APA 7 and the Purpose of References

person slumped behind pile of books

In case you haven’t heard the news, the American Psychological Association has released the 7th edition of its style guide.  On the surface this development affects those in the social and behavioral sciences.  Still, it can make anyone think about the purpose of–and not merely the form of–references.

For instance the manual  describes the reference format for a journal article with an article number or eLocator (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 318).   Since they don’t need traditional page numbers in the same way that print articles do, many born-digital articles now use article numbers instead.  This example is new to the 7th edition and reflects how such a practice is more common.

The ACRL Framework notes that scholarship is a conversation (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2016, pp. 20-21).  Social scientists have conversations through their journal articles.  As journals have evolved, so have the ways of  crediting authors for their part in the conversation.  Still, the need to give credit remains the same (ACRL, 2016, p. 16).


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association : The official guide to APA Style.  (7th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Association of College & Research Libraries. (2016). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Chicago, IL: Author.

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