What is the Point?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 APA
By Amy Kubista, Graduate Writing Tutor
Have you ever wondered, as you toil away at ensuring your paper adheres to all of the APA rules that the manual throws at you, what is the point? Why do you, as a student, commit so many mind bending hours to correcting grammatical nuances, inserting running heads, and choosing appropriate wording so your paper follows APA format? Well, for one, because your professor tells you to, but why is it so important? Let’s take a deeper look at this issue of APA format and its importance in the academic world.
Many journals within the social science realm require articles to follow the APA style in their publications. One of Walden’s goals is to help students produce scholarly articles worthy of publication, and therefore APA is drilled into the students via the papers that are assigned. It is much easier to submit articles for publication if they are already in the correct format, even though most manuals are very similar with their rules (the differences are often in the details). So the strict adherence to APA is due in part to the potential publication of students’ work.
Academic journals utilize specific formatting in order to maintain consistency throughout their publications. This helps avoid confusion between articles. For example, one article may have pretest, another pre-test, and a third Pretest. A reader may easily interpret these as different while in reality they all refer to the same type of test. By having rules to follow, uniformity is assured, and there is less chance of a misunderstanding.
APA rules also help professors in their reading and grading of papers. These rules act as guidelines so professors can easily look for necessary components of a paper instead of quibbling about certain grammatical or style rules. Instead, everyone follows the same rules. Think of it as something constant in a skill that has so much elasticity. Plus, learning to use APA shows you are capable of taking directions from professors (or a future boss) and problem solving by finding answers to APA questions you may have.
So the next time you are flipping through your APA manual because you can’t remember how to cite a personal communication, know that there is some reasoning behind the madness. When you are submitting articles for publication, you will be grateful that Walden and your professors were so insistent on using APA format.