I like change. In fact I embrace change and, according to Darwin, I change every day. However, what I do not embrace is the release of a new APA Publication Manual when writing my dissertation proposal. Especially when – and I’ll be nice – APA can’t even figure out what the changes are. This all started about a year ago when I received an informative email from my dissertation chair. This was similar to the type of notification you get when your dentist calls for your regular checkup. You know it’s coming, they know it’s coming...but you really don’t want to talk about it.
The email informed me that I would need to incorporate APA 6th edition into all my writings. After some basic research, and re-research after the second release of the manual, I found the changes rather minimal. Here is a short summary, not an all inclusive list, of what I found important:
Mechanics of Style (a.k.a. formatting): Times New Roman is the only accepted font (did anyone ever really use courier?) and there are some minor changes to spacing after punctuation marks. In a nutshell, use two spaces after periods instead of one. The 6th edition also suggests changes for reporting stats and expressing approximations (e.g., days, months, years).
Major Changes to Heading: Aside from modifications to online periodical referencing, this is probably the biggest change found within the manual. See section 3.03 to write a better header.
Quotes: Direct quotes from online materials without pagination should use “para” instead of the ¶ symbol. They are also doing funny things with periods – like including them within the quote as opposed to at the end of the in-text citation. Basically, there are more explicit rules for direct quotations that you should check out (see Section 6.03-6.10).
Displaying Results: The sixth edition includes a section (5.01) on the purpose of displaying data; specifically when and how to display your data.
Electronic Sources: An overview of electronic sources and how to reference them is provided. There are significant changes, specifically with URLs and DOIs. See section 6.31 or keep reading.
Digital Object Identifiers (DOI): The biggest change in the new APA guidelines. A DOI is a unique string of numbers assigned to each periodical (see section 6.31, 6.32 and 7.01). The good news is when a DOI is available you do not have to include URL. Also, you no longer need to include databases or the retrieval date on the reference page for online periodicals. I could have used that gimme during my coursework when writing the paper the night before!
So with that said I apologize for the dry topic but it was important for me to really understand these changes before I started writing. Finally, I want to dedicate this blog to those poor students, whoever and wherever you are, who will be taking their comprehensive and/or licensure examinations right after the release of the DSM-5 in 2013. I ask us to remind them in their state of panic that Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
•For free tutorials on APA style basics go to http://www.apastyle.org/learn/
•Purdue also offers a great website http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/
Stephanie Dailey is a counselor, adjunct faculty and doctoral candidate at Argosy University-Washington, D.C.