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What are the Different Methods of Research Paper Citation?

By Emma G.
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Teachers expect students to cite the sources they use to write their research papers. Citing is how writers let readers know which information in their papers comes from other sources and what those sources are. There are several systems of research paper citation. The most commonly used are American Psychological Association (APA) style, Modern Language Association (MLA) style, and Chicago style. Less commonly used research paper citation styles include Turabian and Council of Science editors (CSE) style.

APA style uses parentheses within the text to cite sources. These are called in-text citations. These correspond to the bibliography listed at the end of the paper. To cite using APA style, put the name of the author and the year of publication separated by a comma inside a pair of parentheses. If citing a direct quotation, include the number of the page on which the quote appears.

To cite using MLA style, put the name of the author and the page number between the parentheses. The parentheses always appear at the end of the sentence in which the material appears but before the period. These in-text citations also correspond to the sources listed in the bibliography at the end of the paper.

Chicago style actually uses two different kinds of research paper citation. The author-date style is used for citing papers in the sciences, while the notes-bibliography style is used for papers that cover history, literature, and the other humanities. Both styles use a bibliography, but the in-text citations are formatted differently.

For the notes-bibliography style, in-text citations are numbered. If the paper is short, the citations may be numbered continuously. If it is long, each new chapter starts with number one again. An in-text research paper citation in Chicago style looks like this: 1. author, title in italics (place, date of publication) page number. The bibliography listing is basically the same as the in-text citation.

The in-text citations are simpler in the author-date method. Between parentheses, they list the author and date followed by a comma and then the page number. The bibliography at the end of the text lists full information for each source.

The Turabian style of research paper citation uses footnotes or endnotes to cite sources. Within the text, the referenced information is marked by a superscript number. This number corresponds to a full bibliographic entry either at the bottom of each page or at the end of each chapter. CSE style is most often used for science papers. The in-text citation lists author and date in parentheses with no other punctuation. A full bibliography appears at the end.

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Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On Feb 25, 2014

It also helps to be clear about the citation format that the instructor expects the students to use Heavanet. Whether apa reference format is required, or the instructor wants the students to use mla style, it takes a little time to research the citation style and put the references in the proper format.

By Heavanet — On Feb 24, 2014

When I was in college and had to write research papers, I found that doing the research paper citations was almost as time consuming as doing research and putting my thoughts together to write the paper. I started setting aside a day just to do the citations, often before I even began writing the paper. This helped me get organized and reduced my stress level of writing a research paper.

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