Friday, November 15, 2019

Changes to APA Format, 6th to 7th Edition, Part II

by Augie Morado

The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual is now available! As promised in my previous blog post, I will now take a closer look at major changes made to the 7th edition from the 6th.

Pictured left to right: 6th ed. APA, 7th ed. APA. The future is now!

At a first glance, it seems as though most changes in the 7th edition have been made to streamline the documentation process by removing redundant steps where necessary. For graduate students submitting theses and dissertations here at NIU, a few things will change regarding citation and style, although the Guidelines for Preparing a Thesis and Dissertation still contain our default requirements for format.

In-Text Citation
For all sources with three or more authors, use the first author’s name and et al. for each citation in the body of your paper. Previously, the rule was to list each name for 3-5 authors the first time and et al. for each time after (p. 266).

Additionally, those in anthropology, the social sciences, and related fields may find useful the added guidelines on citing Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Native Peoples (p. 260).

Aside from these changes, the basic rules of APA in-text citation remain the same as in the sixth edition: Name and Year are needed for paraphrases, and page number should be added for direct quotes as well.

One major change to the reference page involves the use digital object identifiers (DOIs), which should now be formatted as URLs ( as opposed to being prefaced with the label “DOI:”, as was the case in the 6th edition.

Additionally, up to 20 authors' last names and initials should be included in a reference. The previous limit was eight.

For book citations, the location of the publisher is no longer needed, similar to 8th edition MLA format.

For website citations, the preface “Retrieved from” is no longer needed before the URL.

For ebook citations, the format or platform in brackets (e.g., [ebook] or [Kindle]) should be omitted.

Bias-Free and Inclusive Language
Notably, the 7th edition endorses the singular use of the “they” for cases in which a person’s gender is unknown. Previously, the APA endorsed the singular “they” strictly for cases in which it is a person’s preferred pronoun. For more information, please see my colleague Tiffany's recent post on the subject.
When referring to linguistic examples, use quotation marks rather than italics (e.g., The search terms “fox” and “hound” were used to narrow our results.).

For those in biology and chemistry, the 7th ed. offers expanded guidance on abbreviating the names of chemical compounds, genes, and proteins (p.177).

Finally, use only one space after a sentence.

Furthermore, there are additional changes regarding format, such as the removal of the phrase “Running head” from the title page of a journal article submission and the complete removal of the running head from student papers (i.e., only the page number is needed in this latter case).

But as stated before, please default to the Thesis and Dissertation Office’s guidelines on formatting your project. We will be happy to help you work through format differences between the two styles, so please drop by and visit Mon-Thurs from 10 am – 2 pm!

Finally, if we haven’t mentioned this already, you are free to continue using either the 6thAPA for the foreseeable future as your advisors, and we adjust to the new format.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Singular "They" in Academic Writing

It’s important as academics that we acknowledge people’s preferred pronouns, but how do we handle this in our research? Is the singular “they” acceptable? The community of non-gender- conforming persons is pushing for the use of gender-inclusive or neutral pronouns. For many years the feminist community has pushed push to abolish the use of the universal “he.” How should we as scholars approach the pronoun issue in our scholarly writing? Both the MLA and the APA have updated their style manuals to incorporate the use of the singular “they.”

The 7th edition of the APA advises researchers to “respect participants’ preferences” (APA Publication Manual, 2019, p. 121). It’s important to remember that transgender people use the pronoun that matches the identity of their gender expression, so the singular “they” is appropriate only when referring to non-gender-binary individuals. When referring to a person whose gender is unknown or not relevant to the subject matter, both APA and MLA suggest alternatives to the use of the singular “they.” According to the APA, preferred alternatives include:
·         Making the subject of the sentence plural
·         Using an article such as “a,” “an,” or “the” instead
·         Reconstructing the sentence so that pronouns are not needed
·         Combining both singular pronouns, “he and she,” “his or her,” but avoiding “his/her," when the gender of the subjects is known

The MLA advises, like the APA, that researchers respect the wishes of individuals they write about. Outside of this specific context, however, the MLA instructs that the use of the plural pronoun “they” is not to be used in formal writing and recommends rewording sentences for agreement in number, recasting a sentence so the pronoun is no longer needed, or using plural constructions. Both organizations make it clear that writers should only use the singular “they” in specific circumstances, i.e., when it’s not possible to rework sentences.
Like MLA and APA, the most recent 17th ed. of the Chicago Manual of Style suggests nine alternative constructions to the singular “they,” which can be found in Section 5.225, and discourages its use. However, Section 5.48 states that a person’s preferences should be respected.

Another viable option, of course, is to use the hypothetical “one,” but this option to me seems unnecessarily esoteric and stilted, significantly altering the writer’s tone.

 According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the singular “they” occurred in the 14th century, documenting that the pressing need for a singular gender-neutral pronoun in the English language is not new. The issue certainly runs deeper than grammatical correctness or formality in academic settings. We must acknowledge that standards are created and reinforced by institutions in power, like the academy, and the elevation of certain usages of language to “standard” conveys acceptance or resistance to social change. Of the three style manuals, the MLA seems to be the most accepting. For more information see sources below:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Refusing to Publish: ProQuest, Embargos, and Intellectual Property

As you may know, when you finish a dissertation of thesis, you’re required to publish your research through ProQuest, a for profit library service company, which raises the question of intellectual property and ownership. One student, Rob Schlesinger has pushed back. Mr. Schlesinger is a lawyer and administrative professional who’s worked in higher education for 25 years, but decided to finally follow his dream of obtaining an Ed.D from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. and defended his dissertation proposal, “Ethics Education in the Undergraduate Curriculum: An Action Research Analysis” early this year.

Upon learning of the publication requirement, Schlesinger objected, arguing that this requirement places vulnerable students’ and researchers’ privacy at risk, while also asserting his right to decide when and how to publish his dissertation – that it is his property and not institutional property. This publication requirement is nearly universal in the United States. Before ProQuest and the internet, dissertations and thesis were printed and bound and housed in university libraries. Now, however, there’s concern that publishers will not want to publish material available online through ProQuest’s thesis and dissertation database.

Though research is published in affiliation with a university through an online service, authors retain copyright. Scholarship benefits from making research available and scholars and institutional programs benefit from the increased visibility. ProQuest also pays authors royalties on sales. I spoke with the authority at NIU on publishing with ProQuest, director of the Thesis and Dissertation Office in the Graduate School, Carolyn Law, to learn her opinion on this dispute and she raised important points. Carolyn notes that “though the definition of public has changed in the digital age, this does not mean that publishing exposes students to risk anymore than it has in the past. Good for knowledge does not mean bad for the author’s career or privacy. Research has always been published for public review.” Carolyn also cites protections in the form of embargos which make a work unavailable, and creative commons licensing access options.

While technology continues to change, publishers like ProQuest, academic institutions, and students definitely need to continue to ensure intellectual property rights are protected. Manhattanville's School of Education has now altered its policy to allow students to petition to publish a physical bound copy rather than an electronic copy. Schlesinger also asserts that dissertations are not much help to researchers unless condensed into article form, which is how he plans to share his research with others.

I’ve published one chapter of my dissertation and also plan to publish one or two other chapters, if not a book. Personally, I’m not concerned about publication with ProQuest effecting my chances of publication. Most academic publishers are aware research material may have been published previously as part of a dissertation and that the format of a dissertation differs vastly from that of a book. The research of other graduate students in my field has been an invaluable resource for me writing my thesis and dissertation. I’ve consulted ProQuest to find work in my specific area of Southern Studies to get an understanding of current trends, formatting, the breadth and scope of study, and methodology because a dissertation is a new genre to me. I’m grateful to have access, happy to offer my dissertation as a resource to others, and not threatened by publishing through ProQuest, but absolutely defend my right and the right of any dissertator to retain the copyright to an original work. Let me know your thoughts.


Friday, September 6, 2019

Changes to APA Format, 6th to 7th Edition, Part I

By Augie Morado

The American Psychological Association (APA) will release the 7th edition of its Publication Manual this October. This marks the first update to the style since 2009.

Retrieved from
Sleek, modern, and easier to use than ever!

Perhaps the most notable change regarding the 7th edition text is its more vibrant, user-friendly presentation compared to previous versions. Like past iterations, the 7th edition of the APA Manual will be available in hardcover, paper, and spiral-bound formats. Although the spiral-bound will run more expensive than the paperback, students may prefer it for several reasons. In contrast to the paperback and hardcover formats, the spiral-bound 7th edition uses color-coded tabs to help readers easily find what they are looking for. This feature is a first for spiral-bound APA Manuals. Additionally, in contrast to the paperback and hardcover formats, the spiral-bound can be laid flat on a desk or tabletop, making it easier to use. Finally, while pricier than the paperback, the spiral-bound remains less expensive than the hardcover format.

As for its content, the APA has added significant changes to the 7th edition text. Of special importance to students writing theses or dissertations will be a new section that addresses adapting a thesis or dissertation chapter into an article for publication (my colleague Tiffany also discusses this in an earlier blog post of hers). This includes practical advice on finding reputable publishers and better understanding the submission process. As academic literature continues to become more accessible through print and online media, thesis and dissertation writers should certainly be aware of options they have for publicizing their research.

Also included in the 7th edition are changes to writing style. The APA now endorses the use of the singular “they” to encourage inclusivity. Addtionally, updates to guidelines for bias-free language use have been made.

Students from a wide range of disciplines use APA to document their research, and it can be infuriating to learn halfway through a major project that the style has changed. Thus, we at the Thesis and Dissertation Office view this time as a transition period between the 6th and 7th editions. For students using APA format for their theses and dissertations, we will accept manuscripts written in either version of the style as long as students consistently use one style or the other.

A full list of changes made to the 7th edition can be found here. After the 7th edition APA Manual is released on October 1, we will follow up with more specific details regarding changes to the format.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Streaming Thesis and Dissertation Support: Fall Workshops

Image result for dissertation            We here in the Thesis and Dissertation Office are very busy working on presentations and workshops for the month of October to help keep thesis writers and dissertators informed, on track, and motivated. On October 1st from 2-4 pm in Adams 103, we will be offering a Dissertation Essentials presentation that benefits all dissertators no matter what field. If you are enrolled in 799 next semester or are looking to enroll next semester, come get guidance on the most daunting aspects of the dissertation process. You can also access the presentation online through our Facebook Live if you join our Facebook group (link below).

            October 2nd, same time, same place, we’ll be hosting the same presentation specifically for thesis writers enrolled or enrolling in 699 which will also be available via Facebook Live if you’re not able to attend in person. October 3rd from 4 – 5:30 pm, we’ll be discussing the submission process with ProQuest, the very last step before graduation. This presentation is available online only and participants will receive an Adobe Connect link to access the video after registering. October 8th from 2 – 4 pm in Adams Hall 103 we’ll explain formatting tables, figures and pagination which will also be available online via Facebook Live. This can be tricky no matter how familiar you are with MS Word so make it easy on yourself by attending.

October 15th 12 pm – 1 pm Adams Hall 103, we’ll tackle the issue of Writer’s Block and how to overcome it via a Facebook Live presentation. If you experience anxiety staring at a blank MS Word document this is a must. There isn’t a thesis or dissertation writer who doesn’t experience this stumbling block so come get advice from peers and the experienced writers in the office on how to work through it and come out better on the other side. October 17th we’ll offer another Adobe Connect online only presentation discussing a Project-Management Approach to completing a thesis or dissertation to ensure you’re managing your time and resources well. Lastly, on Oct. 19th at the NIU Naperville campus room 164, from 9 am – 2pm we’ll be giving a seminar for those of you writing a dissertation in Education. This presentation will only be available in person. There will be plenty of time for one-on-one inquiries as well.

To register for any of these events visit