Yes! A reference to a YouTube channel follows the usual who (YouTube username), when (date), what (title), and where (URL) format:
PsycINFO. (n.d.). Home [YouTube Channel]. Retrieved from http://youtube.com/PsycINFO
PsycINFO (n.d.) or (PsycINFO, n.d.)
In this example,
Who = "PsycINFO.": Use the username shown in the "Who" section, as indicated in the image below.
When = "n.d." because YouTube channels are undated.
What = "Home [YouTube Channel]": As you can see below, every YouTube channel’s title is "Home" by default unless you are citing one of the other tabs (Videos, Playlists, Channels, Discussion, About) on the channel. If so, just substitute that tab’s name.
Where = "Retrieved from http://youtube.com/PsycINFO"
When researching a topic for your paper or manuscript, you may come across a few relevant YouTube videos—perhaps a TED Talk or two—that you would like to cite. Being the intrepid explorer of the Internet that you are, you may even brave those videos’ comment threads, desperately searching for some faint glint of rational discourse hidden within the dark, troll-infested depths. Or maybe you’re intentionally seeking out vile and offensive comments if you are writing about the psychology of Internet trolls. Whatever your reasons, you have found a YouTube comment that you would like to cite, but you don’t know how.
Some of the same principles for citing a blog comment also apply to citing a YouTube comment. For instance, list the commenter’s user name if their real name isn’t listed and add “Re:” followed by a space before the title of the video. Also, as with some blog comments, clicking on a YouTube comment’s time stamp will lead to a page with a unique URL that features that comment at the top of the comment thread. Include this unique URL in the “Retrieved from” portion of your reference.
There are, however, some important differences between citing blog comments and YouTube comments that are worth noting. Let’s first look at the publication date.
As with citing a blog comment, cite the date that the YouTube comment was posted, not the date that the video was uploaded. YouTube comments present a somewhat unique challenge in that they do not display precise publication dates. Rather, they indicate how long ago a comment was posted (e.g., “3 hours ago,” “2 weeks ago,” “10 months ago,” “4 years ago,” etc.). With such imprecision, there’s no sense in citing a day or a month, as you would do when citing a blog comment, so just cite the publication year.
Another difference between citing a YouTube comment and a blog comment is the formatting of the title. Whereas the title of a blog post is not italicized, the title of a video is italicized. However, the “Re:” is technically not part of the video title and therefore is not italicized.
Taking all this into consideration, here is a sample reference to a YouTube comment:
And here is a sample text citation for that comment:
Some do not see the value in these sorts of informal, self-diagnosis measures: “This invitation for lay people to diagnose a rare psychological disorder… is profoundly irresponsible” (49metal, 2016).
Keep in mind the reliability of your source within the context your paper’s topic when deciding what to cite. A random comment from an unidentified YouTube user, such as the one above, is likely not appropriate in a research paper that coalesces expert opinions on a scholarly topic. However, this type of informal source could be more appropriate in a different kind of paper, such as one about how people interact with each other on social media.
How should I cite a TED Talk? Is the author TED or TED Talks or the speaker giving the talk?
Thanks! —TED Listener
Thanks for asking! References include the who-when-what-where information that, ideally, allows your reader to find not just the source material but the source exactly where you found it. For online sources this is particularly important because the presentation and sometimes even the information provided can vary from one online location to the next.
Take, for example, this TED Talk by Amanda Palmer:
If you viewed the video on the TED website, a reference to this TED Talk would be as follows:
Palmer, A. (2013, February). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking
In-text citation: Palmer (2013) or (Palmer, 2013)
Note that the TED page and the video itself give only "February" as the date, so that's what you can include in the reference.
(As an aside, you’ll note that Amanda Palmer's name is also included in the title. This is not an extra element of our APA Style reference; it's included because her name is part of the title itself. TED videos include speaker names as part of the video titles.)
But, if you viewed the video on YouTube, the same TED Talk would be referenced as follows:
TED. (2013, March 1). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMj_P_6H69g
TED (2013) or (TED, 2013)
YouTube shows the date that the video was posted as March 1, 2013, so that's the date to use in this reference.
Proper citation is an important component of any APA Style paper. However, many readers believe certain sources aren’t allowed in APA Style, and they write to us looking for a definitive list of what is off limits. Two of the most common questions are about whether it’s okay to cite websites and whether sources have to have been published within a certain time frame to be cited, such as the last 5 or 10 years.
Let’s set the record straight: Anything that a reader can retrieve, you can cite as a source in an APA Style reference list. Things the reader can’t retrieve (like a conversation, an unrecorded webinar, or a personal e-mail) can be cited as personal communications (see PM § 6.20). And there are no limits on the age of sources.
But just because you can cite anything as a source doesn’t mean you should. Rather, APA recommends that sources be reliable, primary accounts that represent the most up-to-date information wherever possible. Let’s look at each of these aspects in more detail.
A reliable source is one you can trust. Two indicators of reliability are the expertise of the author and the vetting standards of the place of publication. For example, an article written by a researcher and published in a peer-reviewed journal is likely to contain reliable information and thus would make a good source. On the other hand, a random website written by an unknown person, for example, is less likely to be reliable, and thus we would not recommend you cite this source unless you have a good reason (e.g., to talk about the source’s unreliability) or you verify the information yourself using other reliable sources.
However, the mere fact that information is published online is not reason to dismiss it as unreliable. Many scientific, medical, and governmental organizations—such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Census Bureau, and even the APA—publish reliable information on their websites and social media sites. Scientists and research organizations might publish blogs or YouTube videos that are worth citing. Evaluate each source on its own merits for reliability when determining whether to cite it in a paper.
A primary source presents information gathered firsthand, such as the results of an experiment or data from a survey. Secondary sources present information secondhand—an example would be a textbook summary of a topic or a Wikipediaarticle. APA recommends citing primary sources whenever possible, because this allows you to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information yourself rather than rely on someone else to do this for you. Secondary sources can be reliable, but it is a best practice of scholarly writing to investigate for yourself if you can. See here and here for more information on primary and secondary sources.
APA recommends that you use the most up-to-date research you can find on your topic. However, the meaning of up-to-date will vary depending on the field. Some fields develop faster than others, and even within a field, some information will remain relevant for a long time, whereas other information will become outdated. For example, foundational works may be quite old but still worth citing when you are establishing the context for your own work. There is no year-related cutoff where sources must be published within the past x number of years to be used in a paper. Each source must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the information in it is timely and relevant.
If you have further questions about choosing sources for an APA Style paper, leave a comment below.
Audiovisual materials like videos, podcasts, movies, and television shows can make excellent sources for academic papers. To point the reader of a paper to a specific spot in an audiovisual source—such as when you cite a direct quotation—include a timestamp in the APA Style in-text citation, just as you would include a page number under analogous circumstances for a print source like a book or journal article. This post will show you how.
Use a Timestamp to Cite a Direct Quotation
To cite a direct quotation from an audiovisual source, include a timestamp in the in-text citation alongside the author and date indicating the point at which the quotation begins.
Here are two examples from a YouTube video about cognitive behavioral therapy that features interviews with both practitioners and clients. The first citation is for a block quotation, and the second is for a shorter quotation (<40 words).
The treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy may seem extreme to a person who does not experience the difficulties associated with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Professor Paul Salkovskis addresses this concern:
That’s rather like saying, if someone’s got a broken leg . . . “Why should you have a plaster cast on? That’s extremely unnatural. No one else has a plaster cast.” And the idea is you often have to do things in a very different way in order to put them right. (OCD-UK, 2009, 4:03)
One patient who experienced the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy stated that it was so remarkable for her that “I began to think impossible things, like I could even invite people home” (OCD-UK, 2009, 4:50).
The timestamp reflects the format shown on the source—here, the video is counted in minutes and seconds. To cite a quotation appearing before the 1-minute mark, or from a video less than 1 minute long, include a zero in the minutes column (e.g., 0:32).
This example also demonstrates how to incorporate details into the narrative to provide context. Neither of the individuals quoted above are the author of the video (which for retrieval in the reference is the name of the user who posted the video to YouTube, OCD-UK). Thus the quoted individuals’ names or descriptions appear in the narrative, and the citation appears parenthetically.
Use a Timestamp to Help the Reader Locate Paraphrased Information
You can also include a timestamp for a citation of paraphrased information if you decide the timestamp would help the reader find the information—for example, if you’ve used information from only a part of a long video. Again, this same principle governs when you should include page numbers (or section names, or any other part of a source [link to post]) in paraphrased citations to print materials.
Here is an example from a video interview with Aaron Beck, a pioneer of cognitive behavioral therapy. The video is more than 2 hours long, so the timestamp will help the reader find the part we’ve referenced, even though the information is only paraphrased.
Beck has stated that the future of cognitive behavioral therapy should be founded in evidence-based treatment (Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2012, 1:30:40). He hypothesized that scientists may even be able to learn which therapies (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, pharmacotherapy, or even gene therapy or psychogenomics) will be most effective for a given individual, allowing therapists to personalize treatment for best results.
Although it’s sufficient as far as APA Style is concerned to provide the timestamp at which the cited information begins, you can also include a timestamp range if you think it would help the reader. To refer to a range of time in an audiovisual source, use an en dash between the two timestamps, just as you would use an en dash in a page range. Present both timestamps in full, just as you would present two page numbers in a range in full (e.g., pp. 219–227, not pp. 219–27).
Here is an example:
Beck provided several examples of how evidence-based treatments should form the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy (Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 2012, 1:30:40–1:33:35).
Cite What You See is the motto I used in my previous post about citing pseudonyms to explain that you should cite whatever author name you noted in the source you used, whether it’s a pseudonym or a real name. This motto can be applied to all the essential elements of a reference list entry. The information you need to properly cite a source should be found within the source itself.
Extend the Cite What You See motto to Cite What You Use, and you’ll find answers to some other common questions about creating reference list entries. Use only the information provided by the source you are citing—don’t include information from other sources or variants of your source.
Here are two common APA Style questions about citing sources and ways that the Cite What You See, Cite What You Use motto can address them.
"The book I’m citing has multiple editions. Which one do I cite?"
Cite whichever edition you used. For instance, even though there’s a more recent edition, if you consulted the fifth edition of the Publication Manual, then refer to the fifth edition in your reference list entry:
American Psychological Association. (2005). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
"I’m citing a video that’s located at multiple places on the Internet. Which source should I cite?"
Cite whichever source you used. If you’re citing a video podcast that you downloaded from iTunes, format your reference entry as in Example 50 from page 210, section 7.07, of the Publication Manual. But if you found the video on YouTube, cite it as you would any other YouTube video (see our post on how to create a reference for a YouTube video). Here’s an example of how to cite one video from two different sources:
Dunning, B. (Producer). (2011, January 12). inFact: Conspiracy theories [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com/
The bottom line is don’t be concerned that other versions of your source exist or that your source can be found in places other than where you found it. Just remember to Cite What You See, Cite What You Use!
Halloween is coming! What better time of year to track down some of your favorite scary YouTube videos to frighten your friends or prove your position on the existence of ghosts? If you spin your YouTube search into research (“The Startle Reflex: Can You Use It to Identify Individuals With Antisocial Personality Disorder?”), here is how to create a reference for your stimulus. (By the way, none of the sample videos given below include something that jumps out at you. Experimentation has proved that my startle reflex is just fine, thanks.)
The general format is as follows:
Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (year, month day). Title of video
[Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx
For retrievability, the person who posted the video is put in the author position. You might have noticed that the template shows both a typically formatted author name and a place for a screen name, and here's why: On YouTube and many other video-posting websites, users must post under a screen name. This screen name is integral to finding the video on YouTube, so including it in the reference is important. Sometimes, however, the real name of the individual who posted the video is also known. The individual's real name likely better connects him or her to the real world as well as to any other sources he or she may have provided for your paper (e.g., an author who wrote an article and also produced a YouTube video). Providing the real name, when available, aids the reader by highlighting these interconnections and also makes it possible to alphabetize the reference among any other references by that same author in the reference list. Thus, the reference format for a YouTube video includes both elements when both elements are available.
Apsolon, M. [markapsolon]. (2011, September 9). Real ghost girl
caught on Video Tape 14 [Video file]. Retrieved from
(The capitalization [or lack thereof] in the screen name is in keeping with how it appears online.)
On YouTube, the screen name is most prominent. If the user’s real name is not available, include only the screen name, without brackets:
Screen name. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved
Bellofolletti. (2009, April 8). Ghost caught on surveillance camera
[Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
In text, cite by the author name that appears outside of brackets, whichever one that may be. For example, the two example references provided above would be cited as follows: (Apsolon, 2011; Bellofolletti, 2009).
Have additional questions regarding YouTube references and citations? Please comment below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org!