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DIY: Research Help

A continually evolving suite of research help content focused on helping you navigate the research process.

APA Style is currently in its 6th edition.   It is a citation format established by the American Psychological Association. The format was developed to ensure consistency and to provide style rules for scientific writing.  For more information go to APA style.

This format is used mostly for:

  • Social Sciences (including Psychology, Education, Sociology, Economics, Criminal Justice, etc.)
  • Business

What does APA Style include?

  • the format & structure of your paper
  • how you cite other authors within the body of your paper
  • how you compile a references page at the end of your paper

          Five Top Reasons to Use APA Style:

  •  APA style is required for many classes.
  •  APA style helps you credit sources and distinguish your own ideas from others'.
  •  APA Style helps you avoid accidental plagiarism.
  •  APA Style communicates important information about your sources.
  •  APA Style looks professional and credible.

How-to Guides

In-Text Citations: Integrating Sources into Your Paper

Integrating sources into a paper can be challenging. How much of a source do you use? When should you use quotation marks? It is important to remember that you are the author of a paper, so sources are properly used to back up your own arguments, not state an argument in themselves, so how you use them depends on the structure of your paper/project and your argument.

Here is a paragraph from a scholarly article:

These results suggest that morning people, or early chronotypes—as measured on the morningness–eveningness continuum are more proactive than are evening types. Additionally, the misalignment of social and biological time, as assessed by the difference between rise times on weekdays and on free days, correlated with proactivity, suggesting that people with a high misalignment of social and biological time may be less able to act in a proactive manner, probably because of sleep delay. Their biological schedules seem not to fit neatly into social demands (e.g., school, university, work schedules) as do those of less misaligned people.

Randler, C. (2009). Proactive people are morning people. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(12), 2787-2797.

See examples of how to quote, paraphrase and summarize this paragraph below:


Quoting:

  • Use Quotation when you are repeating something from a source exactly word for word.
  • You should use quotation marks even if you are only taking just a few words from a source.
  • Quotes can help lend authority to an initial argument, but should not be relied upon too heavily in a paper. If you find yourself quoting an entire paragraph, a paraphrase or summary of that content may often be more appropriate.
  • Quotes can and should be used when the original author’s wording is unusual, unique, or memorably states a point.

Examples using the paragraph above:

Randler (2009) states that late risers have “a high misalignment of social and biological time” which results in a mismatch between their natural schedules and the normal workday (p. 2793).

or

“People with a high misalignment of social and biological time may be less able to act in a proactive manner, probably because of sleep delay” (Randler, 2009, p. 2793).

Notice that there are two ways to incorporate a source:

  • Signal phrase – Using the author’s name and the publication year in your own narrative, and then incorporating their idea or words into a sentence, like the first example above. It includes the page number in parentheses after the cited material.
  • Parenthetical reference – Using the words or ideas of the source independently and adding the author’s name, the publication year and the page number together in the parentheses after the cited material, like in the second example.

Paraphrasing:

  • Paraphrasing is taking the idea of a sentence or passage, and putting it into your own words.
  • Paraphrasing is NOT copying the sentence and replacing or changing a few words to be different from the original. (This is called “patchwriting” and may trigger plagiarism-detecting programs.)
  • You should paraphrase when the idea or point is more important than the actual words used.
  • You should paraphrase when the words are complex but the point is simple.
  • Paraphrasing should remain faithful to the original meaning of the material.

Examples using the paragraph above:

Randler (2009) states that people who are naturally morning people often also display traits that are considered proactive. He also suggests that late risers may not show as many proactive traits because they naturally operate on a different sleep schedule (p. 2793).

or

People who are naturally morning people have been shown to also display traits that are considered proactive, and late risers display fewer of these traits because they don’t get enough sleep on days when they have to go to work or school. (Randler, 2009, p. 2793).

Notice that there are two ways to incorporate a source:

  • Signal phrase – Using the author’s name and the publication year in your own narrative, and then incorporating their idea or words into a sentence, like the first example above. It is optional to include the page number in parentheses after the cited material.
  • Parenthetical reference – Using the words or ideas of the source independently and adding the author’s name and the publication year (adding the page number here is optional) together in the parentheses after the cited material, like in the second example.

Summarizing:

  • As with paraphrasing, summarize when the idea or point is more important than the actual words used.
  • However, summary can also condense much more material – even an entire book or article.
  • Summary can often lead into your own points on the material.

Examples using the paragraph above:

Recent research shows that people who are not naturally early risers often have persistent issues adjusting themselves to the morning-oriented schedule of most schools and workplaces, and because of this may be less proactive in their behaviors (Randler, 2009).

or

The natural alignment of sleep schedules to work and school schedules allows early risers to have more energy and display proactive traits, while people who are natural late risers, and thus often combating sleep delay in adhering to regular schedules, display fewer of these traits (Randler, 2009).

Notice that with a Summary we do not have to include the page number as we are summarizing the findings from the whole study, rather than just a small part of it.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and other documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph.

The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes.

Annotations differ in that they are descriptive and critical; they discuss the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority. You act as the critic, evaluating the article for relevance to your topic.

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

  • First, locate citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.
  • Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style. (See below.)

  • Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that:
    • evaluate the authority or background of the author,
    • comment on the intended audience,
    • compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or
    • explain how this work illuminates your topic.

Sample Annotated Bibliography for a Journal Article

The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation.

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51(4), 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living. This article directly relates to my topic and the supposition that family relationships affect development of traditional gender roles.

 

The following example uses the MLA format for the journal citation.
NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.

Waite, Linda J., Frances Kobrin Goldscheider, and Christina Witsberger. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review 51.4 (1986): 541-554. Print.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living. This article directly relates to my topic and the supposition that family relationships affect development of traditional gender roles.

Sections highlighted in red demonstrate evaluative content, which differs from purely descriptive content.

 

Note: Content adapted from: Michael Engle, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave. Olin & Uris Libraries. Cornell University, 2010. http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/skill28.htm

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