APA Style Manual: APA 5th vs. 6th edition. What Was New?

In the summer of 2009,The American Psychological Association (APA) did update its style manual. The section underlines the changes that were made between the 5th and 6th editions. Kindly note that the initial printout of APA 6th edition had some misprints. Therefore, supposing you are using that 6th edition, ensure that at least you are using the second printing of the 6th edition.

APA 5th vs. 6th Edition

Normally, psychologists are the ones who used the APA style, however, in the recent past students and other writers of different fields have started to use this style. Accordingly, the sixth edition was developed with a wider audience in consideration. The modifications made to this edition are aligned to this wider audience.

The present APA 5th vs. 6th edition resource adheres to APA manual’s “What is New in APA,” and it is arranged based on APA manual chapters. It underlines updates made in the 6th edition that mainly affect student writers, and not those with interest in publishing their manuscripts. To get the complete details of the changes made, kindly visit our online site.

Levels of Heading

Heading assist in guiding the reader when reading the document. As such, the levels are arranged based on the degree of subordination, where each part of the document should begin with the highest degree of heading.

Fifth Edition (Section 3.31 in the APA manual)

APA Headings
Level Format
2 Centered Uppercase and Lowercase Headings
3 Centered, Italicized, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings
4 Left-aligned, Italicized, Uppercase and Lowercase Side Heading
5   Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.

Sixth Edition (3.03)

APA Headings
Level  Format
  1 Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings
  2 Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading
  3   Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period.
  4   Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.
  5 Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.

Differences between APA 5th vs. 6th edition in A scientific Report

For example, in a scientific report following APA style, a report contains three sections: Method, Results, and Discussion. Each of these sections starts with level 1 headings:

For instance, when writing a Nursing scientific report that adheres to APA style format, the report should contain three main sections: The methodology, results/findings and discussion. All these three section begins with level 1 heading:

  • Methodology (Level 1).

  • Location of the study (Level 2)
  • Sample Population (Level 2)
  • Nurses. (Level 3)
  • Patients. (Level 3)
  • Results/Findings (Level 1)

  • Nursing Ability (Level 2)
  • Test one. (level 3)
  • Nurses with experience. (Level 4)
  • Nurses in training. (Level 4)
  • Test two. (Level 3)
  • Patient Ability (Level 2)
  • Decreasing Bias in Language (3.11) etc

Still on the same case, writing scientific work, you are expected to use accurate language. The 6th edition comes with new methods in which you can use when referring to research participants (“subjects” remains acceptable when referring to those taking part in a study, but “participants” is much preferred because it shows the role played by the individual in the study).

Ensure that you:

  • Mention participants at the proper level of specificity. The 6th edition presents the example where women and men can be used as human beings rather than using man only. It is proper to use man, when referring to men alone, but not when the population includes both men and women.
  • Name to participants in a manner they desire to be called. Always try not label participants where possible. In cases this cannot be avoided, show respect. Focus on the individuals in the study and not the labels. For instance, rather than labeling a group as “autism”, try using “children with autism”
  • Recognize participants’ participation and still follow the rules. For instance, behavioral psychology writer might apply the term “subjects” when writing his research report. However, a medical student might apply the term “patients” to imply those taking part in her study. Whatsoever term you decide to apply, ensure that you consistently use it all through the paper and observe the guidelines of your field.

The Mechanics of APA 6th from 5th Edition Style.

  • Spacing (4.01). Concerning punctuation within your manuscript drafts, it has been recommended by APA to use two spaces after periods that end sentences to help in readability.

One space: “Past studies have established that students with interdisciplinary thinking skills have four important cognitive abilities. This study examines interdisciplinary learning and education.”

Two spaces: “Past studies have established that students with interdisciplinary thinking skills have four important cognitive abilities. This study examines interdisciplinary learning and education.”

  • Approximations (4.31-32). Use words to show estimates of days, months, and year.

“I started to learn swimming about three weeks ago.”

  • Reporting statistics (4.35, 44, and 10). Include a zero in front of the decimal point where numbers are less than one where the statistic could be more than one.

0.43 kg

Avoid using a zero in front of the decimal point where the number cannot be more than one.

r = .013

Use effect sizes as well as confidence intervals in statistics. This helps the reader to better understand the analyses done.

Include brackets to cluster together confidence interval limits in the body of the paper and tables (4.45).

“95% Cls [-5.1, 2.8], [7.1, 11.2], and [-1.3, -0.4]” (p. 39)

  • Displaying Results

The APA 6th edition comes with a new section (5.01) that explains how to display your data. As such, this section assists you to choose when and how you want to present your data. For instance, your data may display that you are in the process of exploring information and data. Similarly, your data could act as a storage place for later access.

However, in most cases, your data is bound to serve as a communication tool to show your readers you have established the meaning in your data, or to communicate to the readers this meaning.

  • Figures.These include charts, graphs, drawing, photographs and maps. The general guideline is to only use figures that add value to your paper. Supposing the figures will just repeat what you already wrote in the document, do not use them, they will not add new information or value to your paper.

The 6thedition as well stresses the significance of accurate labeling/naming electro-physiological, genetic and radio-logical data.

  • References

Direct Quotations (6.01-21)

The 6thedition present clear guidelines to be used for direct quotes and underlines that you should credit your source when you paraphrase the work, directly quote the author or when explaining an idea/concept that has influenced your work.

If the quotation is less than 40 words, incorporate the quotation into the text and place quotation marks round the quotation. Cite the source immediately after the quotation and continue with the sentence.

When the quotation is below 40 words, include the quotation as part of the text but put the quotation marks on what you have quoted. Cite your source after the quotation and continue writing your sentence.

Jones (2015) observed that, “social media has taken the students in higher learning by storm” nonetheless” (p. 275),the widespread of social media in universities could have negative effects.

If the quotation you are using falls at the end of the sentence, enclose the quotation with quotation marks without including the quotation’s original punctuation. Here’s a sentence as it appears in the original text:

Supposing the quotation that you have used comes at the end of your sentence, close the quote with quotation marks, and do not include the original punctuation of the quotation as shown in this example.

A sentence in its original text.

“Recent studies have revealed that tweeting is viewed as a more and exciting and interactive form of learning than the traditional knowledge transfer methods such as lectures” (Chawinga, 2017, p.3).

Here’s how the sentence appears when quoted in-text:

In supporting the use of social media in learning, Chawinga (2017) pointed out that, “Recent studies have revealed that tweeting is viewed as a more and exciting and interactive form of learning than the traditional knowledge transfer methods such as lectures” (p.3).

When the quotation mark is beyond 40 words, then you need to put it in a bloc quotation. Start the quotation on a different (new) line and ensure that you indent a half-inch away from the left margin to create the block. Follow the usual formatting of double-spacing, at the end of your quotation, cite the information after the punctuation mark.

Alghazo &Nash (2017) in their study of how social media impacts academic achievement of students observed that:

Internet usage within educational settings is increasing around the world across different educational levels. Technology integration varies from simple usage of email communications between the students and them instructor to providing full courses in an online environment utilizing various forms of software. (p.161)

References that are included within the text of the paper must also be included in the reference list at the end of the paper arrange alphabetically based on author’s last name. However, personal communications (such as interviews) are only cited in-text but are not included in the reference list.

URLs are webpage address used to find information contained on the internet. In the previous 5th edition, it was stated that reference to electronic sources ought to refer to URL of the article or document being used.  Nonetheless, these URLs are susceptible to being deleted or breaking and to address these issues of instability nature of URLs, DOIs are being used by publishers when they place their articles online.

Note:To get more information on how cite electronic sources using the sixth edition; refer to your APA manual.

When you cite from a webpage, it’s possible that the page numbers may not be available (meaning the document is not paginated). In such a case, indicate the paragraph number where you are citing the material from. Accordingly insert the paragraph as “para” as opposed to “p” as used in normal paginated document.

Do not forget to include the author’s last name and year of publication if available.

The author has taught at a public university for 5 years and noted that the traditional medium of face-to-face teaching comes along with many benefits. However its dependency on time and space among others, becomes a major setback” (Chawinga, 2017, “introduction,” para.4).

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