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How Do You Cite References In A Research Paper

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    Gather your information about each source. First you need to find out what kind of information you'll need from each type of source. If you're using a strict format that requires the copyright year of each book you refer to, it can be a pain to go through all of your research without knowing this, then have to go back, find all the books at the library, and determine the copyright date. Generally, it's better to record more information than less, just in case.

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    Books. Collect the full names of all authors, title of the book, city of publication, publisher's name, and the year of publication. If the book is published by an organization and the individual authors aren't listed, write down the full name of the organization. For electronic books, also record the URL and date of access.
    • Encyclopedias and dictionaries - Also get the full name of the author who wrote the entry (if it is given), the entry title, the number of volumes in the set, and the edition. Write down the volume you're using and the page numbers, unless the content is organized alphabetically.
    • Anthologies and collections - Note the author and the title of individual work you're citing (poem, play, short story, etc.), the full names of any editors and compilers, and the page number(s). If the work was previously published in another book, record the information for the original source as described above.
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    Journal articles. Collect the journal title, article title, author name(s), volume and issue number of the journal, date of publication, and page numbers of the article. If it is an online journal, also record the page or paragraph numbers (if applicable), URL, and the date you accessed the site. If you are accessing the article through a database, also record the database name.

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    Magazine articles. Collect the author(s) names, title of the article, title of the magazine, volume number (if applicable), date of publication, and page numbers. For online magazines, get the date of access and URL as well. If you access the magazine through a database, find the vendor/supplier of database, database name, accession number of article (if applicable), and the date of access.

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    Newspaper articles. Collect the name of the author of the article, title of the article, name of the newspaper, date of publication, and the section, page and column location of the article. If the newspaper is online, get the URL and date of access, too. If you found the newspaper article in a database, write down the URL, date of access, database, and library through which article was accessed (name, city, and state).

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    Websites. Get the author's name (if given), title of work, group responsible for the site (if applicable), date site was last updated, date of access, and URL. If you have trouble finding everything except the last two items, you might want to reconsider the validity of this source. For postings, also get the title of posting, post number (if numbered), date of posting, URL the post was made to, and URL of message archives.

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    Government documents. If published by the US government, get the issuing agency, title of the document, number of the Congress, session number of Congress, place of publication, date of publication, document number (if given), and SuDoc number.

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    Letters and interviews. Collect the names of the author and recipient (or interviewer and interviewee), date written/conducted, name of collection, name of depository, and the depository's location.

  • 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:

    • author name(s)
    • titles of books, articles, and journals
    • date of publication
    • page numbers
    • volume and issue numbers (for articles)


    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."Science249.4976(1990): 1527-33.

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