When many people hear “article,” they think of those things you read in a newspaper or magazine — a short-form, informational piece of writing that can entertain, inform, or express the writer’s opinion. However, in an academic setting, “article” has a much more specific and limited meaning.
For journals such as R3, an article is a scholarly work, much more similar to a research paper than to something published by Forbes or Vanity Fair. For R3’s purposes, an article is a short-form piece of writing that is peer-reviewed, includes a focused thesis statement and conclusion, presents verifiable and reliable sources of information (evidence), includes analysis and interpretation, and follows a specific, defined format.
There are a few different formats academic writers must use depending on what topic they’re writing about: MLA, APA, AMA. For R3, we use the APA, which is short for Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association – 7th Edition. This manual gives guidance on many aspects of academic writing: the required elements of an article, how to organize and label the sections, writing style and grammar, how to present information in tables and graphics, how to cite the work and words of other authors, and how to format the reference page.
We understand that this sounds intimidating — there are a lot of requirements. But we welcome the work of people from any educational background, so we want to offer you some resources to help support your writing. The APA manual itself is available for purchase from a lot of outlets (Amazon, WalMart, etc.) and is available in physical form or in e-book format. (Note: These links are not endorsements for any particular retailer. Do your own research to find what is best for you. These links are just examples — there are many other sellers.) Although the manual is daunting, it’s worthwhile to page through it and get familiar with the sections. It makes it easier to find what you’re looking for later.
Another note: We use the 7th edition of the manual. You might find used copies of the 6th edition available at resellers for a discount, but there are substantial differences between the two editions and it’s worthwhile to spend a little more and get the updated version if you can.
Some of you will not want to purchase a whole manual just to submit one article, but the APA offers SO MANY free resources too. Start with the instructional aids page. At the top of that page you’ll find a toggle for style and grammar guidelines:
This leads you to an absolute treasure trove of information from the manual (for free!) about all of the things we mentioned before: required elements, organization, writing style and grammar, tables and figures, and citations and references. Back at the original instructional aids page, you’ll see sections that lead you to tutorials and webinars, handouts and guides, and sample papers. The annotated professional sample papers will be very helpful to visual learners. (Use the professional papers as guides, not the student papers.)
Citations and References
On the handouts and guides page, there is an entire section on citations and references. One of the most common issues we’ve been faced with so far is improper citations and incorrect (or completely absent) reference lists. You’ll find guides to common reference styles, a guide to creating an APA reference list, and two very handy checklists, one for in-text citations and one for the reference list itself.
The internet can also help you find a plethora of citation generators — handy little applications that will take the information you supply and present it in the correct format. These are everywhere: on the Purdue OWL website, Citation Machine, mybib, etc. (Again, not an endorsement of any of these, just a summary. There are many others.) However, these applications come with a huge caveat: they are not always accurate. They might get most of your citations mostly correct or even all of your citations completely correct, but you should always check the output against the APA manual yourself. Another caveat: they do guide you toward what information you need to enter, but they don’t always help with citations of unusual sources (anything that is not a book, journal, or website). They do better with traditional sources. (True story: I spent hours trying to track down the information I needed to correct a citation of an episode of a Korean news program.)
Peer reviewers (experts in a specific field) and copy editors will review submissions that are being considered for publication. It’s a peer reviewer’s job to approach each submission from both an expert’s and a reader’s perspective, to make sure readers can understand the flow of ideas and the logic that holds the ideas together as well as guaranteeing that facts and concepts are correct. They will point out specific aspects of an article that need to be clarified, improved, revised, etc. Copy editors will be making sure grammar, punctuation, word choice, and sentence structure are correct and appropriate. If there are parts of a submission that need to be revised for any reason (including the reference list), the managing editor will return the submission to the creator with very specific and very supportive guidance. Some of that guidance might include details related to APA style, so it is worth a creator’s while to make sure they’ve conformed to the APA guidelines as closely as possible before submitting the article.
Here are those links again in list format:
To purchase the APA manual
- instructional aids
- handouts and guides
- sample papers
- annotated professional sample papers
- common reference styles
- guide to creating an APA reference list
- Checklist for in-text citations
- Checklist for the reference list