Back to articles

How To Cite A Research Paper: A Useful Guide

August 17, 2021

When you are presenting any research paper, you need to make sure that all the facts and details in it are from credible sources. It is also important to let your readers know where you obtained the information for your content. For this purpose, you are required to document all the sources that you referred to in a citation. It is like providing proof for the research that you conducted for your paper.

how to cite a research paper

For every student, learning how to cite a research paper is extremely important for the following reasons:

  • It makes you paper more credible
  • You provide references to help readers understand how you drew certain conclusions.
  • Citations help support the ideas presented in the paper.
  • Most importantly, you avoid any chances of plagiarism by giving due credit to all the sources that helped you compile your paper.

When is Citing Research Papers Required

Before you learn how to cite research paper APA or any other style, you must understand when it is necessary to provide a citation. As a general rule of thumb, make sure that you write a citation for every research paper that you submit. Usually, the guidelines for the research paper will mention whether you need to provide a citation or not.

However, if you are not sure if a paper requires citation or not, here are some instances when you should make sure that it is included:

  • When you are presenting quotes from a particular source without making any changes. With quotes that are provided as is, there are higher chances of plagiarism.
  • If you are paraphrasing or summarizing the ideas, opinions or concepts that have been created by another writer. This is important to provide credit to any author who has worked on the topic that you have selected.
  • Whenever you use any data, information or facts in your paper that cannot be paraphrased or changed from their original form.
  • In case you are using any visual aids like graphs, charts or images that can support your content and make your paper more appealing to your readers.

The next step to learning how to cite a research study is knowing when you should not present a citation. When you are providing any facts that are common knowledge, there is no need for citation. For instance, if you are mentioning the president of a country, it is a fact that everyone is aware of. In this case, you do not have to worry about citation or getting any negative score for plagiarism.

However, if you are unsure about whether or not a piece of information in your paper is common knowledge, the best option is to provide a citation.

Different Sources Used for Research Paper Referencing

In order to provide the right citation, you need to first understand the different sources that are commonly used to develop a research paper. This can help you get high grades as you can follow the right format for each source.

The types of sources used for research paper referencing are:

Primary sources

These sources are the ones that provide maximum content for your research paper. These sources may be available in the original form, digitized versions or in reprinted versions. You can call them the original documents for any event that occurred in the past. They are usually first-hand records that give you important facts and figures. These sources include:

  • Prints or texts: Diaries, letters, government reports, novels, autobiographies, newspaper articles.
  • Images: Photographs, paintings and advertisements
  • Artefacts: Buildings, sculptures and clothing
  • Audio visual: Songs, interviews and films

Secondary Sources

These sources are accounts of the primary source. They make use of the original documents to create new ones. Often, secondary sources give you different interpretations and discussions about the original text. The types of secondary sources used are:

  • Journals, magazine articles, newspaper articles.
  • History books, textbooks and encyclopaedias.
  • Plays, concerts, books or reviews
  • Scholarly journals that review any original research.

Peer review sources

Peer-reviewed sources are usually published as articles in professional publications. They are critiqued by different scholars in a given field. These are sources that carry a lot of value and authorised information. They are considered the highest form of information that can be provided by scholarly disciplines. The types of peer review sources are:

  • Excerpts from large publications
  • Magazine articles
  • Journal publications

These papers also contain different citations, endnotes, references and cited work along with an appendix or bibliography. You will see different author credentials with these sources as they have been reviewed by multiple scholars.

How To Cite A Research Study Correctly

Your professor will give you the style and format that you need to follow. Depending upon your field of study and the university that you are studying in, there are different types of citation formats that you will have to choose from

APA Citation

Citing a research paper APA is very common for any field that is related to social sciences or psychology. With this citation style, a general format is followed when it comes to referencing with endnotes and footnotes, reference pages and in-text citation.

Here is a research paper citation example for every common source used in these papers

  • Book: Author, Initials. (Year of Publication), Title of their work, City of publishing, state: name of publisher. For example: Michael,J. (1972) Tides of Time. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
  • Magazine: Author, Initials. (Year, month of publication). Title of the article. Magazine Title, Volume (Issue), page no.x- page no.y. For example: Synthia, K. (1999), Best Investment Options This Year. Time, 197 (14), page 22- page 27.
  • Newspaper: Author, Initials. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of the article. Newspaper name, Page x- page y. For example: Robert G. (1996, March 01). Discovery of electronics as legal weapons. The New York Times, page 3.
  • Website: Author, Initials. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of the article. Retrieved from (link). For example: Simmons, C (2012, January 10), The Two Flaccos. Retrieved from

MLA Format

MLA or Modern Language Association format is normally used in fields like humanities and liberal arts. This format does not have just specific rules for citation but also follows certain principles. Here are a few examples of how to put citation in research paper for different sources when using the MLA format

  • Book: Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher City: Publisher name, Year Published. Medium. For example: John, Smith. Sample Books. Pittsburgh: BibMe, 2010. Print.
  • Magazine: Last Name, First name. “Title of the article.” Magazine Name Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium. For example: Simon, Rita. “Inauguration of Obama as president.” Time 21 Jan 2010: 22-24. Print.
  • Newspaper: Last Name, First Name. “Title of the article.” Newspaper name Publication date: page numbers. Medium. For example: Richard, Jon. “The Sweeping Victory at Superbowl.” Pittsburgh Post- Gazette 3 Feb 2010: 4-7. Print.
  • Website: Last name, First Name. “Title of the Page.” Website Title. Sponsoring Publication/Institution. Date of publishing: page number. Medium. For example: Simon, Rita. “Inauguration of the New President.” Cable News Network, 22 Jan 2009:1.Web.

Chicago Style

If you are in the field of humanities, you must learn research paper referencing in Chicago style. You must cite all your sources in the endnotes or footnotes. The advantage of this citation style is that it gives the author a chance to express credibility to any related reference or literature that has been used. You can also provide quotes in your research paper and is commonly used in bibliographies.

Here are examples to help you understand the Chicago style of citation correctly:

  • Book: Last name, First Name. Book title. City of publication: Name of the publisher, year of publication. For example: Rowling.JK. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
  • Magazine: Last name, First Name. Title of the article. Title of the Magazine, Month Date, Year of Publication. For example: Dan, Chen. The Pandas of The World. Panda magazine, Nov 12, 1986.
  • Newspaper: Last name, First Name. “Title of the Article.” Newspaper name, Publication Date. For example. Steeler, John. “Superbowl highlights.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 3, 2009.
  • Website: Last Name, First Name, “Title of the Page”. Website Title. Website Address. (Date Accessed). For example: Steeler, John. “Superbowl Highlights.” (Link) (Accessed on February 3, 2009.)

ASA Citation Style

For students of sociology, it is vital to learn how to cite research paper in the ASA style. This is one of the most common American referencing formats that was developed by the Sociological Association. Students of sociology, as well as scholars, must use this style to write any paper to submit to the ASA journals.

Here are some examples along with details to understand this style of citation.

  • Book: Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. Title. Country of the Publisher: Publisher. For Example: Rowling, Joanne Keating. 1997. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury.
  • E-Books: Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. Title. Country of Publisher: Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year (Link). For example: Rowling, Joanne Keating. 1997. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury. Retrieved on 12 January 2002. (Link)
  • Journal Article: Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. “Title of the article.” Name of the Journal Issue #: page numbers. For example: Henry, Bo. 2009. “Tree Frogs Closing Up To Endangerment.” National Geographic #112. 6-10.
  • Magazine Article: Last Name, First Name. Year of Publication. “Title.” Magazine Name, Month Year, Pp. Page Numbers. For Example: Gary, Rachael. 2011. “Mastery in Learning.” New York Times, April 2001. Pp. 15-20.
  • Website: Last Name, First Name. Publishing Date. Title. Name of Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year (Link). For Example: For example: Steeler, John. 03-02-2009. “Superbowl Highlights.” CNN. Retrieved 12.04.2002. (Link)

Additional Tips for Research Paper Referencing

For beginners, the citation is a very difficult process. However, there are some programs and software that can help you with citing a research paper APA or any other style. These programs leave some room for error in many cases. While they can be used to get an idea of how to format your citation, they are not 100% helpful.

The best way to ensure perfect citation is to turn to research paper writing services. You can hire professional writers to give you a complete citation and the necessary bibliography format for research paper. They can even help you with creating the actual research paper itself.

You can hire UK or US writers depending on your requirements. These writers have years of experience in different citation styles. Therefore, you get your work done fast and efficiently. You can even get added services like proofreading and editing with these service providers online.

Take a break from writing.

Top academic experts are here for you.

do my paper