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11.3 Other Presentation Formats.
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This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Chapter 11 Presenting Your Research Research is complete only when the results are shared with the scientific community. -American Psychological Association Imagine that you have identified an interesting research question, reviewed the relevant literature, designed and conducted an empirical study, analyzed the data, and drawn your conclusions. There is still one more step in the process of conducting scientific research. It is time to add your research to the literature so that others can learn from it and build on it. Remember that science is a social process—a large-scale collaboration among many researchers distributed across space and time. For this reason, it could be argued that unless you make your research public in some form, you are not really engaged in science at all. In this chapter, we look at how to present your research effectively. We begin with a discussion of American Psychological Association (APA) style—the primary approach to writing taken by researchers in psychology and related fields. Then we consider how to write an APA-style empirical research report. Finally, we look at some of the many other ways in which researchers present their work, including review and theoretical articles, theses and other student papers, and talks and posters at professional meetings. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 263 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. 11.1 American Psychological Association (APA) Style LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Define APA style and list several of its most important characteristics. 2. Identify three levels of APA style and give examples of each. 3. Identify multiple sources of information about APA style. What Is APA Style? APA style is a set of guidelines for writing in psychology and related fields. These guidelines are set down in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2006).  The Publication Manual originated in 1929 as a short journal article that provided basic standards for preparing manuscripts to be submitted for publication (Bentley et al., 1929).  It was later expanded and published as a book by the association and is now in its sixth edition. The primary purpose of APA style is to facilitate scientific communication by promoting clarity of expression and by standardizing the organization and content of research articles and book chapters. It is easier to write about research when you know what information to present, the order in which to present it, and even the style in which to present it. Likewise, it is easier to read about research when it is presented in familiar and expected ways. APA style is best thought of as a “genre” of writing that is appropriate for presenting the results of psychological research—especially in academic and professional contexts. It is not synonymous with “good writing” in general. You would not write a literary analysis for an English class, even if it were based on psychoanalytic concepts, in APA style. You would write it in Modern Language Association (MLA) style instead. And you would not write a newspaper article, even if it were about a new breakthrough in behavioral neuroscience, in APA style. You would write it in Associated Press (AP) style instead. At the same time, you would not write an empirical research report in MLA style, in AP style, or in the style of a romance novel, an e-mail to a friend, or a shopping list. You would write it in APA style. Part of being a good writer in general is adopting a style that is appropriate to the writing task at hand, and for writing about psychological research, this is APA style. Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 264 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. The Levels of APA Style Because APA style consists of a large number and variety of guidelines—the Publication Manual is nearly 300 pages long—it can be useful to think about it in terms of three basic levels. The first is the overall organization of an article (which is covered in Chapter 2 “Getting Started in Research” of the Publication Manual). Empirical research reports, in particular, have several distinct sections that always appear in the same order: 1. Title page. Presents the article title and author names and affiliations. 2. Abstract. Summarizes the research. 3. Introduction. Describes previous research and the rationale for the current study. 4. Method. Describes how the study was conducted. 5. Results. Describes the results of the study. 6. Discussion. Summarizes the study and discusses its implications. 7. References. Lists the references cited throughout the article. The second level of APA style can be referred to as high-level style (covered in Chapter 3 “Research Ethics” of the Publication Manual), which includes guidelines for the clear expression of ideas. There are two important themes here. One is that APA-style writing is formal rather than informal. It adopts a tone that is appropriate for communicating with professional colleagues—other researchers and practitioners— who share an interest in the topic. Beyond this shared interest, however, these colleagues are not necessarily similar to the writer or to each other. A graduate student in California might be writing an article that will be read by a young psychotherapist in New York City and a respected professor of psychology in Tokyo. Thus formal writing avoids slang, contractions, pop culture references, humor, and other elements that would be acceptable in talking with a friend or in writing informally. The second theme of high-level APA style is that it is straightforward. This means that it communicates ideas as simply and clearly as possible, putting the focus on the ideas themselves and not on how they are communicated. Thus APA-style writing minimizes literary devices such as metaphor, imagery, irony, suspense, and so on. Again, humor is kept to a minimum. Sentences are short and direct. Technical terms must be used, but they are used to improve communication, not simply to make the writing sound more Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 265 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. “scientific.” For example, if participants immersed their hands in a bucket of ice water, it is better just to write this than to write that they “were subjected to a pain-inducement apparatus.” At the same time, however, there is no better way to communicate that a between-subjects design was used than to use the term “between-subjects design.” APA Style and the Values of Psychology Robert Madigan and his colleagues have argued that APA style has a purpose that often goes unrecognized  (Madigan, Johnson, & Linton, 1995). Specifically, it promotes psychologists’ scientific values and assumptions. From this perspective, many features of APA style that at first seem arbitrary actually make good sense. Following are several features of APA-style writing and the scientific values or assumptions they reflect. APA style feature Scientific value or assumption The phenomena and theories of psychology are objective and There are very few direct quotations of other do not depend on the specific words a particular researcher used researchers. to describe them. Criticisms are directed at other researchers’ work but not at them personally. The focus of scientific research is on drawing general conclusions about the world, not on the personalities of particular researchers. There are many references and reference citations. Scientific research is a large-scale collaboration among many researchers. Empirical research reports are organized with specific sections in a fixed order. There is an ideal approach to conducting empirical research in psychology (even if this ideal is not always achieved in actual research). Researchers tend to “hedge” their conclusions, e.g., “The results suggest that…” Scientific knowledge is tentative and always subject to revision based on new empirical results. Another important element of high-level APA style is the avoidance of language that is biased against particular groups. This is not only to avoid offending people—why would you want to offend people who are interested in your work?—but also for the sake of scientific objectivity and accuracy. For example, the term sexual orientation should be used instead of sexual preference because people do not generally experience their orientation as a “preference,” nor is it as easily changeable as this term suggests (Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns, APA, 1991). Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books  Saylor.org 266 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. The general principles for avoiding biased language are fairly simple. First, be sensitive to labels by avoiding terms that are offensive or have negative connotations. This includes terms that identify people with a disorder or other problem they happen to have. For example, patients with schizophrenia is better than schizophrenics. Second, use more specific terms rather than more general ones. For example, Mexican Americans is better than Hispanics if everyone in the group is, in fact, Mexican American. Third, avoid objectifying research participants. Instead, acknowledge their active contribution to the research. For example, “The students completed the questionnaire” is better than “The subjects were administered the questionnaire.” Note that this principle also makes for clearer, more engaging writing. Table 11.1 “Examples of Avoiding Biased Language” shows several more examples that follow these general principles. Table 11.1 Examples of Avoiding Biased Language Instead of… Use… man, men men and women, people firemen firefighters homosexuals, gays, bisexuals lesbians, gay men, bisexual men, bisexual women minority specific group label (e.g., African American) neurotics people scoring high in neuroticism special children children with learning disabilities The previous edition of the Publication Manual strongly discouraged the use of the term subjects (except for nonhumans) and strongly encouraged the use of participants instead. The current edition, however, acknowledges that subjects can still be appropriate in referring to human participants in areas in which it has traditionally been used (e.g., basic memory research). But it also encourages the use of more specific terms when possible: college students, children, respondents, and so on. The third level of APA style can be referred to as low-level style (which is covered in Chapter 4 “Theory in Psychology” through Chapter 7 “Nonexperimental Research” of the Publication Manual.) Low-level style includes all the specific guidelines pertaining to spelling, grammar, references and reference citations, numbers and statistics, figures and tables, and so on. There are so many low-level guidelines Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 267 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. that even experienced professionals need to consult the Publication Manual from time to time. Table 11.2 “Top 10 APA Style Errors” contains some of the most common types of APA style errors based on an analysis of manuscripts submitted to one professional journal over a 6-year period (Onwuegbuzie, Combs, Slate, & Frels, 2010).  These errors were committed by professional researchers but are probably similar to those that students commit the most too. See also Note 11.8 “Online APA Style Resources” in this section and, of course, the Publication Manual itself. Table 11.2 Top 10 APA Style Errors Error type Example 1. Use of numbers Failing to use numerals for 10 and above 2. Hyphenation Failing to hyphenate compound adjectives that precede a noun (e.g., “role playing technique” should be “role-playing technique”) 3. Use of et al. Failing to use it after a reference is cited for the first time 4. Headings Not capitalizing headings correctly 5. Use of since Using since to mean because Not formatting them in APA style; repeating information that is already given in the 6. Tables and figures text 7. Use of commas Failing to use a comma before and or or in a series of three or more elements 8. Use of abbreviations Failing to spell out a term completely before introducing an abbreviation for it 9. Spacing Not consistently double-spacing between lines 10. Use of &in references Using & in the text or and in parentheses Online APA Style Resources The best source of information on APA style is the Publication Manual itself. However, there are also many good websites on APA style, which do an excellent job of presenting the basics for beginning researchers. Here are a few of them. APA Style http://www.apastyle.org Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 268 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Doc Scribe’s APA Style Lite http://www.docstyles.com/apalite.htm Purdue Online Writing Lab http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01 Douglas Degelman’s APA Style Essentials http://www.vanguard.edu/Home/AcademicResources/Faculty/DougDegelman/APAStyleEssentials.aspx APA-Style References and Citations Because science is a large-scale collaboration among researchers, references to the work of other researchers are extremely important. Their importance is reflected in the extensive and detailed set of rules for formatting and using them. References At the end of an APA-style article or book chapter is a list that contains references to all the works cited in the text (and only the works cited in the text). The reference list begins on its own page, with the heading “References,” centered in upper and lower case. The references themselves are then listed alphabetically according to the last names of the first named author for each citation. (As in the rest of an APA-style manuscript, everything is double-spaced.) Many different kinds of works might be cited in APA-style articles and book chapters, including magazine articles, websites, government documents, and even television shows. Of course, you should consult the Publication Manual or Online APA Style Resources for details on how to format them. Here we will focus on formatting references for the three most common kinds of works cited in APA style: journal articles, books, and book chapters. Journal Articles For journal articles, the generic format for a reference is as follows: Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 269 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Title of article. Title of Journal, xx, pp–pp. doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxx Here is a concrete example: Adair, J. G., & Vohra, N. (2003). The explosion of knowledge, references, and citations: Psychology’s unique response to a crisis. American Psychologist, 58, 15–23. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.58.1.15 There are several things to notice here. The reference includes a hanging indent. That is, the first line of the reference is not indented but all subsequent lines are. The authors’ names appear in the same order as on the article, which reflects the authors’ relative contributions to the research. Only the authors’ last names and initials appear, and the names are separated by commas with an ampersand (&) between the last two. This is true even when there are only two authors. Only the first word of the article title is capitalized. The only exceptions are for words that are proper nouns or adjectives (e.g., “Freudian”) or if there is a subtitle, in which case the first word of the subtitle is also capitalized. In the journal title, however, all the important words are capitalized. The journal title and volume number are italicized. At the very end of the reference is the digital object identifier (DOI), which provides a permanent link to the location of the article on the Internet. Include this if it is available. It can generally be found in the record for the item on an electronic database (e.g., PsycINFO) and is usually displayed on the first page of the published article. Books For a book, the generic format and a concrete example are as follows: Author, A. A. (year). Title of book. Location: Publisher. Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Book Chapters For a chapter in an edited book, the generic format and a concrete example are as follows: Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 270 This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Title of chapter. In A. A. Editor, B. B. Editor, & C. C. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xxx–xxx). Location: Publisher. Lilienfeld, S. O., & Lynn, S. J. (2003). Dissociative identity disorder: Multiple personalities, multiple controversies. In S. O. Lilienfeld, S. J. Lynn, & J. M. Lohr (Eds.), Science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology (pp. 109–142). New York, NY: Guilford Press. Notice that references for books and book chapters are similar to those for journal articles, but there are several differences too. For an edited book, the names of the editors appear with their first and middle initials followed by their last names (not the other way around)—with the abbreviation “Eds.” (or “Ed.,” if there is only one) appearing in parentheses immediately after the final editor’s name. Only the first word of a book title is capitalized (with the exceptions noted for article titles), and the entire title is italicized. For a chapter in an edited book, the page numbers of the chapter appear in parentheses after the book title with the abbreviation “pp.” Finally, both formats end with the location of publication and the publisher, separated by a colon. Reference Citations When you refer to another researcher’s idea, you must include a reference citation (in the text) to the work in which that idea originally appeared and a full reference to that work in the reference list. What counts as an idea that must be cited? In general, this includes phenomena discovered by other researchers, theories they have developed, hypotheses they have derived, and specific methods they have used (e.g., specific questionnaires or stimulus materials). Citations should also appear for factual information that is not common knowledge so that other researchers can check that information for themselves. For example, in an article on the effect of cell phone usage on driving ab…
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