You might remember slogging through a research paper in high school or undergrad and thinking, "why on earth do we even bother with these tedious rules for formatting papers and bibliographies?" And you'd be right for thinking they're kind of tedious--there are so many rules about punctuation, capitalization, margins, running headers, etc. We've all been there.
These rules are defined by different professional associations, academic journals, or scholarly societies. You might recognize a few of them: MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago, Turabian--the list goes on. Different disciplines use standard rules so that scholars in those disciplines can more easily track down each others' sources and more quickly gauge the thoroughness of their peers' research. The rules grease the wheels of scholarship, so to speak.
As students, you're learning to communicate like scholars and professional practitioners. That means learning and practicing the rules that govern scholarly communication. Scholars and practitioners cite the work of others for a number of reasons:
Of course, by citing their sources and following their discipline's rules for publication, scholars also go a long way toward avoiding plagiarism of others' work.
The American Psychological Association (APA) rules for citing resources used in research papers are provided in pages 193-224 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Sixth edition.
When citing resources, consider these important APA Format Issues.
When citing electronic documents, the goal is to direct readers to the information being cited. Reference specific documents rather than home or menu pages and provide URLs. For additional information on how to cite electronic resources appropriately, please refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) or the American Psychological Association’s APA Style Help page.
All information taken from outside sources for written assignments must be documented in APA format.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab contains valuable information and resources that can help you get comfortable with APA style: Purdue Online Writing Lab: APA Style Please take the time to review the site, and consult the “APA Format and Style Guide” section for correct citation styles for different types of resources.
Finally, we at the Z. Smith Library have a comprehensive APA citation guide with tips and examples for how to cite common types of sources according to the 6th edition of the APA Manual: Z. Smith Reynolds APA Citation Guide
Excessive errors in APA style could lead to a reduction in grade. Failure to properly cite sources may be considered plagiarism and could be liable to disciplinary action under Wake Forest’s Honor Code. (For more on the Honor Code, refer to the WFU Student Handbook.)
There are lots of tools out there to make citation a bit more manageable. Depending on your comfort level with technology, we recommend one of two free tools: