Establishing a set of writing style guidelines to make scholarly communication more effective and easier to understand has been the goal of the American Psychological Association’s APA Style since 1929. [related]

Now in its seventh edition, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association has been adopted in approximately 170,000 higher education courses, making it the most widely used academic writing style guide in the world, according to Emily Ayubi, APA Style senior director. It is also available in Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), Greek, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish editions.

“APA has also released electronic versions of the Publication Manual and the Concise Guide to APA Style, which is aimed at undergraduate students and writers new to APA Style, on Kindle, RedShelf, and VitalSource,” says Ayubi. “In addition to offering consumers different format options, these e-books help to ensure global access to our authentic works and serve as a safeguard against piracy. We also offer rental and purchase options to ensure affordability for all.”

Ayubi and her team have been working with accessibility experts to ensure equitable access for all users of APA Style guides. She notes that both e-books are “fully optimized for accessibility” with “alt text and long descriptions for graphics, screen-reader-friendly headings, and other features for use with assistive technology.” The APA is also a member of AccessText Network and related services that provide access to educational resources for students with what are termed print disabilities.

Ayubi adds that the style guidance itself has also been updated with accessibility in mind. “Using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and our experts’ recommendations as a framework, we have made updates to APA Style in areas such as accessible use of color, headings, in-text citations, fonts, URLs, and spacing after punctuation,” Ayubi says.

The latest revisions to the Publication Manual and Concise Guide advance inclusive writing and transparency in science, both of which are integral to accurate and ethical scholarly communication. “APA has long been a thought leader in bias-free language, dating back to 1977,” Ayubi says. “Our inclusive writing standards directly support APA’s guiding principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and the promotion of human rights.” The “Bias-Free Language Guidelines” chapter in the Publication Manual and Concise Guide, for instance, covers respectful and affirming language regarding age, disability, gender, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, participation in research, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality.

Combating piracy and counterfeiting efforts is another major task for the APA Style team, which works closely with BCGuardian, a brand and content protection consultancy. “The e-commerce environment grants global actors the ability to sell counterfeit products with virtual anonymity while imparting no meaningful barriers to reentry for these offenders—and that is our greatest challenge,” says BCGuardian managing director Michael Candore. “There are also limited international enforcement options to curtail the overseas manufacturing of counterfeit versions.”

Thus far, thousands of counterfeit copies of the Publication Manual and Concise Guide have been removed from the market, but Candore estimates there remain thousands more copies in circulation.

“We actively monitor and develop evidence of the sale of counterfeit APA books on major online marketplaces,” says Candore. “We have confirmed counterfeit distribution by hundreds of online merchants. Despite the large number of infringing merchants, the evidence indicates a concentrated problem. At one point, nearly 50% of all counterfeit books detected by the APA could be traced to about a dozen networks, nearly all of which are suspected to be operating out of India.”

The growth of print piracy and an increasingly connected world go hand in hand, Candore says. “A key distinction between traditional digital piracy and print counterfeiting is the displacement of legitimate sales. Customers of print versions have demonstrated a willingness to pay. But the impact of each unauthorized digital download of an APA work is more nebulous: when the content is unlawfully available for free, would the downloader have otherwise been a paying customer? This is not just a question for the APA, but also for many publishers around the world.”

To learn more about APA Style, the style guides, and anti-counterfeiting efforts, visit booth F55 in Hall 4.0.

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