American Psychological Association Publication Manual, 7th Edition

Many of you will have noticed the recent publication of the 7th edition of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (American Psychological Association, 2019).

Some of the changes should be welcomed.


For example, in referencing:

The publisher location is no longer included in the list of reference.

Where the 6th edition (American Psychological Association, 2010), required this:

Gillett, A. J., Hammond, A. C. & Martala, M. (2009). Successful academic writing. Harlow: Longman.

the 7th edition requires:

Gillett, A. J., Hammond, A. C. & Martala, M. (2009). Successful academic writing. Longman.

I think that is good. Although, there was probably a time when a book published in, for example, New York was different from the same book published in London, this has not been the case for many years. I wonder when other versions of the Harvard system will catch up.

Another welcome change is the standardisation of the URL or doi references. URLs are now embedded directly in the reference, without being preceded by “Retrieved from,” unless a retrieval date is needed.

For example previously, a blog entry would have been included in the references list as

Gillett, A. J.  (2017, February 23). EAP and student motivation [Blog post]. Retrieved October, 14, 2019, from

Whereas, unless the site is likely to change, the following should – I think – be used now:

Gillett, A. J. (2017, February 23). EAP and student motivation. UEfAP.

DOIs are now formatted as urls ( The label “DOI:” is no longer necessary.


Gillett, A. J. & Hammond,  A. C. (2009). Mapping the maze of assessment: An investigation into practice.  Active Learning in Higher Education, 10, 120-137. DOI: 10.1177/1469787409104786


Gillett, A. J. & Hammond, A. C. (2009). Mapping the maze of assessment: An investigation into practice. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 120-137

(Note that the issue number is now always given.)

Another possibly useful change concerns the citation of multi-author works.
Previously, when a work had three, four, or five authors, all the authors were cited the first time the citation occurred; in subsequent citations, only the surname of the first author, followed by ‘et al.’ (not italicised, and with a full stop after ‘al’), was included.

Whereas now, when a work has three or more authors, the name of only the first author followed by ‘et al.’ (not italicised, and with a full stop after ‘al’), is cited always.

Another change I like is the explicit instruction not to provide database or other online archive information is a reference, unless absolutely necessary. The reference should provide enough information for a reader to find the work, possibly by a different method. In addition, such URLs will normally require a login and will therefor not be accessible to most readers.

For example, the following is not acceptable:,


From a stylistic point of view, the singular “they” or “their” is now accepted as a gender-neutral pronoun.


American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.

Turnitin Similarity Report

I have been supervising dissertation students recently at several institutions.

One thing that has been mentioned several times is the interpretation of the Turnitin Similarity Report. One student showed me her Turnitin report in which she had received a similarity score of 32%. She was worried as she had been told that anything above 20% was problematic. I looked at her work and found that most of the 32% similarity was made up of typical EAP phrases. Examples are “questions have been raised over the ,,,”, “… have received very little consideration” and “this evidence leads us to reject the hypothesis that…” These are kinds of phrases that EAP students are expected to learn and use and are covered in books such as Jeanne Godfrey’s The student phrase book (Godfrey, 2013) and John Morley’s online Academic Phrasebank.

The other extreme is the student who received a similarity score of 14%. She was happy with that, but when I looked at her text, I found several examples of what I would consider to be plagiarism – sentences taken from a published writer without any reference. I did not consider this to be acceptable.

It is therefore important to look further that the Turnitin Similarity score and see exactly what has been identified as similar.


Godfrey, J. (2013). The student phrase book. Palgrave.

ESP/EGP Distinction: Is it Real?

I have been supervising MA TESOL and Applied Linguistics students this summer as they write their dissertations and I have most recently been marking them. May of the students have focussed on ESP (both EAP and EOP) for their research, but most of them have concentrated on general English (EGP).  I also attended a Business English conference in the summer. I saw some interesting presentations at the conference  and have have seen some interesting MA studies and it has made me realise that the distinction between EGP and ESP may not be so clear.

Many general English teachers or courses seem to take the needs and interests of the students very seriously and try to tailor the courses to match these needs. They consider what they are doing to be general English.  In contrast many ESP (EAP and EOP) courses or teachers do not. They often seem to take a published EOP or EAP textbook and use it without a proper needs analysis. They think that is what ESP is. I have often wondered why, for example, English for hotel workers is considered to be ESP, but English for tourists staying in the hotel is not!

So it would seem to me that the important distinction we need to make is not between ESP and EGP, but between teachers and courses that take the interests and needs of their students seriously and those that do not.







Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes

ESP books are rare, but Routledge have recently published a series called: Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes, edited by Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield – well know joint editors of the Handbook for English for Specific Purposes (Wiley, 2013).

According to the blurb: Routledge Introductions to English for Specific Purposes provide a comprehensive and contemporary overview of various topics within the area of English for specific purposes, written by leading academics in the field. Aimed at postgraduate students in applied linguistics, English language teaching and TESOL, as well as pre- and in-service teachers, these books outline the issues that are central to understanding and teaching English for specific purposes, and provide examples of innovative classroom tasks and techniques for teachers to draw on in their professional practice. Continue reading


At the ESP Special Interest Group (SIG)  meeting at the IATEFL conference in Brighton this year, there seemed to be some lack of agreement as to whether EAP was a type of ESP. This was shown in several presentations – and committee discussions – when ESP seemed to be contrasted with EAP.  People would say and write things such as “In ESP and EAP” and “it is true in ESP, but what about EAP?”

Continue reading

Languages for Specific Purposes: Review.

Language for Specific Purposes. Sandra Gollin-Kies, David R. Hall, and Stephen H. Moore. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Theoretical and practical books about ESP teaching are rare, so I was happy to see this book available recently. Although the title is “Languages for Specific Purposes”, most of the examples are from English and as well as that useful research from other languages is included. The book is highly recommended to all ESP, including EAP, teachers.

In Language for Specific Purposes, Gollin-Kies, Hall, and Moore provide a good overview of the history, concepts, application, pedagogy and research of language for specific purposes (LSP).

Continue reading

Cognitive Overload

I have recently received a large amount of work from my students of international business that is very messy, very badly organised – pages in the wrong order, tables not fitting on the page, even pages upside down and at 90 degrees. I have been wondering why. Most of the students I am thinking of were second or third language speakers of English and there seemed to be an inverse correlation between English language competence and quality of presentation of work, but I do not think it is direct. It has reminded me of several other experiences I have had and I wonder if there is a connection. Continue reading

ESP and Common Sense

I remember a number of years ago, after a morning of evaluating student oral presentations with a colleague and wondering why they sometimes said strange things, I mentioned that it seemed to me that people lost their common sense when they were speaking a language they were not very confident in. My colleague – who was a good linguist and had never experiences such issues – disagreed. Continue reading

Mastery of Speech (1919)

My daughter was recently given a series of 8 books with the title Mastery of Speech, written by Frederick Law and published in New York in 1919.
It is described as: A course in Eight Parts on General Speech, Business Talking and Public Speaking, What to Say and How to Say It under All Conditions.
The titles of the eight books are:

  • Book One: How to Speak Correctly and Pleasingly
  • Book Two: How to Use Words Correctly
  • Book Three: How to Speak Well Under All Ordinary Conditions
  • Book Four: How to Speak in Daily Business Life
  • Book Five: How to Speak under Trying Conditions
  • Book Six: How to Speak In Private Life and in Public Places
  • Book Seven: How to Speak on Public Occasions
  • Book Eight: How to Find Material for Talking and Speaking

Book 4 might be useful in ESP business contexts! Books 5, 6 & 8 might be useful in EAP situations! Continue reading