133 posts categorized "General APA Style"

September 20, 2013

Comma Usage and Compound Predicates

DB2





by David Becker

Time for a brief review of Grammar 101! As you know, a sentence has two major components—the subject and the predicate. The subject is the person, place, or thing that the sentence is about. The predicate says something about the subject. Here is a basic example with the subject in blue and the predicate in red:

Ritija scratched the cat’s head.

A compound predicate says two or more things about the subject. A common mistake people make is to insert a comma between two elements of a compound predicate. This comma adds a pause that creates distance between the subject and the predicate, so you should not include a comma in this case, just as you would not use a comma to separate a verb from its subject or object. Here is an example that demonstrates the correct and incorrect ways to write a sentence with a compound predicate:

Correct: Ritija scratched the cat’s head and rubbed his belly.
Incorrect: Ritija scratched the cat’s head, and rubbed his belly.

However, a compound predicate with three or more elements constitutes a list, so it would be correct to separate them with commas. Commas are essential in this case to distinguish one element of the compound predicate from the rest. (Don’t forget the serial comma!)

The cat closed his eyes, purred, and twitched his ears.

Also note that a sentence with a compound predicate is different from a sentence with two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. The latter requires a comma to create a pause between two distinct thoughts that could be separate sentences. Here’s an example:

Correct: Ritija scratched the cat’s head, and the cat purred.
Incorrect: Ritija scratched the cat’s head and the cat purred.

I hope this will help you avoid incorrect comma usage in the future. For more information on when and when not to use commas, see section 4.03, pages 88–89 of the Publication Manual. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us or comment on this post.

September 05, 2013

Best of the APA Style Blog: 2013 Edition

Each fall the APA Style Blog Team puts together a “best of” feature, and this year we continue the tradition with an updated set of posts from the APA Style Blog and our parent site, apastyle.org. We hope it will be helpful as new batches of students set upon the task of learning and implementing APA Style.

You can get the full story in our sixth edition Publication Manual (also available as an e-book for Kindle) and our APA Style Guide to Electronic References, plus more information via the links below.

Get Started

What is APA Style?
Why is APA Style needed?
Basics of APA Style Tutorial
FAQs about APA Style  

Sample Papers

Sample Paper 1
Sample Paper 2
Sample meta-analysis paper
Sample published APA article  

Learn How to Make APA Style References

How in-text citations work
How references work (and how to deal with missing information)
How to find the example you need in the Publication Manual 
The principle of “cite what you see, cite what you use

How to Cite...

E-books
Interviews
Legal references (including constitutions and federal statutes)
Paraphrased work
Mobile apps
Secondary sources (sources found in another source) and why to avoid them
Social media (Twitter, Facebook)
Website material
YouTube videos

Grammar Tips Trees

A versus an with acronyms and abbreviations
All versus none
Data is versus data are
Since versus because
That versus which
While versus although and whereas 
Who versus that

Paper Formatting Guidelines

Block quotations
Capitalization
Fonts
Headings
Lists (lettered, numbered, or bulleted)
Margins
Running heads
Spelling
Statistics

Student Resources

How to cite a class
How to cite classroom course packs and custom textbooks
How to “cite” your research participant interview data

Keep in Touch!

We hope that these resources will be helpful to you as you write using APA Style. If you are interested in receiving tips about APA Style as well as general writing advice, we encourage you to follow us on social media. You can find us (and tell your friends) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

August 22, 2013

Let’s Talk About Research Participants

Chelsea blog 2  Jeff blogby Chelsea Lee and Jeff Hume-Pratuch

In this post you will learn how to present data gathered during surveys or interviews with research participants that you conducted as part of your research. You may be surprised to learn that although you can discuss your interview and survey data in a paper, you should not cite them. Here’s why.

Retrievability Versus Confidentiality

Three hands

In APA Style, all sources must provide retrievable data. Because one purpose of references is to lead the reader to the source, both the reference entry and the in-text citation begin with the name of the author. But rules for the ethical reporting of human research data prohibit researchers from revealing “confidential, personally identifiable information concerning their patients, . . . research participants, or other recipients of their services” (APA Publication Manual [PM]; 6th ed., § 1.11, p. 16; APA Ethics Code, Standard 4.07). In other words, you must prevent the reader from identifying the source of information.

In this clash of principles, which one should triumph? The value of protecting participants’ confidentiality must always win out. “Subject privacy . . . should never be sacrificed for clinical or scientific accuracy” (PM § 1.11)—not even for APA Style.

Strategies for the Discussion of Research Participant Data

Although you don’t cite data you gathered from research participants, you can discuss them, provided that you preserve the confidentiality you guaranteed the participants when they consented to participate in your study (see PM § 1.11). In practical terms, this means that “neither the subject nor third parties (e.g., family members, employers) are identifiable” (PM, p. 17) from the information presented.

Strategies for the ethical use of data from research participants include the following:

  • referring to participants by identifiers other than their names, such as
    • their roles (e.g., participant, doctor, patient),
    • pseudonyms or nicknames,
    • initials,
    • descriptive phrases,
    • case numbers, or
    • letters of the alphabet;
  • altering certain participant characteristics in your discussion of the participants (e.g., make the characteristics more general, such as saying “European” instead of “French”);
  • leaving out unimportant identifying details about the participant;
  • adding extraneous material to obscure case details; and
  • combining the statements of several participants into a “composite” participant.

Choose the strategy that makes sense given the degree of confidentiality of information you must maintain and what details are important to relate to the reader. Keep in mind that in employing these strategies it is essential that you not “change variables that would lead the reader to draw false conclusions related to the phenomena being described” (PM, p. 17). 

Examples of How to Discuss Research Participant Data

Here are a few examples of how participant data might be presented in the text. The most appropriate presentation will depend on context.

  • One respondent stated she had never experienced a level of destruction similar to that caused by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
  • “Madge,” a 45-year-old Red Cross social worker, was in Sichuan province when the earthquake struck. “It was unlike anything else I have experienced,” she said.
  • MJ, a European social worker, said the earthquake was “unlike anything else I have experienced.”
  • A non-Chinese social worker said the 2008 Sichuan earthquake “exceeded levels of devastation I have ever seen before.”
  • Case 24 was injured in the earthquake.
  • Participant M said she had never experienced anything like the earthquake or its level of devastation.
  • Several employees of a humanitarian aid organization said that they were emotionally distressed by the devastation the earthquake left behind.

Data can also be presented in a table or figure provided these same standards are abided by. 

Going on the Record

If the research participant is willing to go "on the record," or include his or her name in the paper, use a personal communication citation (see PM § 6.20). In that case, you should write up the material you intend to use, present it to the participant, and get his or her written permission before including it (see PM § 1.11). In your paper, the information might be presented as follows:

  • M. Johnson (personal communication, May 16, 2008), a Red Cross social worker who assisted in the Sichuan earthquake recovery efforts, stated that “the earthquake exceeded levels of devastation I have ever seen before.”

Further Reading

The issues surrounding participant privacy in research reporting are complex and exceed what can be presented in this post. For further reading, consult the APA Publication Manual (6th ed., § 1.11) as well as the APA Ethics Code

June 20, 2013

Forming Possessives With Singular Names

Tyler

 

 

by Tyler Krupa

I don’t think that I’m revealing a big grammar secret by letting you know that the possessive of a singular name is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s (e.g., Smith’s, 2012, study). But although this rule seems straightforward, one thing that trips up many writers is how to form possessives when the name being used ends with an s. For example, should you use “Adams’ (2013) work” or “Adams’s (2013) work”?

Per APA Style, the answer is that the possessive of a singular name is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, even when the name ends in s (see p. 96 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual). Therefore, in the example above, the correct usage would be “Adams’s (2013) work.” Although this presentation may look awkward to some writers, the rule for forming the possessive does not change just because the name ends in s.

However, it is important to note the following exception to this rule: You should use an apostrophe only with the singular form of names ending in unpronounced s (see p. 97 in the Publication Manual). Therefore, if you were writing a paper about the philosopher Descartes, to form the possessive with his name, you would need to just add an apostrophe (e.g., Descartes’ theory).

To help illustrate these guidelines, let’s look at a few more examples of properly formatted possessives:

Sigmund Freud’s method

Jesus’s disciples

Charles Dickens’s novels

Socrates’s life

François Rabelais’ writings (note that Rabelais ends with an unpronounced s)

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.

June 14, 2013

Block Quotations in APA Style

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

Like so many aspects of writing, when formatting block quotations, the devil is in the details! Here’s everything you need to know about block quotations: 

 

  • If the quotation comprises 40 or more words, display it in a freestanding block of text and omit the quotation marks.When do you use block formatting? According to the Publication Manual (p. 171), “If the quotation comprises 40 or more words, display it in a freestanding block of text and omit the quotation marks.” 
  • Do you still use quotations marks around the block? No (see the previous bullet).
  • How far should you indent? Indent “about a half inch from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph)” (p. 171).
  • Does the citation go before or after the period? The citation should include the page(s) or paragraph number and should appear after the end punctuation (see the examples in this PDF). 
At the end of a block quotation, cite the quoted source and the page or paragraph number in parentheses after the final punctuation mark.
  • I’ve already cited the author in the paragraph. Do I still need to include the author name and year? Yes. All quotations, both in-line and block quotations, must include the complete citation (see earlier blog posts). The author name(s) may appear in your introductory sentence or in the parentheses (see the examples in this PDF).

  • Does the first letter have to be capitalized? Sorry, no short answer here: This is a matter of opinion, debate, and editorial judgment. The Manual says, “The first letter of the first word in a quotation may be Indent the block about a half inch from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph).changed to an uppercase or a lowercase letter.” Note the word may. If the block quote begins with a full sentence, keep the uppercase first letter. However, if the quote begins midsentence, you may or may not want to change the first letter to uppercase. If your introduction to the block quote leads directly into the quote, a lowercase first letter may be fine (see the examples in this PDF).
  • If I’m quoting multiple paragraphs, how should I format the second and subsequent paragraphs? The second and subsequent paragraphs within the block quote should be indented within the block (see Example 5 in this PDF).
  • My quote includes a list. Do I need to include the citation after each item? No. Just include the citation, including page or paragraph number, at the end of the quoted material.
  • What about my own text that follows the block quote: Should it be indented or flush left? Your text following the block quote should be either (a) indented, if it is a new paragraph, or (b) flush left, if it is a continuation of your paragraph (see Examples 4 and 5 in this PDF).

Click here to download this document with five sample block quotes:

Block Quotation Examples

June 06, 2013

Executive Orders

Ms.blog.photo
by Melissa

By executive order, American presidents have created mental health care commissions, directed national councils to prioritize health care, and removed barriers to the funding of scientific research. Executive orders directly affect the field of psychology.

When you discuss executive orders, reference and cite them as shown in Section A7.07 (pp. 223–224) of the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual and this blog post.

Reference Format
These are the essential elements of a reference for an executive order that appears in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.):

  1. Order number
  2. Volume number and name of the code in which the order appears (e.g., executive orders always in appear in 3 C.F.R.)
  3. Page number
  4. Year that the order was promulgated

Here’s the basic format for an executive order reference:

Exec. Order No. xxxxx, 3 C.F.R. page (year).

If the order has been codified in the United States Code (U.S.C.), you can add the following elements at the end of the reference:

  1. Volume number and abbreviated name of the code
  2. Section number
  3. Explanatory information indicating that that the order was reprinted or amended or that it appeared in an appendix to the code (app. at xxx–xxx)
  4. Year of the most recent code in which the order appeared

Here’s the extended format:

Exec. Order No. xxxxx, 3 C.F.R. page (year), reprinted in title number 
U.S.C. § xxx app. at xxx–xxx (year).

For example, Executive Order 11,609, delegating some of the president’s authority to various federal agencies, is formatted as follows:

Exec. Order No. 11,609, 3 C.F.R. 586 (1971–1975), reprinted as amended 
in
3 U.S.C. § 301 app. at 404–407 (2006).


Text Citation Format
Here’s the in-text citation for executive orders:

Executive Order No. xx,xxx (year)
(Executive Order No. xx,xxx, year)


For more on executive orders, consult the latest edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.


April 25, 2013

How to Cite a News Report

DB2

by David Becker

Have you ever seen a news report that just happened to relate to the topic of a paper you were writing? Did you really want to cite that report but just didn’t know how? For example, say you were writing a paper on psychological disorders and their treatments throughout history. By sheer coincidence, you saw a report about historical DC scandals that covered the tragic tale of Henry Rathbone, who was sitting next to President Lincoln when he was assassinated. Rathbone was stabbed by John Wilkes Booth as he retreated and suffered psychological damage for the rest of his life because of this traumatic event. “This would be a perfect example for my paper!” you think. Unfortunately, a live news broadcast is not a retrievable source in and of itself. However, if you can track down a retrievable version of that report or another source containing the same information, you can cite it.

Many news organizations, whether they are large 24-hour networks or small local stations, have archives of their live news reports available for viewing on their websites. You would cite such reports as you would cite a YouTube video or any other kind of streaming video. Here’s how to cite the online version of the above-mentioned report:

A historical look back at DC scandals [Video file]. (2013, February 15). Retrieved from http://www.wjla.com/video/2013/02/a-historical-look-back-at-dc-scandals.html

In-text citation: (“A Historical Look,” 2013)

Notice that the title of the video has been moved to the author position. This is because the name of the person who uploaded the video is not specified (see Example 9 on p. 200 of the Publication Manual for more information). Also note that video titles should be italicized.

Hypothetically, let’s say you were not able to find the report you saw on TV. In this situation, it’s best not to worry so much about citing the report itself. You can instead use it as a springboard for further research. There may well be other sources that contain the same information, perhaps even better information, than the report you saw. For example, if you did a little digging for more information about Henry Rathbone, you might find the article cited below that provides much more detail than the TV news report:

Ruane, M. E. (2009, April 5). A tragedy's second act. Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032701576.html

In-text citation: (Ruane, 2009)

I hope this article has helped you figure out what to do if you ever see a news report that you would like to incorporate into your research. If you have any questions on this or any other topic, feel free to contact us. Your question may inspire a future blog post!

April 18, 2013

Punctuation Junction: Question Marks and Quotation Marks

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what Man at two roadshappens when punctuation marks collide.

The proper use of question marks and quotation marks in combination all depends on context: Namely, are you (a) quoting a question or (b) asking a question of a quotation? Let’s look at the two scenarios and how they impact punctuation.

1. When the quotation itself is a question, put the question mark inside the quotation marks.

  • Correct: Participants were asked, “How many days, on average, have you felt depressed over the past 2 weeks?”
  • Incorrect: Participants were asked, “How many days, on average, have you felt depressed over the past 2 weeks”?

2. When the sentence as a whole is a question, but the quoted material is not, put the question mark outside the quotation marks.

  • Correct: To what degree will social desirability influence participants’ responses to the statement “I always remember to take my medication as prescribed”?
  • Incorrect: To what degree will social desirability influence participants’ responses to the statement “I always remember to take my medication as prescribed?”

For more on how quotation marks work, see APA Publication Manual §4.07. Stay tuned for more Punctuation Junction posts coming soon! 

April 11, 2013

Punctuation Junction: Periods, Exclamation Points, and Question Marks

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

Periods, exclamation points, and question Confusing signsmarks are three types of end punctuation—that is, they indicate the end of a sentence. Two properties of end punctuation are (a) that they are almost never used in combination with one another (even though sometimes it seems like they should be) and (b) that there is a hierarchy among the marks that determines which one you should use for a given sentence.

Follow the guidelines below to ensure you use end punctuation correctly in your APA Style papers.

1. If a sentence seems to call for both a period and an exclamation point or both a period and a question mark, use only the exclamation point or question mark, respectively. These marks are stronger than the period and take its place.

  • Correct: The therapist began the session by asking, “How do you feel today?” The patient replied, “I feel 100% improved!”
  • Incorrect: The therapist began the session by asking, “How do you feel today?”. The patient replied, “I feel 100% improved!”.

2. If a reference title ends in an exclamation point or question mark, this mark takes the place of the period that would have otherwise appeared after the title. These marks are stronger than the period and take its place.

  • Correct: Raftopoulos, A. (2009). Cognition and perception: How do psychology and neural science inform philosophy? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Incorrect: Raftopoulos, A. (2009). Cognition and perception: How do psychology and neural science inform philosophy?. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

3. Only the exclamation point and question mark can ever appear in combination, to indicate an exclamatory question (this will rarely be used in an academic paper, however).

  • Correct: When the professor told John he would have to repeat the psychology course, John’s eyes grew wide as he exclaimed, “What?!” Then he ran from the room.
  • Incorrect: When the professor told John he would have to repeat the psychology course, John’s eyes grew wide as he exclaimed, “What?!.” Then he ran from the room.

For more on periods, see §4.02 of the APA Publication Manual.

Keep an eye out for more Punctuation Junction posts coming soon!

April 04, 2013

When to Include the Year in Citations Appearing More Than Once in a Paragraph

Tyler

 

 

by Tyler Krupa

You may already know that references in APA Style are cited in text with an author–date system (e.g., Smith, 2012). But do you know when to include the year of publication when one of your citations appears more than once in a paragraph? Getting it right is simple as long as you remember the following two guidelines:

1. All parenthetical citations (i.e., citations in which both the author name and publication date are enclosed within parentheses) should include the year, regardless of how often they appear in a paragraph.

2. When the name of the author is part of the narrative and appears outside of parentheses, after the first citation in each paragraph you need not include the year in subsequent nonparenthetical citations as long as the study cannot be confused with other studies in the article (see p. 174 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual).

To help illustrate these guidelines, let’s look at a few examples that correctly show when to include the year in citations appearing more than once in a paragraph:

Morin (1988) described two separate but linked epidemics. . . . Morin distinguished the HIV (viral) epidemic from the subsequent AIDS (disease) epidemic, foreseeing the ultimate convergence of preventing the spread of the virus and managing the disease it causes. . . . Morin also discussed a third epidemic . . . . This third epidemic is as much a part of the pathology of AIDS as the virus itself (Morin, 1988).

Socioeconomic status (SES) and chronic diseases rather consistently fall on a gradient, where those of relatively lower SES have poorer health and are more often afflicted by multiple diseases than those above them on the SES ladder (Adler & Stewart, 2010). . . . Adler and Stewart (2010) offered a framework to explain the major pathways by which SES can influence health outcomes. . . . The model is developmental, illustrating individual, social, and structural influences on disease over the lifespan (Adler & Stewart, 2010).

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.

 

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