For students desiring a visual example of a correctly formatted APA paper, check out the Purdue (Go Boilers!) Online Writing Lab. There you will find a helpful example of a correctly formatted APA paper (with captions added to explain APA). You can download the APA example paper at this link:
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/7/16.
Sometimes students wonder how to cite eBooks (such as Kindle) correctly in APA format. You can find the answer to most APA questions quickly by checking Purdue’s “OWL” (Online Writing Lab), just CLICK on …
- COURSE DASHBOARD (in the left menu on Learning Studio)
- IWU RESOURCES (in the left menu again)
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) – Considered to be one of the best writing centers available and used at many universities. (under APA RESOURCES)
- IWU RESOURCES (in the left menu again)
Here is link to the OWL site with the answer: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/ And here is what is says:
Electronic books may include books found on personal websites, databases, or even in audio form. Use the following format if the book you are using is only provided in a digital format or is difficult to find in print. If the work is not directly available online or must be purchased, use “Available from,” rather than “Retrieved from,” and point readers to where they can find it. For books available in print form and electronic form, include the publish date in parentheses after the author’s name. For references to e-book editions, be sure to include the type and version of e-book you are referencing (e.g., “[Kindle DX version]”). If DOIs are available, provide them at the end of the reference.
De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo Indian tales. Retrieved from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/dehuff/taytay/taytay.html
Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest. Available from http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio? inkey=1-9780931686108-0
To cite Kindle (or other e-book formats) you must include the following information: The author, date of publication, title, e-book version, and either the Digital Object Identifer (DOI) number, or the place where you downloaded the book. Please note that the DOI/place of download is used in-place of publisher information. Here’s an example:
Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from amazon.com
But, make this one change…
From the above citation process you don’t know if the book is a “juried” resource (e.g. has an editorial board, or jury, of scholars that is testifying the material is reliable and valid). And, in scholarly work (e.g. graduate school, seminaries) you should be using mostly juried sources. Thus, there is a problem for a couple reasons:
- Kindle is not a “juried” publisher. It takes what all publishers print and converts books to electronic forms, so you do not know if the citation is “juried” by scholars in the field. And, you won’t know unless you check the printed books publisher.
- The Chicago Style Manual (an alternative to APA) solves this by requiring the “City: Publisher, Date” to be included. See these examples:
Lemon, Rebecca, Emma Mason, Johnathan Roberts, and Christopher Rowland, ed. The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. PDF e-book.
Thrall, Grant Ian. Land Use and Urban Form. New York: Methuen, 1987. http://www.rri.wvu.edu/WebBook/Thrallbook/Land%20Use%20and%20Urban%20Form.pdf.
Therefore in (research-based) courses, such as seminary courses I teach in the MA, MDiv and DMin degree programs:
ADD the “City: Publisher, Date.” information before “Retrieved from …” or “Available From…”
Here are the above APA citations with this addition (in red for emphasis only):
De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo Indian tales. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922. Retrieved from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/dehuff/taytay/taytay.html
Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest. Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2006. Available from http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio? inkey=1-9780931686108-0
Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Retrieved from amazon.com
(Remember additions in red are for illustration only – do not use red.)
This short little addition will help you confirm that your eBook citation is “juried” and thus an reliable source for your seminary/graduate school education.
Commentary from Dr. Whitesel: Students often ask about the use of APA and when to use personal pronouns. Here is an excerpt from the APA style blog. When students have such questions, I encourage them to feel free to access the official APA sides or to do a quick Google search.
(Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/05/me-me-me.html)
General Use of I or We
It is totally acceptable to write in the first person in an APA Style paper. If you did something, say, “I did it”—there’s no reason to hide your own agency by saying “the author [meaning you] did X” or to convolute things by using the passive “X was done [meaning done by you].” If you’re writing a paper alone, use I as your pronoun. If you have coauthors, use we.
However, avoid using we to refer to broader sets of people—researchers, students, psychologists, Americans, people in general, or even all of humanity—without specifying who you mean (a practice called using the editorial “we”). This can introduce ambiguity into your writing.
For example, if you are writing about the history of attachment theory, write “Researchers have studied attachment since the 1970s” rather than “We have studied attachment since the 1970s.” The latter may allow the reader to erroneously believe that you have personally studied attachment for the last 40 years (which may be difficult for those dear readers under 40).
If you want to refer to yourself as well as a broader group, specify to whom we refers. Write “As young adults in college, we are tasked with learning to live independent lives” not “We are tasked with learning to live independent lives.” By stating that we refers here to young adults in college, readers understand the context (which could otherwise be any number of groups tasked with the same, such as individuals with developmental disabilities or infants)…
It’s less hard than you might think to write about yourself in APA Style. Own your opinions by using the appropriate pronouns.
More examples at … http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/05/me-me-me.html
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/12/15.
My students are good at quickly picking up APA style for their papers. But sometimes they encounter a question about APA that is not readily apparent on typical APA help sites (like Purdue’s fantastic Online Writing Lab, OWL). Below is a dialogue between two students followed by my response of …
How to get their questions about APA answered … in less than 20 seconds.
Tyler: The title for this paper is long … my (running) head and my title takes up two lines. Is this acceptable in APA?
Vicki: For the Headers. I shrink the font so that it all fits on one line if I have a long title. I have not gotten any negative comments from the Prof. for doing that.
Ha, ha. Good point Vicki. Even though I haven’t graded down because the font was smaller in the running head … other professors might.
You see, I’m trying to get you APA-compliant, not Professor Whitesel-compliant 😉
So Tyler and Vicki, try to do what is right according to APA. I haven’t graded off for all APA mistakes because it would affect your grade too much. So, delve into APA and find the answer.
The 20-second APA answer.
In fact, here is how you can find the answer in 20 seconds (that is how long it took me):
- I Googled “long titles in headers in APA”
- Immediately came up the first “hit” which was: APA Style Blog: Mysteries of the Running Head Explained
- I clicked on it and the first few paragraphs answered this (below).
So you see, it will be faster to do a little sleuthing on the Internet and then share your answer with Tyler. If Vicki had done this (in about 20 seconds) she would be helping Tyler from her research and would have earned some points too. Dr. Whitesel
(Below retrieved from From: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/05/mysteries-of-the-running-head-explained.html)
Mysteries of the Running Head Explained
The running head is one of the smallest parts of a manuscript, yet it seems to cause big problems for some. In previous posts, we’ve given an overview of the running head and how to format it, but recently we’ve received some new questions that have folks scratching their heads.
What Is the Running Head?
The running head is a shortened form of the title of your paper that appears in uppercase letters at the top left of each page of your manuscript. It helps to identify the pages of your paper and keep them together (without using your name, in case you’re submitting it for blind review). When your paper is published, this short title will appear at the top of each odd-numbered page.
On the title page of your manuscript, the label “Running head:” precedes the running head itself. It’s there to let the typesetter know that this shortened title is, in fact, the running head for your article. (This is a holdover from the fifth edition of the APA Publication Manual, which required a “manuscript page header” on every page as well as a running head on the title page.)
How Long Should the Running Head Be?
The running head should be a brief version of the title of your paper, no more than 50 characters long (including spaces). The label “Running head:” that precedes the running head on the title page is not included in the 50-character count, because it’s not part of the title of your paper. (Unless, of course, the title of your paper is something like “Running Head: Feature or Bug?”)
What Makes For a Good Running Head?
It’s usually not a good idea to simply copy the first 50 characters of your title. The running head needs to both make sense as a phrase and give some idea of what your paper is about.
Pop quiz: If the title of your paper is “A Review and Meta-Analysis of the First Decade of Articles About the Psychology of Llamas,” which would be a more informative running head?
(a) A REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST DECADE OF
(b) REVIEW OF THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LLAMAS
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/4/15.
A recurring question I receive is “How do you cite yourself.” This is because in our highly practical courses, my students weekly interview colleagues and non-churchgoers as part of their “Action Research.”
During this exercise students often wonder how and if they should cite themselves, especially if they cite verbatim homework they previous submitted in another course. I suggest they do, because submitting something verbatim in current homework, that came from previous homework for another course, could look like a student is trying to pass something off as new work. When actually, this is just cut-and-pasting old work.
Now, there is nothing wrong with utilizing old work, as long as it is germane and relevant. But, the key is to let the instructor know (and the reader know) that it was written for a previous assignment.
But, if you are copying something that was written for the current course, just a previous assignment, then you do not need to cite yourself. However, there are two caveats here:
- I know your previous homework for this course because I have read it. Thus, you do not need to cite yourself if the homework was for the current course.
- However, if your appendix is from a previous assignment, even in the current course, I want you to cite it. This is because I want people to see (as well as the student) how each week’s homework has built upon the previous week.
So, here are the APA rules for self-citation.
From a paper you submitted:
Thus, quoting your own previous homework for another course would be similar to quoting from an unpublished dissertation (see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/9 )
Lastname, F. N. (Year). Title of paper. (Unpublished master of divinity paper). Name of Institution, Location.
From an online forum or discussion room:
Also, here is how you would quote from an “online forum” or discussion: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/
From an email or forum posting:
And finally, here is how you would cite an email or personal communication: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/11/
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/27/15.
Graduate work is very different from undergraduate work. The level of research, critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and evaluation will increase (see this chart of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Critical Thinking Skills). The key is don’t wait until you get behind or a low grade before you consult these resources. If you think you might be needing some help, take a look at them today.
To help you do well I have compiled for you a list of IWU resources with links:
1) First read my posting about: STUDENT SUCCESS & Hints + Videos That Help Students Do Better at Wesley Seminary where you will find:
- how to order your books,
- why you should always check the “Faculty Forum” for updates and hints for doing well,
- and four (4) videos on writing in seminary, APA format, self-discipline and how do use your Off-campus Library Service.
2) You also may sometimes find you are having trouble remembering the grammar you learned in college. If so, check out the writing resources under the “IWU Resources” link, under the “Course Home” button on the left side of your course page (click to enlarge the screen shot depicting how to access this and other resources from your IWU course page).
- Click here to access: SMARTHINKING. This is a 24–7 online tutoring and writing center. It is made available to you from Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.
- And click on GRAMMARLY, to get help with free proofreading and writing editor.
3) If you’re having trouble formatting your papers in APA style, check out the Purdue University online writing Lab owl at this link: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
4) If you are feeling down and just need someone to talk to, here is link to a list of my colleagues in SpiritCare. They are pastors who are available to talk, encourage, inspire and even just listen.
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/25/15.
A student once asked a germane question about why outside sources are required in graduate school, even for student analysis of their ministry context. The student asked, “For example: last weeks application paper was about charting and assessing our own church’s organizational history in light of the article you wrote. My first question is that I need help getting a clearer picture of how these sources are to be used since the issue isn’t so much about what experts are saying, but rather about the matters of fact determined from our organizations history.”
That is a good question. The answer is that every assignment will have a different thrust, but that each assignment must bring you closer to being a “master” of the writings in your chosen graduate field. As such, each assignment requires you find what other authors/researchers are saying about the topic. Here are a couple easy ways you can do this.
1. The topic of one week (the leadership/management of sub-congregations week) was based upon my writings and research on the topic. But, my article provides you with many footnotes, to help you see what others are saying about this too (and where to find their writings). So, use the required readings each week as a starting place to follow the footnote trail, or look up the authors who are mentioned, to dig deeper into the subject.
2. As I mentioned in the earlier posting in this forum titled, “How May Citations Should Graduate Students Use Each Week?” you can use Off Campus Library Services to quickly scan books and articles on these themes. In addition, you may want to scan articles in related fields. For instance, when we are discussing organizational behavior, you may want to scan journals on management for the word “church.”
The end result is that the required readings for each assignment are not where you should stop, but they are a jumping off place into more investigation.
The student when on to say, “The other part is that I am finding it difficult to imagine how one crams 5-8 sources in a 300 word paper or even a 500 word paper for that matter.”
The 300 or 500 word paper refers to the body of the paper which is basically your analysis with supporting in-text citations (more on this shortly). And, APA formatting accommodates this research while keeping the body of the paper concise through several methods.
1. In-text citations: APA uses parenthetical in-text citations rather than extensive footnotes. For example you might write, “So you can see that our church is what George Hunter has described as “ a congregation of congregations” (Hunter, 1979, p. 63).” This brief parenthetical citation is much simpler and faster than creating a footnote. For examples of in-text citations see this helpful link (which you can link to via the Off Campus Library white button at the top right-hand of each Blackboard page): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02/
2. Abstract page: Not all professors require an abstract but I have found that students say they benefit from creating this short overview of their findings (remember this is a concise overview of your key points, including your conclusions). Therefore I require students create a short abstract. For examples of abstracts see this link: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/ The abstract page usually allows you to dispense with an introduction and get right to the meat of your analysis.
3. Appendixes: Appendixes are a great place to put charts, graphs, interviews, bulleted points, church documents, etc. that otherwise might fill up the body of your paper. Be sure to reference the source of your appendix material if you did not write it specifically for this paper. But, appendixes will allow you to put in a great deal of supporting material without filling up the body of your paper (which is where your analysis should be).
I must for students’ sake and the sake of the missio Dei encourage my mentees to reach for the standards of this higher degree. I want to help students expand their knowledge beyond what their textbooks say, and into the research of other leaders and writers … so at graduation I can celebrate with them an attainment of mastery of our important topic of missional leadership.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Our seminary students write their papers in APA format, which I have found much easier than the typical Turabian Style required in older, more traditional seminaries. And, my alma mater (go Boilers) has a helpful APA formatting site with many helpful illustrations of pages formatted correctly. I encourage students looking for an easy, helpful and visual guide to APA style (which is one of the easiest writing and citing styles) to check out the Purdue site here: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 8/27/15.
For students in my courses, I like to put in one easy-to-find place my expectations regarding their end-of-week papers. If you are one of my students (or just interested in APA formatting) this is the place for you.
The end-of-week papers will (usually) be summary documents that you will keep to guide you on your journey into more effective leadership and evangelism. Here are some parameters:
END-OF-WEEK PAPERS: APA Formatting
These papers should be in APA formatting. Below is a link to a chart that contains “examples” of APA Styles for various books, articles and references. If you are wondering about how to correctly format an in-text citation or a reference, this downloadable “STYLE GUIDE” has almost everything listed. Put this URL in your browser to download it: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20110928111055_949.pdf This was created by Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab. Go Boilermakers! (My alma mater.) You can see examples of how to format:
- References (pages 1-7 of the chart)
- In-text citations (bottom of page 7 through page 12).
- And remember, title page, abstract page, appendixes and citation pages do not count toward your paper page limit.
- A note about abstracts: Typically these are 3/4 of a page in length. Yet students sometimes wonder how they can have the depth needed in 3/4 of a page. This of course is accomplished by re-editing an abstract until it is a tightly edited summary (i.e. abstraction) of their main points and conclusions.
END-OF-WEEK PAPERS: Late Papers
Sometimes students want to know how much I must mark down for late homework submissions. And, I know that sometimes such tardiness is not the fault of the student, but is rather an consequence of computer problems, family emergencies, etc. Thus, let me give you a short overview of the guidelines that fairness dictates I adhere to in scoring late homework.
- Is it lost in cyberspace? (No penalty.)
- It was eaten by your dog? (Penalty for dog only.)
- It was eaten by your computer? (Meaning it was not sent due to computer or Internet problems, and again no penalty.)
- You have extenuating circumstances beyond your control (family or job emergency) of which you made me aware? (No penalty again.)
- Or you just have been unable to submit it in time. (Sorry, fairness dictates a penalty of 2% per day – also tell me how many days late is was, I trust you. See the next paragraph for details.)
Again, I realize many of my students work another job. So, I try to be flexible. Thus, I have a late policy that is less than what most students expect. I only grade down 2% a day for late papers. So, that means if you need an extra day to work on a paper you can take the extra time and you might only get a 94 instead of a 96. However, I CANNOT GIVE FEEDBACK ON LATE PAPERS (capitals are not because I am shouting, but for emphasis 🙂
- Please be aware that if homework is late without extenuating circumstances that I will not be able to give you feedback on your weekly homework. That is because of the extensive grading I do for all students. And, out of fairness I must give feedback to those that submitted their papers on time. However, if there’s extenuation circumstances I will definitely be glad to lower the penalty but I cannot guarantee you will get feedback.
- And as mentioned above, fairness dictates a penalty of 2% per day, but I can reduce this for extenuating circumstances beyond your control. Please let me know when you submit it.
- Also, this is very important. TELL ME HOW MANY DAYS LATE IT WAS (again, not shouting – just for emphasis), or I will just assume it was the full seven days. I trust you.
END-OF-WEEK PAPERS: Their Grading & Length
Most weeks an end-of-week paper will be due by Thursday 11:59pm. Like your discussions these end-of-week papers should cite relevant outside readings which support your observations. Similar to the discussion parameters, the graduate school student is expected to be skimming several outside books each week and bringing them to bear upon their weekly papers (with citations). Also, don’t forget to bring into your papers relevant ideas from other course textbooks. Therefore for B level work, the student should each week be utilizing and citing in their weekly papers, one to two textbooks and two to three outside references. Remember however, this is for B level work. A person seeking a higher grade would be expected to do better. And, unless specified differently by your professor, your end-of-week papers should comply with APA formatting rules.
As you can see, the quantitative aspect of the paper is purposely left vague. That is because your task is to address each week’s paper with critical thinking, scholarly support and realistic application. For some this will be longer than others, depending upon the complexity of your organization. I know you may feel it is typical for a professor to say, “take as many pages as you need,” but what we are saying with this motto is that quality is more important than quantity. So, take the space needed to address each week’s paper fully without being verbose.
But though I want to stress quality, I will try and give you some guidance by giving you a page range of above average papers I have received. Not counting the title page, abstract, citation page or appendixes (which in APA-style do not count toward your point total) I have received above average papers that varied in length from two pages to 12 pages. My guess is that an average was about 4-6 pages.
So I hope that gives you come guidance without overly stressing the quantitative aspect of your papers. Remember, the keys are to use critical thinking mad scholarly research to craft effective plans for leading ministry today.
FINAL END-OF-COURSE PAPERS:
Because my students are usually in an accelerated degree program, final papers cannot be accepted after the final day of class. Please see my other postings on this and understand why my hands are tied by university and seminary policies.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min, Ph.D., 8/15/15.
Sometimes students in my courses wonder if they need to use citations with their postings. Yes you should (it will become easier as you go along) and let me explain why.
Graduate school, such as a seminary, is different from undergraduate work. In graduate school, unlike undergraduate work, you do what is called: “research.”
The word “research” is a clue that means digging into what scholars say about the topic in addition to what you discover when you apply it. The idea of research is to not only share your thoughts, but investigate (i.e. explore, examine) what scholars are saying about the subject too. Thus, this exercise is not simply an assignment to share your thoughts, but also to share your growing understanding of what experts are saying about each forum’s (and paper’s) topic.
To facilitate learning in others (e.g. so they can see where your ideas come from) it is necessary for you to cite where your ideas came from. This doesn’t have to be too formal (APA is optional in the discussion forums) but you should give other students a location (via a citation) where they can look up the info you cite. This is standard practice in research. And, it helps others find the scholarly sources you have uncovered!
Don’t worry, I typically grade leniently until our students get acquainted with what graduate research entails. And, I know many of you are in graduate school for the first time and thus I will be lenient. Though fairness dictates you forfeit some points if you are not citing research, I will also give you some ideas on what you can do to improve your score.
As you know, if you follow http://www.ChurchHealth.wiki I will 4-6 times a week I cite here new, exciting and relevant research that I come upon. And, if you follow this blog, you will get an email everytime I post new research … including a short synopsis.
I am here to help you learn. And, thus I will always share with you some of ideas to help you generate more research/learning (and more points 🙂
So, if your question is “Do I need to use citations on my discussion postings?” the answer is yes, since this is a graduate school where we are studying “research.”
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Here is a concise and helpful article about the grammatical mistakes that I daily encounter in student papers. Reading this short overview can help students not only become better communicators but also raise their grade. The article also touches upon writing styles but it does not address APA style (which we use). For a helpful primer on APA the student should consult Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL.English.Purdue.edu).”
Read more at … http://s.hbr.org/1gmF0QU
by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/17/15.
Oftentimes students are accustomed to utilizing footnotes in their work. But, in APA footnotes are rare (and this makes it easier and faster for them to write a paper).
Let me paraphrase from the APA Style Guide some insights on when footnotes might be necessary.
Because APA style uses parenthetical citations, you do not need to use footnotes or endnotes to cite your sources. The only reasons you need to use footnotes are for explanatory (content) notes or copyright permission. Content footnotes contain information that supplements the text, but would be distracting or inappropriate to include in the body of the paper. In other words, content footnotes provide important information that is a tangent to what you are discussing in your paper.
And, the footnote should only express one idea. If it is longer than a few sentences, then you should consider putting this information in an appendix.
Most authors do not use footnotes because they tend to be distracting to the readers. If the information is important, authors find a way to incorporate it into the text itself or put it in an appendix.
And, if you are including a quote that is longer than 500 words or a table or figure in your paper that was originally published elsewhere, then you need to include a footnote that acknowledges that you have permission from the owner of the copyright to use the material.
Format of footnotes
In the text, place a superscript numeral immediately after the text about which you would like to include more information (e.g., Scientists examined the fossilized remains of the wooly-wooly yak. – followed by a superscript 1). Number the notes consecutively in the order they appear in your paper.
At the end of the paper, create a separate page labeled Notes (title centered at the top of the page) and add the note text. Technically, you write these footnotes as endnotes, but they will appear as footnotes in the published paper.
Below are examples of content notes.
1. See Blackmur (1995), especially chapters three and four, for an insightful analysis of this extraordinary animal.
2. On the problems related to yaks, see Wollens (1989, pp. 120-135); for a contrasting view, see Pyle (1992).
3. In a recent interview, she (Weller, 1998) reiterated this point even more strongly: “I am an artist, not a yak!” (p. 124).
by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/17/15.
Currently I have two courses in which my students are writing their final papers. And so I thought it might be a good time to share some “hints” regarding formatting headings which can help a writer better organize their paper. The following insights on formatting of “headings” are from BarCharts, a division of QuickStudy Academic which publishes good overviews of APA formatting:
Headings. How the parts of your paper work together.
1. Show how your paper is organized by indicating which parts are equally important and how each part relates to the others.
2. Some tips about using headings.
- Don’t use a heading for the introduction of your paper
- Use the same heading for topics of equal importance.
- Be sure that each heading is followed by at least two subheadings, if not at all; don’t divide your topic or subtopic into a single entity.
- Don’t label headings with numbers or letters as in an outline.
I also encourage students to surf the Internet and find APA guideline sites (such as OWL, the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University) that can help you master APA.
My students know that I am relatively gracious regarding their mastery of a particular formatting, such as APA style. But, I want my students as they travel their academic journey to be prepared when they encounter some instructors who require it more strictly.
Smith, T. (2003). APA/MLA guidelines. Boca Raton: Florida: BarCharts,
by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/17/15.
In my courses I usually give my students a page range for their papers that is usually a bit shorter than they want to write. But, I believe part for the learning experience is learning how to edit for conciseness. And, I know from personal experience this is hard to do. Let me explain.
When I wrote my second book, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Abingdon Press, 2002), I felt the topic (a process model of how group exits occur) required more depth. I thus, submitted a book of approximately 270 pages (with footnotes). However, the publisher came back and asked me to trim 70 pages!
And, once the 70 pages were gone (72 actually) the book was much, much better. Sure, there were things I had written, and insights I had suggested that would never be read. But now the overall tenor of the book was better, and more people would read it and more people would benefit from its ideas. It was hard to do, but it was helpful for my message.
But it was not due to this experience that I started requiring students to be brief as well. I had already required students to be concise, for I realized as a former senior editor of a national leadership magazine that brevity gets writings read. Yet with the illustration above, it had been brought home to me personally. This exercise with my publisher had made me a better writer, thinker and communicator. And, since my courses are about making students better thinkers and scholars, brevity and succinctness assist in the process.
I do remind students that charts, figures and graphs can be included in Appendixes. And these Appendixes do not count (nor do title pages or abstracts) toward your page total.
And so, I require my students to reread their papers and edit it a few times (I personally do three edits – one electronically, then I print it out and edit with a red pen, then I give it a final electronic edit).
The result will be a paper you will be proud to share, and one which will have greater opportunity to be read/published and thus spread your good insights to others who need them.