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Help with Referencing: APA FAQs

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Sometimes you can't find all the information you think you might need in a reference.  Here is what to do with missing pieces (from the APA style blog).

This commonly happens with web pages, so there is some specific help on the APA style blog about this - what to do with web pages when bits of information are missing

It is not possible for a reader of your work to see personal communications to you, so you should cite them in your work but you don't need to provide a reference in your reference list.  

This guidance from Huddersfield University shows you an example: Referencing personal communications

Ethical considerations

If you wish to use information in your work which has not been published (made available publicly), you should always ask for permission. For example, you should gain permission from the sender before repeating information from personal communications (letters, emails, text messages, etc.). This also applies to information found on a social network site or a discussion list open to friends or invited members only. 

This is called secondary referencing.  Ideally you would avoid doing this and you would look at and reference the original source, but that isn't always possible.

Here's some information from the APA style blog about what to do:Secondary Sources (aka How to Cite a Source You Found in Another Source)

Here is a link to an example from Huddersfield University's guide to APA referencing: Secondary referencing or referencing items you have not read

DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier and is a type of unique code often give to documents such as journal articles.

This is an example of how a DOI should appear in a reference: doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.047

DOIs can be used in URLs to find the document.  For example:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.047

Find out more from this DOI primer provided by APA.

When you are referencing online sources you may need to include a DOI or a URL.  Have a look at the guidance linked to on the APA tab for how to reference different online sources.

Sometimes, you may not be able to find a DOI and you can use a URL instead. This DOI flow chart from the APA shows you when to use a DOI and when to use a URL for journal and other articles.

The APA style of referencing involves citing in your work and writing a reference list of all the sources you have cited. You will not find any guidance on how to create a bibliography in the APA style as they are not part of the way references are presented in this style.

If you have been asked to create a bibliography, you should clarify what is required by your tutor or lecturer:

  • It could be that you should be using a different style
  • You may be being asked to create a bibliography but in the APA style

If you are being asked to create a bibliography in the APA style, please check what this means. 

Usually a bibliography is similar to a reference list but also includes other material you have read but not cited.  Sometimes a bibliography is something you provide in addition to a reference list containing just the sources you have read but not cited.

Check what is required for your assignment!

If you haven't already done so, try the web sources on the APA tabs, there are lots of links to guidance which shows you how to reference many types of material in the APA style.

You could also try the Frankenreference approach suggested on the APA style blog.

Referencing an image or figure can be challenging but if you follow the steps below, you will be able to create the reference.

Step 1: Identify who created it

If the image or figure was created by the author of the source (book, journal, website, etc.) where it appears, your reference should be to that source.

The citation would be creator (year, page) or (creator, year, page).

In the example here, we have referenced as if the figure has been found in a printed book. The reference would be creator (year).Title. Place of publication: Publisher.

Don't forget to add edition details if it is not the first edition. You add the edition details between title and place of publication e.g. (4th ed.)

 

Step 2: What if the image or figure I found is not in a book?

Is it in a book, an eBook, on a blog, on a webpage etc.? Don't worry - you can find out how to reference different sources from which the figure came from on the Your APA reference list tab.

 

Step 3: Help! The image I have found has not been created by the author of the source!

If the creator is different to the author of the source you have found it in, then you would cite like this:

The citation would be the creator of the image e.g. (Narashima, 2015) or Narashima (2015).

In the example here, we have referenced as if the image has been found in a printed book. The reference would be Narashima, T. (2015). Generalized view of a body cell. In G. J. Tortora & B. Derrickson, Introduction to the human body: The essentials of anatomy and physiology (10th ed., p.42). Hoboken: Wiley.

 

Step 4: I don't know who created the image!

If there is no indication (a reference, a citation or an attribution) assume that the author of the book etc. is also the creator of the image and reference accordingly.

For example if you found the image in a book the citation would be to the author of the book and the reference would be a book reference.

However if you think that the image was not created by the author of the source you can you follow the APA guidance on how to reference if you have missing information which is available here: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/05/missing-pieces.html

Accurate referencing is important and each source you have used or want to use can be referenced and you should not be put off from using the information because it can be challenging. If you need help with referencing, just ask!

You can find how to do that here. Always check your references for accuracy. Remember if the table or graph is from a book add in the edition details if it is not the first edition. You add the edition details between title and place of publication e.g. (4th ed.).

Accurate referencing is important and each source you have used or want to use can be referenced and you should not be put off from using the information because it can be challenging. If you need help with referencing, just ask!

If you need to reference a government publication or report, you would include the author e.g. the government department or body, year, title, report or reference number if available, place of publication and publisher.

 

Print publication:

Department of Health. (1991). Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom. (Report on health and social subjects: 41). London: HMSO.

 

Electronic publication:

Department of Health (2016). Government response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report on Childhood obesity – brave and bold action. (First report of session 2015-2016, CM 9330). Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/

attachment_data/file/552056/HSC_response_9_9_16.pdf

 

If you are referencing multiple government reports from different countries or any government reports from a devolved administration, then you could use the name of the country as a prefix e.g. Great Britain etc. to make it clear where the report or publication originated from however this is an added element to the reference and not a requirement of APA.

 Below are examples of how to cite and reference Bloomberg in your work, using the APA 6th referencing styles, where 1st Feb 2016 is the date you accessed the data:

Citation: Bloomberg (2016)

Reference: Bloomberg. (2016). Bloomberg Professional. Retrieved from Bloomberg terminal. 

You can fnd out more about the origins of the APA style here via the APA style blog.

Confidential documents should be treated as personal communications.   You should give enough information in the body of your work to show what kind of document you have used but as personal communications are not available to your reader there is no need to include it in your reference list.  

So for example you could write: The schools policy for inclusion established in 2015 states that "... "  (Personal communication, 2016).

Even if the document is publicly available you may need to treat it as a personal communication in order not to identify your placement

Ethical considerations

If you wish to use information in your work which has not been published (made available publicly), you should always ask for permission. For example, you should gain permission from the sender before repeating information from personal communications (letters, emails, text messages, etc.). This also applies to information found on a social network site or a discussion list open to friends or invited members only. 

Maps can be identified by the following information:

  • Author/creator (usually an organisation or cartographer)
  • Year
  • Title/area
  • editions, sheet or series number (in round brackets after the title if needed)
  • Format description [in square brackets after title and any information in round brackets if needed]
  • Scale
  • Place/Publisher

This should be in the following format:

Author. (date). Title (edition, series sheet no.) [format information]. Scale.  Place of publication: Publisher

For example...

British Geological Survey. (1977). Geological survey ten mile map: (Quaternary ed., South sheet), 1:625,000. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

British Geological Survey. (1950). Scarborough (Drift ed. One Inch series sheet 54) [map]. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey. (1998). Fort Augustus, Glen Albyn and Glen Roy (Landranger series sheet 34) [map ], 1:50,000. Southampton: Ordnance Survey .

If the author or authors are not an organisation add cartographer(s) in brackets after their names, for example...

Gall, J & Peters, A. (cartographers)...

Digimap

Follow the guidance for a fixed online map (below), providing any additional information required to recreate the map in square brackets.  If enough information is provided to recreate the map only the Digimap homepage URL is required in the reference. 

Lewis County Geographical Information Service (cartographer). (2002). Population density, U.S. Census [Demographic map]. Retrieved from www.co.lewis.wa.us/publicworks/maps/census-pp-dens_2000.pdf

Digimap guidance is available here.  Note that Digimap’s online tools do not generate APA references but could be used as a prompt for what additional information should be included in square brackets.

If you include a UK Act of Parliament in you work, you should include the full title of the Act plus the date, (and section for direct quotes) in your citation, but you do not need to include the Act in your list of references. This is because the information given in the citation will be sufficient for your reader to locate the full text of the Act using a variety of different resources.

 

For example...

According to the Mental Health Act 1983…

As stated in the Licensing Act 2003 (s. 14)...

Using the APA blog to get help

The APA style blog has information about the APA referencing style and also some information about how APA documents should be formatted. For APA referencing, you do not need to know or to follow the guidelines about document formatting (so ignore those bits!) but you may find the referencing sections of this blog useful. Search the blog for what you want to know. For example: citing social media