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CJA & MPA Graduate Program: Library Research Introduction: APA Citations

CJA & MPA Graduate Program: Library Research Introduction

American Psychological Association (APA)

The APA (American Psychological Association) sets the procedures for citations for Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Public Administration

  • Keep in mind that many different research institutes, publishers of academic journals, and other organizations/associations have their own citation style 

Books Available at McGrath Library for APA Citation Help:

Short Quiz

Question 1.) What parts of an APA journal article citation are italicized? 

A. The Author(s) & Article Title

B. The Journal Title & Volume Number

C. The Publication Year & Journal Title 

(B). - The Title of the Journal and the volume number are italicized. The issue number and the parenthesis surrounding it are NOT italicized

Question 2.) Which example is a CORRECT In-Text APA Citation? 

A. There is an article written by Fredric Brown that says "recidivism rates are lower when subjects work on of the three task forces" (2019, p.199).

B. Brown (2019) noted that experience in at least one of the programs offered to inmates lowered their chances to recidivate (p. 199). 

C. The Journal of Prison Rehabilitation (2019) noted that "recidivism rates are lower when subjects work on of the three task forces" (p. 199).  

(B). - This is an example of a proper paraphrased citation with a signal phrase

Question 3.) What is paraphrasing?

A. Paraphrasing is when you rewrite the author's language verbatim and use quotation marks to signify borrowed language

B. Paraphrasing is when you annotate a citation by describing the article in detail and note whether it is a good source to use for your paper 

C. Paraphrasing is when you use your own language to convey somebody else's idea, result, or concept.  You don't have to use quotation marks, but you still must cite the original ideas

(C). - Paraphrasing without using borrowed language is the preferred method of in-text citing in APA Style

What are Citations?

Citations Serve a Number of Purposes in a Scientific, Evidence-Based, Paper or Study 

  • Citations allow the researcher to utilize previously published science in the field without engaging in plagiarism 

  • Citations add credibility to your research

  • Citations create a road map of the previous research that can be used by researchers of future studies 

Citations in APA differ depending on the type of source.  However, the overall scheme remains similar.  Here is a list of some of the types of sources: 

  • Journal Article 
  • Magazine (or Newspaper Article) 
    • ​Online​
    • Print
  • Book (Monograph) 
  • Website
  • Document from a Web Site
  • Government or Non-Government Organization Report
    • Examples (FBI, CDC, Census, Department of Justice, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, etc.) 
  • Dissertation (When Appropriate)

APA Citation Basics - The Reference List

The References page should:

  • Have the word References centered at the top of the page
  • Be alphabetized by the first item in the references (usually author’s name).
  • Be double spaced
  • Have hanging indents (Meaning the first line of each reference is flush left, and subsequent lines are indented 0.5”)


Type of Material




Author, A. A. (year of publication). Title of book. Publisher. 

Sapolsky, R. M. (2017). Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst. Penguin Books.

Chapter in an edited book.

Author, A.A. (year of publication). Chapter title. In Author, A.A. (Eds.), Book title (page range). Publisher.

Aron, L., Botella, M., & Lubart, T. (2019). Culinary arts: Talent and their development. In R. F. Subotnik, P. Olszewski-Kubilius, & F. C. Worrell (Eds.), The psychology of high performance: Developing human potential into domain-specific talent (pp. 345–359). American Psychological Association.

Journal article

Author, A. A. (year of publication). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume(issue). page range. https://doi or URL

Grady, J. S., Her, M., Moreno, G., Perez, C., & Yelinek, J. (2019). Emotions in storybooks: A comparison of storybooks that represent ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8(3), 207–217.


In-Text Citations

Author type

Parenthetical citation

Narrative citation

One author

(Luna, 2020)

Luna (2020)

Two authors

(Salas & D’Agostino, 2020)

Salas and D’Agostino (2020)

Three or more authors

(Martin et al., 2020)

Martin et al. (2020)

Group author with abbreviation

First citation 

Subsequent citations

(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)

(NIMH, 2020)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2020)

NIMH (2020)

Group author without abbreviation

(Stanford University, 2020)

Stanford University (2020)

More APA Resources

More APA Resources