Throw Away the APA

Jul 27

Communication is a major emphasis of many MBA programs, at least as a matter of rhetoric. Business leaders should be skillful, effective communicators. It’s not a hard case to make, and I agree that a leader who can’t communicate his vision will not be very effective. What I can’t understand is the almost singular focus many universities have on “writing styles”, such as APA, MLA, etc. Benefit of Standardized Communication Standardized communication approaches can bring benefit. For example, when reviewing hundreds of papers to see if they may contain details related to some research, it’s helpful to have abstracts. In the process of diving deeper into published research it’s helpful to know that sources are located in the bibliography. It’s even helpful to have the same font, spacing and formatting so that transitioning from one paper to another is easier on the eyes. From a grading perspective, I can also see how a standardized format can make life easier for a professor. But that’s not really the point of a graduate degree, at least not as I see it. Leadership is about Creation Leadership should be about creation, not emulation. When my university sends me out into the world as a newly minted, card carrying business leader, capable of tackling any problem, what will the world expect of me? I’m pretty sure when I present a solution to a pressing business problem, no one will complain that it’s not in APA format. In fact, I’ve found professionally that when I publish solutions in a standard format, such as IEEE for electrical engineering, it actually works against me. I’ve observed that my peers were turned off by the format, since it reminded them of school and being forced to dig through hundreds of papers full of dry commentary on research all to often void of novelty. What worked then? I have found that creating a website for internal or group communication among peers is more accessible, shared more frequently, more easily found by my team and benefits more people outside my immediate organization as search engines direct traffic there. Google and Bing are the New Standard Above I mentioned some of the perceived benefits of standardized communication. Before search and...

Read More

APA style papers

Jun 08

The MBA program director and many of the professors ¬†at NNU prefer papers to be submitted in APA style, 6th edition format. There are many tutorials and guides about how to follow the APA style. I perfer to use LaTeX. TeX and LaTeX are typesetting systems that allow the author to focus on content in plain text and leave the formatting alone. When the content is complete, simply use LaTeX to compile or render your document. I typically use pdfLaTeX and render straight to PDF for delivery or printing. There are other formats, including DVI, that can also be used. Getting LaTeX One disadvantage to LaTeX is the high learning curve. Another is complexity in installing new styles. Compared to Word, it can take quite a bit of setup to get it going. However, once it’s going, changes are easy to make and the entire document can be recompiled. References, figures, and any other dynamic elements simply update themselves in the new view. TeX live I suggest starting with TeX live. I download the .ISO file and use slysoft virtual clone drive to mount it. At that point I have what looks like a drive on my system and can install TeX live. Getting APA6 Next, I download the apa6 package from CTAN. unzip these files into a temporary directory. I opened up a console window (click start and type ‘cmd’) and changed into the directory where I had just unzipped the package. Once there I created two directories: config pseudoTeX I then ran the command “latex apa6.dtx”. That created a bunch of files, include the .CLS file. Install I then created a local directory for this new class definition here C:\texlive\texmf-local\tex\latex\local\apa6 I copied most of the files into this local directory, including the config folder, that were compiled above when I ran ‘latex’ on the ‘apa6.dtx’ file. I then ran ‘texhash.exe’ to update the tex database with information about the new apa6 class. LaTeX editor On Windows I use the WinShell editor for LaTeX. It includes some shortcuts and other helpers, including one click compile and view in acrobat. This is not a WYSIWYG editor, but it does provide helpers for much of what you want to do....

Read More