APA Style: Nothing to be afraid of!

For anyone who is taking or will ever take a Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Business, or Criminology class: read this carefully!

Think back to high school and the papers that you had to write. Most likely, those papers were written in MLA format. Not only did your high school teach you MLA format, but they drilled it into your head! Now you’re in college and you know that there is more than one style of paper. Suddenly, your professor assigns a paper that needs to be written in APA format!

*cue mini freakout*

Courtesy of www.gifsoup.com

Don’t freak out! It’s not nearly as scary as it looks…it’s just different. APA Style is used in the social sciences and almost everyone, at one point or another, will use it.

Being in the Psychology department, I have to use APA format ALL THE TIME. Here is a little “how to” guide and some of my best tips on how to tackle APA format:

  • You must have a title page! The title page should have: the title of paper, the writer’s name, and the school (each on a different line). This should be centered and be placed about halfway down the page.
  • Make sure you have an appropriate header. The header should have the title of the paper at the top left and the page number (nothing else, just the numeral) at the top right. HOWEVER, on the first page, there should be the label “Running head:” before the title in the header.
  • If the paper requires an abstract, it should be placed on a separate piece of paper right behind the title page.
  • Some papers will have subheadings within the paper; however, that is not always required. Make sure you check with your professor and the rubric for the assignment to find out if they’re required.
  • At the end of the paper, there should be a “References” page containing all of the sources that you cited in the paper.

    Sample APA title page courtesy of http://owl.purdue.edu

  • Everything is double-spaced! (Including title page and references page)
  • In-text citations should be at the end of the sentence. They should contain: (Author’s last name, year published, p. #) ← in that format, too! Don’t forget to put the period after the in-text citation!
  • Last but certainly not least…the bibliography. Here is the basic bibliography for APA format (formatted correctly):

Author’s last name, first initial. middle initial. (year published). Title of book. City of publication, State: Publisher.

Just fill in the information for your source and you’re good to go!

(Note: Some types of sources may require slightly different formatting. Please make sure that you use the correct format.)

**Before you finish, double check to make sure you remembered to put periods at the end of every bibliography citation. This may seem tedious but so many people forget them or their fingers move so quickly over the keyboard that they forget it.

If you need to use a different bibliography format or are still unsure about your citation, check out The Purdue OWL online (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/). If you’re still struggling with APA Style, make an appointment to come see one of the writing center tutors for help!!

Courtesy of http://owl.english.purdue.edu

Adrienne, peer tutor

The Invisible Gorilla; An Exercise in Attention

In the following video, there are three people dressed in white and three dressed in black. Count how many times the people in white pass the ball to one another.

You should have counted 15 passes. But that isn’t the important part.

The real question is: did you see the gorilla?

Some of you may respond with, “Well, of COURSE I saw the gorilla. How could I miss it?” However, according to the study conducted at Harvard University by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, a full half of the people who took part in the experiment were so focused on counting the passes that they completely missed the gorilla. That’s 50% for whom the gorilla was completely invisible. (Even more crazily, in this recently conducted study, 83% of radiologists missed a rather large gorilla hidden in x-ray images!) Thus, we have the name of the experiment, “The Invisible Gorilla.” (Check out their site for more information!)

“The Invisible Gorilla”

This says a lot about the human ability to focus on things to the exclusion of all else. This ability can be great, for example, when the person down the hall is blaring heavy metal while you’re trying to study for an exam. However, this intense focus can also pose a bit of a problem, say, when you become so focused on the fact that one friend has not texted you back that you don’t realize that your other friends are waiting on you to go out.

Or, when you’re so focused on fixing all the little flaws in your latest essay that you miss some of the really large issues.

Many of you know how the Writing Center here at McDaniel works: you bring us your paper, and we sit down with you and talk about whatever you need help with. However, we have always made it a priority to focus on the biggest areas and issues. Some of you may be familiar with our Writing Center’s adage,

“If the Titanic is sinking, you don’t rearrange the deck chairs.”

Basically, this means that you shouldn’t worry about the little stuff (grammar, spelling, etcetera) if your paper needs, say, a thesis, or organization and structure. Focus first on the big, and work your way to the little.

Editors sometimes go bananas. (source: http://pschenk.wordpress.com/)

Sometimes, though, its hard to even see the big if you’re so focused on the little. Just like we miss the gorilla in counting the basketball passes, we might also miss the fact that our paper has no supporting evidence if we’re too distracted by trying to fix commas.

At the Writing Center, we want to help you track down those gorillas! That is why we always suggest reading your paper aloud; you’ll really pick up on places where the organization is awkward, or the sentences don’t make sense! Even if you can’t make it in for an appointment with us, you can still do your own gorilla tracking.

Of course, we do recommend making an appointment! As trained Gorilla Trackers, its our job to help you make your paper as strong as possible by weeding out both big and little issues. Even if you’re a strong writer, having another person involved can really help you catch some of those larger snags; that’s why even our own tutors make appointments with each other once in a while!

Don’t let those gorillas slip by ya. Book an appointment with a trained Gorilla Tracker today!

What have you got to lose? Come on in.

Sammi, peer tutor.