Following our tradition from 2010 and 2011, we present you an overview of the aspects of APA style that students find the most difficult. The data was collected from the manuscripts submitted to us in 2012. Just as in the previous two posts, we were more interested in the type of mistakes that students do, rather than their quantity. In this year’s analysis, more categories have been included compared with the previous two (27 in total), which allowed us to conduct a more detailed investigation on common APA style mistakes. This was done by identifying the mistake categories with the highest frequencies from the papers submitted to us. This post will guide you through the most common APA style mistakes and offer you advice on how to avoid them when writing your own paper. We will start off with the general formatting of the paper; then, we will move on to citing sources and formatting the reference list.
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.