Why We “Speak” APA in Academics

By Audra Spicer - June 29th, 2019

The American Psychological Association, or APA, is the organization that created the language used and understood by academics around the world. APA style is the expected standard in higher education and research papers to ensure sources are cited properly. Despite its universality, the many nuances of academia can make it a difficult language to master.

APA format in academics

It’s the purpose of higher education to develop new ideas; knowing how to use APA lets us take part in that ongoing, worldwide conversation.

APA governs two things: best practices for both formatting a page and using sources.

Formatting a Page

APA provides writers with a consistent format they can use every time they write. Consistency helps authors organize their arguments or research efficiently. From the information on the title page to the headers that divide information in the discussion, each section has a predetermined format.

APA formatting also helps authors organize ideas along the same lines that researchers use, with a spin-off benefit: When you’re familiar with the different parts of APA, you’ll find it easier to read the resources you find in the library.

All APA-formatted papers — from the papers you turn in for class to papers published in journals — contain most, if not all, of the following parts, always in the same order:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Review of the literature
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

While you might not include all nine parts in academic papers, you still use a majority of these sections to order and present your ideas.

Using Sources (and avoiding plagiarism)

To plagiarize something is to use someone else’s idea or direct quote as your own without properly citing the original source. Protect yourself from suspicion or allegation of plagiarism by using the APA citation basics below:

  • In-text citations, when used in a paper and on the References page, should always match. Keep in mind that both in-text and reference citations should start with the same author’s name. If no author is named, the title of the work should come first.
  • In-text citations should be used anytime you use information from a source, even if you paraphrase or summarize it in your own words.
  • Direct quotations are a special case. Anytime you take three or more consecutive words from a source, put quotation marks around those words and add the in-text citation and page number.

Learn more about in-text and reference citations in the CSU Global Library’s APA Resources.

Credibility as a Writer

Writing in solid APA format gives you credibility because of the format’s association with the publication.

When your paper is in perfect APA format, and your instructor or reviewer can look at your References page and see authoritative sources cited correctly, you’ve proven that you can “speak” the language of academia. Using the APA language gives your ideas the credibility necessary to be taken seriously.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
– Sir Issac Newton, discoverer of the Laws of Gravity, 5 February 1675

Further, if you pursue publication, APA citations allow your readers to cross-reference your sources easily. Any work of academic writing is based on the ideas that other people have shared through publication, and people working together in a field want to understand the origins of ideas.

APA Services

Many universities provide APA services as a student resource. At CSU Global, our Writing Center Consultants specialize in all things APA: from using our university template to in-text citations to proper References page format. 

Whether you’re currently using APA style as a student or with the hopes of being published, mastering the language of academia is an essential first step to getting your ideas heard and respected.

Comments 27

  • Why it is important for a business person to know how to use APA style?
    Why are internet sources and social media not the strongest sources for references?
    Give an example of a proper IN PAPER citation AND end of paper REFERENCE for a book.

    Give an exampe of a proper IN PAPER citation AND end of paper REFERENCE for an internet site.

    I would greatly appreciate the help. Thank you.

    • It is very important to know how to write papers in APA style in business, especially if it is in international business since APA is used worldwide.

  • Dr. Spicer thank you for this article. The information was great.

  • The APA format is important when writing because it helps with organization of what you are writing. With this comes the areas where you sight your sources this is Italy at the end of the book or paper you are writing. APA also helps build your credibility by keeping your paper organized and sighting your sources it shows that the words are of your own and it’s not just a jumbled up word for word mess you stole from someone else.

  • Thanks for the excellent post

  • Thanks a lot! Very useful information.

  • Hi friends, good article and nice urging commented here, I am truly enjoying by these.

  • Thank you, I’ve just been looking for info approximately this subject
    for ages and yours is the best I’ve found out till now.
    However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the source?

    • Thank you for your comment! I’m not sure which source you are referencing. Please let me know and I will look into confirming for you!

  • It would be enlightening to know why a psychological body became the authority on academic writing rather than a linguistic one. Can that history be explained please? Thank you.

  • Awesome things here. I am very happy to look your article. Thank you a lot and I’m looking ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

    • Thank you for your comment! If you have questions about the enrollment process, programs offered at CSU Global, or any other questions related to choosing CSU Global to continue your education, please email Enroll@csuglobal.edu.

  • Thank you for sharing you knowledge with us, I appreciate to read in your blog.

    Hope to read more articles like this one,

    Best regards,

    Your follower

    Alex Carros

  • Superb Information, I really appreciated with it, This is fine to read and valuable pro potential, I really bookmark it, pro broaden read. Appreciation pro sharing. I like it.

  • Very insightful

  • my question regarding the APA that if don not follow these rules, what would be the problem(s)?

    • Thank you for your question. At CSU Global, students are expected to use APA style for all written assignments. We have a writing center that can help guide students through formatting and implementing in-text and reference list citations, and provide sample APA documents to ensure students are successful in following APA style. The CSU Global Writing Center also offers trained CSU Global faculty coaches to provide guidance on assignments and specific insights on CSU Global’s APA requirements.

  • Hi Lauren, those are amazing tips including for SEO, i found it very useful and helped me a lot. Nice job and thanks,

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    Sandro Nomes

  • I have my questions ,can you please explain it properly.What is the Role of APA in Thesis Writing?

  • What’s the meaning of ‘we’ in the title? The medical research people all speak Vancouver a la NLM.

  • I have read in several replies that APA formatting is important and helps to organize a paper. Outside of APA formatting being the most commonly accepted formatting guideline for ACADEMIC use, WHERE in any other career (domestic or international) is this valued, required, or widely used?
    Aside from a consistent organization of book/periodical authors, publication dates, and page number references, exactly HOW does APA formatting help a writer organize a thesis or discussion post? Organization of a paper is owed to the creation and following of a strategically planned and executed outline, not a font/margin/spacing format.
    You did do a serviceable job outlining many of the broad objectives of APA formatting here, as all peer reviewed articles do follow a specific scientific method based formula.

    • Hi, E B. Academic writing and scholarly writing constitute two closely related genres of discourse. APA introduces students to the rules of the academic discourse community and gives practice with basic rules for developing ideas based on facts, research, and a body of evidence. Throughout anyone’s domestic or international career, the ability to find relevant information, weigh its authenticity and usability, and determine ways to develop new concepts based on research findings is important. APA at the four-year university level is the student’s opportunity to step into the specifically academic community of discourse, laying the groundwork for an ability to understand and work with similar communities in the professional world. I hope that helps!

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