free. Doc's site is otherwise free of advertising, and everything on the site is free as well. We hope you find it useful. Preparing the style sheets is a mind-numbing experience—it's fortunate they don't change all that often. We strive to get them right!

Documentation (references) is the first thing you must get right when writing a research paper. After that, some styles have well defined title pages (MLA). They are a tip off that the writer didn't get things right when this is wrong. Rules for when to write out numbers and when to use numerals can be an irritation to a reader when you get them wrong in your text. The more serious your paper, the more you must get right.

Style sheets work fine for class or conference papers, they will not be scrutinized by experts in the style. Theses, and certainly dissertations, come under close review to meet the standards of the university. The Turabian manual especially has this in mind. Writing for publication is even more demanding, the APA Publication Manual is focused soley on this end.

Resources. This page is being rebuilt to provide links to the major style guides for sale on Amazon (students may get discounts), along with a few links to free publications and sites. Not much works but the Google links below!

AMA Manual of Style 10th ed. AMA Manual of Style, confused edition (660 pages)? If you are trying to craft a paper in an acceptable medical style this might be the first to look. Chapter two, "Manuscript Preparation" (80 pages) might be useful, JAMA "Instructions for Authors" even more so, if writing for publication. Sections on terminology (198 pages) and measurement (104 pages) may be helpful, but probably a bit dated (digital object identifiers were still in the future). The copyright info carries a 1997 date, though this edition was published in 2007, if memory serves. Is a new edition in the works? If you are not writing for publication, but for a class or conference, then a paper that emulates how it might look published is a meaningful goal. That's what we try to do with our style sheet.

Doc's guides date from 2009-2010. They are scheduled for revision in 2018 (this is not a simple task!).

APA Publication Manual Copy Manuscripts Only! The APA Publication Manual (272 pages) is focused on preparing manuscripts for publication. That's why they call it a publication manual, a guide for writers in preparing copy manuscripts for anonymous review, papers all chopped up to aid copy editors and typesetters not readers.

This makes it hard on students who want their paper to look like something as it might appear in the American Psychologist, which is what Doc's APA Basic seeks to do. The no nonsense APA manual is a useful companion. It covers sample references to 77 different sources in just seventeen pages. Other helpful sections are chapters on "Writing Clearly and Concisely" (24 pages), "Mechanics of Style" (38 pages), and "Displaying Results," presenting tables and graphs (43 pages). The latter is so good even the Chicago Manual of Style refers readers to it: "For excellent advice on table preparation, consult the Publication Manual" of the APA (2010, 133).

Turabian Manual Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers: Chicago Style for Students & Researchers (2013, 448 pages). Chicago style is especially noted for its documentation style using endnotes and footnotes. Bibliographies often accompany the notes, so those are featured side by side in both the Chicago and Turabian manuals.

The Turabian "Manual for Writers" is comprised of three parts. The first "Research and Writing: From Planning to Production" is a basic guide to doing scholarly research (132 pages). This followed by "Source Citation," all about documentation using endnotes, footnotes, bibliographies, and the author-date style (145 pages). The third part is simply titled "Style," Chicago style usage for things like abbreviations, quotations, and numbers (91 pages). The appendix presents page layouts for a dissertation (38 pages).

Doc's guide adapts the style for class papers, featuring the use of endnotes, footnotes, and bibliographies.

Chicago Manual of Style The Chicago Manual of Style is the standard reference on scholarly publication in the English language (2010, 1026 pages). The first edition was published in 1906, the current sixteenth edition in 2010. This edition is particularly notable for the use of a more casual, less formal, language. It has lost the pontifical air of previous editions. The text is organized in three parts. "Part One: The Publishing Process" is focused on book publication (197 pages). The section on copyright issues has general relevance. The next part is on "Style and Usage," the quintessential guide to more formal usage of the language (449 pages). The final part is on documentation—endnotes, footnotes, bibliographies, and author-date reference styles (208 pages). The index alone is 102 pages. The CMS is on a ten-year publication cycle.

MLA Handbook MLA Handbook? The 2016 version (8th ed.) is no longer a handbook for "Writers of Research Papers." It is just the MLA Handbook (period). The editors argue, "today academic work can take many forms other than the research paper" so a handbook for research papers is too limiting. The style also insists on references to unrecoverable sources (letters, emails, missing web pages), unacceptable in serious scholarship. The "container" system for references is too tedious to be useful, other changes do not add clarity.

Students are referred to sample papers from the MLA's website (links provided) to use as a model to apply 2016 MLA style. Doc's MLA Basic (2017) is based on the previous handbook (7th ed.,2009). It also offers guidance on things not changed—abbreviations, capitalization, numbers—to complement the sample papers.

Elements of Style Omit Needless Words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Clarity, clarity, clarity. When you become hopelessly mired in a sentence, it is best to start fresh; do not try to fight your way through against the terrible odds of syntax.


The Science of Scientific Writing by George Gopen and Judith Swan. This article was first published in the pages of the American Scientist in 1990. It was originally developed in a faculty writing workshop at the Duke Medical School. It has worn well the test of time. For many years it was embargoed on the American Scientist website. The embargo has lapsed and Doc has made it available in PDF format: The Science of Scientific Writing (90 KB).

OWL: Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.  The site offers a variety of resources to help students with writing projects. Of special note are the excellent handouts in PDF format. New Website: Fall 2005.

Guide for the use of the International System of Units (SI). National Institute of Standards and Technology, Special Publication 811 (2008). This is the official metric-system style manual of the US government (97 pages, 1.9 MB, PDF format).

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals." Also known as the "Vancouver style." Download an old PDF copy of this document: ICMJE Instructions.

Statistical Abstract of the United States. This is the most authoritative source for statistical information about the United States. Download individual chapters--in PDF format. [Accessed October 10, 2003].

National Library of Medicine. Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 2nd ed., 2007.