APA Referencing Rules & Common Mistakes: INTRODUCTION

Referencing is EXTREMELY important in scientific writing. The following pages contain the basic American Psychological Association referencing rules (adapted from Burton, 2002, and consistent with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 5th ed., 2001), as well as common referencing mistakes made by students.

What is the difference between a Reference List and a Bibliography...

A bibliography is a list of works that were consulted during the process of constructing the work. The key problem with a bibliography is that the reader cannot tell whether an idea in the work came from the author themselves or was taken by the author from another source. As such, we DO NOT use bibliographies in psychology, but instead reference works in the following way:

  1. Identify the source of each piece of information taken from somewhere (usually a published article or book) by citing the author(s) and year of publication in the body of the report/essay.
  2. Write the full reference for each citation in a list at the end of the report/essay.

Key point: There MUST be a one-to-one correspondence between cited works throughout the work and the full reference in the list. DO NOT cite anything without including the full reference in the list. DO NOT include a reference in the list unless you have cited it somewhere in the report/essay.