Monday, February 27, 2012

Citation Spotlight: KnAPSAck

Forgive the title. It was the closest I could come to a pun working with "APSA."

You might be wondering what I mean by "APSA." I too am wondering that same thing. Let's explore, shall we?

APSA is the American Political Science Association, presumably not unlike MLA for the language peeps and APA for the psychology folk. Like every discipline, APSA seems to have their own Style Manual, which according to the University of Wisconsin hasn't been updated since 1993. And perhaps for good reason?

APSA citation style might sound a little familiar to some of you fans of APA citation style, whoever you may be. For example, APSA doesn't use a "Works Cited" like MLA but rather a "Reference List." You'll notice that APSA begins to stray away from the APA method in this example of a referenced journal article:
Aldrich, John H. 1980. "A Dynamic Model of Presidential Nomination Campaigns." American Political Science Review 74:651-69.
Wait a second. There are first names listed! You can't do that in APA! How are we supposed to remain gender-neutral if we know what the writers' first names are? How dare the APSA have the audacity to do something like that! Why, you'd think they were doing MLA style or something like that...

Ahem. Sorry about that. I lost my cool there for a second. Anyhoo, in the actual list, it might appear that it takes after MLA rather than APA, at least in terms of punctuation and formatting. Aside from the audacious use of full first names, APSA still capitalizes titles properly and puts quotation marks around the titles of those short works that require it.

But the year is a bit off, making it not quite MLA still. Let's see the same article cited in MLA style:
Aldrich, John H. "A Dynamic Model of Presidential Nomination Campaigns." American Political Science Review 74.1 (1980): 651-69. Print.
Looks slightly different, no? Now truthfully, I don't know if it actually was Issue 1 of the 74th volume of the American Political Science Review, but I added the one just for the sake of showing what MLA does slightly differently. You'll notice also that the year jumped towards the end as well as shielding itself with parentheses. It is said that those who use MLA tend to privilege the timelessness of a text over the modernity that same text might have. You'll also notice that MLA takes care to list that it's a "print" source. I'm not sure how sold I am on that idea, but it's clear that APSA treats it just as APA does by keeping it towards the front unlike MLA. Aside from that, however, the APSA style is remarkably similar to MLA's.

I question the popularity of this system. According to this handy manual, the APSA revised the their style manual in August 2006. As far as I can tell, they've adopted the Chicago Manual of Style (8). Does that mean the APSA found their style to be out of date? Perhaps. But not everyone seems to think so.


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