"When do I cite a source?"
Whenever you include a word, phrase, or idea from a source, it needs to be cited. That source can include a web page, classroom lecture, an interview with your Uncle Pete, a quote or summary from a book, magazine, etc. And note the "a" word: singular. Even a single word from someone else, when included in your own essay, needs to be set off with quotation marks and then cited.
"When do I use APA?"
In general, classes in the Sciences (including sociology and psychology) use APA (American Psychological Association) style citation. You should always check with your professor and ask which style they would prefer for a particular assignment.
"How do I cite using APA?"
Because of the rapid changes in scientific knowledge, dates are especially important when using APA citation. A complete citation consists of two parts: an in-text citation (which includes the author's last, date, and the page number if from a print source and in a direct quote) and an entry on a List of References page at end of essay. Use the examples below as a rough guide.
Sample In-Text Citation (the part that goes in your essay)
Work for a living? Feeling a bit poor lately? The link between the two is not difficult to explain when you examine recent pay raises. In 1997, the average worker received a raise of 3 percent. Her CEO? Many earned a 21 percent raise (Cooper, 1997).
Note that the author's last name and year of publication is enclosed in parenthesis and that the period goes to the right of the parenthesis.
Sample References Entry (the part that goes on a "References" page at the end) for in-text citation above:
Cooper, M. (1997). Income Inequality. CQ Researcher, 17, 337 - 360.
Together, these two parts let the reader know who wrote your article, where they can find it, and approximately how long the article is.
This two part citation method works like a code. In general, the reader looks for the author's name in the in-text citation (or the first word of the title if there is no author), and then goes to the Reference page entry for additional information. Your job is to supply the correct parts of the code in the correct order.
You have to be sure that the name/word you include in your in-text citation will match the first word of one of your Reference entries. Thus, the word “Cooper” from the in-text example above (in the parenthesis) matches the word “Cooper” in the sample Reference entry.
Readers would see the citation (Cooper, 1997) and instantly know that the information before the citation is from a writer named “Cooper” and that the information is from the year 1997. If they wanted to check your source, they would turn to the References page and scan the first word of the alphabetically arranged list until the word “Cooper” appeared.