Writing Guidelines

A significant focus within the Psychology major at LVC centers on developing students' ability to communicate in written form, and towards that end, a variety of resources are available to aid students in this process. Course instructors will provide this guidance as it applies specifically to individual classes, but the information below serves as reference material to complement course work.

APA-Style Writing
When psychologists communicate in written form, the dominant writing style they utilize is referred to as APA (i.e., American Psychological Association) Style. This form of communication has a myriad of content and style elements, and is discussed in a variety of courses within the psychology curriculum at LVC. In addition, however, the following document provides an excellent summary of the many nuances of APA-Style writing. More information about the APA-Style can be found here.

Citing Sources/Plagiarism
When presenting ideas within your written work, you must cite the sources of ideas that are not your very own (basically, if you are not talking about your own opinion, you obtained that idea from somewhere--that source must be cited). Several ideas are essential to understand when citing sources. 

Plagiarism occurs when a writer presents another writer's ideas as their own, without proper reference (APA, 1994). At the very least, this is unethical, and can lead to students being charged with Academic Dishonesty; penalties for these latter offenses vary according to their severity, but can easily be avoided if one follows proper referencing style. Avoid plagiarism at all costs! When you are using another's ideas in your own work, give those other authors credit by referencing their work in the proper manner. To begin, let's say that you have found the following passage, and you think that this idea is perfect for your paper.

"Enthusiasts claim that DHEA gives them more energy, restores, muscle tone, boosts their cognitive abilities and perks up their libido" (Kluger, 1996, p. 94).

Copying Material Verbatim
One way of plagiarizing another's work, which is the worst type, is to simply use a passage, unquoted and word-for-word, without citing the source. The above passage, plagiarized in this manner, would appear as follows.

Enthusiasts claim that DHEA gives them more energy, restores, muscle tone, boosts their cognitive abilities and perks up their libido.

Strong Paraphrasing (without citation)
Another form of plagiarism involves an attempt at paraphrasing (rephrasing another's idea in one's own words) that, although different from the original source, is not referenced. Any paraphrased thought that you put into your written work that is not a novel idea from your own mind must have originated from another source; you must refer to this source at either the start or immediate conclusion of the paraphrased section within the text to avoid this type of plagiarism. Using the example about, this type of plagiarism could appear as follows.

Those that believe in the positive effects of DHEA hold that this substance can energize an individual, make them more muscular, and increase their sexual prowess.

Weak Paraphrasing (without citation)
When paraphrasing correctly, you need to make sufficient modifications to the initial material to make it clear to the reader that you have attempted to put the original material in your own words. If you just change a word or two here-and-there, with the final product too close to the original, that is still considered copying the material verbatim. Such plagiarism would appear as follows (the changed portions are underlined).

People claim that DHEA gives them extra energy, restores weakened muscle tone, boosts their cognitive skills and enhances their libido.  

Paper Writing
Another type of a plagiarism-related offense involves submitting an entire paper that was written by someone other than you. DO NOT DO THIS!

Avoiding Plagiarism
The simplest way to avoid a plagiarism charge is to properly cite your sources. If you ever have any doubt as to whether or not you need to cite a source, it is better to err on the side of caution and provide the citation, as opposed to risking a plagiarism offense. The proper way to cite your sources depends on the manner in which you presented the source in your written work.

Paraphrasing With Citation
Referring to the strong paraphrased citation from above, while this passage is reworded from the original source, the lack of a reference suggests that this is the author's own idea, when, in all actuality, it is not. To avoid plagiarism in this case, the writer needs to add the proper reference, giving credit to the original author. When paraphrasing someone else's work, only use an author's last name (no first names, and no titles, such as Dr., PhD., etc.) and the year of publication, either as part of the sentence or in parentheses. Also, DO NOT include the title of the book, journal article, etc., in the text of your paper, and page numbers are reserved for direct quotes. For example:

Although recent work by Bornstein and D'Agostino (1992) has shown that positive emotional states can be facilitated as a result of repeated exposure to experimental stimuli, other work (Murphy, Monahan, & Zajonc, 1995) has found that increased positive affect did not differ according to the duration of one's exposure to stimuli.

Paraphrasing a Secondary Source
If you write about an author's work as it appears in a secondary source (not the original work of the author), both the primary and secondary sources are cited within the text of your paper. Let's say that you are reading a text authored by Hergenhahn, and published in 1997, and within this text you come across a reference from Kant, published in 1781, that you would like to place into your paper. The proper way to refer to the Kant passage in your paper would be:

Kant set out to describe the causal basis of thought by postulating the existence of categories of thought (Kant, 1781, as cited in Hergenhahn, 1997).

In the Reference section of your paper, you would only include the Hergenhahn (1997) source, NOT Kant (1781).

Direct Quoting
When you use another's material word-for-word, the proper way to cite the material is to place the entire passage in quotation marks, and place the author's name, publication date, and page number of the material in parentheses at the end of the passage. For example:

"Enthusiasts claim that DHEA gives them more energy, restores muscle tone, boosts their cognitive abilities and perks up their libido" (Klugerm 1996, p.94).

Citation Styles
When citing sources within the text of a paper, APA style dictates that a specific style is utilized, depending on the type of citation.

When work is cited directly in a passage of text and there are 1-2 authors, all last names are identified for all citations of that source (e.g., Scott and Monesson (2009) suggested...). If there are 3-5 authors, the first citation would mention all authors (e.g., The work of Mauro, Pierro, Mannetti, Higgins, and Kruglanski (2009) focused on...), but subsequent citations of that same source must utilize the "et al." shorthand (e.g., The results of the current study support the conclusion of Mauro et al. (2009), in that...). If there are six or more authors, the "et al." notation should be used for all citations of that source.

When sources are cited in parentheses following a statement, the same basic formats outlined in the previous paragraph are followed, although use "&" instead of "and," and the year of the citation is not placed in parentheses (e.g., The results of the current study support conclusion found elsewhere (Scott & Monesson, 2009), in that...). In addition, if two or more sources are cited within the same parentheses, list the citations in alphabetical order by first author, and separate each source with a semi-colon (e.g., The results of the current study support conclusion found elsewhere (Mauro et al, 2009; Scoot & Monesson, 2009), in that...).

If there is not individual author(s) for a source, the only deviation from the formats outlined above would be to place the first 2-3 words of the title, in quotation marks, where the author(s) name would appear (e.g., The recent death of an individual ("Helmetless rollerblader dies," 1996), has prompted city officials to...) However, if the author is a group of individuals, the entire group name would be cited where the author name would typically appear (e.g., Mnemonic devices have been developed by a variety of individuals (NASA Cognition Lab, 1999), but these methods...).

Reference Section Format
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when writing your reference section. This portion of the paper appears on its own page, immediately following the last page of the text of the paper (place the word "References" at the top of this page, centered and bold).

The entire Reference section, with its page number in the upper right corner, is double-spaced, with citations appearing in alphabetical order according to the first author's last name.

The first line of each reference is flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines of each citation should be indented about 5 spaces.

The only sources that appear in the References section are those that were cited in the body of the paper.

"Edited" books will generally have a statement on one of the first pages of the text that says something like "Edited by [the author's name]." If there is not a line to this effect, then the source in NOT an "edited" text; it is just an authored book. Virtually all texts will have a listing of different editors (such as Production, Manuscript, and Permissions editors); these people are not considered editors in terms of authorship credit.

When citing sources in the Reference section, make sure to cite the entire source, not just the part you used. The following example illustrates this error:

Martindale, C. (1991). Cognitive psychology: A neural-network approach (pages 37-53). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

The correct form of citation would simply eliminate the "(pages 37-53)" element.

In there is no individual author(s), place the name of a group in the space where the author's name would appear, then follow the rest of the directions for that source type (if a group name is not available, place the title of the article in the space where the author's name would appear, but don't place the article title/group name in the citation more than in that initial location).

In terms of how to actually write each citation within the "References" section, the following guidelines should be followed, with each source containing certain specific pieces of information, as follows; these are consistent with the scientific format known as APA style.

1. Author: provide the last name, followed by first/middle initials, for all authors (use organization name for material without a specific author, or the title of the work for sources without group names); each name should be separated by a comma.

2. Year of Publication: for scholarly journals or books, provide the year of publication; for class notes, as well as newspaper, magazine, and web-based articles, provide the year, followed by (if available) the exact month and day of publication; if no date is provided, place "n.d." in parentheses.

3. Article / edited book chapter / class notes TITLE: provide the full title in plain font; capital letters are provided only for the first letter of the first word of the title and any subtitle, as well as any proper nouns.

4. Journal / book / newspaper / magazine / website NAME: italicize the entire name. For journals, website, newspapers, and magazines, use capital letters for the first letter of all primary words (excluding articles, prepositions, conjunctions, etc., such as a, an, of, for, and, etc.). For books, use capitals only for the first letter of the first word of the title and any subtitle, as well as any proper nouns; also enclose additional publication information (e.g., edition, report number, etc.) in parentheses following the title, in plain font.

5. Publication information: for books, provide (in plain font) the location (city and state within the United States, city and country for sources outside the United States) of the publisher, and the publisher name; if the author is also the publisher, place the term "Author" (in plain font) where the publisher name would typically appear; location and name are separated by a colon. For journals, provide the volume number, italicized (if available, also provide the issue number immediately following it, but issue numbers are not italicized, and are within parentheses) and page numbers (in plain font); elements are separated by a comma. For newspapers/magazines, provide the volume number (if known) and page numbers (and for newspapers alone, precede page numbers by p. or pp. to denote one or multiple pages). If the source is an internet-based website, provide the phrase "Retrieved from http://www.[include the full website address]" in plain font; make sure to fit long addresses on citation lines (i.e., avoid long empty spaces within references) by inserting blank spaces after punctuation marks within web addresses, and do not place a period at the end of the address. If the source is class notes, use the format "Class Notes from [Department Name: Course Number: Course Title (Name of School)]" in plain font.

6. Electronic Databases: if journal-based sources are retrieved from online archives (e.g., EBSCO Host, PsycINFO, etc.), do not cite the name of the archive - just follow the formatting elements as if you had obtained an actual hardcopy of the journal.

7. Digital Object Identifiers: Publishers of scholarly work began assigning Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to electronic articles published sometime after the year 2000; these numbers typically appear on first page of each article and database landing pages. If an article contains a DOI, it should be the last element within a citation, following the page numbers, cited (in plain font) as "doi: [provide all elements of doi]"

Examples of the different reference types
This list illustrates some of the more common citations that appear in student papers, but is not exhaustive; consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for a complete list.

Journal Article (w/out DOI)
Ball, T.S. & Alexander, D.D. (1998). Catching up with eighteenth century science in the evaluation of therapeutic touch. Skeptical Inquirer, 22 (4), 31-34.

Journal Article (w/DOI)
Molden, D.C., Lucas, G.M., Finkel, E.J., Kumashiro, M. & Rusbult, C. (2009). Perceived support for promotion-focused and prevention-focused goals: Associations with well-being in unmarried and married couples. Psychological Science, 20 (7), 787-793. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02362.x

Book (complete)
Randi, J. (1982). Flim-flam: Physics, ESP, unicorns, and other delusions. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Book (chapter)
Manza, L., & Reber, A.S. (1997). Representing artificial grammars: Transfer across stimulus form and modalities. In D.C. Berry (Ed.), How implicit is implicit learning? (pp. 73-106). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Book (edited)
Munger, M.P. (Ed.). (2003). This history of psychology: Fundamental questions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Book (group author/publisher)
American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Website (group author)
NASA Cognition Lab (1999). Mnemonic devices. Retrieved from http://olias.arc.nasa.gov/cognition/tutorials/index.html

Website (individual author)
Young, J.R. (2009, July 20). When computers leave the classroom, so does boredom. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Teach-Naked-Effort-Strips/47398/print

Website (no date)
Eharmony (n.d.). Scientific matching. Retrieved from http://www.eharmony.com/why/science

Magazine Article
Park, A. (2008, October 13). The forgotten plague. Time, 172(15), 55-61.

Newspaper Article
Farley, S. & Courogen, C.A. (2009, July 28). Killing suspect captured after hunt. The Patriot-News, pp. A1, A16.

Newspaper Article (no author)
Police release 911 call in arrest of black Harvard scholar (2009, July 28). The Patriot News, p. A9.

Class Notes
Manza, L. (2000, December 4). Alternative medicine II: Health and nutritional quackery. Class Notes from DSP 370: Paranormal Phenomena - A Critical Examination (Lebanon Valley College).

Additional Writing-Instruction Sources
The following materials are useful for providing guidance about various ideas related to writing about and/or presenting information concerning the science of behavior.

Landrum, R.E. (2008). Undergraduate writing in psychology: Learning to tell the scientific story. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (ISBN 9781433803321).

Nicol, A. A. M. & Pexman, P. M. (2010). Displaying your findings: A practical guide for creating figures, posters, and presentations. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (ISBN 9781633807077).

American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author. (ISBN 9781633805622).