American Psychological Association (APA) was founded in 1892. It is a society of psychologists that work to advance the science of psychology and the field as a profession. They have "more than 159,000 members and affiliates" ("American," 2005). In addition to this work, the APA has established an official method of formatting written works, as well as how to notate in text citations and how to format reference lists.
With APA format, all papers are typed double-spaced, and are to be written on a standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper, with 1-inch margins on all sides. A title page is required, which includes the title of the work and byline of the author, along with the affiliation of the author. An abstract giving a synopsis of the paper precedes the text ("Using American," 2005).
Pages of the manuscript are numbered consecutively, beginning with the title page, as part of the manuscript header in the upper right corner of each page. ( ... ) References should begin on a separate page from the text of the essay under the label 'References' (with no quotation marks, underlining, etc.), centered at the top of the page. Appendices and notes should be formatted similarly ("Using American," 2005).
The author-date method is used for in text citation, in APA format. For this, the author's last name and the year of the publication of the source material, appear in the text. In addition, a complete reference appears in the reference list, at the end of the paper. If the writing is only referring to an idea from a work, and not a direct quote, then just the author and the year of publication are noted. If the writing is paraphrasing an idea from a cited work, or is quoting it directly, then the page number must also be included in the citation ("Using American," 2005).
In some instances, there is not an author to cite. When this occurs, an abbreviated version of the title of the work is used, in quotation marks, in place of the author's name. In other cases there may not be a date noted for the publishing. In these instances, the abbreviation, 'n.d.' is used to signify 'no date'. To cite personal communications, the writer must "provide initials and last name of the communicator, the words 'personal communication', plus an exact date in the body of (the) paper" ("Using American"). These personal communications are not cited in the reference list (Kelly, 2000, p. 96).
The Modern Language Association (MLA) was founded in 1883. They have more than 30,000 members, located in 100 countries and serve both English and foreign language teachers ("Learn more," 2005). They, like the APA, have established a research paper format that is commonly used.
Just as with an APA formatted paper, MLA requires standard-sized 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, with margins at 1 inch on all sides. A header is included with the paper, displaying the consecutively numbered pages in the upper-right hand corner. Notes are included on a page prior to the works cited page and formatted the same as the works cited page ("Using Modern," 2005).
When using another author's work MLA specifies how this work is to be cited and referenced. Whether referencing someone else's idea through direct quotation or paraphrasing, the citation is to include the author's name and the page number, if applicable. In the instances where there is no author listed, then an abbreviated title of the work, in quotation marks, is to be given ("Using Modern," 2005).
MLA format is often used in the humanities. With the increase in information on the Internet, citing electronic works has become more and more commonplace. Electronic resources are noted, in text, just as any other reference, with the author's name or the abbreviated title, in cases where no author is given (Guffey, 1997, p. 69). However, as there are no page numbers, these would be omitted.
Harvard format is another popular formatting option for research papers. Developed by Harvard University, the Harvard style is often referred to as the name and year system. Like the other styles, it defines the actions to be taken when quoting, referencing or paraphrasing another's work ("Module 5.2," 2005).
With the Harvard format, page numbers are not included in the text citations, if the author is merely referencing an idea or paraphrasing. They, however, are included when using direct quotes. Footnotes are traditionally not used. In addition, ibid is not used, instead, the full citation is written out each time it is referenced. The in text citation is placed in a logical point in the sentence, where it will not interrupt the flow of the paper ("Module 5.3," 2005).
In some instances, a writer may wish to cite multiple works by the same author. In some cases, these works may be published in the same year, which could lead to confusion with the in text citations. In order to differentiate these works, letters are added to the date of publication. As an example, they may be cited as (Smith, 1980a) and (Smith, 1980b). In cases where the author's name is used in part of the sentence, the writer simply notes the year of publication, in parentheses, immediately following the name ("Module 5.3," 2005).
When there are two authors, both authors names are noted in the citation, within the text, separated by 'and' or an ampersand. The rules change, however, for three or more authors. In these instances, the writer notes the first author's surname and then follows with et al., which stands for et alia, or and others ("Module 5.3," 2005).
Another challenge that writers may come up against is having to cite unseen references. "Although you should avoid citing references that you have not read it is sometimes unavoidable (for example, if the original paper cannot be found or is in a foreign language)" ("Module 5.3," 2005). In these instances, the writer is to notate the original author's surname and date of publication followed by the word 'in' and the author's surname and date of publication that was read.
The reference list, in Harvard format, is similar in many ways to APA and MLA. It can be titled simply 'References' or 'References Cited' or even 'Literature Cited', however, it must never be titled a 'Bibliography'. Referenced, like in both of the previous styles, are listed alphabetically, according to the first author. Author names are never rearranged. Journal names may be abbreviated, but must use the accepted international convention if doing so ("Module 5.4," 2005).
Like the other two formats, electronic sources present an interesting twist for citations in Harvard format. Most concerns come from "identifying the various reference elements, and deciding what to do about the URL" (Smith, 1997).
The first step is to identify the author of the electronic source. This is sometimes not identified. In those instance, the page title is substituted for the author's surname in the in text citation, surrounded by parentheses. Date of publication must also be determined, as well as the URL of the electronic source. The full URL should be provided to direct the reader exactly to the source, and not just the main page of the material. With direct quotes, where page numbers are normally applied in the Harvard style, these are omitted, as they typically don't exist in electronic source materials (Smith, 1997).
In the end, a writer often utilizes previously published works to help support and as background for their work. They often build upon these ideas, creating an ever-changing array of literature for the academic and professional world to draw upon. However, these works need to be referenced, to give credit where credit is due. As such, there have been several formatting styles developed to ensure a uniform presentation of…