Citing Sources

Why Do We Cite Our Research?

Sources of information are cited in order to give the original authors/creators proper credit for their work and to document where an author heard or read the fact or idea that has been incorporated into a new work. The purpose of citations is to let the reader know where you obtained information so sources can easily be located and consulted.

Because knowledge is a cumulative process built on the research and writing of other researchers, your instructor needs to see the quality of the sources you used and how you developed your ideas.

 To get started and to see examples, select the citation style from the dropdown menu on the left.

What Information Should Be Cited and Why?

In general, you must document sources when you provide information that you ordinarily would not have known before conducting your research, and when you provide information that it cannot be assumed the reader knows. You must cite a reference when you:

While you are doing research and locating sources, be sure to document materials thoroughly, noting the author, title, publisher, place of publication, date, and page numbers of all sources used. For electronic materials, you should also note the DOI number (Digital Object Identifier) if available. Note the URL of any website you consult; depending on the source, you may need it for the reference.

APA style no longer requires a database name for most references; MLA style still requires it as part of your citation. In either case, make a note of it in case you need to retrieve it at a later date.

Common Knowledge

Things that are common knowledge do not require citation. For example:

However, if someone draws an original conclusion from a common fact, then you must cite the source:

Also, common sayings or proverbs need not be cited:

Below is a famous saying you might recognize, but it's actually from a poem by Sir Walter Scott. If you read this in a book, of course, you would cite the book. If you already knew this expression, you should still give Sir Walter Scott credit for it because it has a distinct and identifiable origin.

Getting started

We understand that citing your sources can be a little confusing, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Before you start, ask yourself these questions:

1. What type of source am I trying to cite?

2. Where did I retrieve that source?

3. What citation style am I supposed to use for my assignment?

Once you've answered these questions, select the most appropriate option from either the  APA  or  MLA  dropdown menu on the left to see examples.

Remember, individual help is always available through the  Center for Academic Enhancement  or email a Holy Family librarian at [email protected]

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Start your research.

Cite your sources

What is a Citation?

A citation identifies for the reader the original source for an idea, information, or image that is referred to in a work.

Citation basics

From:  Lemieux  Library,  University  of Seattle 

Why Should You Cite?

Quoting Are you quoting two or more consecutive words from a source? Then the original source should be cited and the words or phrase placed in quotes. 

Paraphrasing If an idea or information comes from another source,  even if you put it in your own words , you still need to credit the source.  General vs. Unfamiliar Knowledge You do not need to cite material which is accepted common knowledge. If in doubt whether your information is common knowledge or not, cite it. Formats We usually think of books and articles. However, if you use material from web sites, films, music, graphs, tables, etc. you'll also need to cite these as well.

Plagiarism is presenting the words or ideas of someone else as your own without proper acknowledgment of the source. When you work on a research paper and use supporting material from works by others, it's okay to quote people and use their ideas, but you do need to correctly credit them. Even when you summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles, or Web pages, you must acknowledge the original author.

Citation Style Help

Helpful links:

For additional writing resources specific to styles listed here visit the  Purdue OWL Writing Lab

Citation and Bibliography Resources

Writing an annotated bibliography

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The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.

The land acknowledgement used at UC Santa Cruz was developed in partnership with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman and the Amah Mutsun Relearning Program at the UCSC Arboretum .

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cite information in a research paper

In-Text Citations: The Basics

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APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6 th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , (6 th ed., 2 nd printing).

Note:  This page reflects APA 6, which is now out of date. It will remain online until 2021, but will not be updated. The equivalent APA 7 page can be found here .

Reference citations in text are covered on pages 169-179 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

Note:  On pages 65-66, the Publication Manual suggests that authors of research papers should use the past tense or present perfect tense for signal phrases that occur in the literature review and procedure descriptions (for example, Jones (1998) found or Jones (1998) has found ...). Contexts other than traditionally-structured research writing may permit the simple present tense (for example, Jones (1998)  finds ).

APA citation basics

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

( Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media .)

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?

If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference, but APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number (although it is not required).

According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

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Citing sources: overview.

Manage your references

Use these tools to help you organize and cite your references:

If you have questions after consulting this guide about how to cite, please contact your advisor/professor or the writing and communication center .

Why citing is important

It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:

About citations

Citing a source means that you show, within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from another place.

Citations are a short way to uniquely identify a published work (e.g. book, article, chapter, web site).  They are found in bibliographies and reference lists and are also collected in article and book databases.

Citations consist of standard elements, and contain all the information necessary to identify and track down publications, including:

Citations may look different, depending on what is being cited and which style was used to create them. Choose an appropriate style guide for your needs.  Here is an example of an article citation using four different citation styles.  Notice the common elements as mentioned above:

Author - R. Langer

Article Title - New Methods of Drug Delivery

Source Title - Science

Volume and issue - Vol 249, issue 4976

Publication Date - 1990

Page numbers - 1527-1533

American Chemical Society (ACS) style:

Langer, R. New Methods of Drug Delivery. Science 1990 , 249 , 1527-1533.

IEEE Style:

R. Langer, " New Methods of Drug Delivery," Science , vol. 249 , pp. 1527-1533 , SEP 28, 1990 .

American Psychological Association   (APA) style:

Langer, R. (1990) . New methods of drug delivery. Science , 249 (4976), 1527-1533.

Modern Language Association (MLA) style:

Langer, R. " New Methods of Drug Delivery." Science 249.4976 (1990) : 1527-33.

What to cite

You must cite:

Publications that must be cited include:  books, book chapters, articles, web pages, theses, etc.

Another person's exact words should be quoted and cited to show proper credit 

When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!

Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when you borrow another's words (or ideas) and do not acknowledge that you have done so. In this culture, we consider our words and ideas intellectual property; like a car or any other possession, we believe our words belong to us and cannot be used without our permission.

Plagiarism is a very serious offense. If it is found that you have plagiarized -- deliberately or inadvertently -- you may face serious consequences. In some instances, plagiarism has meant that students have had to leave the institutions where they were studying.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources - both within the body of your paper and in a bibliography of sources you used at the end of your paper.

Some useful links about plagiarism:

How To Write a Research Paper

Welcome to the writing libguide.

Welcome to the research guide with step-by-step instructions on how to write a research paper.  The following sections will guide you through the writing process and with finding articles, books, and eBooks for your research paper assignments.

The sections on plagiarism and citations will explain these two concepts and how you can apply them to your academic writing.

Please contact the library if your need help with finding articles, books, and eBooks for your research paper.

Please contact the Academic Success Center for assistance with the writing process.

cite information in a research paper

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Warning: when you must cite.

Although you should use sources creatively and flexibly to help you generate ideas and sharpen your argument, there are some hard-and-fast rules about the way sources should be acknowledged in your project. Click on the links for more explanation of the various rules.

ALWAYS CITE, in the following cases:

1. When you quote two or more words verbatim, or even one word if it is used in a way that is unique to the source.

Most writers realize that they must acknowledge a source when quoting a memorable phrase or sentence. They’d be sure to credit Mark Twain when quoting: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” And you probably also understand that you do not need to cite words that are very common to your topic. When writing about Hamlet, you do not need to put the words “Hamlet” or “Shakespeare” in quotation marks, or cite a source for them, even though you may have read sources that use these words. But when a single word or two are used in a distinctive way, so that the author is creating a new concept or applying it to a new topic, you must give acknowledge the source. When John Baker redefines the significance of the mirror test by saying that chimpanzees’ awareness of their reflection is not full consciousness, but a limited “kinesthetic self-concept,” it’s clear that those two words, as specialized terms of art, should appear in quotation marks in your paper. Even though neither “kinesthetic” nor “self-concept” is unusual on its own, as a phrase they belong to the author. But even a single, non-specialist term—such as “consilience”—may become tied to an author (in this case, E.O. Wilson) through an influential publication, in which case you should put the single word in quotation marks, at least in your first mention of it in your text.

2. When you introduce facts that you have found in a source.

Facts that are generally accessible (the date of the Declaration of Independence, for instance) need not be cited to a particular source, but once you go up one level of detail on the information ladder, you probably need to cite the source (the number of people who signed the Declaration, for instance). And note that commonly known facts found in a particular or unusual context should be cited, so that the reader knows how your argument may have been influenced by the context in which you found it. For more, see Common Knowledge .

3. When you paraphrase or summarize ideas, interpretations, or conclusions that you find in a source. For more explanation, see Fair Paraphrase .

4. when you introduce information that is not common knowledge or that may be considered common knowledge in your field, but the reader may not know it. for more information, see common knowledge ., 5. when you borrow the plan or structure of a larger section of a source’s argument (for example, using a theory from a source and analyzing the same three case studies that the source uses)..

You may not be used to thinking of the plan of a source as proprietary to its author, but if you follow a source’s plan too closely without acknowledging that you saw it there first, you’re presenting as your own an analysis that someone else shaped. For example, if use Mark Hauser’s discussion of primates’ knowledge of other minds from Wild Minds and you discuss the same three experiments that he analyzes, then you must acknowledge this debt. The simplest way to do this is to say “Like Mark Hauser, I find the three experiments carried out by X, Y, and Z groups to be useful in considering the extent of chimpanzee awareness.” An even better way—because it highlights your distinctiveness as a writer—is to distinguish the different use to which you will put the analysis. If, for instance, you’re focusing on primate social skills rather than strictly on their awareness of other minds, you might write: “Mark Hauser examines three experiments carried out by X, Y, and Z for what they can tell us about knowledge of other minds. For my purposes, though, these same experiments shed important light on the social capacities of primates.” These statements can come in a discursive footnote or in the main body, although if the statement distinguishes your argument from the source’s, it has an important role in the body of the argument.

See Gordon Harvey, Writing With Sources , Chapter 3, for an excellent discussion of unfair borrowing of another’s plan.

6. When you build on another’s method found either in a source or from collaborative work in a lab.

Relying on someone’s research method is like #5 above—borrowing a text’s plan or structure. If your approach to a problem is inspired by someone else’s work on a similar or analogous case, credit the original researcher. Building on the work of others is appropriate and desirable, but methods, like specific words and phrases, are a form of intellectual property.

7. When you build on another’s program or on a not-commonly-known algorithm in writing computer code.

Although writing code may seem different from writing papers, the same standards of acknowledgment apply. If you rely on someone else’s program, you must credit that person. Some software algorithms are so well known that they rise to the level of Common Knowledge . Programmers use such pieces of code without acknowledgement. But if the code is not well known, someone reading your program might think you’ve authored parts that are borrowed. For a useful example of unauthorized code borrowing, see this page of the Princeton University website .

8. When you collaborate with others in producing knowledge.

You may sometimes co-author a paper or other text during college; these opportunities are often more frequent in the professional world. When two or more people all contribute substantially to a piece, they normally list all their names as authors. But there are also occasions when someone gives help that does not rise to the level of co-authorship. If you work with a lab partner to set up an experiment, for instance, but run and analyze the results yourself, you should credit the lab partner in a footnote or by reference within your paper. Similarly, if you and a partner present a scene from a play, and you later write a paper using some of the insights you gained during production, you should credit the other actor.

University life is structured so that your ideas will receive constant testing and refinement in discussion with others. You do not need to cite in your papers every conversation you have about the ideas or evidence. But you do need to develop a judgment about which conversations are incidental and which result in ideas that merit reference in your texts. If you take this warning as an opportunity, and make an effort to reveal the trail of your thinking in footnotes and acknowledgements, you’ll soon develop a sense of how to credit collaboration appropriately.


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Organizing Academic Research Papers: Purpose of Guide

Purpose of guide.

This guide is intended to help you organize and write a quality academic research paper. Also included are recommendations regarding how to manage specific course assignments. Note that, if you have specific questions about how to write a research paper, you should always seek advice from your professor before you begin. Specific requirements stated by your professor will always supersede instructions provided in these general guidelines.

Thanks to Dr. Robert V. Labaree of the Von KleinSmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs, University of Southern California Libraries , for sharing the content of this guide.

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How to Cite a Research Paper in Each Research Paper Format

cite information in a research paper

Dissertations, thesis, and all kinds of academic papers will need to be cited using citation styles, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago. Citing academic papers properly are done to counteract plagiarism. These citing formats are used to recognize related literary pieces and to mention references used. You should study various citing styles and research paper well before producing essays or any other pieces of academic writing. In this article, our term paper writers have prepared information on how to format research papers as well as how to properly reference academic papers.

APA Research Paper Format

APA (American Psychological Association) research paper format is often used in papers related to psychology and social sciences. In this citation, there is a general format in referencing through endnotes/footnotes, in-text, and reference pages. Academic papers in APA citation has general writing guidelines.

Papers should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font. Include a page header at the top of every page. To create a page header, insert page numbers flush right. Then type the title of your paper in the header flush left using all capital letters. The page header is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

cite information in a research paper

Talking about how to write a research paper in APA format, your APA paper should have four major sections :

Be sure to read about how to write an essay format . In article, we talked about the differences between formats.

How to Cite a Research Paper in APA

There are specific rules to follow when citing a research paper in APA. The following are the specific formats to follow:

These citing formats are used to recognize related literary pieces and to mention references used. You don't need to cite information about yourself or your own thoughts. For example, when listing education on resume you don't need any citations. However, you should study various citing styles and research well before producing any other piece of academic writing.

Do you need the help of a custom essay writer ? They are always here and ready to help with essay .

Not Sure How to Format Academic Papers on Your Own?

Simply provide us with requirements, pick a writer and get a plagiarism-free paper in no time.

MLA Research Paper Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) format format is commonly used in liberal arts and humanities. Let’s talk a bit about how to write a research paper in MLA format. This format has principles rather than a set of specific rules to be followed. Papers in MLA format provides a process of documentation.

MLA recommends using Times New Roman font in size 12. The entire paper should be double spaced with 1-inch margins on all sides. Tab once to indent paragraphs (½ inch). Your last name and a page number should be inserted on the upper right-hand corner of the first page.

cite information in a research paper

How to Cite a Research Paper in MLA Format

The following are formats to follow in citing research paper in MLA format:

cite information in a research paper

Research Paper in Chicago Style

The Chicago style of citing is commonly used in humanities. It requires writers to cite sources in endnotes or footnotes. This citation provides the author with an avenue to express accountability and credibility to related literature or references used in written material. It helps an academic writer provide quotations in a research paper, as well as being commonly used for book bibliographies.

cite information in a research paper

Look at our movie review example and try to determine what format it is written in.

How to Cite a Research Paper in Chicago Style

The following are Chicago style formats to follow:

ASA Research Paper Format

The leading American method of referencing and quotation created by Sociological Association. Sociological students and scholars use the ASA citation format primarily for writing university research papers in sociology or for submitting articles to ASA journals.

For the detailed information about ASA elements of style, visit the American Sociological Association official website or read our Guide to ASA Citation and Writing Style.

cite information in a research paper

How to Cite a Research Paper in ASA Format

If you need, you can ask help from EssayPro's custom dissertation writing service .

Video Guide: Easy Ways How to Write a Research Paper Fast

Here is a guide for you on how to write a research paper fast.

Get Help with Your Paper!

Citing references and related literature in a dissection, thesis paper, etc. is an important part. As a student or a professional, you should be able to show written pieces which helped you synthesize ideas and formulate conclusions. If you are having trouble referencing your gathered information, head on over to our paper writing service and you will get help with your research paper. Also, you may have the question: “Who will do my math homework?”. Our master paper writers are real professionals, so feel free to check EssayPro catalog and find your writer.

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When to cite ..

Now that you have consulted the literature and are ready to synthesize your information, be careful to adequately give credit to original authors by citing appropriately.  This is a critical skill that all public health professionals must develop. The general convention is: “ when in doubt, cite ” (1). There is no such thing as “over-citing,” so cite the original source as much as possible.

You must cite the source every time you incorporate research, words, ideas, data, or information that is not your own (2). While you are synthesizing and often summarizing many pieces of information, you must cite any concept that is not your own. This includes any source that contributes, either directly or indirectly, to your knowledge and understanding of the material and the formulation of your arguments (3).

Here are five basic principles to guide in you in the citing process:

When NOT to Cite

It is best practice to cite whenever possible. However, there are certain instances in which citing may not be necessary. Below are some examples in which you may not need to cite. However, if you are in doubt, it is best to cite the source and consult your instructor.

cite information in a research paper

Featured Story

Writing is hard. the public health writing program is here to help, additional resources.

For more information on avoiding plagiarism, visit the Understanding Plagiarism section of the Writing Guide and check out the  SPH Plagiarism Tutorial . You may also wish to check out these resources:

Learn more about BUSPH Public Health Writing


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  1. How To Cite a Research Paper: Citation Styles Guide

    If the author information is not available, you can use the source title to replace the author element. When there is no date included in the

  2. What Information Should be Cited and Why?

    While you are doing research and locating sources, be sure to document materials thoroughly, noting the author, title, publisher, place of

  3. Cite Your Sources

    In the body of a paper, the in-text citation acknowledges the source of information used. · At the end of a paper, the citations are compiled on a References or

  4. In-Text Citations: The Basics

    When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source

  5. Overview

    Why citing is important · To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information · To be a

  6. Citations

    Research documentation usually appears in two parts: short in-text citations occurring within the actual paper and a longer, complete list of

  7. Warning: When You Must Cite

    When you quote two or more words verbatim, or even one word if it is used in a way that is unique to the source. · When you introduce facts that you have found

  8. Organizing Academic Research Papers: 11. Citing Sources

    Importance of a Citing your Sources · Proper citation allows others to locate the materials you used · Citing other people's words and ideas

  9. How to Cite a Research Paper: APA, MLA, and Chicago Formats

    How to Cite a Research Paper in Each Research Paper Format · Author, A.A.. (Year of Publication). The Title of work. Publisher City, State:

  10. When to Cite

    You must cite the source every time you incorporate research, words, ideas, data, or information that is not your own (2). While you are synthesizing and