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May 03, 2012

Citing a Special Issue or Special Section in APA Style

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

Typically you cite one thing at a time: anything from a journal article, a book or book chapter, a CD or mp3, a painting, a legal document, or classroom notes to a webpage, a YouTube video, a computer app, an e-book, or even a Twitter or Facebook post.

However, if you’ve ever read a special section or special issue of a journal, you know that the interrelated nature of these articles makes them a special case. In this post, I’ll detail how to reference and cite them.

Special

What Are Special Sections and Special Issues?

Articles in a special issue focus on the same topic, albeit from different vantage points. An editor often requests that authors submit the articles in order to highlight an important topic.

These issues will often, but not always, include an introduction from the editor. In this, he or she may expound on the importance of the topic, explain how the topic and the individual articles were chosen, detail how the included articles agree or disagree on major points, and/or provide a summary or analysis of the findings. Special issues also generally have a title, which sets them apart from regular issues that have just a volume and issue number.

Special sections are much like special issues, only smaller. They appear within a regular issue and may or may not have a title.


References

Of course, you may want to reference just one article within a special issue or special section. That’s okay! To do so, just use the journal article reference format, as usual. (You can find examples in this sample reference list.)

But, if you want to reference the entire special issue or special section, here’s what you need to know (as per Example 12 on page 201 of the Publication Manual).

The reference to a special issue should include the editor(s), the year, the title, [Special issue], the journal name, volume, and issue. The reference to a special section should include the editor(s), the year, the title, [Special section], the journal name, volume, page range of the section, and the DOI (if applicable).

Rotf, L. (Ed.). (2012). Beyond the LOLcats: Maru, Nyan Cat, and more
    [Special issue]. The Journal of Internet Memes, 115(3).

Jenkins, L., &, Astley, R. (Eds.). (2012). What’s up with Nyan Cat? [Special
    section]. International Journal of Memes, 32, 415–565.
    doi:27.0018/99-36me0w

If the issue has no editors, move the issue title to the author position.

Ennui or not ennui? Henri versus Keyboard Cat. (2012). Meme World, 19, 1–23.
    doi:27.0018/45-09h1ss

Citations

For the citation, use the editor name(s) and the year, as usual.

...when soaring across the sky (Jenkins & Astley, 2012).

When there are no editors, the in-text citation should include a shortened title in quotation marks and the year.

...present with a wide spectrum of emotional states (“Ennui or Not Ennui,” 2012).

 

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