Polishing your paper (or the annoyances of APA)

Are you in the final stages of polishing your paper for the 2013 publication? Most likely, then, you have been going back and forth with board members, working through issues surrounding clarity, sentence and paragraph structure, thesis development, the list goes on and on. No matter where you are in the publication process, however, in just about every letter you receive from us, we’ll mention the same, recurring, dreaded issue: APA. “Please adhere to proper APA style,” we will write. Or we will highlight areas in your paper where we want you to double check proper APA usage. Often, we will include a link to helpful websites like OWL Purdue (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/) or the APA website (http://www.apastyle.org/).

Inevitably you will encounter at least one frustrating issue when using APA -whether it is referencing an article with no page numbers or a webpage with no author. It might be avoiding biased language. Or  you might struggle with how to cite a class discussion, or all the complexities inherent in new forms of knowledge production like referencing Twitter and Facebook.

Although the UWB Policy Journal adheres to APA style, we also understand your frustrations. We have all been there ourselves. We will continue to direct you to helpful websites and resources in order for you to learn the process. But we also want you to know that the Board makes stylistic choices to make sure all articles included in the Journal remain consistent. For example, last year, we had authors write out United States in the first mention, with an immediate parenthetical acronym following it (U.S.), then use the acronym “U.S.” in every subsequent reference. Different journals have different standards. Rest assured, if you are in the final stages of your paper, we will make these small edits for you; we will catch these stylistic elements and make sure your paper is polished and publishable. However, we have provided these two particularly useful blog posts, based on the trends we have seen in the submissions generated this year:

1) Abbreviations: “Abbreviations introduced on first mention of a term and used fewer than three times thereafter, particularly in a long paper, may be difficult for a reader to remember, and you probably serve the reader best if you write them out each time.” (http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/abbreviations/)

2) Reference List: Having trouble developing the reference list for your paper? You are not alone! There are often missing elements, the sources  do not have an author, date, or page numbers. Although this can be frustrating, APA developed a very useful .pdf handout that can assist you: Missing Pieces Reference Table

Still struggling? Take a deep breath and know that this too shall pass. Email us with any questions you still have, or schedule an appointment with the consultants at the Writing and Communication Center, or talk to a librarian online, on the phone, or in person.

Happy writing folks! And enjoy the sunshine.

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