APA or the American Psychological Association has developed a particular style of documentation which is known as the APA style. This is widely used for the documentation purposes of research findings in subjects like sociology. This style has strict guidelines on the methods of formatting the research paper. The method of citing the sources used for the research is also unique for APA style.
APA style uses in-text citations, also known as parenthetical references. The details to be given in the in-text citations include the surname of the author as well as the year of publication. This appears right next to the cited information. The information is to be separated from the text by brackets. If you are directly quoting a paragraph, you will need to include the page number also in the in-text citation. Separate the information using commas. This style of citation is also known as the author-date system referring to the information given on the author and the date of publication.
A references list is to be attached to the end of the research paper. This has to be a separate page, unlike an MLA style research paper where the works cited page can be a continuation of the research paper. The heading should be given as ‘References’. Giving appropriate heading is absolutely necessary while citing sources because each style has its own unique method of doing it. The sources used should be listed under this heading. The list should be arranged in the alphabetical order with reference to the last names of the authors. Use double-spacing between lines. The pattern to be used for the reference page would be: Author, (date of publication), Title of the book, Place of publishing: Publisher, Page number.
APA style does not permit the use of footnotes for the purpose of citing the sources. That is one aspect that sets the style apart from the other documentation styles. It does allow the use of footnotes for the purpose of giving additional information on the discussed matter but while using footnotes, you should make sure that you don’t accidentally include any bibliographic information in it.
Even though these are the methods for citing articles and books, the method of citing other sources like internet sources, television documentaries or interviews would be different. It is necessary that you keep the respective style manual in hand for reference while handling a research paper assignment. It will not be enough to have it in your school library as you might need to refer to it at various stages of your research paper writing.
You also need to pay attention to the assignment guidelines and the instructions given regarding any alterations in the citation methods suggested by the style manual. Each instructor would have his or her own preferences regarding the formatting and citation of the research paper. The guidelines should be your first concern while citing the sources. If there are no specifications regarding the citation in your assignment guidelines, then you should follow the instructions in the style manual for the purpose of formatting your research paper.