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How to cite on a research paper

Again, you are responsible for reading and understanding the University’s academic regulations as defined and explained in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities. You must ask for assistance from your professors or preceptors if you’re not sure.

The Writing Center, located in Whitman College, is also a key resource for students wanting to learn more about proper note-taking and citation practices. To make an appointment, visit www.princeton.edu/writing/appt or drop in without an appointment Sunday through Thursday evenings.

how to cite on a research paper Purdue OWL: Research Papers

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Warnings

  • Don't let a research paper become a sea of he-said, she-said. While you want to set up the arguments that have been made on both sides in the past, you also want to make a compelling argument for yourself. Rephrasing, re-organizing an argument, and synthesizing different arguments in your own words makes it clear that you understand what you've researched and makes the paper interesting to read. The reader is searching for a new way to understand the research or a new idea. Too many quotes tend to bury the lead.
  • Don't rely too heavily on one source.
But remember: when in doubt, cite.

5. Supplementary Information. Occasionally, especially in a longer research paper, you may not be able to include all of the information or ideas from your research in the body of your own paper. In such cases, insert a note offering supplementary information rather than simply providing basic bibliographic information (author, title, place and date of publication, and page numbers). In such footnotes or endnotes, you might provide additional data to bolster your argument, or briefly present an alternative idea that you found in one of your sources, or even list two or three additional articles on some topic that your reader might find of interest.

Here there would be no need to cite 1984 directly, but it would be appropriate to list it in your bibliography. As always, if you’re unsure about a particular case, err on the side of providing a citation and a bibliography entry.

For international students, it’s especially important to review and understand the citation standards and expectations for institutions of higher learning in the United States. Students who have done their college preparation at schools in other countries may have learned research and paper-writing practices different from those at Princeton. For example, students from schools in East Asia may learn that copying directly from sources, without citation, is the proper way to write papers and do research.

For example, if you use data from a scientific experiment conducted and reported by a researcher, you must cite your source, probably a scientific journal or a website. Or if you use a piece of information discovered by another scholar in the course of his or her own research, you must cite your source. But if the fact or information is generally known and accepted—for example, that Woodrow Wilson served as president of both Princeton University and the United States, or that Avogadro’s number is 6.02 x 1023—you do not need to cite a source. Note that facts are different from ideas: facts may not need to be cited, whereas ideas must always be cited. Deciding which facts or pieces of information require citation and which are common knowledge, and thus do not require citation, isn’t always easy. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career.

In these cases, the footnote will not include a citation because the ideas or findings presented belong to you.

In all of the cases above, the standards of academic integrity require both citing the source in the text of your essay and its incorporation into your bibliography. To be clear, it is not enough to simply list a source in your bibliography if it deserves explicit citation in the essay’s body. Failure to provide that citation may result in being charged with plagiarism.

Sometimes, though rarely, a source merits inclusion in your bibliography even when it doesn’t merit a particular citation in your paper’s text. This most often occurs when a source plays a critical role in your understanding of your topic, but never lends a specific idea or piece of evidence to your essay’s argument.

  • 5

    Use colons and semicolons correctly. If you are using a colon or semicolon after a quote, or there is a colon or semicolon at the end of your selection which you are quoting, place the punctuation mark outside of the quotation marks.[3]
  • 6

    Copy the quote exactly. If you are using a direct quote, it is imperative that you copy it word-for-word. Include all spelling and grammatical mistakes as well, even if you are aware they are incorrect. If your quote has a mistake that you are aware of, put [sic] (italicized and in brackets) immediately after the mistake.
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