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Why I Love the New APA Style Guide

There have been several scathing indictments of the new APA style guide. And by “scathing indictments” I mean “well-thought-out and insightful dissections of how the newest edition fails to uphold the underlying goals of scholarly attribution.”

But while I take a moment to thank the library gods who made me a librarian for languages and literature, which means that I rely on an only mildly dysfunctional citation style, I’d like to thank the folks at APA for their stellar work. I realize it was a professional risk, printing all those errors and then flat out missing the point on a bunch of rules, but in the end you’ve successfully gotten us to think about just what the points of those rules actually were in the first place. Styles that too self-evidently conform to the rules of providing the least amount of information that will allow your readers to quickly evaluate and be able to find exactly what you saw, and that do this in ways that map to their discipline’s epistemology… these slacker styles that don’t make us rant and rave and then scratch our heads in utter bafflement do nothing to help us understand why attribution is structured the way it is, and what its fundamental goals really are. Kind of like you’d never think to wonder why a table top works best if oriented horizontally unless a company came out with a new and improved table top with no horizontal surface.

So thank you APA. You’ve got us all talking. Which means it’s about time to go back and do an actually useful revision now, don’cha think? Now that your devious mission has been accomplished?

Published inRandom Thoughts

One Comment

  1. They don’t call psychotherapy the talking cure for nothing. I bet the psychologists knew all along we had this problem with citations; with a little prodding from them, we librarians/academics can now see that we’re ready for change.

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