If you have gone through the trouble of picking up a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2010), I’m sure your first reaction was similar to mine: “Ugh! 272 pages of boredom.” Do people actually read this monster? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I know I haven’t read every last bit of it. You may be relieved to hear that your reaction resonates with some of the critique that has been voiced by senior researchers in Psychology, such as Henry L. Roediger III (2004). But let’s face it: APA style is not going anywhere. It is one of the major style regimes in academia and is used in many fields other than Psychology, including medical and other public health journals. And to be fair, standardizing academic documents is not a bad idea. It helps readers to efficiently access the desired information. It helps authors by making the journal’s expectations regarding style explicit, and it helps reviewers to concentrate on the content of a manuscript. Most importantly, the guidelines set a standard that is accepted by a large number of outlets. Imagine a world in which you had to familiarize yourself with a different style every time you chose a new outlet for your scholarly work. Continue reading
APA-guidelines, don’t we all love them? As an example, take one simple black line used to separate words – the hyphen: not only do you have to check whether a term needs a hyphen or a blank space will suffice, you also have to think about the different types of hyphens (Em-dash, En-dash, minus, and hyphen). Yes, it is not that much fun. And at JEPS we often get the question: why do we even have to adhere to those guidelines?
The answer is rather simple: The formatting constraints imposed by journals enable for the emphasis to be placed on the manuscript’s content during the review process. The fact that all manuscripts submitted share the same format allows for the Reviewers to concentrate on the content without being distracted by unfamiliar and irregular formatting and reporting styles.
The Publication Manual counts an impressive 286 pages and causes quite some confusion. In JEPS, we have counted the most frequent mistakes in manuscripts submitted to us – data that the EndNote-blog has translated into this nice little graphic.
Here you can find some suggestions on how to avoid these mistakes in the first place.
American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Vainre, M. (2011). Common mistakes made in APA style. JEPS Bulletin, retrieved from http://blog.efpsa.org/2011/11/20/common-mistakes-made-in-apa-style/
Ethics are a vast, key topic in psychological research. What is necessarily taken into consideration in regards to ethics before conducting research is studied and then read again and again in guidelines and codes of conduct. But what lies beyond the legislations in ethics? Where should a researcher’s moral compass be pointing to? Here are the outlines proposed by the APA and some general discussion relating to them.
Throughout the course of our studies, we have all read a lot of literature reviews or scientific papers, those whose methodological standard we could have learned from and improved and others that make us wonder how they ever made it through the peer- review process of the journal. Nevertheless, we have to admit that we all still make mistakes and sometimes submit manuscripts that do not match APA guidelines. In order to improve our general knowledge about how to format papers in our beloved APA style or to refresh our previous knowledge related to it, this post intends to give a brief overview over the structure of a scientific paper and some other crucial APA features your paper should contain.
Writing the title takes just a fraction of the time you need to put down your work on paper. Nonetheless, this starting point is very important one, because it may influence the impact of your work and the number of readers that it will attract. With the increasing digitalization of research, more and more people are using abstract databases to find articles relevant to their work. That’s why, if you want your article to come up in the search results, you should make sure that its title is a good summary of your work and that it addresses the right audience. How can you do this? Here is a step-by-step guide with some useful tips.
Today, much of the world of scientific writing and publishing revolves around making sure the standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (or more commonly known as “APA style”) are being met. Every undergraduate has gone through one or more courses about it, and every student pursuing a career in research sure as to know it from back to back. It can even be remarkably challenging to imagine the scientific enterprise without the existence of the Publication Manual.
APA style has come to refer to this well-developed system of writing conventions that includes guidelines on how to organize empirical reports, how to reference other published works, and how to solve a dozen other problems that arise in the preparation of a manuscript. But the reach of APA style doesn’t end in the settings in which manuscripts are prepared. Indeed, APA style has become common even in disciplines outside psychology, such as nursing, education and anthropology. Contemporary English textbooks present APA style as an established standard on a par with the revered “MLA style” (Achtert & Gibaldi, 1985).
But when something is so pervasive in a certain context we have to stop and ponder: what are the consequences of having such a fixed set of standards regulating most of scientific publishing in the social sciences?
A recent article summarizing previous data from 110 manuscripts submitted to the Research in the Schools journal (Onwuegbuzie, Combs, Slate, & Frels, 2010) shows that APA style deviations related to the use of abbreviations and acronyms were found in 41.82% of the manuscripts. Perhaps because using abbreviations in writing comes so intuitively to us, a lot of people don’t give much thought to the fact that the publication manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2009) has some specific requirements when it comes to abbreviations. And while the rules governing the use of abbreviations may seem like just another bunch of the innumerable guidelines in the manual, it doesn’t take long to realize that they are actually logical and easy to follow.
A recent JEPS bulletin post revealed that the largest percent (37%) of APA style mistakes in the manuscripts submitted for the 4th issue of the Journal of European Psychology Students (JEPS) are related to reference formatting. This is consistent with the analysis of APA style mistakes from 2010 where the largest proportion of APA style mistakes in the past JEPS submissions were related to references as well, although in a significantly larger percent (51%).
As described in a previous post, writing proper references may involve several issues–correctly listing references cited in text, as well as having all references in the list cited in text. Problems also occur in correct spelling of the references, formatting in-text citations according to APA guidelines, formatting the reference list according to the specific APA rules applying to each type of publication and ordering the references alphabetically by the authors’ surnames.
Even though the APA manual is the guide no.1 in resolving these issues–doing it manually by the book requires a lot of time and attention. The good news is that there is a number of electronic tools that can also help to avoid these mistakes. This post offers you a brief introduction to two solutions–Zotero and Mendeley Desktop.
Referencing causes a great number of mistakes in APA formatting (see also our recent analysis of manuscripts submitted to JEPS). This is perhaps not surprising, given the amount of details a writer has to observe when enlisting a single item in the references list. Should the titles be capitalised throughout or not? What is in italics what is not? Where do commas and full stops go? Why is there a standardised way of reporting references in the first place?
Students encounter problems with formatting headings according to the APA Style surprisingly often. 9% of manuscripts of submitted to the Journal of European Psychology Students manifested a problem in that area (Vainre, 2011). Even though compared to the previous version of the manual, the APA has simplified its standards considerably, much confusion still seems to be there. Hopefully this post will clarify a thing or two.