Thursday, January 24, 2013

Use of Personal Experience in APA Writing

Several students have recently asked about how to best use their personal experience when addressing areas in their projects or comprehensive exams.

1) Here are some resources to explain citation vs personal experience in APA writing:

Chelsea Lee. (2011, April 28). Can you cite personal life experience? [web log post]. Retrieved from

See Locating Appropriate Source Material (Marek, n.d., pp. 3-4):
Marek, P. (n.d.). The basics of scientific writing in APA style. Orange, VA: Worth Publishers. Retrieved from

I use "personal experience" and knowledge to establish the general framework of what I'm writing. I then use that framework to define my literature review (research for citable sources), which I use to confirm my statements (i.e., assertions and declarations). Sometimes, I find what I believed to be correct, was not and need to change my statement and line of thinking. Such a situation is exactly why personal experience alone is insufficient, it must be corroborated or supported by others. Despite what we've experienced we are not always correct or the best authority on a subject.

2) The following resources also provide significant APA formatting and writing information:

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL; this is a VERY good resource):
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from

APA Style Blog:
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). APA Style Blog. Retrieved from

APA Style Homepage
American Psychological Association. (2013). APA Style Homepage. Retrieved from