Research Paper Guidelines

Main Content

Standards for the preparation of research papers are established by the graduate faculty at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the administration of the Graduate School. All revisions are subject to the approval of the Graduate School.

Guidelines for Preparation of Dissertations, Theses, and Research Papers

A research paper may have chapters or may be a continuous document (without chapters). If you are unclear as to whether you are completing a thesis or a research paper, please consult with your advisor.

Each department has selected one or more preferred style manuals, and all students within the department are to use one of those styles. 

Submission Site:



Mr. John Russell
Student Services Building 325

General Instructions

Filing of Research Papers with the Graduate School

Submit electronically through OpenSIUC. A Microsoft Word document is preferred, Adobe pdf documents are acceptable.

Approval Form. All research papers submitted to the Graduate School must have an original approval form signed by the student's committee, and generally the department chair. This must be submitted to the Graduate School.

Human Subjects. All copies of research papers submitted to the Graduate School that need the human subjects approval as defined by the Human Subjects Committee must file a copy with the Graduate School.

Deadline Dates for Submission. The dates are posted at the Graduate School for both deadlines to apply for graduation and the submission of papers. These deadlines are firm dates and no extensions will be given.

Organization Of Material

Download the Research Paper Template to use for your research paper. It contains all of the required formatting.

Organizational format should be as follows:

  1. Title page
  2. Approval page
  3. Abstract (optional)
  4. Acknowledgments / Dedication (not required)
  5. Table of Contents
  6. List of tables with page references
  7. List of figures with page references
  8. Text
  9.  Exhibits (tables, figures, photographs, etc. when not distributed in the text)
  10.  Bibliography (or appropriate title prescribed by style manual chosen)
  11. Appendices (not required)
  12. Human subjects committee approval form when required (photocopy)
  13. Vita sheet (should have a page number)

If a research paper is to be copyrighted, an extra page must be inserted after the title page.  The copyright statement is to be centered on the page as follows:

Copyright by (your name) 20__

All Rights Reserved

Charts, Tables, and Figures

  • Generally, students will use the computer to design figures and graphs.
  • Table heading and style of headings must follow the style manual chosen. Generally, table titles are above the table and figure titles are below the figure, but the placement selected must be followed consistently.
  • Spacing within the table may be single or double spaced based on the readability of the data.
  • Font style and size should be consistent throughout the document, unless a table requires a smaller size. Six (6) point font should be the smallest used. Titles should be consistent in size and style of font as used throughout the document.
  • There should be a judicious use of spacing to "set off" tables, charts, and figures; typically one or two double-spaces before and after the table. Again, once spacing is chosen, you must be consistent throughout.

MAPS. Oversize maps may be included as a supplemental file.  

APPENDICES. List of terms, definitions, questionnaires, and other supplemental information which is useful, but not essential, to the body of the research paper may be included in an appendix.

MARGINS. Margins are flexible within the appendix but keep in mind that the left binding edge will cover approximately 1 inch of data. Page numbers need to continue within the appendix with the same font and the same position on the page as in the text. The Graduate School consultants can advise you about this if needed. 

COLOR. Color is permitted.

ADDITIONAL FILES. You may upload multimedia files (video or audio files). Follow instructions at OpenSIUC.

Formatting Guidelines


  • The document should be readable. The type face should be letter quality. Font style should be standard and not an unusual style such as Cursive, Script, or Italic. Some standard fonts are listed below:
    • Ariel, Bookman, Courier, Times New Roman
  • The body of the document should use a 10 or 12 point font. Headings and subheadings may go up one size and up to 14 point but must be of the same font style as the body of the text. 
  • Bold format may be used only as specified by the style manual chosen.
  • Italics may be used only as specified by the style manual chosen. In general, it may be used for Genera, species, letters, words or phrases cited as an linguistic example, and foreign words.


  • The body of the document must be double spaced.
  • Extended direct quotations should be presented consistently with the style manual selected.  



  • Opening pages (Table of Contents, Chapters, Bibliography, etc.) that are required by the style manual to have a set top margin may have a larger than one inch top margin on those pages. Charts, tables, and figures may have greater margins than listed but may not go into the required margins.
  • Paragraph indentations should be uniform five spaces. There should be no extra spacing between paragraphs.


The following guidelines are for the pages preceding the text, i.e. Abstract, Acknowledgments, and Table of Contents.

  • The pages preceding the text should be numbered in small Roman numbers. The numerals should be centered between the one and one-half inch margin on the left, the one inch margin on the right, and one-half inch up from the bottom edge of the paper.  
  • Text pages, bibliography, and appendices should follow the style manual chosen. Numbers should consist of numerals only, without punctuation, embellishment, or running headers. Paging should be continuous including the bibliography, appendices, and vita. Except for preceding pages, the style must be adhered to throughout the document. The first page of text starts with Arabic numeral 1.

This recent guideline revision supersedes all previous editions. Take this into consideration as you review previous research papers from the library or your department.

Roles And Responsibilities

The Graduate Student's Responsibility

  • Subject matter and content
  • Organization and format
  • Editorial, linguistic, and bibliographic quality
  • Quality of text, figures, and photocopy
  • Quality of data, evidence, and logical reasoning presented
  • Presentation of the manuscript based on current style manual of the field and Graduate School guidelines

The Advisory Committee's Responsibility

  • Approval of the subject matter and methodology of the research
  • Approval of the organization, content, and format
  • Review of the quality of data and evidence, logical reasoning, and the editorial, linguistic, and bibliographic quality
  • Evaluation of the research paper as a basis for certification that the student has fulfilled the requirements of the degree for which the student is a candidate

The Research Paper Consultant's Responsibility

  • Providing counsel and advice upon request by students and members of the student's committee about the format aspects of research paper preparation
  • Checking the final draft of each research paper to insure that it has been prepared in conformity with the requirements of this guide

Departmental Style Manual

Each department has selected one or more preferred style manuals and all students within the department are to use one of those styles.

Agribusiness Economics Chicago
Agricultural Sciences APA with Journal Style for References
Animal Science Journal of Animal Science
Anthropology Chicago / Journal Bibliography
Behavioral Analysis and Therapy APA
Biological Sciences Council of Biology Editors Style Manual: A Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers in the Biological Sciences
Business Administration APA or Chicago with Journal References
Chemistry American Chemical Society Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors
Civil and Environmental Engineering APA with American Society of Civil Engineers Technical Journal References
Communication Disorders and Sciences APA
Communication Studies APA or MLA
Computer Science Departmental Guidelines
Counselor Education APA
Criminology and Criminal Justice APA
Curriculum & Instruction APA
Economics American Economic Review
Educational Administration APA or Turabian
Electrical and Computer Engineering Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
English MLA
Environmental Resources and Policy
Food and Nutrition Journal of American Dietetics Association
Foreign Languages and Literature MLA
Forestry APA with Journal of Forestry
Geography and Environmental Resources Chicago
Geology Geological Society of America
Health Education AMA or APA
Higher Education APA or Turabian
History Chicago or Turabian
Kinesiology APA
Linguistics APA/Linguistic Society of America (ex.)
Mass Communication and Media Arts APA or Chicago
Mathematics Departmental Guidelines
Mechanical Engineering ASME Journal
Mining Engineering APA with Journal References
Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry Journal of Bacteriology
Journal of Experimental Medicine
Journal of Molecular Biology
Molecular, Cellular & Systemic Physiology Journal of Endocrinology
Music Chicago / Turabian or APA
Pharmacology and Neuroscience Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics
Philosophy Chicago
Physics American Physical Society
The Journal of Physics
Plant and Soil Science Agronomy Journal
Journal for the American Society of Horticultural Science
Weed Science Journal
Plant Biology Departmental Guidelines
Political Science American Political Science Review / 
Chicago Style Manual plus Departmental Guidelines
Psychology APA
Public Administration APA or MLA
Quality Engineering and Management APA or IJPR
Recreation APA
Rehabilitation Administration APA
Rehabilitation Counseling APA
Sociology American Sociological Association Style Guide or APA
Theater MLA
Workforce Ed. and Development Departmental Guidelines
Zoology Departmental Guidelines

*APA:  American Psychological Association Publication Manual

*MLA:  Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers


Submission site - OpenSIUC


Mr. John Russell, 618-453-4529
Student Services Building 325

KEYWORD: Be Consistent

  1. Write your paper following the Graduate School Guidelines and the Departmental Style Manual.
  2. Apply for graduation by the 4th week of the term you plan to graduate for Fall / Spring and by the 2nd week of the Summer term.
  3. Defend your paper.
  4. Review the format:
    1. Margins: Left, right, top, and bottom margins = 1 inch.
    2. Spacing: Double spacing throughout; no right justification.
    3. Headings: Be consistent with top margin, font style, and size. Primary / Chapter headings should be in all caps.
    4. Pagination: Front matter should have Roman numeral page numbers bottom centered.
    5. Submit to OpenSIUC.
  5. Make changes as indicated by the consultant.
  6. Submit one approval form and one oral defense form.