APA issue number

Hi All,

I'm a professor of psychology, with a Ph.D. in said subject (fancy, I know).

Anyways, the APA style that you use is more wrong than right for putting in the issue number. It puts in the volume and the issue number in parentheses for all articles (the most common citation used in psychology). According to the style you are only supposed to do this for journals that start every issue with 1 (this is rare in our field).

I understand that it is impossible to program zotero to do this correctly (it would need a database of all journals that restart each issue with 1). However, MOST journals that we use, do in fact, start new issues with a continuing number.

So...for example...like issue 1 of made up psychology journal... starts with page 1 and ends with page 100; issue 2 starts with 101 and ends in 199 (these are just examples), issue 3 keeps the ball rolling (200-299).

I hope all this makes sense, but here's the thing, you chose to include the issue number for every article, and for most of the articles this is wrong.

So, for me to get my students to use it, telling them that you have to pretty much always delete the issue number will make them write their citations by hand (which is sad given that Zotero exists). I think making the default APA style not include the issue number is a better decision that will lead all my students to use Zotero (also, the other professors I know who are snarky will not be able to say, it messes up almost every citation).

For more reference to my ramblings see

I have created removed the issue field in my own style, so this is not for me, but this is for all my less savvy colleagues.

So, I've done my duty to inform. I hope you guys make my suggested change (more people will use it and given that APA is the style of choice for so many fields, I think this will increase your marketshare)>

Ta da! sorry for my complaining. I love your awesome tool (DIE ENDNOTE)>

Your Buddy,

Brian B. Drwecki
  • edited October 9, 2013
    This has been requested quite a few times, but here's one of the more complete replies from adamsmith: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/9298/2/apa-6th-new-style/#Item_15

    IMO, the "requirement" to omit issue numbers is quite ridiculous from the perspective of the person trying to locate the referenced article. Even with continuous pagination, it is by far much easier to know which issue the article is in than having to flip through the issues to figure out what page each of them starts on.

    But either way, if Zotero were to remove the issue in general, imagine how much worse this would make matters for journals where issues are not continuously paginated. It's also a much harder mistake to catch when looking over the reference list.

    Edit: @adamsmith, have you considered releasing an APA (no issue) style? nvm, @drwecki see http://www.zotero.org/styles?q=apa no issue
  • only thing that I'd add is that the APA style manual is used far beyond psychology, including in disciplines such as parts of education, where there are more per-issue paginations.
  • Well I have some research and rebuttals to these comments.

    (1), the doi is part of the style and most professors require it; so you need a no issue with doi, which is not an option, yet, and wouldn't be that hard to make it. So, your cross out, is missing the point; that version still gets students low marks.

    (2) Are we really making the argument that a bunch of people who use a Mozilla add on will actually step foot in a library to find an article? We live in the age of google scholar, we will simply type in the title of the article. But, it's not our job to morally disagree with APA style.

    (3) if a student thinks that the program doesn't work, they will be too afraid to use it. This is lost marketshare (and that does matter) But, adding a box to the library itself where people who know that a journal has repeating pagination can check the box in the library.

    (4) you said yourself that this has come up before, and it comes up again, as a psychologist, I suggest this means a lot more people want it (because, for good reason of ridicule and embarrassment, people don't often speak up).

    (5) Adam claimed that more educational journals use repeating pagination. I want to know where you made this claim or the evidence supporting this claim?

    I just looked up the top 10 journals in education (and stopped) because every one of them used continuous pagination.


    I'm sure there are other lists, but the top 10 is 10 of the top 15 journals in education. The top 10 journals are the ones that are used the most, I do not have the time to go through them all, but this point has not withstood a critical examination, and that needs to be further justified, as it does not appear true.

    IN addition the top 3 in nursing (the second field that uses APA) all have continuous pagination across issues http://academic.research.microsoft.com/RankList?entitytype=4&topDomainID=6&subDomainID=15&start=1&end=100

    In addition while the most popular journal in public health does not use continuous pagination, the second most popular journal does. http://library.umassmed.edu/ebpph/top25.cfm

    I'm sorry, as a psychology researcher whose work bridges nursing, public health, and education, the evidence does not support the claim that other fields have the non-continuous pagination.

    So, why the resistance?
  • The resistance is because as a general rule I'd rather provide too much than too little information. Removing info is easier than adding it. I'm not inclined to change the behavior. WRT eduction, I was thinking of educational subfields - e.g. Music Educator's Journals isn't paginated continuously, same for other subject specific journals, often the flagship journals in a subfield.

    Finally, since citations styles auto-update, changing such a prominent feature in one of the most used styles would wreak havoc on people's bibliographies.

    I'd like a better solution for this, though I'm not terribly fond of the idea of a checkbox and it'd be nice to find something that works more automatically, but I don't currently have any good ideas on this, either.

    (Incidentally, I do see it as my job as an academic and someone who works with a lot with citations and citation styles to disagree with APA where their rules are dumb. Who else would have that job?).
  • @drwecki, first, no need to feel fancy about your titles on these forums. Almost everybody here has an academic background, too, and many are PhDs.

    Second, also no need to stress the benefit for Zotero's market share. Most of the time, the best way to larger market share is to try to find the best technical solution. Let the market worry about itself.

    Third, @aurimas's objection is not moral, but technical. Is the author really supposed to check every journal they cite to see if it has continuous pagination? And what's the benefit? Saving a handful of characters in the bibliographic entries? Especially in the digital age, that hardly seems worth the effort.

    APA, as well as other style guides, sometimes impose requirements that are very hard to automate in a reference manager. They should give that more thought.
  • I'm not trying to feel fancy about my Ph.D. (My first statement was a joke and it's very clear that this is a joke, but it does give me credibility in terms of APA style...and I'm not ashamed for that; I wanted you all to know that I'm not some yahoo undergrad); Furthermore, I tested out a hypothesis and it failed miserably. This is what academics do, point out errors in things. I think the comment about subfields of education is kind of wierd (it holds 4 major fields to the standards of a subfield; this is a sacrifice of many for the few.) Here's the thing, I know, personally, many other professors and students who don't use zotero (specifically, yes) because they perceive this error as so egregious. I thought you should know that people are not using this software for this specific reason.
  • anyway - you suggested to handle a problem differently from how its currently handled, we explained why we won't change the current behavior. That's a perfectly normal process in software development - some suggestions are implemented, others aren't. We appreciate your input.

    It's easy for you (and anyone else) to change your personal copy of the APA style by following
    in general, and specifically deleting the line
    <text variable="issue" prefix="(" suffix=")"/>
  • For further reference, the comments on the apa style blog: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2011/10/how-to-determine-whether-a-periodical-is-paginated-by-issue.html Apparently the issue requirement was changed in 2007 and then reverted back to being omitted with the 6th edition for no apparent reason. People aren't too happy (understandably)
  • I didn't mean to attack you, and I probably misread you.

    But as the others say, without a comprehensive database of which journals use or don't use continuous page numbering, this won't change in our primary APA style. An incomplete reference is a much larger problem than one with some redundancy.
  • Please do follow the link aurimus provided. The thread tells us much about the basis for making decisions about the rule making for the APA style and also about the APA standard-setters' treatment of those who question the standard-setting rationales.
  • Hi all,

    A late reply:

    I came across this discussion after once again needing to make a csl edit to produce a reference list without issue numbers. Though the task is small, every time I bump into this rule it makes me shake my head at the ridiculousness of the APA's rule on this.

    I think Zotero's handling of this issue is reasonable, for the reasons y'all give above. Even though I usually take the risk of just deleting all issue numbers, that isn't "correct" APA style either.

    I think the only real solution on this is to lobby the APA to change the rule. Several people commented on the blog posted linked to above, which is great. You can also submit feedback to the APA here: http://forms.apa.org/apastyle/

    I sent the message below:
    I would like to request that the next version of the style manual removes the requirement that issue numbers should be excluded for journals paginated by issue.

    The costs of this rule far outweigh its benefits. Its only advantage is the saving of a few characters of space per reference. Its disadvantages are much more serious. The first of these is that it makes it effectively impossible to program a computerised reference manager to correctly follow APA style (bar managing a comprehensive list of all academic journals and their pagination style). Secondly, it forces users who wish to correctly follow APA style to manually check whether each journal they cite is paginated by issue or volume - a pointless and time-consuming exercise.

    I strongly recommend that the seventh edition of the style manual changes to a much simpler rule: Issue numbers should be included regardless of pagination status. This might mean a few extra characters of information included in each reference, but would make for a far simpler and easy-to-use guideline.
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