However, as I tell my students, APA is reference--a type of information that one refers to when needed; it is not information that one has to necessarily remember. Would you ever consider committing a dictionary, an almanac, or some other type of reference to memory? Nonetheless, there are a number of fundamental rules students must remember in order to use APA correctly. One of the most important is its two-pronged citation system, which involves an in-text citation and a matching reference entry. Allow me to demonstrate with the following in-text citation:
According to Whitton (2010), active learning is a major factor in gameplay due to the games’ hands-on characteristics. These characteristics, in turn, inform analysis and synthesis, solution finding, information gathering, and critical thinking.
Now, looking at this citation you know the author’s last name, the year of publication, and what was paraphrased; but what if you found this source interesting and wanted to read further? Without additional information, how would you go about finding the publication? While it would not be impossible to find using what little information there is, it would be an inefficient way of going about it. This is where the aforementioned reference entry comes in, and it would look like this:
Whitton, N. (2010). Learning with digital games: A practical guide to engaging students in higher education. Routledge.
Notice that the entry has the title and publisher. With both the in-text citation and the matching reference entry, you now have the complete citation, i.e., everything you need to find this source easily. This is the principle behind research documentation.
Okay. I just covered having the in-text citation without the reference entry, but what about the reverse scenario? In this case, having the reference entry, but no in-text citation would invariably leave me to wonder where or how the student incorporated research from that reference into his or her text. So you see, the in-text citation is only complete when accompanied by its matching reference entry and vice versa. In other words, APA’s two-pronged citation system can be likened to milk and cookies: You simply can’t have one without the other!
Note: The APA Manual lists two types of cited sources as exceptions to this rule: Classical works that are standardized and personal communication that cannot be readily retrieved. These do not need to go on the reference list.