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Section 2 Becoming a Researcher/Scholar / Chapter 7 Preparing for Writing
A consistent style allows readers to find different elements in an empirical article quickly and easily, regardless of journal or year of publication.
Using a style guide allows for consistency across a field of inquiry and research. There are three major style guides in use in academia: APA, Modern Language Association (MLA), and Chicago Manual of Style. APA style was developed by the American Psychological Association for use in psychology and other social science fields, with the aim of preparing manuscripts for publication (APA, 2010). MLA style was developed by the Modern Language Association with the purpose of writing research papers while in school, and is most commonly used in literature, English, and other creative-arts fields (Flores-Kagan & Rider, 2012). The Chicago Manual of Style was created by the University of Chicago with the goal of writing for publication, and is often used by history scholars (Yale College Writing Center, 2014). It is often referred to interchangeably with Turabian style, which refers to the style expressed by Kate Turabian in her book, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, first published in 1955. The difference between the two manuals is Turabian style is tailored for students (The University of Chicago Press, n.d.).
The primary difference between the three major writing styles is the citation format. APA and MLA style follow an in-text citation formation, while Chicago style uses footnotes for citations. APA style is the preferred style for psychology and social sciences, and is common in education. Moreover, it is the required style for Grand Canyon University.
Rationale for APA
Why do universities, journals, editors, and conference planners require writers to adhere to a particular style? A simple question with a simple answer: A single style in a field of study provides clarity and consistency across that field. APA style was created in 1929 to set rules to be followed by the academic community, which would “increase the ease of reading comprehension” (APA, 2010, p. xiii). A consistent style allows readers to find different elements in an empirical article quickly and easily, regardless of journal or year of publication. It provides clarity to students learning how to write research papers, and from the beginning of APA style, the authors and editors of the APA manual have sought to provide clear and consistent guidelines for students and professionals alike.