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Researching, Citing & Instruction

American Psychological Association Style (APA)

Created in 1929, APA style is commonly used by the social sciences and sciences as a means for writers to express their research and ideas uniformly to readers.

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The essential components of APA citation style are the reference list and related in-text citations. These two components work together to allow readers to find the exact sources used by the writer, as well as where in the paper these sources were used.

The reference list is the master list of all sources used, and is located after the body of the paper. Each source has its own entry on the list and is written in a highly stylized format. The four basic elements of a reference are:

Author. (Date). Title. Source.

For example, here is a citation for an article from a magazine which contains the four basic elements along with additional elements needed to accurately describe a magazine article:

Chesney, R., & Citron, D. (2019, January/February). Deepfakes and the new disinformation war: The coming age of post-truth geopolitics. Foreign Affairs, 98(1), 147–155.

When sources are used in the body of the paper, in-text citations are the link back to the exact entry for the source appearing on the reference list. For example, when the above source is quoted in the body of the paper it includes an embedded in-text citation:

Chesney (2019) speculates that "as deepfake technology develops and spreads, the current disinformation wars may soon look like the propaganda equivalent of the era of swords and shields."

There are many reasons to cite your sources:

  • to give credit to authors or artists whose work you have used
  • to allow people who are reviewing your work to check your sources
  • to show readers how you came up with your arguments or ideas
  • to provide scholars with other sources for their research
  • to avoid plagiarism

For more information about the College's policy related to plagiarism access the Student Handbook.

Cite a source when:

  • you copy information exactly from it; this includes primary sources, such as when you have interviewed someone or are referring to a work of art or image that you are referencing
  • you paraphrase, summarize or use your own words to describe ideas from a work
  • you cite statistics, data or other numerical information that was compiled by someone other than yourself.

‚ÄčNOTE: The exception to the rule is that you do not have to cite a source when you are using what is considered "common knowledge," such as a date in history, basic biographical facts about a prominent person, or the dates and circumstances of major historical events (e.g. there are 12 months in a year, the planets revolve around the sun, the American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, etc.). If the facts are in dispute, it is best to cite sources.

Need help citing? Just ask.

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