Apa is an acronym for the American Psychological Association



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What is and Why use APA? (why not?) The 1-Page Handout Version!
What is APA? Why use APA?

  • APA is an acronym for the American Psychological Association.

  • Many researchers and scholars use the conventions and formats of APA when conducting experiments on individual or group behaviors, trends, or attitudes, therefore it is largely considered a “soft science” type of research, where the participants (those who are studied) are not harmed (hopefully) physically, emotionally, or psychologically in any way.

  • What is a “format?” A format is certain style or organization to research and writing, for example using 12-point font, Arial, double-spacing and 1’’ inch margins is a format of APA. Format can also be how you choose to organize your writing, for example using bulleted points instead of making lists within a paragraph or using certain types of sub-titles to separate important sections of information within your essay.

  • What is a “convention?” A convention is a set of “rules” and expectations about how a research is supposed to be conducted, following ethical, reliable, and valid guidelines. Researchers are expected to follow certain writing habits and behaviors within a given discipline or field of study. Researchers and scholars follow conventions because it allows them to compare data and results in order to conduct more research or make new arguments.


Why are we using APA in this class?

  • Reason 1: We are using APA in this class because many students within the university setting are studying to become nurses, engineers, or they are looking to work within the medical and social sciences (i.e. psychology and social work) fields that require them to use and understand formats and conventions that are closer what APA research and writing resembles.

  • Reason 2: While many Composition instructors teach MLA (Modern Language Association) type of research and writing, this approach to research and writing places an emphasis on words and what the author has said/written, for example, Shakespeare’s says, “….” Shakespeare is ALWAYS saying what he wrote and it cannot be said any better or any other way, it can only be interpreted. Therefore, when writing a research essay in MLA, there is a greater emphasis on direct quotes (or parenthetical citations). When researching and writing using APA, the approach favors not words and direct quotes, but instead places greater emphasis on concepts and ideas and studies. Therefore, researchers and scholars who write their essays in APA are “time-stampingtheir research studies, that means, they are saying what they found at this given time at this specific location or place under these specific circumstances (i.e. When writing in APA, past tense verbs are used frequently to denote the study[ies] that were already done). Thus, when writing in APA, you must cite the year [i.e. Helkser & Speccy (2009)].

  • Reason 3: While MLA (mostly for English majors), Chicago-Turabian (i.e. for historians), IEEE (for computer sciences and the sciences), and other formats and conventions of research and writing are valid, they are also discipline specific and used for certain kinds of research. So, in a way, APA is “elected” by popularity of what students major in and what professions they are looking to enter.


How do I cite a source using APA?

  • A great and very handy resource for you to consult on this matter is located at this link: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ (once there, you can go to the APA section and look this information up)

  • Most common example of citing an author(s) in your own text:

Example 1: Heath and Jackson’s (2009) research examined fungus in South America and how it contributed to changes in the swamp’s ecosphere.

Example 2: Rory, Keiln, Murry, and Wold (2010) studied the attitudes of freshmen student writers in a composition class questioning why they should use APA when they write their essays.

Example 3: Citing author(s) at the end of a sentence – A current survey revealed that 71% of college freshmen will fail out their first semester in college because of poor attendance, bad reading habits, and low test scores (Riddick and Lancaster, 2010, p. 545).

  • Can you use “direct quotes” when writing in APA? Check with your instructor in this instance. Rule of thumb, use a few but not too many … paraphrase (i.e. put another author’s words) into your own words) often.

  • Also, when writing your essay in APA, please remember to keep track of all of your sources for your references page. There are some helpful Citation Generator that can help you keep track of all of your sources. Here are a few that are fairly reliable and free:

  • NoodleTools - http://www.noodletools.com/

  • Son of Citation Machine - http://citationmachine.net/

  • EasyBib - http://www.easybib.com/

  • FreeWorks - http://www.workscited4u.com/

  • And there are many others if you type into Google: free online citation machines

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