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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences.


Further readings provide references to sources that the author has deemed useful to a reader seeking additional information or context about the research problem. They are items that are not essential to understanding the overall study or were cited as a source the author used or quoted from when writing the paper.

Lester, James D. and James D. Lester, Jr. Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. 16th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2021.

Structure and Writing Style

Depending on the writing style you are asked to use [e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA], a list of further readings should be located at the end of your paper after the endnotes or references but before any appendices. The list should begin under the heading "Further Readings." Items can be arranged alphabetically by the author's last name, categorized under sub-headings by material type [e.g., books, articles, websites, etc.], or listed by the type of content [e.g., theory, methods, etc.].

If you choose to include a list of further readings, keep in mind the following:

  1. The references to further readings are not critical to understanding the central research problem. In other words, if further readings were not included, the citations to sources used in writing the paper would be sufficient in allowing the reader to evaluate the credibility of your literature review and analysis of prior research on the topic.
  2. Although further readings represent additional or suggested sources, they still must be viewed as relevant to the research problem. Don't include further readings simply to show off your skills in searching for materials on your topic. Even though they may not be central to understanding the research problem, every item listed must relate in some way to helping the reader locate additional information or obtain a broader understanding of the topic.
  3. Do not include basic survey texts or reference books like encyclopedias and dictionaries. Including these types of sources in a list of further readings implies reference to either very general or, if the source provides very specific information, it likely should have been integrated into the text of your paper. In addition, these types of resources rarely add any significant understanding of the research problem.
  4. If you have identified non-textual materials related to your topic that may be of interest to the reader but were not used for your paper, consider including them in a list of further readings. This may include references to sources such as archival collections, documentary or popular films, photograph collections, audio files, or large data sets.

To identify possible titles to include in a list of further readings, examine the sources you found while researching your paper but that you ended up not citing as a item that helped you write your paper. Review these items and, playing the role of reader, think about which ones may provide additional insight or background information about the research problem you have investigated.

Soles, Derek. The Essentials of Academic Writing. 2nd edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning Houghton Mifflin, 2010; "Further Reading" and "Wikipedia Talk: Further Reading." Wikipedia.