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Nursing program: Research skills: APA style

Provides starting points for research in TCC's Nursing Program

What is APA?

You are required to write all of your papers and presentations in the Nursing Program in APA format. But, what is APA?!

APA is:

  • A style manual published by the American Psychological Association
  • Used in the sciences and social sciences
  • Governs how we format our papers and ensures consistency
  • Includes elements such as:
    • selection of headings, tone, and length;
    • punctuation and abbreviations;
    • presentation of numbers and statistics;
    • construction of tables and figures,
    • citation of references;
    • and many other elements that are a part of a manuscript.

Here is the official definition of APA style from the American Psychological Association:

What does citing mean?

After you gather information from outside resources to add to your own ideas about a topic, you will quote, paraphrase, or summarize those sources within the body of your paper. 

Citing allows you to share with your readers where you got your information so that they can verify what you've written or follow up on an interesting idea, and it protects you from any charges of plagiarism.

There are two parts to a proper APA citation:

  1. The citation "in text," letting your readers know when an idea comes from someone other than yourself within the text of your paper (see these examples). Remember you must always cite when borrowing another author's words or ideas. That is true not only when you quote directly from another author's works but also when you paraphrase or summarize (i.e. EVEN if you put it in your own words you need to cite it!).
     
  2. The separate "References" page where you will list complete information about each of those sources, which comes at the end of your paper (see these examples).

APA citation example, 7th edition

The following are examples of how to do an APA style in-text citation and corresponding References list citation for a journal article from a library database.

In-text citation

Using a signal phrase

The first time you introduce a source within the body your paper, it is generally preferred that you use a signal phrase (and many instructors require that you do so). A signal phrase introduces a source and "signals" to your reader that the material to follow comes from someone other than yourself. The signal phrase in the example below is "According to Jones." After the signal phrase list the year of  publication in parentheses. Finally, after the quote, list the page number or numbers in parentheses preceded by a "p." for a single page or a "pp." for multiple pages.

According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

Alternative to using a signal phrase

If you do not use a signal phrase, then you would put the author’s last name along with the year of publication and page number preceded by a "p." or a "pp." in parentheses after the quote. For example: 

"Students often had difficulty  using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

References list entry

List the complete citation information for the source listed in your in-text citation in the References list at the end of your paper. Please note that the examples below do NOT include hanging indent formatting, which is the standard for references list entries.

Format

Author's last name, First initial. (Publication year). Article title in sentence case: Subtitles are also in sentence case. Journal Title in Title Case, Volume#(Issue#), page range. DOI.

Example with DOI

Jones, H. (1998). Why citation styles are challenging for students: A review of the literature. Journal of Education88(2), 199-201. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/77.1.123

Example without DOI

Jones, H. (1998). Why citation styles are challenging for students: A review of the literature. Journal of Education88(2), 199-201. 

NOTE: Library databases will provide you with the DOI for an article if there is one (and not all articles have a DOI). These are also generally provided on the first page of the article itself. When there isn't a DOI, simply end your citation with the page range, unless your instructor asks you to provide the URL. Detailed information about DOIs can be found in the box below.

What is a DOI? (APA 7th edition)

All citations are meant in part to serve as a kind of 'address' to help your readers find the sources that you use in your papers. The ordering of the citation is deliberate and precise. Several journal article citations ends with a "DOI" number.

What's a "D.O.I."?

  • D.O.I. stands for "digital object identifier". D.O.I.s are assigned to every scholarly journal article that is published electronically. Each article has its own unique number. This number can help your reader locate information about the article you used even if they do not have access to the database you retrieved it from.
  • Most articles published after 2010 have the D.O.I. printed somewhere on the first page. Since 2012 the D.O.I. is commonly displayed as a URL, prefaced with https://doi.org/
  • APA requires that you use the D.O.I. as the retrieval link, presented as a live hyperlink, with no punctuation at the end
  • If the D.O.I. you find for an article is not prefaced with https://doi.org, APA requires that you type in that root in front of the D.O.I yourself. See below.

Example, when a D.O.I. can be found:

Gordon, M., & Cui, M. (2015). Positive parenting during adolescence and career success in young adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(3), 762-771. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-013-9887-y

What if I can't find a D.O.I. on the article?

  • If you cannot see a D.O.I. on the article itself, I recommend doing a Google search of the article title, locating information about the article, often on the journal's Website, and seeing if you can find the doi listed somewhere on the Website page.
  • If you have exhausted all attempts to locate a D.O.I. for the article, APA requires that you leave that space blank.
  • If you have exhausted all attempts to locate a D.O.I. for the article, but you then find that the article is freely available, in full-text, on the Web (not a library database), use the article's URL instead, formatted as an active hyperlink.

Example, when a D.O.I. cannot be found, and the article is not freely available on the Web:

Gordon, M., & Cui, M. (2015). Positive parenting during adolescence and career success in young adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(3), 762-771.

Example, when a D.O.I. cannot be found, but the article is freely available on the Web:

Gordon, M., & Cui, M. (2015). Positive parenting during adolescence and career success in young adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(3), 762-771. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mellissa_Gordon/publication/259634832_Positive_Parenting_During_Adolescence_and_Career_Success_in_Young_Adulthood/links/55fac42a08ae07629e0650e9.pdf

What if I am using a print journal article?

  • If you can find the D.O.I. on the article, go ahead and include it in your citation. Many articles are still published both in print and electronically.
  • If you cannot find the D.O.I. on the article, treat it as above, leaving that space blank.

Video tutorial: Introduction to APA, 7th edition

Watch the video below for an introduction to using APA style, 7th edition. To see it in a larger window, click on the link below. This video tutorial was created by TCC librarians.

TCC Library APA 7 style handouts

Here are some handouts (in both .docx and .pdf formats) featuring examples citations for sources you might find through TCC's Library and the Web.

  • Note: As of October 2019, APA 6 was updated to APA 7.
  • If you are unfamiliar with APA, this will not effect you!
  • If you have been using APA 6, please see our guide to the changes linked below.

References

In-text citations

Purdue OWL guides for APA, 7th edition

APA style books in the TCC Library

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