I am in the process of conforming a paper to the APA style guide. However, I recently came across submission guidelines for an academic journal, and the following distinction stood out to me:

If you want to refer to the paper use 'Appiah 1986' (without brackets): 'Appiah (1986)' refers to the philosopher - it means 'Appiah (in his 1986 paper)'.

I have two questions about this:

  1. Does this convention conform to any widely recognized style guides, or is it likely specific to that journal?
  2. Does the APA style guide draw a similar distinction between referring to a work (parentheses excluded) versus referring to an author with respect to a work (parentheses included)? So, for example, which of the two conforms to APA? (i) "In one form or another, the argument is to be found in Fine 2002" versus (ii) "In one form or another, the argument is to be found in Fine (2002)"

I haven't been able to find a clear answer to these questions.

Thanks in advance!

  • Which journal? . Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 17:21
  • This: academic.oup.com/analysis/pages/General_Instructions I just noticed that they mention The Chicago Manual of Style, but I'm still wondering about the APA style guide, because that's the style that I'm currently using.
    – zblaesi
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 19:07
  • Oh I was confused because I thought you were saying this journal does use APA, but it doesn't? Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 19:19
  • No, I'm not sure what style the journal uses. But their distinction made sense to me when I saw it, and I started using it in papers until I recently switched over to APA. What I'm trying to figure out is whether the APA style also recognizes the distinction, or not, so that I know how to revise my papers accordingly.
    – zblaesi
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 19:44

2 Answers 2


This distinction makes sense. The point is that it should be possible to delete whatever is in parentheses and the sentence should still make sense. The parenthetical part is just extra information to allow someone to find the source.


The first person to prove this was Smith (2005)

passes the test: the main sentence is "The first person to prove this was Smith," and if someone wants to check this they should look at the 2005 paper. However,

The first paper to prove this was Smith (2005)

doesn't make sense without the "2005" ("Smith" is not a paper, but "Smith 2005" is). So you shouldn't put "2005" in parentheses.

  1. Both are fine, they fit into the sentence slightly differently so it is often used together to make the text smoother and less repetitive.

  2. No, because the structure remains the same, so no reason to differentiate. I think the first version is also not used in APA, the second version is what is used commonly (year between brackets).

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