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The Basics of APA Style

Feb 24, 2016




The Basics of APA Style. Sixth Edition. Writing in APA Style. APA stands for the American Psychological Association and this writing style was first developed to effectively communicate research of the Behavioral Sciences. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
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Page 1: The Basics of APA Style


Page 2: The Basics of APA Style

WRITING IN APA STYLE APA stands for the American Psychological

Association and this writing style was first developed to effectively communicate research of the Behavioral Sciences.

This writing style has been expanded to many disciplines besides Psychology.

Publication in most scholarly journals require the use of this style, therefore it is now taught at the undergraduate level.

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WHAT APA WRITING STYLE IS NOT APA is Not MLA-MLA writing utilizes quotes which

are referenced by numbers that match the works cited page.

APA uses quotes sparingly if at all. A good rule of thumb is to only use quotes on an exact definition that you could not paraphrase. NOTE: More than 2 quotes per paper is too many and it is best if there are none.

APA is NOT an editorial or opinion style of writing. Sources are paraphrased with little opinion in the paper.

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GUIDELINE TO STRUCTURING A PAPERWriting a paper at the college level

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WHERE TO BEGIN…… To begin writing, one must know the objective of the assignment. In APA assignments at the undergraduate level, most

assignments are either essays or research reports. Both the essay and research report require a literature search for

information from reputable sources such as: Journal articles Web based journals Limited use of recognized web sites ( e.g. National Institute of Mental

Health, Bureau of Labor Statistics) Limited use of books Absolutely no Wikipedia, or other type of encyclopedic reference.

Information used in the paper is most often in the form of previous research studies or review articles

Information is summarized and not quoted and one must use citations.

Information cannot be copied word for word from the study/article even if it is being cited. This is PLAGIARISM.

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EXAMPLE: “There is an area of the brain that always

becomes active when a vivid memory is being retrieved. The area is within the left inferior prefrontal cortex. The activity of this area, captured by an fMRI during learning, predicts whether something that was stored is being recalled in crystal clear detail.”

Excerpt taken from: Medina, J. (2009). Brain rules. Seattle, WA: First Pear Press, 34-35.

If you wanted to cite the passage from this book, one would summarize the passage in your own words and give credit to the author.

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The area of the brain responsible for recall of a vivid memory is the inferior prefrontal cortex which can be seen on an fMRI. Activated areas seen on the fMRI during learning makes it possible to predict the level of recall (Medina, 2009).

The original text is summarized and at the end of the summary the author’s last name and year of publication are put in parentheses in text. If there were two authors, both would be listed, such as ( Medina & Jones, 2009)

APA in text citation never uses initials, title of the book or article or simply a number such as MLA (e.g. (1) ).

The entire reference entry (Medina, J……) as seen on the previous slide would be put in the reference section.

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It has been reported that a Nazi-like professor is insisting that all students learn to write in the style of the American Psychological Association (APA). Graduate students in the department do not agree with her decision ( Peterson, 2009)

This citation must be listed in your reference section in the format for a newspaper article.

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THE RESEARCH PAPERAs an Research Proposal

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TITLE PAGE All APA papers must contain a title page. The title is very important and there are specific

rules in APA style. A title should be a concise statement of the main topic. The title should identify the variables or theoretical

issues under investigation and the relationship between them.

The title should be typed in upper and lower case letters, centered between the left and right hand margins, and positioned in the upper half of the page.

Recommended length for a title is no more than 12 words.

Good Title: Effects of Age on Detection of Emotional Information

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TITLE PAGE ( CONTINUED) Page numbers are on the same line as the

running head. The page numbers begin on the cover page and

begin with one. The running head and number should be set up

as a header and it should continue on every page following the title.

The authors name ( byline) is centered under the title and should have your first name, middle initial and last name.

The institution should be centered under the name.

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TITLE PAGE ( CONTINUED) The Running head appears on the title page and on

every page after. The first letter of the first word is capitalized and the

second word is not, a colon follows the second word (e.g. Running head: ). There should be two spaces after the colon.

The actual running head should be the first 5 to 7 words of the title and should not exceed 50 characters ( including spaces). The actual running head should be in all caps.



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Running head: EFFECTS OF AGE ON…..1

Effects of Age on Detection of Emotion Pamela M. Stuntz

Texas Christian University

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INTRODUCTION The title of the paper is again repeated at the

beginning of the Introduction, centered at the top of the page, under the running head and page number.

Strong opening paragraph that introduces the specific problem under study and why the problem is important. Ex,

“Music is an important part of today’s culture and many people listen to music while engaged in various tasks. Does listening to music facilitate the task at hand, or can it be distracting. Does the type of music affect concentration or memory? As music is an integral part of life, it is therefore important to examine its effects on specific tasks. “

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INTRODUCTION: RESEARCH PROPOSAL The hypothesis should be introduced in the

introduction. While APA suggests the hypothesis should be

at the end of the introduction, for the purpose of this assignment, the hypothesis should be in the Opening paragraph of the introduction, preferably in the last sentence. For Example: The purpose of the current experiment is to

compare the effects of country music and classical music on learning as measured by a general psychology exam.

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INTRODUCTION Introduce the idea of previous research and

cite the studies that will be summarized later in the paper.

“Previous research suggests that listening to classical music while studying enhances memory (e.g. Anderson, 2005; Calvo & Lang, 2004; Hinojosa, Mecado & Tapia, 2006)….

Citations are made from references which are presented in alphabetical order. Do NOT reorder the names of the authors, simply present the citations in alphabetical order with a comma, the year, and separated by a semi-colon.

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Based on information from literature search, no hard data of your own to report.

Structured by you ( or instructions from class assignment) to fit your topic.

Puts idea into the context of a particular thesis. The objective of the lit review is to inform the

reader in depth on a particular topic or theme. Another part of the lit review should describe

studies relevant to the proposed study. Descriptions of previous studies should describe

the participants, basic methods and conclusions reached. No statistics should be reported.

Relate each study you cite back to your proposed study. .

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TEXT Following the intro paragraph within the

introduction, one should operationally define the constructs in the paper.

For example, in this example one may want to define classical music and country music as well as other constructs such as memory.

After the section of operational definition, you should begin discussing studies that relate to the hypothesis. Discuss the relevant literature, but do not feel

compelled to include an exhaustive historical account. A scholarly description of earlier work provides a summary of the most recent directly related work.

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TEXT When summarizing earlier research, avoid

nonessential details. Emphasize pertinent findings, relevant methodology and major conclusions.

Demonstrate the logical continuity between the previous research and your study.

“For example, Anderson ( 2005) presented participants with images representing four categories….(relevant methodology)…….Results indicate that younger adults show detection benefits for arousing information in the environment ( major conclusions. The focus of the present study is to determine the extent to which age influences automatic detection of emotional information.” (Continuity between the previous research and your study).

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INTRODUCTION Summary paragraph within the Introduction:

Here you will sum up the studies you discussed in your introduction, with citations. You will also state your prediction.

Previous research suggests that classical music, such as Mozart enhances learning and memory in school age children. Some research suggests that younger people are more attuned to musical influence ( again, list the references in alphabetical order). Gray and Calvo ( 2005) indicated music enhances memory automatic in adolescents and young adults, however this effect appears to decline with age…It is predicted that………..

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METHOD SECTION Each section after the introduction is

separated by heading, centered and bolded in the middle of the page.

The Method (NOT METHODS) section describes in detail how the study was conducted.

The Method section is subdivided into labeled subsections: Participants Materials and Procedures Research Design

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Participants(Left side justified and bolded) Description of the participants should be in this section, including how they were recruited and from where. Other characteristics should be identified such as gender and age.

Materials and Procedures In this section, you should describe the procedures of the experiment.

Research Design

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RESULTS Data analysis is summarized in this section.

Report the data in sufficent detail to justify your conclusions.

Mention all results, including those that do not support your hypothesis.

Results should be bolded and centered over the section.

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DISCUSSION Evaluate and interpret the implications of the results

reported in the previous section especially with respect to your original hypothesis.

Open the Discussion section with a clear statement of the support or non-support of the original hypothesis.

If hypothesis are not supported, offer explanations. Similarities and Differences between your results and the

work of others should be used to contextualize, confirm and clarify your conclusions.

DO NOT simply reformulate and repeat points already made.

Each new statement should contribute to your interpretation and the reader’s understanding of the problem.

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DISCUSSION (CONTINUED) When interpreting your results, your

discussion section should also include: Sources of potential bias, and other threats to

internal validity. Possible imprecision of measures Limitations and Weaknesses of the study.

Application End the discussion with a reasoned and

justifiable commentary of the importance of your findings.

Discuss practical significance of the outcome, what problems may arise anew, and which problems remain unanswered.

Possible future studies.

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REFERENCE PAGE The reference page lists all the sources used in the paper. All references on the reference page must be cited in the

article. All citations must be referenced in the reference page.

( Secondary sources are the exception) The Reference page is the last page in the paper. It has a

page number and the title of the page is “References” not Works Cited, with the title centered at the top.

Entries in the Reference section are listed alphabetically by the surname of the first author of the publication. ( Do NOT reorder the names of the authors in text or in the reference section).

The entire reference page is double spaced with NO ADDITIONAL SPACES BETWEEN REFERENCES!)

Each reference is introduced by a hanging indent.

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REFERENCES APA writing necessitates the use of

paraphrasing sources such as periodicals ( journal articles), books, reference books, chapters, research reports, dissertations and theses, websites.

Many of these sources are in electronic form, such as on-line journals.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, for additional sources go to

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REFERENCES BY TYPE Periodicals-are items published on a regular basis,

such as journals, magazines, newspapers and newsletters. General Form:

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Title of the article, Title of Periodical, xx, pp-pp.

Ex: Slick, T. J., Schutte, N. J., & Light, M. A. (2006). Emotional intelligence and self-esteem mediate between adult happiness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 8, 38-48.

NOTE: Authors first names are not listed, only initials.Only the first word of the title is capitalized.The title of the periodical is in italics.The volume number is not in italics.Must have page numbers.

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PERIODICALS (ELECTRONIC) Many journals are now in electronic format,

which is the same reference with either DOI (Digital Object Information) information included or if no DOI, give the URL of the journal home page.

Slick, T. J., Schutte, N. J., & Light, M. A. (2006). Emotional intelligence and self-esteem mediate between adult happiness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 8, 38-48. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.24.2.225.

Or if not DOI use URL Slick, T. J., Schutte, N. J., & Light, M. A. (2006).

Emotional intelligence and self-esteem mediate between adult happiness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 8, 38-48.

Retrieved from

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BOOKS Format: Author, A. A. ( year) Title of book.

Location: Publisher. Pages used.

Shotton, M. A. ( 1989). Computer addition? A study of computer dependency. London: Taylor & Francis. 19-22, 24.

Note: Title of book is italicized and only the first word, or

word after punctuation is capitalized. Electronic version would also add doi or URL. Pages numbers needed.

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WEB SITE Web sites should be used sparingly as the

authenticity of the source is difficult to verify and publishing is not as rigorous as periodicals and books. Kidspsych ( year)

In text: Kidspsych is a wonderful resource for children ( http://www. kidspsych. org).

Electronic citation differs widely as to whether there is an author or date, no author etc. Checking the web site is advisable.

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PLAGIARISM Plagiarism comes from the Latin word

meaning “kidnapping” and refers to the theft of another person’s ideas or work and passing it off as your own.

Therefore, stealing someone else’s work and passing it off as your own is wrong, even if it is “accidental” or unintentional.

To avoid plagiarism, be sure you are paraphrasing the passage in question, and cite the sources exactly.

Penalty for plagiarism will be severe.

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LAZY WRITING Your paper is expected to reflect your

thoughts after you have synthesized material that is relevant to your topic.

Therefore, rephrasing material which you don’t understand, or citing material that is not relevant is not plagiarism, but comes across badly and poorly organized. Practices such as these can result in a poor grade.

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TONE Tone is defined as the manner and attitude

reflected in the way you express your ideas. Your writing should not sound arrogant or pompous,

nor flowery and wordy. Try to be straightforward. For example….instead of

saying “The reader will note that the results were”….say “The results were….

Don’t be too casual…..”Here’s what Jones and Smith say…..” instead…”According to Jones and Smith….

Don’t use the first person. Although it is accepted in APA style, it is at the discretion of the instructor….this instructor does not want the use of words such as I, we, us, etc….

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VOICE (ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE) Active voice: Eleanor Gibson (1988)

proposed that perceptual development in humans was a never ending path of discovery.

Passive voice: It was proposed by Eleanor Gibson that perceptual development in humans was a never ending path of discovery.

Although the difference is slight, active voice is preferred. APA style is concise and non-wordy.