Citing Non-Standard Author Categories

A Work by Two Authors

Be it in the signal phrase or in parentheses, mention both authors each time you cite the source. In the signal phrase, use the word ‘and’ between both authors’ names, whereas in the parentheses, you use the ampersand ‘&’ between their names.

Research by Osei and Aryee (2005) supports…

(Osei & Aryee, 2005)

A Work by Three or More Authors

The edition 7 of the APA manual requires that you mention the first author’s name, followed by ‘et al.’ in every citation – event he first one; unless doing so would create ambiguity between different sources.

(Odoi et al., 2010)

Odoi et al. (2010) suggest…

NB: When writing et al., et should not be followed by a period. Only “al” should be followed by a period.

When referencing multiple sources with similar groups of authors, and the shortened “et al” citation form of each source would be the same, you’ll need to avoid ambiguity by writing out more names. For instance, if you cited sources with these authors:

Aryee, Boakye, Cann, Darko, and Evans (2012)

Aryee, Boakye, Quarcoo, Mensah, and Ofori (2012)

They would be cited in-text as follows to avoid ambiguity:

(Aryee, Boakye, Cann, et al., 2012)

(Aryee, Boakye, Quarcoo, et al., 2012)

NB: The use of et al. should always be a substitute for more than one name, because it is plural. In the case that et al. would stand in for just one author, write the author’s name instead.

Unknown Author

When citing a source that does not have an author, cite the work by its title in the signal phrase or in the parentheses, use the first word or two in the parentheses. If the source is a book or report, the titles should be italicized; if it is an article, a web page, or a chapter, the titles should be in quotation marks. APA style recommends that important words in titles are capitalized when they are written within the text, but not when they appear in reference lists.

According to the article, “Using Internet Language in Academic Papers” (2009),…

An earlier research was conducted on using internet language in academic papers (“Using Internet”, 2009)

NB: Should “Anonymous” be used for the author of the work, treat it as the author’s name (Anonymous, 2009), just as you would a known author’s name. Use the name “Anonymous” as the author in the reference list.

Organization as an Author

Mention the organisation in the signal phrase or in the parentheses if the author of the source you are citing is a government agency or an organisation. This is the same rule for citing an individual person.

According to the Ghana Health Service (2020)…

The number of cases spiked in the last quarter of 2019 (Ghana Health Service, 2020).

For organisations or governmental agencies that have well-known abbreviations, you may write the abbreviations in brackets in the first instance of citing that source. In subsequent citations, you should use only the abbreviation.

First citation: (Ghana Health Service [GHS], 2020)

Second citation: (GHS, 2020)

However, do not use abbreviations if you cite work from multiple organisations with the same abbreviations.

Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses

When you have multiple works in your parenthetical citation, arrange them the same way they appear in the reference list: i.e. alphabetically and separated by a semicolon.

(Broohm, 2005; Cobblah, 2001)

However, if the multiple works cited in the parenthetical citation are by the same author, mention the author’s name just once and state the dates. In this situation, you should cite the work without a date first, dated citation next, and followed by in-press citations.

(Broohm, n.d., 2005, 2008, in press)

Authors with the Same Last Name

When citing authors who share a last name, use first initials of their names with their shared last name to avoid ambiguity.

(T. Jameson, 2014; A. Jameson, 2012)

Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Year

When you have to reference two works written in the same year by the same author, order the entries in the reference list by using lowercase letters. For in-text citation, use the lowercase letters with the year.

Research by Kwei (2008a) reported significant correlations. However, a parallel study (Kwei, 2008b) revealed contrasting results.

Introductions, Forewords, Prefaces, and Afterwords

In in-text citations, mention the author and year as you would a book source when citing a preface, foreword, introduction, or afterword.  

(Aryee & Kwei, 2018)

Personal Communication

When citing personal communication sources (e-mails, interviews, letters, etc.), cite the communicator’s name, the fact that it was a personal communication, as well as the date of the communication. You should not add personal communication in the reference list.  

(T. Quarshie, personal communication, March 4, 2015).

Handle citations the same way when referencing with footnotes.

T. Quarshie also noted that many of the actors in the Ghallywood had no managers (personal communication, March 4, 2015)

Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous People

If you cite information you learned from a casual conversation with an opinion leader or indigenous person who was not your research respondent, follow the rules of the personal communication citation by mentioning the person’s full name, nation or indigenous group, location, and other relevant details before the “personal communication, date” part of the citation.

(Linda Laryea, Ghanaian, lives in Tema, Ghana, personal communication, June 2018)

Indirect Sources

Although original sources are highly preferred, should you use a secondary work – use a source that was cited in another work, mention the primary source in your signal phrase. However, include the secondary source in the parentheses, followed by citing the secondary source in the reference list.

Add the year of the original source in the citation if you know it.

Darko posited that…(as cited in Owusu, 2019, p. 98)

(Darko, 1998, as cited in Owusu, 2019, p. 98

Electronic Sources

Cite electronic sources just as you would any other document by using the author-date style.

Ofori (2017) reported…

Sources Without Known Author and Date

If the source does not come with a date or an author, use the title in your signal phrase or the first word or two of the title in the parentheses and use the abbreviation “n.d.” (for “no date”).

A research of nurses and patient attitudes reported that patients’ attitudes are triggered by the mood of nurses (“Nurses and Attitude of Patients”, n.d.).

Sources Without Page Numbers

When citing an electronic work that does not have page numbers, include all relevant information that will help readers find the passage being referenced. The relevant information includes heading, an abbreviated or full section/chapter name, a paragraph number (para. 2), or a combination of these.

Referencing Attoh (2016), people care more about their wealth than they do about their health (Wealth Over Health section, para. 3).

NB: Pagination vary with computers; hence, different articles or works are printed with different pages. For this reason, you should never use page numbers of webpages you have printed out. This applies to Kindle location numbers; rather, cite the original page number (available in Kindle books) or the method above.  

Unfamiliar Sources

Should you encounter a source category that the APA Publication Manual does not tackle and for which no other third-party organisation has provided directions, it is acceptable to consistently and coherently apply the general rules of the APA citation to the work. A fool proof method is to use the standard APA directions for a source similar to the unfamiliar source you want to cite.

For instance, a logical solution to referencing a virtual reality program would be to apply the APA’s guidelines for citing a computer software.

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