Asia-Pacific Management Accounting Association

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Most scientific fields (and paper formats) have their own specific rules and standards of writing. The most used standards for referencing in research papers are APA-standard(1) and MLA-standard(2).

(1) APA (American Psychological Association.) Style®: The rules of APA Style, detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. ( ) , offer sound guidance for writing with simplicity, power, and concision. APA Style has been adapted by many disciplines and is used by writers around the world.

(2) MLA (Modern Language Association) style ( MLA style has been widely adopted by schools, academic departments, and instructors for over half a century. The MLA's guidelines are followed throughout North America and in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and other countries around the world. The MLA publishes two authoritative explanations of MLA style: the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.



The outline of the academic paper is very similar for most branches of science. When writing a scientific paper, you will need to adjust to the academic format. The structure of a research paper might seem quite stiff, but it serves a purpose: It will help find information you are looking for easily and also help structure your thoughts and communication. An empirical paper frequently follows this structure:

The following parts may be acceptable to include in some scientific standards, but may be inappropriate for other standards.


Some paper formats allow you to include footnotes in the text, while some do not allow footnotes. Authors frequently want to include tables and figures in the text. Sometimes the format or standard prohibits the authors from entering tables and figures directly into the text (where you want your table). Sometimes they have to be included after the main text.




Publication of your article can be a very time-consuming process. After writing the academic paper, the researchers submit it to a journal. Typically you start with the most regarded journal and then work yourself down the list, until a journal accepts the article. Scientific journals use peer review process, which is a panel of other researchers (most likely in the same field) who review the work, to ensure that the quality of the paper. Publication bias is a well known phenomenon, as the peer review process often rejects "null results"(3). A journal rejection does not necessarily mean that you do not have a chance to resubmit the journal though.

(3) null results: Journals mostly have a strong preference for articles that do find something, which means something other than an outcome consistent with the null hypothesis. That is, they prefer 'positive' results. The preference makes sense for at least two reasons. One is that 'unexpected' results are regarded as better than expected ones, and confirming the null hypothesis is, from this perspective, a very boring an predictable thing to do. Another reason is scarcity of space. Even if null results are in some sense part of science, they're less likely to get cited or built on than positive results. (

[Best introductory books]
Malcolm Smith, Research Methods in Accounting (2nd Ed.), SAGE Publications, Inc., 2011.

John W. Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, SAGE Publications, Inc., 2009.