Research Paper Citation
A research paper citation is a note that documents the source of quoted or paraphrased research. The particular way in which a research paper citation is documented depends upon the style sheet the writer is using. The most common style sheets used in college writing are APA and MLA.
Some students confuse research paper citations with research paper references. A research paper citation is also known as an in-text citation. This means that the citation exists in the midst of the project itself. Research paper references are lists of the sources that are cited in the in-text citations. These lists come after the body of the document, and are titled either "References," "Bibliography," or "Works Cited." All research papers must have both research paper citations and a list of research paper references.
In APA style, research paper citations are typically presented in parenthetical notes. A parenthetical note is a note contained in parentheses, and most frequently comes at the end of a sentence. In APA style, all citations must include the name of the author of the research and the year in which the study was published. If the citation is citing quoted material rather than paraphrased material, the citation should also include the page number on which the quote can be found. So, if an APA research paper quoted Brown in the following way, it would look like this:
One researcher has asserted that "proper citation style is difficult, but important" (Brown, 2004, p. 4).
If the sentence mentioned Brown by name in the text, the citation would look different, like this:
Brown (2004) asserted that "proper citation style is difficult, but important" (p. 4).
The year of publication should always immediately follow the author's name, whether that name is contained in the sentence itself or in a parenthetical note.
In MLA style, research paper citations are also presented in parenthetical notes. The primary difference is that in MLA, the year of publication is never included, but the page on which the source is found is always included. As in APA style, if the author's name is mentioned in the sentence itself, there is no need to repeat that name in the citation. These types of citations will look like this:
Brown asserts that "proper citation style is difficult, but important" (4).
If the author's name is not mentioned in the text of the sentence, the citation will be as follows:
One researcher has asserted that "proper citation style is difficult, but important" (Brown, 4)
Notice that in MLA style, the page number is simply listed, without the preceding "p." featured in APA style.
Both MLA and APA style are outlined in detail in the citation manuals published by the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). These manuals provide specific guidance on all matters related to research paper citations, and should be consulted regularly when a student is composing investigation-based texts.
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