28 August 2012

APA style is like garlic to vampire journalists who thrive on AP

    Those three letters strike fear into many writers who must abide by them when quoting sources. Oh, excuse me, I mean when attributing scholarly citations.
    Adhering to APA style is especially nerve-wracking for journalists. When journalists quote a source who said or wrote something we deem important, for example, we use quotation marks around direct quotes, and then state the person's name and affiliation. That's it. Simple, right? This style of attributing sources is out of the Associated Press (AP) Styleguide, the journalist's Bible for proper spelling, grammar and word usage.
    AP style is in my blood. Journalism DNA flows through me. APA style, on the other hand, is like garlic to a vampire.
    Believe it or not, APA stands for American Psychological Association, and is commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. Before I actually looked it up to see what it meant, I thought it stood for something like the American Penmanship Assoc. You know, something that had to do with actually writing research papers.
    The psychological word through me off a bit. But I guess it makes sense, since research papers are about studying human behavior, which is part of the social sciences.
    Anyway, I've been sitting on my research paper for about a month. The proposal is nearly finished, and I'm slowing working on the second draft.
    First, I had to take the first person out of the equation. A research paper requires a literature review, which is basically finding scholarly articles written about the topic you are writing about. Instead of saying that I believe it's unfair that students are taught photography by teachers who aren't qualified to teach them, I have to find someone else who believes it too, and then follow the APA style when citing the source.
    Secondly, I have to back up everything I say with another source. This is harder than it seems, considering there aren't many published scholarly articles on the problem of English teachers teaching photography. The upside to my research paper is that I will add such an article to this otherwise anemic topic.
    Lastly, I have to properly cite the multitude of the sources using APA style. Putting the sources in alphabetical order was the easy part. The hard part is formatting the sources according to where you got them, whether it's from a scholarly article, a magazine, a book or online. Each one requires its own special way of handling it. Who made up this stuff?
    I shall overcome the fear because I must. Just writing this post has helped me understand the process a heck of a lot more than I did two months ago. I need to stay focused, and stay away from the garlic.
This is a recent example of me writing my Master's project proposal journalism style, but being told to stick to APA.

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