This post is designed to give you a quick guide on how to make sure you’re using APA formatting properly. It will cover the two main elements to consider when using APA-style referencing in your psychology papers: in-text citations and the references list.
When it comes to citations, I think the why is just as important as the how. So I am intent on making sure all IB Psychology students know why it’s important to use proper citations.
Why use citations?
If you write something without a citation, you are saying to your reader “this is what I know and it’s come from my own brain.” That’s fine as long as it’s true. However, if you’ve used other people’s work and you don’t acknowledge this with proper referencing then you’re now plagiarising. You’re saying that what you’re written are your own ideas. But this isn’t true. It’s plagiarism because you’ve taken someone else’s hard work and you’re trying to pass it off as your own. This is why you must use references.
- IA: Final Submission Guidelines
- EE Tips for Completing the Reflections (RPPF Form)
- How to write the perfect EE question
Author and date are the two key components of an in-text citation using APA formatting (“APA 6th Referencing Style Guide”, 2020). If a person’s name is not include, use the title of the article like I’ve just done. Here’s how to use in-text citations:
- One Author: (Dixon, 2017)
- Two Authors: (Dixon and Kato, 2018)
- Three or More Authors: (Dixon et al., 2019)
*et al. means “and others.”
Example: It is a global trend that eating disorders are on the rise (Lyons, 2017). Could the increased access to media be a reason for this? Numerous studies have investigated the link between media exposure and risk factors for developing eating disorders (Calado et al., 2011). One of these risk factors is body dissatisfaction, which means to be unhappy about one’s body.
The above examples are parenthesis citations. Another way of doing it is to include the researcher’s name in your paragraph.
Example: Lyons (2017) summarizes evidence showing that it is a global trend that eating disorders are on the rise. Could the increased access to media be a reason for this? Calado et al. (2011) is one of many studies that have investigated the link between media exposure and risk factors for developing eating disorders. One of these risk factors is body dissatisfaction, which means to be unhappy about one’s body.
Having a proper references list (also called “Works Cited” in MLA formatting) is important for your in-text citations. This post won’t go into the nuts and bolts of how to create a reference list for two reasons: (1) there are plenty of other sites that do this if you want to learn, and (2) there are online reference list generators you can use. Make sure you select “APA” as the referencing style.
Online Reference Generators:
A note on journal articles: If you’re using google scholar and/or finding online journal articles, keep an eye out for the button to click to generate a citation. This can save you lots of time.
Students can use any referencing format for their IA or EE as long as it’s applied consistently. You can read more about comparisons between APA and MLA here.
Many students want to use footnotes for referencing. However, if you’re using APA you should not use footnotes for citations. But there is one reason for including footnotes in APA style referencing – when you want to “…provide additional content that supplements the text (e.g., to briefly acknowledge a tangential idea that is nevertheless important to the discussion ….” (Hume-Pratuch, 2014). Keep in mind that you should only use a footnote if it’s really necessary. You can see the example from an EE below where the student wanted to add a definition of an instrument (a dynamometer) which isn’t commonly known but putting it in the body of the report would disrupt the flow of the explanation.
- APA’s basic principles of citations
- AUT’s online guide to APA style referencing
- AUT’s YouTube series on APA formatting
- How to cite secondary sources (“as cited in” material)
- How to cite images – apa.org
- More about APA footnotes and endnotes
Wouldn’t it be the height of irony if I got my citations wrong in this post! (These were created using EasyBib).
“APA 7th Referencing Style Guide: Referencing & APA Style.” Library Guides, 2020, aut.ac.nz.libguides.com/APA7th.
Calado, María & María, Lameiras & Sepulveda, Ana & Castro, Yolanda & Carrera-Fernández, María Victoria. (2011). The Association Between Exposure to Mass Media and Body Dissatisfaction Among Spanish Adolescents. Women’s health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health. 21. 390-9. 10.1016/j.whi.2011.02.013.
Hume-Pratuch, Jeff. “Footnotes for Source Citations in APA Style?” APA Style 6th Edition Blog, 2014, blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/02/footnotes-for-source-citations-in-apa-style.html.
Lyons, Libby. “Eating Disorders Are on the Rise All Around the World: An Overview.” Eating Disorder Hope, 10 June 2019, www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/eating-disorders-world-overview.
Plagiarism. (2020). Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/plagiarism?s=t
If there’s something not included here, you will be able to read more on the APA’s website about APA referencing.
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.