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OASIS Writing Skills

Overview of Format

Title: Why learn the APA format for journal articles?

Audio: Researchers often use peer-reviewed journals as a source of information, and Walden students are no exception. Peer-reviewed journal articles are one of the first sources that students learn to look to for credible research and information, and they can be the primary source of research doctoral students use in their doctoral capstone study. Because students and researchers use journal articles so widely in their writing, it is important to understand how to create a reference entry for journal articles in APA format.


Title: Elements of a Reference Entry

Audio: Remember that APA format requires both citations and references for each source of information you use. Citations and references work together. Citations show the reader what information in the text is not the author’s original idea and point the reader to the reference list for more publication information. The reference list comes at the end of the written work and contains all the information that someone would need to find that source. In a written work, all sources you use in citations should appear on the references list, and conversely, all sources on your references list should appear as citations somewhere in your work.

In this module, we will focus on the reference list entries for journal articles specifically.

Finding the Information to Create the Reference Entry

Title: Journal Article Publication Information

Audio: To find the information you need for a journal article’s  reference entry, you may have to look in the database, on the article itself, on the abstract page, or another place. It is important to look carefully for all the required information for your reference entry.


Title: Author and Publication Year

Audio: The author and year are the first components of any reference entry. You may have multiple authors, one author, or perhaps an authoring organization in this “author” position in your reference entry. To find the authors, typically you will look on the first page of the journal article. In this example, the authors are listed right under the title. The year of publication will likely also be listed on that first page, usually closer to the volume and issue number. In this example, the publication year is on the top right. Note that you do not need to include the month in this part of your reference entry—only the year is required.


Title: Article and Journal Titles

Audio: The next part of a journal article’s reference entry includes the  article title and the journal title. Notice that when you are identifying article and journal titles, article titles are usually in normal font and are often in sentence case. Journal titles usually can be found in italics. Typically the title of the article is on the front page. It is often the first thing you see. The journal title might be a little trickier to find, but usually it is written somewhere on the first or second page of the article as well. In this example, the journal title is on the top right corner of the first page.


Title: Volume, Issue, and Page Range

Audio: The next parts of the reference entry are the volume number, the issue number, and the page range. These appear after the title of the journal, and notice that there is only a comma before them to separate them from the title. The volume number is italicized, and it is directly next to the parentheses that hold the issue number. Notice that the issue number, while in parentheses, is not in italics—it has a normal font. Then there’s a comma and a page range.

To find these pieces of information in a journal article might be a little tricky. You may be able to look at the information provided on the database, or this information may also be included on the article itself. In this case, the information was available in both places.


Title: Electronic Retrieval Information

Audio: The electronic retrieval information can be the most confusing part of finding the correct information, partly because you may not be familiar with DOI numbers and you may be required to do some digging. To find the correct electronic retrieval information, follow the steps listed here. These are the steps you should take when looking for electronic retrieval information for your reference entries.


Title: Step 1: Check for the DOI


Audio: Step 1. Often there will be a DOI number listed on the article itself or in the database information. In this example, I have looked for the DOI number and didn’t see it in both of these places.


Title: Step 2: Search Crossref

Audio: Step 2. Because there was no DOI number listed on the article itself or in the database, I should use to search for the DOI number. In this example, I searched for the DOI number in Crossref and still didn’t find it.


Title: Step 3: Look for an Open-Access URL

Audio: Step 3. Now I should look for an open-access URL for this article. If there is an open-access URL, I will include it as the electronic retrieval information in my entry. This open-access URL is one that does not require sign-in or payment to access it, and it is not a Walden Library URL. You have access to the Walden Library’s databases as a Walden student, but a general reader would not, and so any URL from the Walden library would not be appropriate to use. This open-access URL may look like a PDF or a webpage version of the article.

My article does have an open-access URL that I can include, so I’m set! However, if I looked for this open-access URL and didn’t find one, then I would simply omit the electronic retrieval information. It’s important to go through these steps before you omit the electronic retrieval information, but in some cases, you may not have a DOI or a URL to include in your reference entry.

Common Errors

Title: Common Errors in Journal Article Reference Entries

Audio: There are a few common errors students make when creating journal article reference entries. These include the following:

  1. Forgetting to use italics
  2. Inaccurate capitalization
  3. Including extra dates
  4. Using a Walden Library URL

However, the biggest mistake is when writers don’t use resources to write and revise their reference entries. The above common errors can often be avoided by simply using the resources available to check your reference entries.


Title: 3. Including Extra Dates

Audio: For journal articles, the only date that is needed is the year of publication. Sometimes students mistakenly include a retrieval date with the URL. However, retrieval dates for journal articles are not needed. Similarly, students will often try to include the month with the year of publication. However, the month isn't needed either. The volume and issue number already tell the reader specifics about when the article was published that year, so additional date information isn't needed.


Title: Biggest Common Error


Audio: The biggest mistake is when writers don’t use resources to write and revise their reference entries. This is because it’s nearly impossible to memorize the reference entry format for all of the kinds of sources you might use in your writing and researching. Instead, use the APA manual (7th edition) and the Writing Center as resources to help you with your formatting.