The follow set of guidelines are designed to help clarify the problem of providing proper citations in your work. They should be used in your work, and, they should be used in addition to, not in place of, the guidelines provided in the Honor Code. These guidelines are adapted, with permission, from material provided to students in the Psychology Department at the Bishops University in Canada. A summary of the format rules for web material can be found on the APA Formatting and Style Guide website. As well, more referencing information can be found in the page on writing papers in psychology.  Also, keep in mind that APA has recently updated the format for citing material taken from the World Wide Web.

Guideline 1

Any part of your paper which contains the exact words of an author must appear in quotation marks, with the author’s name, the date of publication, and the page number of the source attached.


According to Rubin (1985), “Our well-developed ideology about marriage and the family… have blinded us to the meaning and importance of friendship in our lives” (p. 9).

As Lindbergh (1955) has stated, “The problem of the multiplicity of life not only confronts the American woman, but also the American man” (p. 27).

It is as true today as 100 years ago that “Psychology is no science; it is only the hope of a science” (James, 1892, p. 311).

A quotation of more than 40 words should be reproduced in an indented paragraph without quotation marks but with the necessary identifying information. Use quotations only in special cases, such as when the information is particularly striking in its original form. Excessive use of quotations suggests that you don’t understand the material sufficiently well to paraphrase it (as in Guideline 3), or are trying to use up space in the paper.

Guideline 2

Material should not be adapted with only minor changes, such as simply combing sentences, omitting phrases, changing a few words, or inverting sentences.

It is a common but serious student error to submit a paper which consists of a pieced- together collection of writings from various sources, in which sentence structure and a few words here and there have been altered, and in which the source author’s name has been inserted at irregular intervals. Even though the author has been credited, this is still plagiarism, because there is nothing to indicate to the reader that the style and phrasing are those of the source author and not the student.


(original version):

When he is both awake and contented the young infant’s main preoccupation is looking–either in exploring the environment or in examining particular parts of it more carefully. No reinforcement is needed for this response other than the presence of sufficiently interesting sights (Fantz, 1969, p. 48).

(plagiarized version):

The young infant’s main preoccupation, when both awake and contented, is looking. She/he explores the environment or examines particular parts of it more carefully. The only reinforcement needed for this response is the presence of sufficiently interesting sights (Fantz, 1969, p. 48).

The second version is too close to the original to be considered your own summary. Since the author’s prose is not especially wonderful, and since it contains sexist language that is no longer accepted by the APA, it makes more sense to paraphrase.

(acceptable version):

According to Fantz (1969, p.48) an awake and content infant is primarily concerned with examining the environment. Fantz argues that this response is maintained solely by the reinforcement provided by the interesting sight itself.

This version is acceptable because it is a true summary in the student’s own words rather than the thinly disguised words of the author. The student is also careful to remind the reader that the ideas are those of Fantz (“according to Fantz”; “Fantz argues”).

Guideline 3

If the words are substantially your own, but the facts or ideas are taken from a particular author, then omit the quotation marks and reference with a bracketed citation, such as (Jones, 1998).


Skinner (1974) stated that…

Babies have an innate preference for the human face (Fantz & Ryerson, 1970).

It can be argued (Matlin, 1994, Ch. 3) that…

How we construe ourselves, as Kelly (1955) puts it, is…

In addition to direct quotations (which always require a page number), the page or chapter number is given whenever it may be difficult to locate the passage in the source. Thus, page numbers are always provided for citations to books, but usually not for journal articles.

Guideline 4

Always acknowledge secondary sources.

A “secondary source” differs from a “primary source” in that information comes from one author writing about what another author said, rather than directly from the original author. A student will sometimes try to create the impression of having read widely by citing a large number of papers, none of which have actually been read. Instead, the citations are obtained from a review article or a textbook, and it is the review author’s statements about these studies that are the source of the information. In order to avoid plagiarism, you must cite in your paper the secondary source that you used. Moreover, even after reading the article in the original, if you borrow comments about it from a secondary source you must fully acknowledge that secondary source in your paper.


Melzack (1973) has reviewed the work of Livingston (1943) and Geldard (1960) and concludes…

Babies have an innate preference for the human face (Fantz, as cited in Scarr, 1973).

Your reference list should contain only the secondary sources. In the above example, these would be Melzack (1973), and Scarr (1973).

No dates should be given for the work that you did not read, i.e., Livingston and Geldard. When you give a date, you imply that you are citing an original source. The second example above is the proper way to note a secondary source.

It is recommended that you use primary sources whenever possible. Even if you successfully convert a review into your own words, it will still be someone else’s analysis of a particular problem, not your own. Interesting insights are more likely to come from studying the original work rather than a second-hand account of it. Secondary sources such as review articles are best used to obtain references to the primary literature, which you then consult directly. You want to demonstrate your ability to review and organize scholarly material, not someone else’s.

Guideline 5

Every statement of fact, and every idea or opinion not your own, must be referenced unless the item is part of common knowledge.

Some judgment must be used in deciding whether an item requires a reference. If you are uncertain, either check with your professor or err on the side of excessive acknowledgment.


Psychologists study human behavior. (No reference required.)

Psychology is the study of the behaving human in a stimulating environment (Black, 1979).

A person can be considered a type of machine. (No reference required.)

A person can be considered a type of holographic microcomputer (Jones, 1977).

Guideline 6

Do not hand in a paper which is the same or similar to one you have handed in elsewhere, unless you have the permission of both professors in advance.

It is dishonest to claim course credit more than once for the same work. In addition, it deprives you of the opportunity of researching and gaining knowledge on different topics, one of the aims of a college education. It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t submit (wholly, or in part) the work of another student as your own, or purchase papers for submission.

Guideline 7

It is an excellent idea to ask someone to criticize a completed paper before you submit it, and to bring to your attention errors in logic, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and expression. However, it is not permissible to have another person re-write any portion of your paper.

ANY paper can benefit from the comments of another reader before the work is submitted. Nevertheless, you should ensure that this process of critical review does not go beyond generally-acceptable limits to the point where an unacknowledged individual makes a significant contribution to your work.