What does APA stand for?

APA is the abbreviation for American Psychological Association which is a professional organization whose members are comprised of teachers and scholars in the field of psychology. Other similar organizations in different disciplines are the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Council of Biology Educators (CBE). All such organizations publish journals with articles about topics of interest in the discipline. All created a style guide governing how articles submitted for publication are formatted and how they give credit to the sources. Many disciplines in the behavioral and social sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and some sciences require APA style for publication in their journals.

The term APA is used to refer both to the association and to the rules in the APA style guide which is called the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This tutorial uses the 6th edition.

What is the purpose for developing a set of rules for style and citations?

In order to have uniformity of presentation and give proper credit to the sources used in the articles, each organization has a different set of rules called a style guide. They include rules on how to give credit to sources in the body of the paper and how to list the sources at the end in a bibliography (a list of sources). Proper credit must be given to the sources used in the paper in order to avoid plagiarism. These style rules also include instructions for page setup such as margins, font, line spacing, and headers along with mechanics of writing such as punctuation. APA also includes rules for organization of a paper including title page, abstract, main body (introduction, method, results, discussion), and references. Appendices, if any, follow the references. Papers which report the results of studies or experiments typically use this organization.

Typically, students are asked to do a research paper which requires doing research to find an answer to a question and then writing a paper. The paper is a review of existing studies instead of doing a new study or experiment. The APA format for a literature review consists of a title page, possibly an abstract if the instructors requests one, the main body (which is a survey of the literature), and a list of references. The instructor may ask for a heading on the first page instead of a title page. There should be an introductory paragraph with thesis statement which answers the research question at the end, body paragraphs which prove the thesis, and a concluding paragraph which sums up the proof and restates the thesis.

Why is APA called an author-date method of citation?

Generally, APA style uses the author and the year of publication to give credit to the particular study or source in sentences that contain a quote, a paraphrase, or a summary with information from the source.

Why do schools require using APA style?

Academic institutions such as high schools, colleges, and universities have courses which require training in a style system such as APA in order to avoid plagiarism and to train students in preparing research papers suitable for publication in scholarly journals.

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