Thursday, November 4, 2010

Punctilious by day, Zumbaesque by night

1.  Which of the following journal article citations is in correct APA 6th format?

2.  Identify the punctuation error(s) in this citation formatted according to APA 6th style:

Ball, J., & Bindler, R. M. (2008). Pediatric nursing: caring for children. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

   3.  If you really care about the above two questions, are you

        a.  a first-year student enrolled in the College of Nursing at the university where I work      
        b.  a spy from the American Psychological Association's committee on style
        c.  a punctilious instruction librarian

   I answer "c" to question #3, and yes, I spent a good part of today initiating unsuspecting first-year nursing students into the miseries --uh, make that mysteries-- of the irrational documentation style codified in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. It is the documentation style adopted by the College of Nursing, and the students are required to follow it religiously when creating bibliographies for their papers. APA style also governs such earth-shattering matters as in-text citations, title pages, margins, running heads, even pagination.

As you can well imagine, the course faculty have more important things to teach future nurses, things like pharmacology and how to take a patient's vital signs, and do not have time to spend drilling such mindless minutiae into their heads.

That's my job.

Italics, capitalization, the proper placement of periods, commas, and parentheses, as well as the groundbreaking replacement of the Latin abbreviation et al., which has served scholars so well all these many years, by an ellipsis (...) + last named author for citations with 8 or more authors.

I know, gentle reader. All this excitement is too much for you.

OK, in all fairness, I do get to spend a significant chunk of time teaching database searching and a few other things that actually require some reflection and skill. And I tell the students about the cool software available free from the library to make their task easier. Still, all that punctiliousness can leave one rather numb by the end of the day and longing for something just a bit more engaging ... even passionate.

Thank God for zumba!!  I couldn't wait to put on my (uncoordinated) exercise outfit, lace up my Huaraches, and come alive again.
Two warm-up songs, 4 high-impact/cardio songs (salsa, Latin hip-hop, and a lot of plain ol' jumping around), 1 cool down (an Indian selection: "belly dancing zumba style," as the instructor calls it), and a final song to stretch to (tonight it was J. Lo's "Cariño").

The class was particularly well attended this evening -- at least 20 zumba enthusiasts. Our instructor Mary Anne has strung lights around the perimeter of the giant mirror that spans the wall in front of us.  She turns off the ceiling lights, turns on the string lights and a rotating color wheel. "Zumba's a party!" she says.

When Mary Anne does zumba, she looks like she's dancing. Me, I look like I'm exercising. Sort of. But I don't care. I just keep my eyes on her and imitate her moves. (Sure wish I could shake my derrière like she does!) For an hour I feel like I'm dancing. I imagine I have rhythm, coordination, even attitude. Only the music matters. By the second cardio number I've worked up a good sweat. Shedding those commas and ellipses, I'm trampling them underfoot. I don't care what this is doing to my knees, it feels sooooo good!

The final stretch is the icing on the cake.  I take another drink of ice water and towel myself off a bit before heading out to the car.

I feel human again.


  1. Merci pour ce texte inspirant, je pense que je vais commencer une thèse de doctorat dont le sujet sera une étude comparée, générative et transactionnelle sur la place de la virgule dans Le cid de Corneille et des guillemets dans Britannicus de Racine. Je demanderai que tu sois codirectrice de ma thèse.

    Anyway, vive la buzumbaki!

    Enrico Mascalzone

  2. Caro Enrico,

    Ah ! la virgule de Corneille et les guillemets de Racine ! Maintenant je sais pourquoi j'ai étudié le français!


  3. Just starting my new Open University course and getting into the swing of keeping track of any references I use. Plain ol' Harvard system for us. looking forward to this academic year. Don't really have much opportunity to get to a real library though the open University has a great virtual library which is also useful in my work.

    I stick to running slowly for my exercise... no rhythm... :)

    Did you finish your writing course?

  4. I'm doing Part 2 of the writing course now. There's a total of 4 parts, each 5 weeks long. You can take them all or stop after any of the parts. It's not for university credit or anything. I really enjoy it. The other students are all very friendly and I get a lot of positive feedback, which is so encouraging! If it looks as though my schedule isn't too crazy, I'll sign up for part 3. It's also not necessary to each subsequent part right away. I could wait until it comes around again later.

    Most of the students' research is done online too. They still come into the library when they need books, but most of the research involving journals is online now.

    We have a classroom in the library, and when a course has a major research paper to do, often the professor will bring the students into the library for a session with one of the librarians so we can show them the pertinent databases for their subject area. With over 260 databases, it's hard for the students to choose the right ones.

    Documentation style is wild here -- each discipline insists on its own! Drives me nuts -- because I have to learn them all to be able to help the students!

    Have a great week.



Comments are moderated. The decision of the blog author is final.