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July 28, 2011

How to Cite the DSM in APA Style

Jeff by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

If you are working in any field that involves human behavior, sooner or later you will need to cite the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Published by the American Psychiatric Association (a.k.a. “the other APA”), the DSM provides a set of common criteria and language for talking about dysfunctions of the mind and emotions.

From the beginning, the DSM has been widely used as a guide by state and federal agencies for the reporting of public health statistics and the fulfillment of legislative mandates, as well as its use as a classification guide for research and clinical psychologists.

The DSM has gone through five revisions since it was first published in 1952, and each of those revisions has included substantial changes in structure and definitions. Some of these have been fairly controversial, such as the attempt to remove the term neurosis from DSM-III and the varying treatment of sexual disorders. A new edition (DSM-5) is in preparation, with a projected release date of May 2013, and major changes have been proposed for it as well.

Because of these changes and their effects on areas as disparate as longitudinal research parameters and health insurance benefits, it’s important to be precise when citing the DSM. Below are some guidelines to use in citing the most recent edition.

Citation Examples

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical 
manual of mental disorders
(4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

If you used the online edition of the DSM, give the DOI in the reference in the publisher position. Individual chapters and other book parts are also assigned DOIs.

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders
(4th ed., text rev.).
doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890423349.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Appendix I: Outline for
cultural formulation and glossary of culturebound syndromes. In
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.,
text rev.). doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890423349.7060

In text, cite the name of the association and the name of the manual in full at the first mention in the text; thereafter, you may refer to the traditional DSM form (italicized) as follows:

DSM–III (1980) 3rd ed.
DSM–III–R (1987) 3rd ed., revised
DSM–IV (1994) 4th ed.
DSM–IV–TR (2000) 4th ed., text rev.

After you have spelled out the name of the manual on first mention in the text, format the parenthetical citation as follows:

(3rd ed.; DSM–III; American Psychiatric Association, 1980)
(3rd ed., rev.; DSM–III–R; American Psychiatric Association, 1987)
(4th ed.; DSM–IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994)
(4th ed., text rev.; DSM–IV–TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000)

What About DSM-5?

The DSM-5 hasn’t been released yet, but there’s been much discussion of the proposed content. If necessary, refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5) in text when you cite these discussions. We’ll be back in May 2013 with tips on how to cite the DSM-5 itself, so mark your calendar!

UPDATE: DSM-5 has arrived! Go here for information on how to cite it.

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