Basic Rules For Composing An APA Research Paper Reference List


As a student of the social sciences you will most likely have to write a good few papers in the APA format. This is challenging at first but gets easier over time especially if you practice frequently. For many people the most difficult part of the process is the creation of a reference list. This process can be greatly aided by the use of automatic generators which can spit out perfect citations with just an ISBN. In any case, the following tips should always be remembered:

  • Don’t leave out anyone whose work you have referenced
  • If you have, at any point mentioned someones’ theories, you need to include that in your citations. Failure to do so is considered to be passing off of that person’s work as your own, a practice known as plagiarism. This is one of the seven deadly sins of academia and it can get you expelled form your college.

  • Don’t include references that you actually have not cited
  • While this may seem like a much milder infraction, professors do not take kindly to it either. In this case you would basically write whatever you pleased and then add in random citations to give the appearance that research had been conducted. This can be detected and will land you in hot water.

  • Remember when you should italicize and when not
  • The actual style of a reference is important. It is different in MLA as opposed to APA or Chicago style etc. You need to keep this in mind especially if you write papers in several very different fields.

  • Include dates whenever you have access to them
  • At times you may find yourself referencing a piece of work that has been in publication for several decades. In such cases it may be necessary to specify which version you are using and what year it was published. This is especially true when updates alter the content significantly.

  • Bonus: Never cite online open source encyclopedias that anyone can update
  • You have probably seen one of these online before. They are not reputable sources because they can be changed too easily. A prankster could update the page on a specific country to reflect that it had a population of 3 and had been founded by extraterrestrials. This misinformation could remain up just long enough to ruin a gullible person’s research.

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