APA Referencing Rules & Common Mistakes: INTRODUCTION

Why are we so pedantic about referencing?

Being able to identify the source of information is vital in scientific writing for three reasons:

  1. A standardised system for identifying the sources of information makes it easy for the reader to find out additional information about a theory or research finding mentioned in a paper. They are told by the citation where the information came from, and can look up the full reference in the reference list at the back of the paper.
  2. Scientists need to be accountable for the claims they make. By citing sources, a reader knows which scientist said what. Who is claiming what... Who ran the experiment that supports theory X... Who thinks theory Y is a load of rubbish... etc.
  3. If you do not indicate that a piece of information came from someone else, you are essentially claiming that it came from you - that it is your original thought. If it was not, you are STEALING that information. This is called plagiarism and is pretty much the most serious academic crime there is. Serious cases of plagiarism can result in an automatic fail for the unit, or in some cases even expulsion from the university. Markers are constantly on the lookout for plagiarism (eg. 7 serious cases were identified in PSYC1001 in 2004) so honestly, for your own good, identify your sources!!!