How To Organize APA Citations In An Undergraduate Dissertation

Writing theses and dissertations is often quite a daunting task for an undergraduate or graduate student – no, more honestly, most students are terrified of it. Myself, I was terrified too, until I realized, after becoming with APA style, that APA makes it even easier to write long projects because of its header system.

The Great Things About Headers and Chapters

Because APA style embraces headers, each chapter becomes a series of little one page to three fourths of a page mini essays on your subject, which partially eliminates that need for flow and connective tissue between your paragraphs so much, which is one of the most challenging things about research paper writing because the last sentence of every paragraph has to create a bridge between the previous paragraph and the next.

Organizing Citations and Research

The most important tip I can give you about organizing your research and, consequently, citations, is to take the time to write each reference as you go. I mean even before you take what you want to from the article or book your reading.

What I did on my three hundred and eighty page dissertation was to create a file called dissertation works cited. Every time I mentioned an author or researcher’s viewpoints, be they paraphrase or quotation, I would immediately open my dissertation works cited file and immediately create a “working” citation for that work, noting the article, month/year or both, title of the article, title of the journal or book, editor of the book if there is one, and, for journals, the volume number, issue number, and ISBN if necessary. Online materials may require a DOI as well.

Why this is important is that writers of research articles always mention the researchers they read in order to put together their article. For example, if you go and print out an article by, say, John Smith, he many mention several researchers and quote them himself.

You’ll need to cite these authors as well if you want to mention them in your paper, but you acknowledge that you found them in Smith’s article.

Organizing APA Citations in Your Works Cited

If you know MLA, you’ll know that all authors are cited in alphabetical order, not the order that they are mentioned in your paper. Only in a footnote system would you do this, which are organized by number from first mentioned to last.

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