Psychology in the News

What makes a good post?

One of the things I am enjoying the most about this blog is the diversity of the contributions. I love the fact that there are dozens of authors adding their own perspectives on topics related to psychology. The only downside has been that I can’t keep up with all the contributions sometimes, especially if they require some kind of revision before they are ready to put up on the site. This page is an attempt to set up some guidelines that will make the process of posting easier, and maybe reduce the need for revisions.

Be Original. It is the nature of a blog to be reacting to news and research that is not our own. But that does not mean we have to parrot what has already been said. An original post is one that draws attention to something interesting, and says something new about it. There are lots of ways to accomplish this.

For example, perhaps you came across a news article you want to share about a new cure for some mental disorder. Great. But dig a little deeper, and find out some information about the disorder, and other cures, and other points of view. Oftentimes, a really good background resource is an intro psych textbook. Other times, it is a website that you can link (but always consider if it is a website we should really trust.)

Another example would be the post that ties together two or three different news stories or research articles, and explains how they are related. Maybe you will notice multiple stories appearing about child development, or group behavior. If you can tie them together, that should make a good post.

Sometimes you find some great article on the web, and you know it is just the kind of thing that goes into this blog. Don’t be tempted to just rewrite the article and post it here. Instead, add something original that goes beyond that article you found. The beauty of writing for the web is that you do not have to do anything more than provide a brief summary, and a link. Interested readers can go straight to your source.

Give proper attribution. This is an academic web site, and I try to uphold the same standards of originality and attribution that I would for any written work. This basically means that you should provide readers with a source for ideas and information which is not your own. Because the medium of the web is a little different than paper, there are some specifics of attribution that might be a little different than when you are writing a paper.

Method 1: Provide a link. A link is a web address, or URL, that the reader can click on. A link is kind of the ultimate way of giving attribution, since it allows the reader to go straight to the source. So if you can provide a link, that is the best way to give attribution.

Since you cannot insert links while you are writing, you have to tell me what they are and where they go. Just enclose the link in parentheses, like this ( immediately following the spot in the text where you used the information from that source. That makes it easy for me to put the links in.

Method 2. Use APA style citations. If the source is not freely available on the web (and that includes journal articles that you can access through your college library), then you should give a citation instead. The APA style is to give the author’s last name(s) and the year of publication in parentheses, immediately following the spot in the text where you used the information. When you cite something within the text, you should also provide a reference at the end. The citations in the text and the references at the end should match, exactly. That is, if you cite something, it gets a reference. If it gets a reference, you should also cite it. See the document on citations and references for more details.

Be succinct. Readers have short attention spans when they are reading from a screen. If you keep your posts short and focused, more people will read them, and enjoy them. Three hundred to five hundred words should be enough.

And in that spirit, I will end this page here, but hope that you will link to some of the other material referenced above.


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