Our new URL, APA Style apps & the Pew Library Quiz

SLISbits has a new Web address.  You are at it now —  http://slisbits.libsci.sc.edu/blog/. Take a moment to bookmark it for easy access.


It’s as good a time as any to explain the old one, http://duchamp.libsci.sc.edu/slisbits/blog/. It referenced groundbreaking French-American painter Marcel Duchamp, best known for his work Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2. Why? Because he’s one of us. Like many intelligent, creative, singleminded people, Duchamp took refuge in the library. Beginning in 1913, Duchamp worked for 2 years as a librarian at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris. There’s a lovely book about it all — Duchamp à la Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (Duchamp at the Genevieve Library) — but it’s in French.

APA Style Apps
The devil is in the details and one of the biggest grad school devils is APA Style. APA — American apa_stylePsychological Association –style is used widely in academia. Other common paper styles include MLA, Chicago and Turabian. For your time at USC, it’s APA, Sixth Edition, Second Printing. Repeat to yourself: Sixth Edition, Second Printing, Sixth Edition, Second Printing. This is the standard guide for paper formatting, source citation and bibliography creation.

In brief: No one knows how to use APA Style, not even APA, as evidenced by its infamous flubs in the first printing of the Sixth Edition. It is a tedious and dastardly set of citation rules. Even the second printing has mistakes. How do you stand a chance of getting this right when the publishers can’t?  At the very least, be consistent. And be cheered by the fact that instructors often don’t know APA style any better than students.

There are many options — hard copy, websites, apps — for guidance as you wade through the APA muck. Let’s take a look at some.

Hard copy: As an experienced owner of the spiral bound Sixth Edition, Second Printing, I recommend going digital. The hard copy is frustrating to use and doesn’t answer some common formatting and citation questions that will pop up. There are also still example errors (which have been corrected online) in print. If you must have something tangible, you can find an APA style book for about $30 or less online. Know, however, that you will have to go to the APA site for corrections and updates.  So, why not start there?

The APA Style site lets users easily find relevant topics such as the Basics of APA Style, references and formatting, that addresses running headers, serial commas (use them), and the difference between a reference list (used in APA) and a bibliography.

The site also has a handy blog, appropriately called the APA Style Blog that is free and searchable. Users most often have source citation questions, such as ‘How do I cite a primary interview source, PowerPoint presentation or speech?’ The guiding principle to citing a source is retrievability: According to the blog post Alligators and Academia: The Importance of Primary and Secondary Sources: “the question you should ask when a reference is looking confusing is, How is my reader going to retrieve this source? The answer will often clarify how the reference should be formatted.”

That’s easy for them to say, but when you have no clue, may be hard to execute. Instead of flubbing around, try a citation generator. This is a paper writer’s best friend for creating a bibliography or reference list. They exist in both online and smartphone app formats. The beauty of a good citation generator is that the user can select his source style (journal article, website, film, etc. etc.), enter less information than he would by hand, and, with the push of a button, be presented with a properly formatted entry. Many citation generators have a fill-in feature that — with only a bit of info — makes an educated guess as to a source’s title, author, etc. that you can then select from a drop-down menu. Some can even compose an entry by barcode scan or ISBN number entry.

EasyBib Pro generates in APA, MLA, Chicago and six other styles and boasts 59 different source styles to choose from. I had good luck with this one, especially the “fill-in” feature. Type in a title and EasyBib will generate the citation quickly. Of all the generators tested, this one seems the most thorough and reliable. If you go the monthly route, remember to cancel the service when you’re not working on papers. Student $4.99/ month,$19.99 year, 2-day free trial.

Citation Creation  cites in MLA and APA styles. On the plus side, it’s free and easy to use, with an uncluttered design. But it’s all manual entry, so be prepared to type.

At first, Bibme seems like the best of both worlds.The site has an auo-fill feature and it’s free. You can potentially find your source by title, author or ISBN number and cite in APA, MLA, Chicago and Turabian styles. However, the Help & FAQ section shows they’re using APA 5th edition. There are some major differences between editions:  For instance: (Fifth edition) Levitin, Daniel J.. This is your brain on music: the science of a human obsession. New York, N.Y.: Dutton, 2006. Print. VS.  (Sixth Edition) Levitin, D. J. (2006). This is your brain on music: the science of a human obsession. New York, New York: Dutton.  Differences include, first name vs. first initial; year placement and year punctuation; and source style (Print). Until they update to Sixth  Edition, Second Printing, stay away from Bibme.

I would use Citation Machine just for its adorable squirrel in headband and running shoes graphic. But the site is also free, has auto-fill, a blog and a title page maker — and formats in the proper APA edition style (as well as MLA, Chicago and Turabian). It also has essay check and a title page creator. As the site’s tagline goes: “Because someday the information that someone else wants to use will be yours.”

Android, iPhone and iPad apps: There are app versions of many citation generators. Unfortunately, most Android, iPhone and iPad APA style apps score in the 2’s. Many are cumbersome and don’t seem to generate the proper format. However, there are a few standouts.

iCiteAPA is a bit of a muddle. It pops up as a recommended source in quite a few round-ups. But possibly not by people who’ve used it. We can’t get our hands on the app in any form. One of its pluses would be that it accessed WorldCat. However, (A) many users say it cites/cited the wrong edition of APA Style and (B) is, apparently, no longer available on iTunes, though it can possibly still be downloaded from other sites. An attempt to download to iPhone returned a “Not available in the U.S.” message. I’ve seen it loaded on some iPads, so if you find it on yours, check the edition it’s citing in and use with caution.

Quick Cite on iTunes promises a lot in the way of citing. Simply scan a book’s barcode and voila! — a beautiful citation will be generated. I wanted to believe, I really did. But reviews weren’t great (2 stars out of 5). And a quick test proved even a basic book citing was out of its depths. It slightly misidentified the publisher and did not include the book’s subtitle. Keep your 99 cents. (Or, as when I purchased it, your $1.03.)

Citations2go free edition for Androids (free, 4 out of 5 stars from 7 reviewers) is a basic source generator. On the plus side, it’s free. But you get what you pay for. It’s limited to three source styles: print book, online book and basic website. Note: Do not fill out the Format entry when prompted — APA Style no longer explicitly notes source format and you will end up with your source style in brackets — i.e. [Website] — which is incorrect. I found the free version tedious as it’s all manual entry and there are still ways to make mistakes (such as filling out the format section) if you don’t already know the style rules. There are lite  (.99, 2 out of 5 stars) and Pro ($1.99, 4 out of 5 stars from 3 reviewers) editions that offer more source styles, barcode scanning and ISBN entry. Google Play Store. Compare versions here. 

APA Generator (Free) and APA Generator Professional ($2.95) for Android hit the market September 2014, which makes them some of the most recent additions to the citation lineup. The free version is rated 3.7 stars out of 5 by 123 people. The professional version is rated 3.8 out of 5 stars by 8 users. In Apple world, the free version is called APA Generator Lite; the pro version is called APA Citation Generator ($2.99).  Both free and professional, i and Android versions are available at the AppStore, Google Play and Amazon. The free version, as is typical, is limited to three source styles, which here is book, website and software. Users email entries to themselves or sync to other devices with Bluetooth. The free version tested out just fine, but would prove limited unless a person is referencing and citing limited source styes.

PERRLA for APA creates reference lists and citations on iPhone, iPad and Android. Try before you buy: download the app and get your first 10 references free. If you like, pay $4.99 to continue with unlimited references. The mobile app syncs with PERRLA’s desktop version. The desktop version, available for PC and Mac, costs moolah (APA or MLA, $39.95, or both $69.95), but could be well worth it. The program takes care of all the tedious formatting — running headers, title page, page numbers — as well as creates in-paper citations and an ongoing reference list. The software auto-updates to reflect any changes to APA Style. As the tagline goes: “Focus on writing your paper, not formatting it.”

But before you buy PERRLA for APA, check your own computer. These days, quite a few come pre-loaded with  APA formatting features — paper template, reference list creator, etc. If you have this option, double-check that it’s formatting to Sixth Edition, Second Printing specifications.

iSource APA (for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, $4.99) was updated Oct. 31, 2014, and works with iOS 8 or later and iPhone 5, 6 and 6 Plus. Users gave the previous version 2 out of 5 stars. In-app purchases include Printed Resources, Higher Education and Visual Media packs ($1.99-$9.99). It’s too early to tell if the updates will push it past the 2-star mark. There are at least 12 source options to chose from, including Journal, Newspaper and Reference Book, which require manual entry. Paying from $4.99-$18.96 for a (possibly) 2-star manual-entry product doesn’t seem like the best deal around when there are other options. A link to a PCMag review round-up of apps for students gives a generic shout-out to the app, with no real info on features or usage. Which we’re also not giving, because paying $4.99+ for an app that we can get for less or free elsewhere seems kinda foolish.

One more handy reference is the Purdue Owl Online Writing Lab’s Citation Style Chart, which concisely compares MLA (Modern Language Association), APA and CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) side by side.

* Many of the above were tested by searching for a book published August 2014. Generally, the sites and apps weren’t that current, but all that were searchable had the author’s previously published books.

Pew Quiz: What kind of library user are you?

As a Library and Information Science student or professional, it would behoove you to know just what kind of library user you are. The good people at Pew have a quiz to suss it all out:
What Kind of Library User Are You? Results include high engagement Library Lovers and Information Omnivores; medium engagement Solid Center and Print Traditionalists; low engagement Not for Me, Young and Restless, and Rooted and Roadblocked; and non-engagement (people who have never set foot in a library, can you imagine?) Distant Admirers and Off the Grid.

Library Lovers have strikingly positive views of public libraries compared with other groups, and with the 11950006461953041783favorites.svg.thumb-4U.S. population; they use libraries and library websites more than any other group, and most believe libraries are essential at the personal as well as the community level. This group’s members are disproportionately younger than the general population. It also includes many parents, students, and job seekers, and more respondents with higher levels of education.”

Learn more about characteristics of Library Lovers and the other High Engagement group, the Information Omnivores. Or, read the full eight-page report, including methodology and data: From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond: A typology of public library engagement in America by , and .

It’s amazing what things can be surmised about a person by their designated category: gender, age, race, education level, how often you read, how many books you’ve likely read in the past year, whether you work full- or part-time and household income level. What kind of library user are you? Take the quiz to find out.


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