How to cite a research paper

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How to cite a research paper

Writing a research paper can be intimidating, mainly when citing sources. It’s essential to give credit where credit is due and cite any outside sources used or referenced in your paper. But the most significant challenge is how to cite a research paper correctly.

This article will provide a detailed how to cite a research paper: a complete guide from understanding the different types of citations to following specific formatting guidelines. With this helpful guide, you can make sure your citations are accurate and up-to-date.

What is a research paper?

A research paper is an academic document that presents a writer’s findings on a particular topic. Research papers require the student to conduct extensive research to present their understanding of the subject. The paper’s content should be backed up by evidence and facts gathered from reliable sources. It is vital for a research paper to include valid arguments, supports them with evidence, and present its conclusions logically.

What is a citation style?

A citation style is a set of rules on adequately citing sources used in academic writing. Citation styles are essential for writers and readers, making it easier to locate and analyze sources referenced in a paper or project.

Different fields of study often have their specific citation styles, such as APA style for psychology papers, MLA style for humanities papers, the Chicago manual of style for history papers, and the AMA Manual of Style for medical research.

Citations provide readers with important information such as author name(s), title and year of publication, publisher name, page numbers, and other relevant details that help them identify and locate the source material.

They also credit authors whose ideas were used in the research process. Depending on the citation style used, citations may be placed within the text or at the end as a list of references or works cited section.

How to cite a research paper in an essay

Citing a research paper in an essay is essential when referencing information and ideas found in another person’s work. Knowing how to cite a research paper correctly allows readers to track down the source material and verify your claims easily. Following a few key steps can teach anyone to cite a research paper in an essay correctly.

It is crucial to understand the different citation styles available when citing sources. The most commonly used styles include APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago Style formatting.

Each style has unique rules for citing research papers, so familiarizing yourself with which style you will use is essential for ensuring accuracy and compliance with guidelines. Some citation styles may require specific information, such as page numbers and dates.

Different Referencing Styles for Citations

Depending on the field or discipline studied, instructors or professors may require different referencing styles. Knowing the common citation style types can help students ensure their work meets expectations.

The most popular citation style is APA (American Psychological Association), widely adopted in psychology and education. However, other disciplines like history may require MLA (Modern Language Association) format for citations.

Chicago style is frequently used in business and the humanities, while AMA (American Medical Association) format is often seen in medical journals or papers within the healthcare field. Each style has unique rules for properly citing sources, so selecting the right type for each project is essential before beginning any research or writing process.

Tips for citing a research paper

Knowing how to Cite a research paper is an integral part of any student’s academic career. Giving credit to the original authors for their hard work and dedication is essential. To help students get started on the right path, here are some tips for citing a research paper:

  • Ensure you know what style of citation your professor expects from you. Different disciplines often use different formats, so ensure you are familiar with which one your professor requires
  • When you find a source relevant to your topic, keep track of all bibliographical information, such as author name(s), title, date of publication, and publisher name. This will make it easier when it comes time to cite the source in your paper
  • Begin each citation by noting who wrote the work and what type of work it is (article or book)
  • When doing online research, make sure to save where you found the source material so it can easily be referenced if needed later on down the line
  • For in-text citations within your paper, use parentheses or footnotes depending on style guidelines required by your professor or instructor
  • You should also remember to include any website URLs if you are citing online sources

How to Cite a Research Paper in APA Format

In psychology, American Psychological Association (APA) format is commonly used for citing sources. Here we will look at adequately citing a research paper using APA format.

  • Always include the author’s name, year of publication, and title of the paper in parentheses at the end of any sentence where you reference or quote from their work
  • Use an in-text citation for paraphrased material or ideas from another source. This should also include the author’s name and year of publication
  • Ensure that all sources referenced in your paper have a full bibliographic entry on your reference list page, which includes all relevant information, such as author names. For journal articles or books from libraries or bookstores, a full publication date must be included in the reference list entry

How to cite a research paper in MLA format

This simple format should be followed for each source cited within the body of the text and listed on the works cited page at the end of the document. The basic format for citing a research paper using MLA style is as follows;

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name
  • Title of Research Paper
  • Title of Course/Area
  • Institution or Organization where the paper was completed
  • Date Completed (Day Month Year)

An MLA in-text citation should appear after direct quotes or paraphrased text from sources. It should provide basic information about the source material, such as the author’s name and the page number. Additionally, all sources must be listed on the works cited page at the end of your essay.

How to cite a research paper in Harvard style

When citing sources using a Harvard-style format, specific guidelines must be followed.

  • The author’s name should be given in the sentence along with the year of publication within parentheses. If the author’s name is not given in the sentence, then it should only include the year of publication within parentheses at the end of the sentence
  • The text should include an in-text citation where necessary for direct quotations or paraphrasing from other authors
  • When citing multiple sources within one sentence, you should separate each source with a semicolon (;)
  • When creating a reference list at the end of your document, all references should be listed alphabetically by author’s last name and include all authors for each work cited
  • For each reference entry, use hanging indents

How to cite a research paper in Chicago style

  • The most striking difference between Chicago-style formatting and its counterparts are the footnotes and endnotes used to cite sources. Rather than placing citations within parentheses at the end of each sentence, these notes are placed at either the bottom or end of individual pages
  • The author’s last name and year of publication are inserted into parentheses at the end of each sentence in which a source is used or cited
  • If two authors have worked on the same project, both names should be included in the parenthetical reference
  • You must include an accompanying footnote or endnote for each reference listed
  • Your bibliography should be located at the end of your document and include all sources cited alphabetically throughout your paper

How to cite a research paper in ASA format

  • In the ASA citation style, the document’s title must be centered and placed at the top of the page, followed by your name and affiliation information
  • Include any acknowledgment or funding sources at this point as well
  • Include the author’s name and year of publication in parentheses at the end of the sentence
  • Include a reference list at the end of your paper that provides full details on each source used, including titles, authors’ names, publishers’ names, and dates of publication
  • The reference list should be ordered alphabetically by authors’ last names

How to cite a research paper in IEEE format

  • An in-text citation should always appear within parentheses after a quote or paraphrased text taken from another source when using the IEEE citation style
  • The information provided should include the author’s name and year of publication, separated by a comma
  • If there are multiple authors, all names must be listed up to five before using et al., signifying that additional authors are omitted from the list
  • If quoting directly from the source material, then page numbers should also be included at the end
  • When citing online sources such as websites or databases, use URLs instead of print sources as much as possible


Understanding how to cite a research paper is essential in academic writing. It not only shows that you have done your research, but it also provides your readers with the opportunity to read and explore information further.

Start by understanding the different citation styles, selecting the appropriate style for your paper, and gathering all the necessary information. Then, organize the information into the correct format and add it to your bibliography or works cited page. Finally, double-check your citations to ensure accuracy.