Research paper writing requires proper citation techniques to avoid plagiarism. It is crucial that researchers cite their references each time they present a distinctive idea in their papers.
Citations allow readers to verify the information presented in the research. It also helps the readers gauge the validity of the researcher’s arguments, based on how the cited information was used in the paper. Furthermore, it gives credit to the original author.
Citations and references styles
Many people confuse citations and references. Citations involve mentioning your sources within the text of your research. References, on the other hand, involve listing all of your sources at the end of your research paper. To avoid confusion, you can refer to citation as in-text citations.
The most widely used citation styles are MLA, APA and Chicago. Depending on the citation style used within the field of research, you will need to ensure that these elements are present: author, date, and page number. The general rule for in-text citations for MLA, APA and Chicago styles are as follows:
When citing a source within the text, you need to include the author and the page within parentheses. For example:
- This phenomenon is called “anti-plagiarism” (Smith 54).
- Author Patrick Smith called it “anti-plagiarism” (54).
- The phenomenon is called “anti-plagiarism” (Researcher’s Digest 54). – If the author is unknown, or simply (Researcher’s Digest) at the end of the sentence if the page is unknown.
When citing a source within the text, you need to include the author, the year when the work was published and the page. For example:
- This phenomenon is called “anti-plagiarism” (Smith, 1999, p. 54).
- Author Patrick Smith (1999) called it “anti-plagiarism” (p. 54).
- The phenomenon is called “anti-plagiarism” (Researcher’s Digest, 1999, p. 54). – If the author is unknown, or simply (Researcher’s Digest, 1999) at the end of the sentence if the page is unknown.
Chicago (CMS) Style
Use footnotes and endnotes when citing sources using Chicago (CMS) style. The main text should have the source and the footnotes should contain the author’s name, the publication where his or her work appeared, the date, publisher and the page number (only for the first citation). For example:
Text: Author Patrick Smith called it “anti-plagiarism”1
Footnote: 1. Patrick Smith, Researcher’s Digest (New York: Citation Press, 1999), 54.
Remember that whenever you cite a source within the text of your research paper, your readers should also be able to see it in the Works Cited, References, or Bibliography page at the end of your paper. This ensures that your readers can verify the information by seeing the details of the source that you cited.
In-text citations using rules
While citing sources is a good practice, there are some unwritten rules about using in-text citations. To make sure that you create a comprehensive and cohesive research paper, take note of the following:
- Do not cite a single source too much – Citing a single source too many times will make your arguments look biased. If you want to present an idea strongly, use multiple sources that support the idea.
- Provide your own commentary for each idea that you cited – Do not just make paragraphs out of paraphrased sentences. It is important that you also provide your own voice to express the general position of your paper.
- Cite relevant sources – It is best practice to references studies from about 3 to 5 years ago. This will let your readers know that you are building your arguments based on the more recent findings regarding the topic you chose to research on. Make sure to cite ideas that support your main arguments.
Citations will make your research paper look credible and help you avoid plagiarism. Always make sure that you properly cite your sources based on the referencing style preferred by your association.