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Journal volume numbers and issue numbers

Most journals use both volume numbers and issue numbers to identify their articles. This is because journals often publish several instalments (issues) each year. For example, here’s a list of all issues of the British Journal of Psychology published in 2019:

Volume 110, issue 1 (published February 2019)

Volume 110, issue 2 (published May 2019)

Volume 110, issue 3 (published August 2019)

Volume 110, issue 4 (published November 2019)

Each of these has the same volume number (110), because they were published in the same year. The issue number tells you which instalment of the journal an article appears in. In 2020, this journal moved to a new volume number (vol. 111) and issue numbering started again at issue 1.

Where to find volume and issue numbers

Volume and issue numbers usually appear at the beginning of the article, near the author and journal information. They may be in a header or footer in the article PDF.

A good rule to remember is that the volume number always comes before the issue number. You might see any of these examples used for the same volume and issue number:

Volume 110, Issue 2

Vol. 110, iss. 2


How to use volume and issue numbers in your references

In full references, the volume number comes after the journal title, in italics; followed by the issue number in brackets, without italics. Here’s an example from volume 110, issue 2:

Schneegans, S., & Bays, P. (2019). New perspectives on binding in visual working memory. British Journal of Psychology, 110(2), 207-244.

All references should include the year that the source was published. However, with content from websites it is sometimes necessary to use a more specific date. Examples include:

  • An online news article which shows the exact date it was published
  • A blog post which was posted on a specific date
  • A YouTube video which shows the specific date it was uploaded

If you can see the exact date that an online source was published, you should include this as part of the publication date in the format (Year, Month Date) as part of the full reference.

The example below, for an online news article, has an exact publication date in brackets after the author:

Raddi, G. (2019, February 15). Universities and the NHS must join forces to boost student mental health. Guardian.

In the in-text citation, you only need to include the year, e.g. (Raddi, 2019) or Raddi (2019).

Note: You do not need to provide an exact publication date for online journal articles or e-books.

Yes, if you have found more than one source which supports a point you are making, you can list multiple sources in your in-text citation.

To cite several sources by the same author, begin with the author's surname, followed by the publication year of each source, in date order from oldest to most recent. Any articles which are "in press" (i.e. not yet published) should be listed last.


This theory is supported by several studies (Williams, 2005, 2010, 2014).

To cite several sources by different authors, list them in the in-text citation alphabetically by the first author's surname. Separate each source with a semi-colon.


This theory is supported by several studies (Charles, 2002; Owiredu & Jones, 2013; Zappa, 1999).

Say, for example, you are reading the book Why psychology is awesome by V. Brilliant. Within this book, you see the sentence:

“The work of Clanger (2003) supports the idea that psychology can change lives.”

If you want to refer to this point made by Clanger:

The ideal thing to do is find the original work (in this case, the source written by Clanger). There should be a reference provided for it in the source you are reading. By finding the original source, you are demonstrating good research skills by making up your own mind about the source, rather than relying on another author’s interpretation of it. If you are able to find the original source, you should reference it in your in-text citation and in the reference list. In the above example, you would reference the source by Clanger.

However, if you are not able to find the original source, you can use what is called a secondary reference. This means giving credit to the original source, but also making it clear that you have only read about it in another author’s work. In this case, your in-text citation would look something like this:

Psychology can change lives (Clanger, 2003, as cited in Brilliant, 2010, p.37).

In the reference list, you would provide a full reference for the book by Brilliant, since that is the source that you actually read:

Brilliant, V. (2010). Why psychology is awesome. Fictional Press.


It’s OK to use secondary referencing occasionally, but try not to rely on it very often.

If at all possible, it is better to track down the original source in order to make up your own mind about it.

If, for example, you want to cite two articles by Jane Smith which were both published in 2011, you will need to make it clear which one is which.

In the reference list, you should order the two Jane Smith articles alphabetically by the article title. The first reference should have a lowercase letter a after the year of publication; for the second reference, use b (and so on).


Smith, J. (2011a). Following up on theories of socialization. Psychology Studies, 25(2), 99-102.

Smith, J. (2011b). Reviewing recent theories of socialization. Social Psychology, 74(1), 15-22.

In your in-text citations you should also include the letter after the publication year, so that anyone reading your work can tell which one of the articles by Smith from 2011 you are referring to.


Smith (2011b) found that recent theories of socialization are very diverse.

If you have two or more sources with the same author, and none of them have a publication date:

You can still use letters after the date to distinguish between the sources, as above. However, in place of the publication date, you would use n.d. for "no date".

Example in-text citation:

Martin (n.d.-a) studied the link between stress and heart disease.

Example reference list:

Martin, B. (n.d.-a). Does stress cause heart disease? Psych Central.

Martin, B. (n.d.-b). Reducing stress at work. Psych Central.

In the reference list, titles of books, articles etc should be capitalised in the same way you would capitalise a sentence. For example:

  • Use a capital letter for the first word in the title
  • Use a capital letter for the first word of any subtitles (i.e. the second part of the title after a colon)
  • Use capital letters for names and proper nouns

For example:

Barbour, K., Lee, K., & Moore, C. (2017). Online persona research: An Instagram case study. Persona Studies, 3(2), 1-12.

References in your reference list should be ordered alphabetically by the first author's surname, followed by their initials.

In APA, the rule for alphabetising references is that "nothing comes before something". This means that a reference to Sweet, P. would come before a reference to Sweetman, A. even though m is before p in the alphabet. This is because "nothing" (i.e. the space after Sweet) comes before "something" (i.e. the m in Sweetman).

To include more than one source by the same author, list the sources in order by year of publication, from oldest to most recent.

Any sources with no date should come first, followed by sources with a known year of publication, followed finally by any articles in press (not yet published). For example:

Davies, R. (n.d.).

Davies, R. (2011).

Davies, R. (2014).

Davies, R. (in press).

Sources written by one author alone should be placed before any other sources they have co-written with other authors, regardless of the date. For example:

Davies, R. (2012).

Davies, R. & Hitchcock, A. (2009).

Sources with the same first author, but different second authors, should be alphabetised by the second author's surname; if the second author is the same, go on to the third author, and so on. This applies regardless of the year of publication. For example:

Davies, R. & Lynch, D. (2012).

Davies, R. & Morley, C. (2007).

Sources by different authors with the same surname should be alphabetised by the author's initials. For example:

Akbar, A. F. (2014).

Akbar, M. (2012).

This also applies if you have references by authors with the same surname which are co-written with other authors; alphabetise by the first author's initials before you move on to the second author's surname. For example:

James, P. & King, S. (2009).

James, R. & Bogart, H. (2011).

Sources with a corporate author (e.g. a report authored by the Department of Health) are alphabetised with the organisation as the author. For example:

Cameron, C. (1998).

Department of Health. (2001).

Furlong, K. (2019).

Sources with no identifiable author are usually identified by their title. In the reference list, alphabetise this type of reference by the title (leaving out any beginning words such as The or A). For example:

Jones, P. (2010).

New plans to scrap child tax credit. (2015).

Perkins, A. (2001).

For more detailed information on sources with no identifiable author, including citing in the text, see No Author.

Unpublished internal documentation

You may wish to quote or paraphrase from a document that you have been granted access to but that is not publicly available (e.g. a policy document produced by your placement provider). For reasons of confidentiality you cannot fully identify the organisation in question.

You should first get permission from the organisation that you can use the information they have produced. Hide the identity of an organisation by anonymising them in your citation and reference as below.

Note: It is acceptable in this case to withhold access details if the document is available online for reasons of confidentiality.

Reference format

Anonymised author. (Year). Title [Unpublished internal document]. Placement provider.

Example full reference

School A. (2020). Anti-bullying policy [Unpublished internal document]. Placement provider.

Example in-text citations

School A (2020) makes this clear in their policy.

This is made clear in the policy (School A, 2020).

Publicly available information

If you need to reference a source that is publicly available (e.g. on your placement provider’s website) but you are not permitted to identify the organisation to protect the identities of employees, clients or children for example, you should anonymise them in your citation and reference as below.

Reference format

Anonymised author. (Year). Title. Placement provider.

Example full reference

Company A. (2020). Staff handbook. Placement provider.

Example in-text citations

This is outlined in documentation produced by Company A (2020).

This is outlined in documentation (Company A, 2020).

Your Liaison Librarian can answer questions about specific references (e.g. "How do I reference this website?"), or look at your references and give you some general feedback.

However, librarians are not able to proofread your references in detail and point out every mistake.

This is because your referencing needs to be all your own work, and also because we receive so many referencing enquiries we are not able to respond to them all with this level of detail.