APA style referencing refers to American Psychological Association’s referencing style 7th edition, and is one of the most popular and frequently used forms of referencing style within psychological research literature (Dryjanska, 2017; Gaffney, 2016; DeCleene & Fogo, 2012). The following essay will provide a discussion of the importance of APA style referencing within psychological literature but also in terms of consistency within academic essays. In addition to this, this essay can be used as a basic guide for students to properly cite and reference an essay using this particular referencing style. To this end, all sources will be cited and referenced within this essay in APA style.
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One of the most important reasons for using APA style referencing is that it ensures that academic literature and research reporting is standardised and supports a commitment to the scientific ideal (Safer & Tang, 2009; Madigan, Johnson & Linton, 1995). In this sense, using APA style referencing is important in order to conform to how research papers and articles are referenced in the hard sciences like Chemistry, and is particularly important with regards to presenting complex information and findings in a succinct and logical manner (Simmons, 2004; Madigan, Johnson & Linton, 1995). Furthermore, such a referencing style means that referencing and citations are standardised and there is continuity within papers that use APA referencing (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006; Simmons, 2004; Polkinghorne, 1997).
On this note, proper referencing is important in order to demonstrate to or inform the reader where the information or evidence has come from and prevent accusations of plagiarism. Legitimate referencing shows the reader that the statements or arguments are not independent thoughts of the writer, but rather those of previous researchers (Dryjanska, 2017; Simmons, 2004). Due to this, appropriate referencing enables the reader to search for the source of the information by using the references list if they wish to read up further on the subject (Simmons, 2004; Kazdin, 1992). Therefore, proper referencing using APA style guarantees that all sources are properly cited and referenced as well as enabling the reader to understand what are arguments of other researchers and what is independent thought and critical analysis from the writer, thus avoiding plagiarism.
APA style referencing is a relatively easy referencing style to learn and remember (Cook & Murowchick, 2014; Adair & Vohra, 2003), such as the use of ‘&’ instead of ‘and’ in citations and references. Further to this, when citing sources, the name of the author or authors should be provided followed by the date of publication. For instances with a single author the author's name should be cited followed by the date. For instances with two authors, both of the authors are cited, separated by an '&' symbol and followed by the date. For instances with 3 or more authors, only the first author is shown in text, followed by 'et al' however, all authors should be listed in the reference list (DeCleene & Fogo, 2012; Adair & Vohra, 2003), such as Smith et al (date). Therefore, as APA style is one of the most frequently used forms of referencing (Dryjanska, 2017; Gaffney, 2016; DeCleene & Fogo, 2012), having knowledge of this style means that a student can quickly scan through a journal article or book and instantly know who said what and when.
In spite of this, though, empirical research has indicated that skills with referencing and citing work develops over two years at university (Gaffney, 2016). For example, a quantitative study by Gaffney (2016) was performed to see how undergraduates’ skills in APA style referencing progressed over two years. It was found that “Data from year two demonstrated improvement” (Gaffney, 2016, p.148). As such, this short quote is useful as it provides concise information about the findings, but can also be used as an example of APA style quotations within research in which the author, date and page number must be cited and the quote within speech marks and in Italics (Cook & Murowchick, 2014). Quotations using APA style referencing should not be overly long and used infrequently, generally when there is no other way to state or explain what has been said within the source (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006).
On the other hand, there are other referencing styles that are just as popular within psychological research and academic writing, such as that of Harvard referencing style, which is particular popular in the UK and in UK universities (Martin, 2007). Nonetheless, many researchers and psychologists believe APA style referencing to be one of the best styles, and such skills have been shown to be easily transferred to other forms of referencing styles and disciplines (Cook & Murowchick, 2014). Likewise, by learning APA style referencing, students will conform to the standards of referencing for many scientific and academic journals (Gaffney, 2016; Cook & Murowchick, 2014; Simmons, 2004), meaning that in the future if they wished to publish a scientific article, they would already possess the necessary referencing skills to help with their submission. Consequently, gaining APA referencing skills is highly useful for reporting in a standardised and frequently used style, but it can also be used to easily pick up other referencing styles. In light of this, the 7th edition of the Manual of the American Psychological Association is a useful means by which to follow a standardised guide to presenting reports and psychological literature in a scientific and standardised manner (Dryjanska, 2017; DeCleene & Fogo, 2012).
In conclusion, this essay has discussed of the importance of APA style referencing within psychological literature, but also acted as an example of how to cite and reference a psychology essay in APA style. Following a particular referencing style is important within psychological literature as it sets a standard of reporting by which all psychological research can follow, making it easy for psychologists and students to understand where evidence and information has come from. Likewise, within academic essays, the use of APA style referencing means that the evidence presented within essays reflects scientific research reporting. To close, this essay can be used as an example for students to learn how sources should be cited and referenced in the APA style.
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