APA: True or False?
Monday, August 02, 2010 APA
By Jessica Barron, Writing Tutor
There are a lot of APA rules to remember. A lot. Most students learn these rules through reading the APA manual. Others hear about these publication requirements through the Writing Center. And some people… well, some people just plain make them up. Below, I weed through common APA myths that are taken as fact and a few APA truths that are hard to believe.
True or False: Personal pronouns, like “I” or “we,” should never be used in academic writing. Using the third person, like “the author,” is more appropriate.
FALSE! Per APA section 3.09, the third person can be ambiguous in scholarly writing. Writing “the author found…” can make the reader wonder, “Are you talking about yourself or that theorist you just wrote about?” Personal pronouns are preferred, but be sure to follow up with your instructor if using the first person is appropriate for your assignment.
True or False: Always begin a sentence, title, or heading using words rather than numerals.
TRUE! Fifty-two percent of people begin sentences with numerals while only 12% actively follow the correct format. These statistics have been falsified, but the sentence demonstrates how numbers at the beginning of a sentence should be treated (see section 4.32 of the APA 6th edition manual).
True or False: As long as I put a citation at the end of my sentence, I have not committed plagiarism.
(KIND OF) FALSE! Citations should always be included when you use research to support your argument, but any time that you have taken word for word content directly from a source, your in-text citations need to be more thorough. For direct quotes, quotation marks should surround the cited material, and the citation at the end of your sentence needs to include the page or paragraph number(s) where this material can be found (Author, Date, p. #). Accidently forgetting to include quotation marks could be considered an act of plagiarism. Feel free to brush up on the plagiarism guidelines and the Writing Center tips on how to avoid committing plagiarism in your writing.
True or False: The APA manual is the first place I should look when I have a citation or reference question.
(PRETTY MUCH) TRUE! Your APA manual will be your best resource (and perhaps best friend) when you are writing a scholarly paper. The tips you receive from the writing center or your writing tutor on properly crediting sources are all based on the information housed within your APA manual. For specific Walden assignments or sources, however, the Walden Writing Center website provides information on citing course material, discussion posts, and yourself.
I hope these explanations helped ease a little APA confusion. Learning APA standards can be the most difficult process on your writing journey, so just make sure that you are asking questions of a tutor or your manual when you are unsure of the proper methods for scholarly writing.