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Alee Navarro (staff)'s picture

The APA Assistant: A New Model for Helping Students Cite their Sources

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The APA Assistant: A New Model for Helping Students Cite their Sources
Miranda Orvis. Kispert, MLIS, Science Librarian, Weber State University

Resources for teaching and learning about citing sources and avoiding plagiarism abound, but to date they have resided at the far reaches of the spectrum of helpfulness – they either describe what to cite and how to cite it, often in astonishing detail, or they simply do it for you by exporting metadata or asking you to fill in a form. What is missing is a resource that avoids both the text-heavy descriptions that are apt to make already nervous writers or library users even more nervous, as well as the pitfalls of citation generators, including inaccuracy and a failure to actively teach users to cite sources.

The APA Assistant seeks to bridge this gap by providing a new model for teaching and learning about citing sources in APA style. Rather than a static text display or a fill-in-the-box citation generator, the APA Assistant utilizes a fluid format, similar to a clickable flowchart, creating a question-and-answer experience for students navigating the citation process. The APA Assistant, which can be found at https://goo.gl/forms/1zpk6nmaLxfBvkXf2, first seeks to discover the need (In text citation or list of references? Book, journal article, or website?), then gives a brief description of how to cite the source, including examples.

In addition to the basics -- what to cite, why we bother, and how to cite it -- the APA Assistant provides links to outside resources such as the Purdue OWL for those who need or want additional details, as well as an example of a complete list of references of varying types, culled from the examples used throughout the assistant. Built in Google Forms, the APA Assistant can also be linked to, embedded (including into LibGuides pages), or sent via email or other social media platforms, and can keep some interesting and useful statistics as well as archiving comments or suggestions from users.

Library Types:
Academic, Community College, Research Library, Student, Undergraduate

Subject Headings:
Information Literacy, Instruction, Transforming Libraries