10 posts categorized "Databases"

February 20, 2014

How to Cite a Psychological Test in APA Style

Timothy McAdoo
by Timothy McAdoo

A reference to a psychological test (also called a measure, scale, survey, quiz, or instrument) follows the usual who-when-what-where format.


Here’s an example of a test you might have retrieved directly from a website:

Purring, A. (2012). Charisma and Tenacity Survey [Measurement instrument].
     Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/tests/measures/instruments/surveys

A test's name is a proper noun, so be sure to capitalize it in the reference.

In other cases, you may actually be citing the database record rather than the test. If you found a record for the test in a database, you can cite it, whether or not the record contains a link to the test itself:

Barks, H., & Howls, I. (2013). Directions of Generosity [Database record].
     Retrieved from The McAdoo Database of Fictional Titles. http://dx.doi.org

how to cite psychological tests in APA Style: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2014/02/how-to-cite-a-psychological-test-in-apa-style.htmlOr, perhaps you’ve used a test that is not available online. Not to worry, the format varies only in the "where" element. Use the first example above as your template, but replace “Retrieved from http://...” with the location and publisher (e.g., Petland, MD: E & K Press).

Using Acronyms

Although some tests are better known by their acronyms than by their full titles, the acronym is not included in the reference.* Rather, introduce the acronym at the first use in the body of the paper, as shown in the examples below.

In-Text Citations

In the body of your paper, be careful to write the name exactly as it appears in your reference. And here again, capitalize the test name, because it is a proper noun. However, capitalize the word survey (or instrument, quiz, etc.) only if it’s part of the test’s name:

“In this study, we used Purring’s (2012) Charisma and Tenacity Survey (CATS) rather than Barks and Howls’s (2013) Directions of Generosity survey.”

The abbreviation need not be introduced if the test name is mentioned only once. However, if the test name appears frequently in the paper (i.e., generally three or more times), define it the first time, and use the abbreviation consistently thereafter. Note also that the test names are not italicized when used in the text. 

Finally, although you don’t need to include the author and date every time you mention the test by name, do include the author–date citation if you quote directly from the test or paraphrase it in any way.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve passed my test! Give yourself an A+.


*The exception is the rare case where the acronym is the only official name of the test (i.e., an official spelled-out title no longer exists, which is an uncommon occurrence; the most famous example is the SAT, which no longer has a spelled-out name).

January 26, 2012

How to Cite Cochrane Reviews in APA Style

by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

JeffDear Style Experts,

How should I format a reference for an article from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews? I have the names of the authors, the date and the title of the topic; however, there is no journal as such. Do I use "retrieved from" with the URL, or should I include the DOI?


Dear A.,

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews consists of original material written by members of the Cochrane Collaboration. Its articles may be published in database form, but it functions like an online journal: Numbered issues are published 12 times a year, and each article has its own DOI. Therefore, we can modify the journal article format to fit a Cochrane Review, as follows:

Singh, J., Kour, K., & Jayaram Mahesh, B. (2012). Acetylcholinesterase 
inhibitors for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database of Systematic
Reviews, 2012
(1), 1–101. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007967.pub2

Note that the year of publication does double duty as the volume number. The issue number is needed because the journal is not continuously paginated. And because we have a DOI, neither the URL nor the Cochrane-assigned ID number is needed.

Hope this helps,


December 29, 2011

Citing a Streaming Video Database

AnneBy Anne Breitenbach

Some time ago, we had a post that explained how to find a DOI and provided a brief YouTube video of the process. We asked at the time for requests for tutorials about APA Style that could be useful. In response to that request, we were asked to create tutorials to explain how to cite content from two new databases APA launched in fall 2011.

We previously published a post on the first of these, PsycTESTS, a research database that provides descriptive and administrative information about tests, as well as access to some psychological tests, measures, scales, and other assessments. In this tutorial, we’re going to take a look at how you’d cite PsycTHERAPY, a research database of therapy sessions. In order to create the reference in APA Style, you must analyze what you are actually citing: audiovisual media (streaming video) available only through a subscription database (PsycTHERAPY).

Take a look:


December 08, 2011

Can't Find It in the Publication Manual!

Daisiesby Stefanie

The most common question—other than “How do I cite a website?”—that we get here is actually more of a panicked or frustrated declaration: “I can’t find this in the Publication Manual!” We understand: The manual is thick with information, and it takes time to familiarize yourself with it. Here are a few hints for finding what it is you might be looking for in the Publication Manual.
Formatting Specifics
Section 8.03, Preparing the Manuscript for Submission (pp. 228–230), covers all of the details you need to ensure that your manuscript formatting is consistent. This section includes information on font size and style (bottom of p. 228; 12-point Times New Roman), line spacing (top of p. 229; double-space everything from title to text to headings to references to figure captions), margins (middle of p. 229; uniform margins of at least 1 in. should appear at the top, bottom, left, and right of every page), and order of manuscript pages (pp. 229–230).
Many of these elements are also covered on the Checklist for Manuscript Submission (pp. 241–243).
Electronic References
Look closely at the sample references provided in Chapter 7: Many show examples of electronic versions of sources (e.g., journal articles, newspaper articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, reports).
If you retrieve a source from a database, see the third and fourth bullet points on page 192 for additional guidance on creating a reference for it.
The sample papers are full of formatting examples, along with handy tags showing where those formatting guidelines can be found in the Publication Manual proper. See pages 41–59 for examples of number style, hyphenation, punctuation, citation, statistics, references, headings, order of pages, tables, and figures.
What part of the Publication Manual has been most helpful to you?


October 06, 2011

Citing a Test Database


 By Anne Breitenbach

Some time ago, we had a post that explained how to find a DOI and provided a brief YouTube video of the process. We asked at the time for requests for tutorials about APA Style that could be useful. In response to that request, we were asked to create tutorials to explain how to cite content from two new databases APA is launching in September. The first of these, PsycTESTS, is a research database that provides descriptive and administrative information about tests, as well as access to some psychological tests, measures, scales, and other assessments. PsycTESTS is interesting in that it’s an example of citing the record itself, available only from a unique database, and not the test or supporting literature.

Take a look:


April 08, 2010

Beneficial Supplements

Daisiesby Stefanie

You have written your manuscript for an APA journal (or another scholarly publication), and now you are looking at all of your fantastic supporting materials and deciding what to include. There’s a color figure that rivals the rainbow in beauty and precision, perfectly illustrating your points but beyond your shoestring budget to include in the print publication. There’s a huge table, filled with insightful calculations that you did not quite get a chance to cover in the text but that is valuable nonetheless. You would love to share the digitized video and music clips used in the study. Not to mention that the raw data your experiment generated is truly a gold mine. Can you include all of these materials with your article?

In the past, the answer might have been no, given technological limits and concerns about space and the cost of printing color figures. But now all of these resources and more can be posted online as supplemental material for your article! Once published, the print version of your article will include a URL on the first page and the online version of your article will have a live link, both taking readers to a landing page that presents the cache of data treasure you have provided (see a sample landing page here).

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition, notes that “web-based, online supplemental archives tend to be more appropriate for material that is more useful when available as a direct download as well materials that are not easily presented in standard print format” (p. 39). Examples of such materials, in addition to the ones mentioned above, are lengthy computer code, mathematical or computational models, detailed intervention protocols, and expanded methodology sections.

Supplemental materials are usually subject to peer review and should be included with journal submissions. Each document should have a title and a context statement specifying what is in it, and the electronic files should follow a consistent naming convention (e.g., ABN.Smith20100001.doc, ABN.Smith20100001.wav, ABN.Smith20100001.jpeg). APA journals practice is to post accepted supplemental materials without further editing or polishing; the procedures of other publishers may vary.

The Publication Manual notes that supplemental materials should be included “only if they help readers to understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or theoretical argument being made” (p. 40). Also keep in mind that supplemental materials are subject to all relevant ethical standards; be especially aware of permissions issues when reprinting images of human participants or any formerly published materials.

Information on acceptable file formats for APA journals supplemental materials may be found here. For more information on this topic, please see the Publication Manual, pp. 39–40 and 230.

December 10, 2009

How to Find a DOI

Timothy.mcadoo by Timothy McAdoo

Ever had trouble finding a DOI? In the video below, we demonstrate how to find a DOI in a variety of ways: from an article’s record in APA PsycINFO (on a number of vendor platforms), from an article itself (hard copy version or electronic), or from CrossRef’s Simple Text Query form.

We hope this visual demonstration is helpful. Are there other tutorials about APA Style that you’d like to see? Let us know!

P.S. For more detailed background information on DOIs, see Chelsea’s recent DOI primer. And for information about using DOIs and URLs in your references, don’t miss the DOI and URL flowchart!

A larger version of this tutorial, with a navigation menu option, is available here.

September 24, 2009

What to Use—The Full Document URL or Home Page URL?

Paige-for-web-site 75x75

by Paige Jackson

Following on from Annie’s post yesterday on URLs, today I wanted to share some tips that might help in deciding what to use when. With the increasing predominance of electronic publishing, it’s a challenge to know how best to cite documents you find online. The DOI is the gold standard, and eventually all documents will have their own DOIs. In the meantime, it’s not always easy to know what to do. If you find a document on the Internet (but not from a database) that you want to cite for which there is no DOI, is it better to cite the full document URL or the publisher home page URL?

The question to ask before deciding which to include is, Which will be most helpful to the reader in locating the document? The following are some instances when the homepage URL would be most helpful (all examples refer to Chapter 7 in the Publication Manual):

  • Subscription wall—If the document is available online only by subscription, the document URL would not be accessible by nonsubscribers. The homepage URL, however, lets the reader know who the publisher is and therefore what databases the reader might look to to access the document.
  • Unstable document URL—If the publisher is one for which document URLs are subject to change, the home page URL is more likely to be helpful (see Examples 11 and 19a).

In the following cases, the full document URL is likely to take the reader to the source more reliably:

  • Publisher website that’s difficult to search—Some publisher homepages—such as those of government agencies or nongovernmental organizations—can be difficult to search, so citing the full URL for a document that takes the reader directly to the document may save time (see Examples 9, 31, and 33).
  • Message posted to a blog or other online forum—Similarly, it can be difficult to locate a particular message on a blog website, so providing the URL that will lead the reader to the message would be the best choice (see Examples 74–77).

This list is not exhaustive—we hope it will give a sense of factors that should guide your decision. A URL is imperfect in pointing the reader to an electronic source, but for many sources, it’s the best we can do. So don’t belabor the issue—make an informed guess as to whether the publisher home page URL or the full document URL is more likely to lead the reader to the document in question, and move on!

September 23, 2009

Will URLs Be Lost in the Arcades?

Annie Hill

by Annie Hill

APA now recommends including homepage URLs for journal or publisher websites but complete URLs for material that may be harder to locate. This can be confusing to readers who want to know when, exactly, to resort to homepage URLs and when to plunk the whole string into a reference. I was trying to think of a way to clarify this guidance for users when I realized that there is more to the story.

We know that long URLs take up space and can contain irrelevant strings of session identifiers that may be clickable but are of no use to the reader. We know that a shortened or homepage URL is sometimes intuitive; there’s no need to direct readers to a specific link at the New York Times, for example, when they can use a search box (and your source may well be behind a subscription wall by the time a URL is entered).

So when is a full URL necessary? Surely it should be included in its entirety when it will help the reader locate the source. A direct link to archived material may be easier to use than a link to a homepage when a site’s organization is complex or when an article has been posted ahead of print publication and may not yet be indexed.

But URLs are ephemeral in nature; they may be broken or lead nowhere once a reader attempts to use them. That’s another reason to cite home page URLs when a site can be searched; home page URLs are more stable.

Furthermore, sites themselves may be updated frequently, making URLs useless as archival referents—and some types of citations may be as ephemeral as their URLs. A tweet, for example, may not qualify as a lasting retrievable source, but despite my conviction that she’s a kindred spirit, I know that Tina Fey is not personally corresponding with me when she updates her Twitter account.

The question might really be: Why do we include URLs at all?

As Anne noted in her post last week, the Modern Language Association, whose style guide is used most often for work in the humanities, recently made a controversial decision to omit URLs from references, and another prominent style guide, Chicago, reminds us that a URL points only to a possible location of a source rather than to its identity. Authors, dates, titles, and publisher information like DOIs are still the real identifiers of a source.

It occurs to me, though, that URLs do serve a purpose. Citations themselves constitute an archive—they are evidence of how we categorize and search for material in the early twenty-first century. This may be a matter not just of history but of historiography.

It’s true that I may do better to paste author, date, and title information into a search box than I would to rely on the information in a URL. What a URL does tell me is where someone found the source at a particular period in time, and that may be reason enough to include it.

September 22, 2009

A DOI and URL Flowchart

Chelsea blog

by Chelsea Lee

Yesterday I talked about the basics of DOIs. Today I'll be unveiling a flowchart about using DOIs and URLs in your references.

The most common questions we have gotten at APA since the introduction of the 6th edition of the Publication Manual have to do with using DOIs, URLs, and database information in reference citations. We on the blog team have done our best to analyze what the manual has to say about this matter, and the flowchart below illustrates the principles at work.

Click on the image below to see a larger version of the flowchart, or you can download a PDF of the flowchart (with hyperlinks to CrossRef) here: Download DOI and URL Flowchart

DOI and URL Flowchart_revised 922

We hope that the flowchart will be helpful to you. Stay tuned for tomorrow, when Annie will be sharing a blog on the nebulous nature of URLs.

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