Sample papers provided in APA Style CENTRAL have caused librarians to rethink a few pieces of advice provided, based on the only complete sample paper in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010, Figure 2.1).

Making a Good Title

In the Publication Manual, the title in the header exactly matched the first few words of the full paper title appearing on the title page.  However, some example papers in APA Style CENTRAL use text solely from the paper’s subtitle in the header, so the header title does not have to match the first few words of the full title exactly.  It does need to convey the same main idea of the full title.

The APA Blog (maintained by the same people that write the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association) provides a blog posting that gives five tips for creating a good title,

Citing Page Numbers

The Publication Manual only shows examples of page numbers appearing after cited works.  However, in APA Style CENTRAL there are examples of narrative style citations where the page number precedes the cited material.  Indeed, when using APA’s “Write” editor, this is the format used to generate citations for all narrative quotations. Example:  Smith (2017, p. 23) says that “trust is not optional for successful teams.”   The following APA Blog posting gives acceptable ways to cite in text,

Using Third Person

The sample paper in the Publication Manual is a scientific research paper written in third person.  Librarians have encouraged students to use third person, feeling that academic research should focus on facts and observations, not personal experience.  However, APA Style CENTRAL now provides an example of a “Personal Reflection Paper” written entirely in first person, demonstrating that the use of third person is not a requirement of APA, but a response to the content and intended audience of the paper.

Allowing Active Hyperlinks

APA has also evolved in allowing URLs to show as active hyperlinks.  Originally, the hyperlinks were removed.  Now, APA allows flexibility in that area.  Whether the URLs are shown as active hyperlinks or as black text, they need to be that way consistently throughout the document.  This includes Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs).  These, too, have evolved since they were first introduced.  The two most recent formats show the DOI as a URL.  Consistency is important with how these are displayed as well.  One method should be used throughout the References list and they should all be shown as active hyperlinks or none shown as active hyperlinks. Here are the current, acceptable formats for displaying the DOI, listed in order of how they were released by CrossRef and then APA.

These are a few of the ways that APA has and is evolving in the sixth edition since its release in 2010.  If you have specific questions about interpreting APA, please contact Off Campus Library Services librarians, consult the APA Blog, or refer to APA Style CENTRAL.  In addition, there are several sample papers available in the LEARN section that can be downloaded and shared with students.

Ask an OCLS Librarian!

For more information on APA Style CENTRAL, APA format, using the online library, or for search help, faculty and students can contact Off Campus Library Services. Call 1-800-521-1848, email [email protected], or fill out an online request form. OCLS is here to serve you!

Question: How does rethinking APA allow you to better serve your students? Please leave a comment below.

Contributor: David Dial / Northeast Ohio OCLS Librarian

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