Skip to Main Content

Research 101

The steps of the research process & how to apply them.

4a. Credit Your Sources

Give Credit Where It’s Due

When you present your research project, you need to cite your sources so others can see where you got your information.

Different disciplines use different styles of citation. Your professor can tell you which style is appropriate, and the library has resources to help you get your citations right.

Formatting & Citation Styles

Styles and formats vary from one discipline to another.

For most courses at the university, you will use either MLA or APA style. The former is common in the humanities, and the latter is common in the sciences. Many web resources exist to help you with styles and formatting, and the official manuals of all the major styles are available for your reference at the front desk of the J. W. Martin Library.

See the resources below to learn about various styles:

The MLA format, created by the Modern Language Association, is common in English and the humanities.

Find the handbook at the library or explore the linked websites to learn how to use this style.

Style Guide

The APA Style, created by the American Psychological Association, is common in the social sciences.

Find the handbook at the library or explore the linked websites to learn how to use this style.

Style Guide

The Chicago Manual of Style, produced by the University of Chicago, is widely used in the publishing industry.

It is an influential reference work not only for proper citations but for all aspects of English grammar and style. Kate L. Turabian produced a modified version for term papers and theses.

Style Guides

This style from the American Medical Association is common in medical disciplines.

Find the handbook at the library or explore the linked websites to learn how to use this style.

Style Guide

This style from the Council of Science Editors is common in the sciences, especially biology.

Note: Most academic science journals have their own styles. Ask your professor what citation style to use in class.

Find the style guide at the library or explore the linked websites to learn how to use this style.

Style Guide

This style from the Associated Press is standard in journalism.

AP style focuses on usage and does not include a specific system for citing sources. For your academic papers, ask your professors what citation style to use.

Find the stylebook at the library or explore the linked websites to learn how to use this style.

Style Guide

Lawyers use this style to cite legal documents such as court cases, dockets, statutes, or the U.S. Constitution.

The APA format defers to the Bluebook for legal citations; in other words, to cite a legal document in APA format, you must use Bluebook style.

Style Guide

Example Citations

You must cite your sources both in the text and at the end of your paper.

Both MLA and APA styles use parenthetical referencing—that is, in-text citations set off by parentheses.

MLA Style

A sample in-text and bibliographic citation are presented here. See the style guide for more complete and specific rules.

In-Text Citation

According to Pamboukian, Kipling’s short stories and novels exhibit a paradoxical mixture of magic and reality, which may be due, in part, to Kipling’s own ambivalence about the supernatural and enthusiasm for new gadgetry (429).

Note the following:

  • All of the quoted text is in quotation marks.

  • The author’s last name is called out in the text.

  • The page number of the citation appears in parentheses after the quote.

  • If the author’s name was not called out in the text, the name could have been placed in the parentheses next to the page number.

Bibliographic Entry

Pamboukian, Sylvia. “Science, Magic and Fraud in the Short Stories of Rudyard Kipling.” English Literature in Transition, , vol. 47, no. 4, , pp. 429–445. EBSCOhost,

This is a citation of a journal article. Note the following:

  • The author’s name appears first, followed by the article title in quotation marks.

  • The title of the journal is italicized.

  • Following the title are volume, issue, date, and page numbers.

  • Following the journal information is the “container,” i.e., where the article is stored—in this case an EBSCOhost database.

  • Container names are italicized.

  • The final element is the “location,” where the article can be found.

  • Often, the location will be a “stable” or “permanent” web address copied from the database. In this example, however, the location is instead a DOI, which is a number permanently linked to a scholarly work.

  • A DOI is preferable to any other web address. Write the DOI as a URL.

APA Style

The APA places a heavy emphasis on date of publication.

Date of publication is used to help distinguish between works, so it is always in the in-text citation and has a more prominent place in the bibliographic entry.

In-Text Citation


According to Martin and Albers (), the traditional opinion that the cerebellum is exclusively associated with the control of balance, fine motor, and oculomotor coordination has been challenged on various fronts (p. 245).

Note the following:

  • The year of publication immediately follows the authors’ names.

  • The page number appears after the citation. Abbreviate page as p. and pages as pp.

  • The final punctuation (usually a period) goes outside the parenthetical citation, not inside the closing quotation mark.


Although it had long been believed that the cerbellum serves no function aside from balance and coordination, more recent research has modified that view (Martin & Albers, ).

Note the following:

  • A page number is unnecessary when the information is paraphrased rather than quoted.

  • If the authors’ names are not called out in the text, then names and year can be placed together in the citation.

  • A paraphrase must completely reword the thought of the original work to avoid plagiarism.

Bibliographic Entry

Martin, P., & Albers, M. (). Cerebellum and schizophrenia: A selective review. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 21(2), 241–250.

This is a citation of a journal article. Note the following:

  • Date of publication immediately follows the authors’ names.

  • APA Style is a “down style,” meaning titles are usually lowercase. The one major exception is journal titles.

  • The article title is not set off by quotation marks.

  • The journal title and volume number are italicized.

  • For scholarly articles from a database, a web address is usually unnecessary.

  • However, if the article is from the open web, include an address unless a DOI is available.

  • The DOI is written as a URL. Always include a DOI if possible, regardless of where you found the source.

  • No final period follows the DOI or URL.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.

Figure 1
A Tutorial on Plagiarism

1LIONTV. (). A tutorial on plagiarism [Video]. YouTube.

What Is Plagiarism?

It is plagiarism when you:

  • Present someone’s words or ideas as your own without acknowledgement.

  • Copy large sections of text without quotation marks or a citation.

  • Summarize or paraphrase someone’s words or ideas without citing them.

  • Buy or use someone else’s paper.

  • Cut and paste passages from the web, a book, or an article and insert them into your paper without citing them.

  • Copy multimedia (graphics, audio, video), computer programs, music, graphs, or charts without giving the creator credit.

  • Reuse your own work (e.g., turning in the same paper in two different classes).

It is not plagiarism to use information without citing:

  • When you write about your own experiences, observations, opinions, or conclusions.

  • When you report the results of your own research.

  • When it is common knowledge—factual information in the public domain or that can be looked up in standard reference works.

If you’re confused about “common knowledge” …

When in doubt, include a citation. If you have to look up information or if you take it from someone else, give credit to your source.

Note: A lot of “common knowledge” is wrong (e.g., Christopher Columbus was not a scientific maverick who alone thought the Earth was round). Double-check your facts by looking them up, and after you’ve double-checked your facts, cite your sources.


Paraphrasing captures the ideas of the original source without using the exact words.

A paraphrase requires a citation but is not set in quotation marks. To paraphrase, follow these steps:

  1. Read the original text until you grasp its meaning and then set it aside.

  2. From memory, write down the main points. Do not copy the text verbatim.

  3. Change the structure of the text by varying the opening, changing word order, or by lengthening or shortening sentences.

  4. Replace keywords with synonyms.

  5. Check your notes against the original to ensure you have not accidentally plagiarized.

To avoid plagiarizing when paraphrasing, you must change the sentence structure and words of the original text, and you must cite the source.

Figure 2
Am I Plagiarizing?
Infographic explaining that all information from another source must be cited.

Note. From “Am I Plagiarizing: An Advanced Infographic,” by M. Kirschenbaum, , EasyBib Blog ( Copyright by EasyBib. Used with permission.