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How To Format References In A Research Paper In The APA Style


Academic writing can be a lot of fun. However, whether you are doing this as a freelance writing project or dissertation/thesis, you will need to refer to the materials used appropriately. Proper referencing is one of the key requirements for academic writing; unfortunately, it is very often ignored or poorly done. While it may seem insignificant while writing, this can be a vital component that could make the simple concept you are proposing in your dissertation turn into tomorrow’s breakthrough.

For instance, you may be completing research on a project in electronics that proposes some very revolutionary ideas that could contribute to someone else advancing that research/term paper in the future. This will be impossible or twice as hard if the material you used to form these hypotheses is not properly referenced making it very difficult to recollect.

Why use APA?

The American Psychology Association (APA) format is the most widely used owing to the simplicity in citing content in-text and arrangement of biographical information in the references. This author-date referencing system is useful to keep your research/term paper free of from any claims of infringement on intellectual property as well as clearly listing the entire collection of bibliographic information for your readers.

APA in-text and bibliography listing

In practice the APA style requires that all quotes, statements, numeric data from external sources be referenced appropriately. This is accomplished in two ways:

  • First, include the author and date in parenthesis e.g. (Smith, 2015) at the end of the sentence.
  • Alternatively, to include the author name in the statement and follow this by the date in parenthesis before the full stop e.g. According to Smith ... (2015).

This simple method makes it easy to reference appropriately without taking too much of your time and is probably the main reason this is the most often selected referencing approach. You should also adhere to the following guidelines:

  • When you include a quote longer than 40 words, you will be required to enclose this in double quotation marks and include the author, date, page number in parenthesis e.g. “quote statements” (Smith, 2015, p. 100).
  • Where there are no page numbers but section headings, these too can be used e.g. (Smith, 2015, Introduction).

All thecontent used in-text in your dissertationmust be listed accordingly in the references section, often at the end of your report. Other than what is mentioned here, there is not much else to APA referencing and this simplicity is probably why it continues to be the top choice for students across all subjects.

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Writing Advice

Make sure you always follow the specific finalizing instructions from your teacher, because they will be marking your research paper and looking for those things.

Don’t rely completely on your word processor’s spell check, because it won’t catch everything. Print your research paper if you can, and give it a good old fashioned proofread.

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Research paper writing advice