How to Cite in a Research Paper: Examples and Useful Tips for MLA, APA & Chicago Styles

To prove your thesis statement in an academic research paper, you have to back it up with convincing arguments. To do so, you need to refer to relevant research works by citing them in your paper. Citations can be presented in different styles. While the basic information you include in a quote will remain the same in every style, the format in which it is presented will differ. There are several formatting styles; the most popular ones are APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Knowing how to cite for a research paper in different styles is crucial. Further, you’ll find formatting rules to follow when writing a research paper.

how to cite a research paper

How to Cite Sources in a Research Paper

When working on a research project – be that a student essay, an academic publication (e.g., a scientific magazine article), or even a PowerPoint presentation – you must properly document all information sources included in your work. The purpose of documentation and citing is to provide the evidence that all sources of information you refer to are credible, as well as to give credit to the authors and publishers for their original work and enable the readers to turn to these sources.

Every student should know how to cite a source in a research paper because proper formatting usually influences the final grade for the paper. The rules of citing are clear and straightforward:

  • If you can’t write a piece of text any better than in the original – you put it into quotes and then cite its source.
  • If you know how to present a piece better – you paraphrase it and also cite its source.

In both these cases, you need to include the full references into the Reference Section at the end of your paper. The rule applies to pieces of text taken from any sections of the source material.

Here’s one more important thing to consider: whatever you copy (a picture, a table, an interview, figures, or other pieces of data), you must include a citation into the caption and provide a full reference to it in the Reference Section, even if the material was reformatted or redrawn.

How to Cite a Website in a Research Paper

With the holistic penetration of the World Wide Web in all spheres of human activities, a great number of scientific works became available online. Just like with the print sources, the aim of listing the Internet sources is to let the readers consult them easily. That’s why when citing a website, you should:

  • Provide the full URL of the Internet page;
  • For the case of the web address possibly being changed, you should also include the date when you assessed the site and a full account of the organization, group or person who sponsors the site.

Generally, a citation from an online source should look like this:

Name of the author. Title of document. Title of the website. Sponsor of the website. Date of the document publication. Full URL. Date of your access.

How to Cite a Research Paper APA Style

APA style (American Psychological Association) is commonly used for citing sources for social sciences and health sciences fields. That’s why every student should know how to cite work in a research paper in APA style. Here are the basic rules you should follow:

  • The general principle of how to cite a research paper in APA in the text is that you should follow the author-date method, which means that you should include the last name of the author and the publication year in your text. For example, (Robertson, 1985). The complete reference should be listed in the Reference Section at the end of your research paper.
  • If you want to refer to some idea from another research work without quoting the material directly or refer to an entire work, article or book, all you have to include in the in-text reference is name of the author and the year of publication (but not the page number). All cited sources should also be listed in Reference Section.

How to Cite a Research Paper MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association of America style) is used for writing academic research papers for the humanities (English, modern languages, literature, media and cultural studies, etc.). To refer to the works of other authors in MLA style, you need to present text in parenthetical citations. It means that in most cases, the relevant sources of information should be given in parentheses, at the end of the respective sentence. Here’re a few basic rules of MLA formatting for you to follow:

  • In your work (e.g., in a body paragraph), you can mention something that requires citing the source paper. For this purpose, use a parenthetical reference in which you should place the authors’ names and the page number where you found the information. For example: “(Tate & Kindle, p.128).”
  • The names of the authors of a cited paper should be inverted: first write the last name, then put a comma, and after spell out the first name. The names of two and more authors are separated with commas. For example: “Murray, David, Campbell, Jack, and Morrison, Kate.”
  • The title and subtitle should be enclosed in quotation marks. Capitalize the words (but for conjunctions and articles). For example: “Smith, Blake. “The Problem of Lost Generation in American Literature.”

Further, you’ll find quick answers to some of the most popular students’ questions on formatting.

FAQ

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is another popular style of formatting used for published research works. In it, the writers can document sources in two different methods: the Author-Date System and the Notes-Bibliography System (NB). • The Author-Date is similar to APA; in it, parenthetical citations refer to the author’s last name and the source’s publication year. All citations correspond to the entries provided on a Reference Page.• In NB, a writer provides short numbered footnotes that direct the readers to the full citations on a Bibliography page.

For a quotation from a research work, you need to introduce it with a signal phrase (According to…), then provide the author’s last name, and the year of publication in parentheses, the text of quotation taken in quotation marks, and the page number in parentheses.

An in-text citation of references includes the author’s last name, and a year of publication, separated by comma; both are taken in parentheses. In the List of References, you provide full information on a citation. It includes the name of the author or authors, date of publication, capitalized title, place of publication, volume/number, and page numbers.

Citations of the articles published in a periodical (magazine, newspaper, or scholarly journal) should state: the author’s name, “Title of the Article”, Title of the Journal, number of the volume (year of publication): inclusive page numbers.

Unlike a citation of an article, a book citation includes: the author’s name, the book’s title, place of publication, publisher, and year of publication.

As you can see, citing of research papers is precise and strict; it requires knowledge of rules and attention to detail. All the nuances you have to consider when formatting your scientific piece can be confusing, and at some point you may wonder “Can someone do my research paper for me?” Luckily, the answer to this question is “Yes”. You can address one of the research paper writing websites and ask professional writers to help you. From suggesting a good topic and researching it to writing, editing and formatting the text – they will take care of everything to ensure your paper is compliant with the highest academic standards.