When I entered the MA psychology program at Antioch, my first course was all about science-based writing. I was excited to explore writing further, but the formal tone of this genre – its bias for conciseness and against poetic language, combined with what seemed a byzantine set of rules (the APA 6th ed. manual is 272 pages!) – felt like a force that I couldn’t reckon with. I wondered if I could continue in psychology if I had to contend with this writing style.
Fast-forward almost two years: I keep the APA manual I bought for that class close for frequent review, and this APA guide is bookmarked on my laptop (they have an MLA guide, too). Dr. Rebecca Davis, who taught that first course, helped me see the APA style as something that helps writers express their thoughts to a specific audience, and I came to understand that learning it would be essential should I want to publish in the future.
Even now, I sometimes still feel restricted by APA rules, and there are days I spend more time on formatting than substance. But I’ve noticed that time and practice are paying off. I see the rules not so much as something to trip me up (although they still do!), but as a tool to package ideas in a universal way to aid in clarity and understanding, while also giving credit to those whose work I reference. In this way, I am able to participate in the ongoing conversation between those in the fields of psychology.
Virtual Writing Center