How to choose a Dissertation topic for masters

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Eastern Michigan University Graduate School Dissertation Manual Fall 2012 List of Tables Table Page 1 Style Guides ....................................................................................................................... 30 2 Format and Requirement for EMU Dissertations .............................................................. 31 List of Figures Figure Page Figure 1. Dissertation committee approval form. ......................................................................... 10   Figure 2. Approval of the dissertation proposal form. .................................................................. 11   Figure 3. Sample title page. ........................................................................................................... 15   Figure 4. Sample abstract. ............................................................................................................. 17   Figure 5. Comparison of a paragraph-style narrative summary and a structured abstract. ........... 19   Figure 6. Proposed template for a structured abstract. ................................................................. 19   Figure 8. Sample partial table of contents for use with three or four levels of headings. ............. 22   Figure 8 continued. ........................................................................................................................ 23   Figure 9. Sample list of tables. ...................................................................................................... 24   Figure 10. Sample list of figures. .................................................................................................. 24   Figure 11. Oral Defense of the Dissertation Approval Form. ...................................................... 37   Figure 12. Dissertation Document Approval form. ...................................................................... 38   Figure 13. Dissertation information sheet. .................................................................................... 39   Figure 14. Rights and Permission Form for Electronic Thesis or Dissertation Project (ETD). .... 44   What Is a Dissertation? A dissertation is the documentation of your original research or scholarship that serves as partial completion of graduation requirements for a doctoral degree. Typically, a dissertation completes the tasks identified below. However, each doctoral program may have its own criteria, and it is best to discuss requirements with your faculty advisor. 1) Introduce a problem and explain its background 2) Ask one or more research questions or state one or more hypotheses 3) State objectives of the research 4) Explain what other scholars have written on the topic 5) Design and describe a research method 6) Collect and analyze data and explain findings 7) Form conclusions and identify issues for further inquiry Why Write a Dissertation? The primary purpose for writing a dissertation is to explain new knowledge or develop new understanding about a specific topic. It is a piece of scholarship your dissertation committee will help you craft, refine, and polish. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with experienced researchers and faculty mentors. The work is then shared around the world by way of the Internet through inclusion in the EMU Halle Library online repository and submission to ProQuest, where dissertations abstracts and full text have been listed for years in paper and now electronic format. Your dissertation may serve many functions, including to: • Add to the body of knowledge in your discipline • Provide a foundation for future research in your discipline • Become the basis for presentation of your research at professional and academic conferences • Be adapted for publication as an article or book • Attract interest from current or potential employers Dissertation Process This section will discuss: • The overall process for doctoral degree completion • How to select a dissertation chair and committee • How to select your dissertation topic Overall Process for Degree Completion • Complete course work. • Complete comprehensive qualifying examination. If your exam is the dissertation proposal, then complete the next two steps first. o Select a dissertation chair and committee. o Prepare and submit a proposal to your committee for review and approval. • Prepare for conducting research with human subjects by completing the CITI training at www.citiprogram.org/. Create a log-in/password and affiliate with EMU. Select training to complete; confer with your faculty mentor. The training is free of charge. • Complete, submit, and receive approval for research using human subjects or animals prior to gathering data (University Human Subjects Review Committee). See Office of Research Development, Regulatory Compliance website, http://ord.emich.edu/. • Begin research; gather, analyze, and integrate findings. • Register for dissertation credits. • Work with dissertation committee on the progress of the research itself. • Receive chair’s approval of dissertation prior to submission to the committee for defense. • Defend dissertation. Committee members will provide suggestions for the manuscript. Typically committee members (not the chair) sign the approval form at the defense meeting. Approval must be unanimous. • Make content or editorial corrections suggested by committee members. You may choose to hire an editor to prepare the document for online posting and worldwide access. • Obtain document approval from the committee chair and department head/school director or program director/coordinator. • Submit approved dissertation to the Graduate School for review of format, punctuation, spelling, and grammar. ONLY 40 PAGES WILL BE FULLY READ WITH NOTES INDICATING GENERAL ISSUES TO FIX THROUGHOUT THE DOCUMENT. Submit a clean version for final approval by the Graduate School. Include committee-signed Document Approval form (see Figure 12). • REQUIRED: PhD (not EdD) students MUST complete the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates. It can be found online https://sed.norc.org/doctorate/showRegister.do • REQUIRED: once the Graduate School has notified you that your document is finished, you MUST post the dissertation (one PDF document) and abstract to ProQuest (formerly University Microfilm Incorporated or UMI) for copyright and Dissertation Abstract International. Post online at www.etdadmin.com/emich. See Graduate School website for tutorial regarding the submission process. • REQUIRED: Upon ProQuest submission, the document will be shared with EMU- Digital Commons, Halle Library. You must also complete and send to the Graduate School the Rights and Permission Form. The permission form allows for online posting and offers a one or two-year delay in Internet posting of your work if publication or patent is pending. • At the beginning of the semester in which completion seems feasible, submit application for graduation online through my.emich. A fee will be charged to your student account. Send a current copy of your Program of Study to Records. Your graduate advisor submits thesis course grades to the Office of Records and Registration. • Order official EMU Doctoral cap, gown, and hood from bookstore or appropriate vendor (BLACK WITH DARK GREEN trim/logo and DARK GREEN hood – NOT blue hood). • Attend graduation for special hooding ceremony in April or December. See Doctoral Graduation section of the Graduate School website for detailed information. See also commencement website accessed from Records/Registration website. Chair and Committee Selection Dissertation Chair Every student writing a dissertation needs a dissertation chair and a faculty member who serves as a mentor throughout the dissertation process. The responsibilities of a dissertation chair are to: • Oversee your candidacy, the final phase of your doctoral program • Facilitate your dissertation committee • Help you develop a proposal • Guide your research • Assist with document editing • Determine with the rest of your committee when your work is ready for defense • Chair the dissertation defense meeting • Be on stage with you during your hooding ceremony at commencement. Upon achieving candidacy, you will need to identify a committee chair on the basis of the following suggested guidelines. • Try to choose a chair whose research interests match your own. • Select someone from your academic department with whom you feel comfortable working. This is typically a faculty member from whom you have taken one or more courses. • Choose a chair who will have time to spend on your project. Be sure that he or she will not be away on sabbatical or leave of absence during the final stages of your dissertation. Dissertation Committee After you choose your dissertation committee chair, you will need to establish your committee, which must have at least three and no more than six members, including the chair. At least half of your committee members must be from your academic department or school. The committee must also include one faculty member from outside your department, typically from your cognate field of study, and approved by the Graduate School. Choose individuals who represent aspects of your research interest (e.g., the major theme, minor elements, the research design methodology). One member may be from off campus (e.g., faculty from another institution, alumni, community members, corporate partners, internship supervisors, emeritus faculty). Persons external to the University must have a master’s degree but preferably a doctorate. Voting members must hold a doctorate. The final committee members, as well as any subsequent changes in the committee roster, must be approved by the chair, the department head or school director, and the Graduate School. (See Figure 1, Dissertation Committee Approval form.) Topic Selection The selection of a dissertation topic is an important process. You will be spending many months conducting research and writing about the findings; therefore, you should be passionate and excited about your topic. Your mentor will be able to help you select an appropriate topic, but here are some things to keep in mind. • Your dissertation should present either new information on a subject or a fresh analysis of existing data. • The topic should be specific enough to be manageable but general enough to stimulate further research. • Don’t embark on a project for which you lack the necessary time or resources. If your study requires equipment and supplies, make sure you have the monetary resources to be able to sustain the project. Check with your committee chair, the Graduate School, or the Office of Research Development about applying for grant funding to support your research. You may also request funding from the Graduate Student Research Support Fund. (See the Graduate School Web site at http://emich.edu/graduate for further information.) Resources for Grant Writing may be found on the Graduate School website. Dissertation Proposal After you have selected a topic, the next step will be to write a dissertation proposal. Your proposal is basically the research plan, clearly describing how you expect to accomplish the goals of your study. It should be thoughtful, well written, and scholarly. Proposal Format Although academic programs may have specific format requirements, the outline below can be used as a general format for writing a proposal. Be sure to check with your dissertation chair for information on any discipline-specific format requirements. Proposals are typically 10 to 20 pages long and are the foundation for the first three chapters of your dissertation (e.g., Introduction, Literature Review, and Methodology). You should use the chosen style guide of your discipline/program in preparing the proposal (See Table 1). Title Page Include the title of the dissertation, your name, the date of the proposal, and the names of your dissertation chair and committee members. Introduction, Problem Statement, and Background Give a general introduction to the issue or research topic. State the problem and provide background information supported by literature review. Note how past research has addressed the problem, and identify similarities or differences in their methodology or findings that have drawn you to study the problem. Purpose of the Study Briefly state what you hope to accomplish with your research. Justification and Significance Give specific reasons why this proposed research is important and how it will contribute to the discipline. Again, include citations from relevant literature. Research Question(s) or Hypothesis(es) From an understanding of the research problem, develop (a) concisely phrased research question(s) or hypothesis(es) that will be studied. Methodology Describe the proposed research design and include the reasons for selecting each element of the methodology, identifying the advantages and disadvantages. Detail the following: a) study design b) study type (e.g., qualitative or quantitative methods) c) study population, sample, sampling frame, and sampling techniques d) data-gathering procedure(s) and instrumentation(s) e) measures to insure safety, confidentiality, and anonymity for human subjects (or animals) f) data analysis g) timeline. Definition of Terms Create a glossary to define the terms used in your study. Limitations/Delimitations of the Study (optional) Specify aspects of the study and methodology or conditions imposed by the design itself that may limit findings and outcomes. Also identify delimitations or conditions imposed by the researcher that may limit findings or outcomes. In many qualitative studies, the boundaries of the study may be integrated into the discussion of context and framing of the issues and need not constitute a special chapter or section of the dissertation. Proposal Guidelines Once you have completed your proposal, it must be approved by your committee. It is subsequently kept in your doctoral studies file in your department/college. See Figure 2 for a sample of the Approval of the Dissertation Proposal form. The approval form is sent to the Graduate School. The following are a few reminders regarding the proposal. 1. Important points must be supported by citations of important research and theory. 2. References should include classic texts as well as current sources that have been published within the past five years. Literature should represent all aspects of the topic. 3. Secondary citations/sources are not appropriate. If the writer cannot find and verify the primary source of an original quote or passage, the citation may not be used. 4. Popular magazines, such as US News and World Report, Newsweek, and Time, are inappropriate sources to cite. 5. Popular Web sites, such as Wikipedia and CliffsNotes, are also inappropriate sources to cite. Your next step would be to submit the appropriate forms to the Human Subjects Review Committee (UHSRC) if you intend to use humans as subjects in your study. You MUST complete CITI training and submit score printout along with UHSRC paperwork (see link and instructions on the Graduate School website). Submission to the Animal Care committee is required if you use animals as subjects. EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY Graduate School 1 Doctoral Dissertation COMMITTEE Approval Form Student Name Date Program of Study ID E Email address Phone (work) (home/cell) Dissertation Topic/Tentative Title PROPOSED COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP PLEASE PRINT/TYPE NAMES Committee Chair Proposed Member Representing the Graduate School (Attach vitae/resume of any off-campus appointee.) Committee Members: Name Name Name Name APPROVALS Date Program Director/Coordinator/Dept. Head Date Graduate School Signed original to Record’s student file. Copies/PDF to: Graduate School, chair, and department/college file 1 Graduate School policy requires that committee chairs be tenured or tenure-track full-time faculty with a completed doctorate in the student’s specialty. In addition to the chair, committees must consist of from three to six members (normally faculty from within the degree-granting school). At least half of the committee members must be from the student’s home school. At least one member must be from outside the student’s home school and serves the committee as the Graduate School representative. One committee member may be from outside the pool of graduate faculty (e.g., faculty from other institutions, alumni, community members, corporate partners, internship supervisor, and emeritus faculty). All committee members should be experts in at least some aspect of the student’s dissertation topic area. The final committee roster and any subsequent changes in committee membership must be formally approved by the committee chair, department head or school director, and the Graduate School. Figure 1. Dissertation committee approval form. EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY Graduate School 1 Doctoral Dissertation PROPOSAL Approval Form Student Name Date of Meeting Program of Study ID E Dissertation Committee Chair TENTATIVE TITLE OF PROPOSED DISSERTATION COMMITTEE REPORT ON DISSERTATION PROPOSAL After review of the dissertation proposal, the Doctoral Committee certifies that: The proposal is satisfactory and the candidate may proceed. The proposed research does NOT involve the use of human or animal subjects The proposed research involves human subjects and will be sent to University Human Subjects Review Committee prior to data collection. 2 The proposal is not satisfactory and the following deficiencies must be corrected. Description of deficiencies COMMITTEE SIGNATURES Chair External Member Representing the Graduate School Member Member Member Member ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF PROPOSAL APPROVAL Date Director of Clinical Training/Dept. Head Date Graduate School Signed original to Record’s student file. Copies to: Graduate School, chair, and department/college file 1 To be completed only after student has been officially notified of having passed the qualifying examination. 2 After the deficiencies have been corrected a new form must be submitted indicating that the proposal is satisfactory and the candidate may proceed. Figure 2. Approval of the dissertation proposal form. Permission to Conduct Research Involving Human or Animal Subjects If you plan to use human subjects in any part of your research, you must first submit a Request for Approval of Research Involving Human Subjects along with your dissertation proposal to the University Human Subjects Review Committee (UHSRC). The UHSRC is responsible for the protection of human subjects used in research studies. The committee will review your methodology to evaluate the research-related risk to human subjects, as well as to protect the confidentiality or anonymity of all participants. You may not begin any research involving human subjects until you have received exemption or approval from the UHSRC. Consult the Office of Research Development (ORD) web site at www.ord.emich.edu. See the Regulatory Compliance section for information, forms, and submission procedure for Human Subjects approval. You will be uploading your materials/forms to the main UHSRC Digital Commons site (not the college sites). The link is available from the ORD website. If you will be using animal subjects in any part of your research, you must first submit an Application to Use Vertebrate Animals (the application can be downloaded from the Office of Research Development site, www.ord.emich.edu, along with the Instructions for Completing the Application) and your full research proposal to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee nd (IACUC) at the Office of Research Development, Starkweather Hall, 2 Floor. NOTE: A copy of the approval letter from the UHSRC or IACUC, if applicable to your research, must be submitted to the Graduate School along with your dissertation. The dissertation will not be accepted for editorial review until this letter is presented with the document. It is the doctoral student’s responsibility to make sure this is done. Registration for Dissertation Credits Once your dissertation committee approves your proposal, the academic department/school will issue permission to register for dissertation credits, and then you may register online. If more than one semester is required to complete your dissertation, it is not necessary to request an extension from the Graduate School. An “I” or in-progress grade for incomplete is carried forward until final sign-off is achieved. The dissertation chair will submit change of grade forms when all work and editing are finished. When to Conduct the Research By the time your proposal is approved, much of the groundwork for your research will have been completed. Data gathering may begin only AFTER you have received human or animal subjects approval (if necessary). You must follow your proposed and approved research methods unless they prove to be unsatisfactory, at which point you must develop an alternate methodology with your committee’s approval. If substantial changes in methods have been made, another human subjects (or animal care) approval may be necessary – submit modification form. Consult your committee chair. Organization of the Dissertation Manuscript This section will explain the different parts of the dissertation manuscript and how it is organized. Note: In the end your document will be submitted/uploaded to ProQuest, and they will send it to the EMU digital library that is Internet searchable. Consult ProQuest resource material and copyright information. Log into www.etdadmin.com/emich, create an account, and explore the Resources and Guidelines section. You will later return to submit the final, approved document once the Graduate School signs off. Preliminary Pages include the title page, dedication, acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, and lists of tables and figures. Text Pages include the actual dissertation, including the dissertation problem, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Supplementary Pages include the list of references and appendices. Preliminary Pages The preliminary pages, which appear before the main body of the text, must be in the following order: • Title Page • Dedication (optional) • Acknowledgments (optional) • Abstract • Table of Contents • List of Tables (required if there are 2 or more tables) • List of Figures (required if there are 2 or more figures) With the exception of the Title Page, all preliminary pages must be numbered with lower-case Roman numerals. Each preliminary page is described below. Title Page Required although counted as page i, the number is not printed on the actual page. Include the following information, centered on the page: • Title of Paper (usually limited to fifteen words) • Name of the author • Full name of the department to which it is submitted • Full name of the University • The phrase “in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY” (or “OF EDUCATION” as appropriate) • Field of study for which the degree is granted (e.g., Educational Leadership, Educational Studies, Psychology, Technology) • Area of concentration (e.g., an Educational Studies candidate will have a concentration in Urban Education or Nursing Education) • Names of committee chair and members • Date of submission • City and state in which the campus is located See a sample title page (Figure 3). Dedication Optional. Acknowledgements Optional. Abstract Required. Double-spaced and limited to 350 words, the abstract of the dissertation should briefly state the following: 1. Research problem, research questions or hypotheses, and study’s objective 2. Methods and procedures 3. Results 4. Conclusions See sample dissertation abstract (Figure 4). A Comparative Study of Environmentally Responsible Design Adoption by Architects, Facility Managers, and Interior Designers by Amanda Gale Dissertation Submitted to the College of Technology Eastern Michigan University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Technology Concentration in Interior Design Dissertation Committee: Shinming Shyu, PhD, Co-Chair Louise Jones, ArchD, Co-Chair Deb de Laski-Smith, PhD Benedict Ilozor, PhD June 15, 2011 Ypsilanti, Michigan Figure 3. Sample title page. (Note: This page is in 12-point font and nothing is to be in boldface type.) Abstract The design and building industry has a tremendous impact on the environment that is often negative when environmentally responsible design (ERD) strategies are not adopted. The purpose of this exploratory, descriptive study was to determine the firm and practitioner characteristics that impact the adoption of ERD strategies, to ascertain practitioners’ knowledge of ERD strategies and certified products, and to document the adoption of ERD strategies using Rogers’ model of the innovation adoption process. The web-based, national survey utilized a purposive sample of 146 architects, facility managers, and interior designers who belonged to professional organizations (AIA, IFMA, ASID, and IIDA) that disseminated the self-administered questionnaire to members in eight states. Data were analyzed using a combination of descriptive and inferential statistics. As determined by the mode, the typical practitioner was an interior designer, between 31- 50 years old, with a bachelor’s degree, who had been in practice for 15+ years specializing in in corporate office design, and was NCIDQ certified but was not a LEED AP. The typical firm had 1-19 employees, including 1-5 interior designers but no architects, and had a sustainability policy in place. Major findings included: 1) practitioners have a moderate to good understanding of many ERD strategies; 2) they are familiar with product certification programs, although the programs are not well understood; and 3) the overwhelming majority are in the final stage of the adoption process. If the general population of practitioners is understood t be similar to the participants in ways that are relevant to this research investigation, it is clear that environmental responsibility is an important criterion in the design of the built environment. However, facility managers consistently scored lower than architects or interior designers regarding knowledge of ERD strategies and products. This is of concern because they are typically responsible for the built environment after the initial construction project has been completed. The results provided insight into the design and building industry’s understanding and use of environmentally responsible design strategies. This information can be used to create educational opportunities for practitioners and to facilitate a dialog to move the industry towards a more environmentally responsible future. Figure 4. Sample abstract. Original APA-style abstract: A large-scale experiment is described in which kindergarten students and teachers were randomly assigned to small and large classes within each participating school. Students remained in these classes for 2 years. At the end of each grade they were measured in reading and mathematics by standardized and curriculum-based tests. The results are definitive; (a) a significant benefit accrues to students in reduced-size classes in both subject areas and (b) there is evidence that minority students in particular benefit from the smaller class environment, especially when curriculum-based tests are used as the learning criteria. A longitudinal analysis of a portion of the sample indicated that students in small classes outperform their peers in kindergarten classes of regular size and also gain more in reading outcomes during the second year. The question of why these effects are realized remains largely unanswered, but in light of these findings, is particularly important to pursue (Finn & Achilles, 1990). Structured abstract: Background: Class size reduction continues to attract attention as a school reform measure. Prior research on the effects of class size has been inconclusive, leading to ongoing controversy and debate about the magnitude, if any, of a “class-size effect” on learning outcomes for children. Purpose: To assess the effects of a statewide experiment where class size was substantially reduced in kindergarten and first-grade classes. Setting: 76 public elementary schools drawn from inner-city, urban, suburban, and rural locations in Tennessee. A total of 328 kindergarten classes and 347 first-grade classes participated in the study. Subjects: 6,570 students enrolled in kindergarten in the 1985-1986 school year. Intervention: Students were randomly assigned by project staff to one of the three class types: small (13-17 pupils), regular (22-25 pupils), or regular with a teacher aide (22-25 pupils). Students assigned to small classes stayed in small classes for kindergarten and first grade. Research Design: Randomized-controlled field trial. Data Collection and Analysis: The Stanford Achievement Tests in reading and mathematics were administered in the spring of each school year, and a set of Tennessee curriculum- referenced tests were administered at the beginning of first grade. Means on each outcome measure were calculated for each class, then separately for White and minority students in each classroom. Two analyses were conducted using multivariate analysis of variance: a cross- sectional analysis of the entire first-grade sample and a longitudinal analysis of a subset of pupils (n=2291) who were in the study for both kindergarten and first grade and had complete SAT achievement test data. Findings: Significant benefits of class size reduction were seen across all academic measures. The cross-sectional analysis of first graders yielded an overall difference of about one fourth of a standard deviation among students in small classes vs. regular classes. Minority students benefited in particular, averaging a difference of a third of a standard deviation over their regular class counterparts on five of the six academic measures. In the longitudinal analysis, students in small classes had a highly statistically significant advantage in reading and mathematics over regular classes in both kindergarten and first grade. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that small classes have an advantage over larger classes in reading and mathematics in the early primary grades. The analysis also strongly suggests that small classes especially benefit the academic performance of minority students. Figure 5. Comparison of a paragraph-style narrative summary and a structured abstract. Structured abstract: Background/Context: Description of prior research on the subject and/or its intellectual context and/or its policy context. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: Description of what the research focused on and/or why. Setting: Specific description of where the research took place. Population/Participants/Subjects: Description of the participants in the study: who (or what), how many, key features. Intervention/Program/Practice: Specific description of the intervention, including what it was, how it was administered, and its duration. Research Design: Description of the research design (e.g., qualitative case study, quasi- experiment, secondary analysis, analytic essay, randomized-controlled field trial). Data Collection and Analysis: Description of plan for collecting and analyzing data, including description of data. Findings/Results: Description of main findings with specific details. Conclusions/Recommendations: Description of conclusions and recommendations of author(s) based on findings and overall study. Figure 6. Proposed template for a structured abstract. Table of Contents Required. Tables of Contents may be quite brief, including only chapter headings, or more detailed, including major subheadings. However, the following rules apply: • The wording of headings in the Table of Contents must correspond exactly to the wording of those headings in the text. • Include a listing of the preliminary pages with page number references (except for the title page and the Table of Contents pages themselves). • Ellipsis marks (also called “dot leaders”) to page number references are required. See sample Levels of Headings and Tables of Contents (Figures 7 and 8). List of Tables and List of Figures If your dissertation contains two or more tables, you must create a List of Tables. Likewise, if you have two or more figures, create a List of Figures. Format these lists as you would a Table of Contents. All lists should be referenced in the Table of Contents in the preliminary pages section. Double check all titles to make sure they are identical from text to table. See sample List of Figures and List of Tables (Figures 9 and 10). Creating the Table of Contents, List of Tables, and List of Figures Your Table of Contents, List of Figures, and List of Tables should be created systematically. If not done properly, they can be troublesome. Consult the owner’s manual for your word- processing software to follow their suggested procedure. There are short-cut techniques unique to each system that insures that page numbers will align along the right side of the page. Use tabs for indenting rather than hitting the space bar many times. This will facilitate future changes that may have to be made. Levels of Headings Level Format 1 Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading Then your paragraph begins below, indented like a regular paragraph. 2 Flush Left, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading Then your paragraph begins below, indented like a regular paragraph. 3 Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. Your paragraph begins right here, in line with the heading. 4 Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. Your paragraph begins right here, in line with the heading. 5 Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. Your paragraph begins right here, in line with the heading. For headings at Levels 3-5, the first letter of the first word in the heading is uppercase, and the remaining words are lowercase, except for proper nouns and the first word to follow a colon. th Figure 7. Sample levels of headings, APA Style Headings, 6 Edition.