Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The title is latin for “Who watches the watchers?”

The American Psychological Association’s current style book, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., contains dozens of errors, several of them in examples and sample papers.  Needless to say, this is causing quite a stir among those who rely on the manual for defining the rules used for papers.

(It also makes me want to write a new verse for a certain Alanis Morissette song, but that isn’t the point…)

The APA has posted a pdf with links to other pdf files with categories of corrections.  Those categories are:

  1. Errors in APA Style Rules
  2. Errors in Examples
  3. Clarifications
  4. Nonsignificant Typos

Complete versions of the corrected sample papers can be found here.

Those libraries that serve students who use this style guide should decide how to handle the corrections.  Whether to include the correction pages with the book, or even to indicate the changes within the books themselves, are possibilities.  We should, as we ought to be prepared to do for any resource, inform users that there are known errors in the manual.

One option that we don’t have is the ability to exchange the error-containing manuals for corrected versions.  The APA will be correcting the errors in the second printing, and states that

The first printing was carefully proofed and vetted at multiple stages. The guidance provided in the book is accurate and sound.

I am not sure if I would recommend that a student use that approach when appealing a marked-down grade for typographical errors within a paper.  Of course, I wouldn’t recommend myself as a source for error-free work, as any careful reader of this blog could attest.

found via American Libraries Direct

Additional note:  it seems that the errors are not the only controversy surrounding the manual.  Many users are upset that the manual has changed the spacing recommendation after a period back to two spaces.  I learned to type on a typewriter (and still own the cast-iron glass-key Royal KMM typewriter (photo not my actual typewriter) I bought from the Brookfield Public Library’s book sale when I was a Page), and two spaces are a habit I haven’t even tried to break.  I still see it as a way to differentiate between an abbreviation and the end of a sentence.  I suspect that this will be a generational behavior.  It will be easy enough to search and replace two spaces with one, if it becomes necessary.

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