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Journal Article Citations

One of the most common citations found in academic writing is information from journal articles. There are hundreds of different types of journals available for review. The journals you use will depend on the topic you are writing about. In this video, we will be learning about citing journal articles often used in academic writing. While there are many types of formats in which academic writing is cited, from APA to MLA to Chicago, for this video we will be using APA and MLA formatting for our examples. Although the core elements are the same between most styles, keep in mind that each formatting style has its own specific rules for the order in which information is cited, so make sure to check a style guide if you’re using something other than APA or MLA for your essay.

What is a Journal Article?

Let’s start with the basics. A journal article is a work published in a written or electronic medium. Journals are released on a consistent schedule – some monthly, some quarterly, some annually. The most common type of journal you will use in academic writing is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. A peer reviewed scholarly journal is a journal in which all the articles published have first been reviewed by a panel of the author’s peers. These peers are often individuals that work in the field that is the focus of the journal. For instance, the reviewers from the Journal for the American Medical Association are often clinicians, scientists, or researchers that work extensively and often times exclusively in the medical field.

Citing in the Text

An in-text citation is a citation utilized in the body of your writing. First, let’s look at how we would properly use in-text citations in APA format. When citing in the text, you need two pieces of information from your journal article: the name of the author or authors and the year of publication. You will be using the last name of the author only. If there are two authors, you will list both names separated by the word ‘and.’ Make sure to list the names in the order in which they are written in the article itself. So, an article written in 2009 by Smith and James would look like this:

(Smith & James, 2009)

You could also use the name of the authors in a sentence. For instance:

Research by Smith and James (2009) states that…

If there are between 3 and 5 authors, you would use each of the authors’ names the first time they are mentioned, and then in all following references you would use the first author’s name and the phrase ‘et al’, meaning ‘and others.’

So for instance, if you had Smith, James and Winston, you might say

(Smith, James & Winston, 2012) the first time they’re mentioned, but the next time you would say (Smith et al., 2009)

If there are 6 or more authors, you will list all the authors in your references, but would only ever need to refer to them by the first author ‘et al’ even the first time you mention them.

Your citation would look like this:

(Smith et al., 2012)

If you are using a direct quote, meaning you will be listing what the author has written word-for-word, also include the page number on which the quote can be found. It is important to get context correct when citing any source, but it is extremely important to also get every word in the correct order when citing a direct quote. Including the page number allows your readers to look the direct quote up for themselves.

If you’re using MLA style, you’ll need the author’s name and the page number where the information you are citing appears. Let’s say you are using an article written by John Smith and you want to use information that appeared on page 12. If you use his name in the sentence, then you only need to include the page number on which the information appears at the end in parenthesis, like this:

According to John Smith, people who live in urban areas tend to prefer having pet cats to dogs (12).

If you don’t use his name, then you’ll have to include it in the parenthesis, along with the page number:

People who live in urban areas tend to prefer having pet cats to dogs (Smith 12).

If the work was authored by both John Smith and Jane Smyth, then include both their last names, like this:

People who live in urban areas tend to prefer having pet cats to dogs (Smith and Smyth 12).

What if there are three or more authors? Then, only include the last name of the first author followed by ‘et al.’

People who live in urban areas tend to prefer having pet cats to dogs (Smith et al. 12).

Citing in Your Reference Page

Now that we have learned to cite a journal article in our text, let’s move on to citing within your reference page. We will discuss APA style first. There are several pieces of information you will need to locate to prepare for your entry.

  1. The name of the author(s).
  2. The year of publication.
  3. The title of the article.
  4. The title of the journal.
  5. The volume and issue number.
  6. The pages in the journal where the article is located.
  7. The DOI (for all works that have one)

Let’s take a look at what a citation would look like in our reference page.

Cook, D. A. & Dupras, D. M. (2004). A practical guide to developing web-based learning. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 19(6), 698-707.

The first thing you will see is the name of the authors. We are using the last name as well as the first and middle initial (if available). The second thing we will list is the year the article was published. The third piece of information is the title of the article. Remember, just the first word and proper nouns are capitalized in the title. Our next step is to list the name of the journal. Remember we capitalize all the words of the journal title except for words such as ‘of.’ We then move on to list the volume number and issue number, if available. Finally, we list the pages on which the article can be found.

For citing using MLA format, you need the same information, except in slightly different order:

  1. The name of the author(s) or editor(s)
  2. The title of the article
  3. The title of the journal
  4. The volume number and issue number
  5. The year of publication
  6. The pages in the journal where the article appears
  7. The DOI (for all works that have one)

So, the same article from above would look like this:

Cook, D.A. and Dupras, D.M. ”A Practical Guide to Developing Web-Based Learning.” Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol. 19, no. 6, 2004, pp. 698-707, doi: 10.1080/07377360903262218.

Just like APA style, start with the authors’ names. The title of the article is next, placed within quotation marks, and then the title of the journal follows in italics. Notice that there’s a period after the authors’ names and article title, but then commas are used to separate the rest of the information that follows. Make sure that ‘vol.,’ ‘no.,’ and ‘pp.’ are not capitalized.

Lesson Summary

Let’s wrap things up by revisiting what we learned. One of the most common types of reference you will be using in academic writing comes from peer-reviewed scholarly journals.

When you are citing in the text of your writing using APA style, you will need the author’s last name and the year in which the article was published. If you are using a direct quote instead of paraphrasing, you will also need the page number on which the quote can be found. If you’re using MLA style, you’ll need the author’s last name along with the page on which the information appears.

When putting the citation in your reference page you will need the last name, first name, and middle initial of each of the authors. You will also need the year the article was published, the exact title of the article, the name of the journal, the volume and issue number of the journal, and the pages on which the article can be found. The order in which the information appears is different for APA and MLA, so make sure you carefully review your citations to make sure they are correct.

Following these steps, you will be on your way to easily citing journal articles within the text as well as within your reference page. Happy citing!

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