Three Key Points for Knowing When to Use the Year or Date in APA Citations -->

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Three Key Points for Knowing When to Use the Year or Date in APA Citations

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Our all-time most popular blog post is Amber’s explanation on “Citing an Author Throughout a Paragraph: Notes on a Tricky APA Shortcut,” and for good reason: The APA rule that Amber explains is, in my opinion, one of APA’s most confusing rules. We get many questions about this rule, so we wanted to revisit the topic with a fresh example.

Defining Parenthetical and In-Text Citations

First, some definitions. APA has two basic citation formats. In one format, all of the citation information goes inside parentheses. As you might guess, these citations are called parenthetical citations. In the other format—sometimes called an in-text citation—the source name is grammatically part of the sentence. In other words, if the in-text citation is removed from the sentence, the sentence no longer makes sense. Here’s an example:

Sentence with an in-text citation: Shiell (2014) noted that many writers struggle with this tricky APA rule. If we take out the in-text citation, the sentence doesn’t make sense: Noted that many writers struggle with this tricky APA rule.

Same sentence with a parenthetical citation: Many writers struggle with this tricky APA rule (Shiell, 2014). If we take the parenthetical citation out of the sentence, the sentence has a citation problem, but it still makes sense grammatically: Many writers struggle with this tricky APA rule.

Three Key Points to Memorize

When learning and following these APA rules, keep these three key points in mind:

  • All parenthetical citations must include the source's publication year. There are no exceptions to this rule; it doesn’t matter if the source has been cited in the paper or the paragraph already.  Tweet this
  • The first in-text citation for a source in a paragraph includes the source's publication year. Subsequent in-text citations for the same source in the same paragraph do not.  Tweet this
  • The in-text citation rule starts over with each new paragraph.  Tweet this

Now, let's evaluate the citations in a real student paragraph (used with permission) with these key points in mind. Pay attention to the Gregory and Chapman source, highlighted in blue, and the Hall source, highlighted in yellow

Breaking Down a Sample Paragraph

In culmination of the Tomlinson (2006) and the Anderson (2007) position on differentiated instruction, Gregory and Chapman (2006) emphasized that experience and new brain research has informed educators that students are different, learn differently, have different preferences, and have different needs. Students also differ from each other in social development and physical abilities. Consequently, Gregory and Chapman posed the question of why teachers expect students to adjust to learning in "one-size fits all" lessons instead of adjusting the lessons to the students. Gregory and Chapman further advocated for teachers to know their students and know the standards, as well as to allow the needs of the students to determine instructional decisions. The authors elaborated their perspectives on differentiated instruction to include the concepts that differentiated instruction "meets learners where they are and offers challenging, appropriate options for them in order to achieve success" (Gregory & Chapman, 2006, p. 3). The authors further explored why differentiated instruction is needed today instead of employing the traditional instruction methods of yesterday. However, Hall (2002) reflected that there is a gap in literature regarding pedagogy of differentiated instruction and traditional instruction. Hall reiterated: "Differentiation is recognized to be a compilation of many theories and practices. Based on this review of the literature of differentiated instruction, the 'package' itself is lacking empirical validation. There is an acknowledged and decided gap in the literature in this area and future research is warranted" (p. 5). Hall based her evidence upon differentiated instruction literature review of Vygotsky (1978), Fisher et al. (1980), and Ellis and Worthington (1994). Further discussion to bridge the knowledge gap within research literature will be referenced in Chapter 2 of this research study.
Breaking the paragraph into smaller sections can help us better examine the citations. Here is the first Gregory and Chapman citation in the paragraph:
In culmination of the Tomlinson (2006) and the Anderson (2007) position on differentiated instruction, Gregory and Chapman (2006) emphasized that experience and new brain research has informed educators that students are different, learn differently, have different preferences, and have different needs.
Because the citation is an in-text citation, and it's the first in-text citation for Gregory and Chapman in the paragraph, the writer includes the year. Here are the subsequent Gregory and Chapman citations:
Students also differ from each other in social development and physical abilities. Consequently, Gregory and Chapman posed the question of why teachers expect students to adjust to learning in "one-size fits all" lessons instead of adjusting the lessons to the students. Gregory and Chapman further advocated for teachers to know their students and know the standards, as well as to allow the needs of the students to determine instructional decisions.
The writer again cites the Gregory and Chapman source in the paragraph, using in-text citations. Because these are not the first in-text citations for this source in the paragraph, the writer doesn’t need to include the year again. Instead, just the source names are enough. The next Gregory and Chapman citation is parenthetical: 
The authors elaborated their perspectives on differentiated instruction to include the concepts that differentiated instruction "meets learners where they are and offers challenging, appropriate options for them in order to achieve success" (Gregory & Chapman, 2006, p. 3).
Because this citation is parenthetical, it must include the year. Even though the writer already cited Gregory and Chapman in the paragraph, that doesn't matter--all parenthetical citations need to include the year. A citation should never look like this one: (Gregory & Chapman).

We can see these rules played out again in the paragraph with the Hall source: The first time the writer uses an in-text citation for Hall--in other words, the first time the source is cited in the paragraph as part of the meaning of the sentence--the citation includes the year. The two subsequent times that the writer cites Hall as part of the sentence, no year is needed. The paragraph doesn't contain any parenthetical citations for Hall, but if it did, they would all need to include the year.

Now, remember the third key point: These rules are unique to individual paragraphs. In any other paragraphs in the paper, whether they come before or after this paragraph, the writer must include the year with the first Gregory and Chapman in-text citation and the first Hall in-text citation. 

I hope this example helps clarify one of APA’s hardest citation rules. Still confused? Comment with your questions!


Practice: Take another look at the first sentence of the sample paragraph. If the writer wanted to add another piece of evidence from Tomlinson in the middle of the paragraph, would the writer need to include the year in the citation? Why or why not? Post your explanation in the comments and give feedback to fellow commentors

author

Anne Shiell
 is a writing instructor and the coordinator of social media resources at the Walden Writing Center. Anne also produces WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast.


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5 comments :

  1. Can you comment more on the second citing of Hall...specifically the (p.5) part. Why is it not (2002, p.5). I thought there were no exceptions to the no date in parenthetical citations rule?

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    1. Hey CFonstad! Thanks so much for reaching out. Because the later half of this paragraph is all about Hall, and because APA states that "as long as the study cannot be confused with other studies in the [text]," it is unnecessary to include the year of publication again. You can refer to this guideline on page 174 of the APA manual. :)

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    2. Ok. What would happen if the sentence involving Hall and the p.5 didn't include Hall at the beginning. Would it read:

      "Differentiation is recognized to be a compilation of many theories and practices. Based on this review of the literature of differentiated instruction, the 'package' itself is lacking empirical validation. There is an acknowledged and decided gap in the literature in this area and future research is warranted" (Hall, 2002, p. 5).

      Or would it just be (p. 5)? Would the author and date both be included in the parenthetical citation?

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    3. Hi again CFonstad!
      If the sentence were written with no signal phrase to Hall in the beginning, the in-text citation would then need to include the author name, year of publication, and page number, like you suggested. :)

      Also, if the paragraph were a little more jumbled, say, with references to Hall and to Gregory and Chapman more sporadically, then each reference to either author would require the year of publication.

      These guidelines sometimes rely on your own discretion, which can get tricky. In your writing projects, it will be especially helpful to view your project objectively or have a friend (or the Writing Center!) read your paper to determine areas where a reader might be confused about who said what.

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