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How to Cite a Research Paper: Complete Guide
Are you looking for the best tips for citing a research paper? In this article, we have you covered. Any research paper you write throughout your academic journey must have proper citations. Publication materials like journals and conferences must follow strict format requirements.
It is essential for all students and aspiring researchers to have skills in how to cite a research paper and other college essays. These citations help your professors and audience easily establish your research’s context and relevance. Including citations properly in your paper significantly impacts your final grade. Get more insights on how to write in different referencing styles for citations.
What is a citation style?
The ability to cite sources is an essential academic skill. When referencing another author’s work, you must cite properly to avoid plagiarized content for your research paper. You can get credit for using data from other authors’ journal articles or ideas without effectively crediting them when citing your research paper.
Citations are beneficial for various reasons, including better evidence of your work and appropriate author credit. The citation format is essential because it assists students and researchers in consistently formatting their papers. Citations help support what you read, where you gathered your information, and when the authors mentioned in the articles published the data.
Using citations also helps you avoid plagiarism by making them more credible on paper. It is critical to counsel your instructor about the research paper citation style. The appropriate citation style is determined by the discipline in which your research paper will be written.
Citations ensure validity and allow you to avoid taking credit for other people’s work. It is critical to remember the information contained in citations when using them. Depending on your citation style, the order of the citations may differ.
Superb research paper citation guidelines in different formats
Here are some basic professional tips that you should consider to cite your research paper properly:

Understand your professor’s instructions.
Use proper citation format.
When necessary, use quotation marks.
Double-check your citations.
Consider and understand the citation style recommended.
Use a comma to separate numerous author names.

The section below illustrates the steps to follow when citing your research paper in various styles.
What are the different referencing styles for citations?
When writing a research paper, it is always important to cite your sources. There are six major citation styles used in academic papers:

MLA in-text citation (Modern Language Association)
APA citation style (American Psychological Association)
Chicago-style formatting
Harvard-style format
ASA Citation Style (American Sociological Association)
The IEEE Citation style (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

All citation formats contain the same information. Only the formatting of your citations varies depending on your style, like APA, MLA, Chicago, or any other citation style.
APA research paper format
APA research paper format is commonly used in writing essays related to psychology and social science. When using this style, there is an overall format in this citation for referencing via endnotes/footnotes, in-text, and reference pages. General writing guidelines are applicable when writing academic papers in APA citation.
Essays written in this format should be double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″) with 1″ margins on all sides. Use a clear font that is clear and concise. APA writing style recommends you to use 12 pt. Times New Roman font. Create page numbers on the right side of the paper to create a page header.
In the header at the flush left, type the title of your paper in all capital letters. The page header is a concise summary of your paper’s title that cannot be more than 50 characters long, including spaces and punctuation. When it comes to how to write a nursing research paper in APA format, your APA paper should be divided into four major sections:

Title page
Main body

How to cite a research paper in APA format
When citing a research paper in APA, there are certain guidelines that you should follow. The specific formats to follow should contain the following sections:


Author’s name, Abbreviations A.A… (Year of Publication). The title of the work. Publisher City, State: Publisher.
Health Canada. (2018). An overview of the Marketed Health Products Directorate. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.


Author, A.A… (Year, a month of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.
Tumulty, K. (2006, April). Should they remain, or should they leave? Time, 167(15), 3-40.


Author, A.A… (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx.
Rosenberg, G. (1997, March 31). Electronic discovery is a powerful legal tool. The New York Times, p. D5.


Author, A.A… (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Article title. Retrieved from URL
Simmons, B. (2015, January 9). A story about two Flaccos. Retrieved from {link}
This citation format is used to identify related literary works and to mention references that were used. You are not required to include information about yourself or your ideas. For instance, no citations are necessary when mentioning education on a resume. Before writing any other academic writing, you should thoroughly research and study various citation styles.
MLA research paper format
The MLA format is widely used in the liberal humanities and arts fields. This format is based on concepts rather than precise rules that must be followed. Documentation is implemented in papers in MLA format. Let’s go over how to cite a research paper in MLA format.
MLA requires you to use the Times New Roman font in size 12. The essay should be double-spaced throughout, with 1-inch margins on all sides of your paper. To indent paragraphs (12 inches), use the tab key once. On the first page, include your last name and a page number in the upper right-hand corner.
How to cite a research paper in MLA format
The following are the MLA citation formats to use when citing a research paper:


Author’s Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher City: Publisher Name, Year Published. Medium.
Smith, John. The Sample Book. Pittsburgh: BibMe, 2008. Print.


Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Magazine Name Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium.
Stamatis, Dean H. Total high-quality service: principles, practices, and implementation. Routledge, 2018.


Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium.
Smith, John. ” The Steelers triumph in Super Bowl XLIII.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette February 2, 2009: 4-6. Print.


Last Name, First Name. “Page Title.” Website Title. Sponsoring Institution/Publisher. Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium.
Smith, John. ” Obama was sworn in as President.” CNN.com. Cable News Network, January 21, 2009. Web. February 1, 2009.
Research paper in Chicago style
In the humanities, the Chicago citation style is commonly used. It necessitates that writers cite sources in endnotes or footnotes. This citation allows you to articulate accountability and credibility to relevant literature or references used in written material. It is commonly used for book bibliographies and assists academic writers in providing quotations in a research paper.
How to cite a research paper in Chicago style
When writing in Chicago-style formats, you should follow the steps below:


The author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher City: Publisher Name, Year Published.
Stamatis, Dean H. Total quality service: principles, practices, and implementation. Routledge, 2018.


Last Name, First Name. Article title. Magazine Title, Month Date, Year of publication.
Chan, Dan. The art of pandas. Panda Magazine, Nov 10, 1985.


Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name, Publication Date.
Smith, John. ” The Steelers triumph in Super Bowl XLIII..” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 2, 2009.


Last Name, First Name. “Page Title.” Website Title. Web Address (retrieved Date Accessed).
Smith, John. “Obama inaugurated as President.” {link} (accessed February 1, 2009).
ASA research paper citation format
The Sociological Association developed the leading American approach to referencing and citation. The ASA citation format is mainly used by sociological students and scholars when writing university research papers in sociology or presenting articles to ASA journals.
Browse the American Sociological Association’s official website for more information on ASA writing format elements, or read our guide on citing a research paper in ASA format below.
How to cite a research paper in ASA format?


Author’s Last and First Name. Year of Publication. Title. Country of Publisher: Publisher.
James, Henry. 2003. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Barns & Noble Books.


Author’s Last and First Name. Year of Publication. Title. Country of Publisher: Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year {link}.
James, Henry. 2003. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Penguin Books Kindle Version. Retrieved January 18, 2017. {link}

Journal article

Author’s Last and First Name. Year of Publication. “Title.” Journal Name issue #: inclusive page numbers.
Fees, Bo. 2008. “Chasing Tree Frogs.” National Geographic #182. 6-10

Magazine article

Author’s Last and First Name. Year of Pub. “Title.” Magazine Name, Month Year, pp. Inclusive page numbers.
Geary, Rachel. 2012. ” The Problem with Mastery Learning.” New York Times, April 2002. Pp. 15-23.


Author’s Last and First Name. Date of Publishing. Title. Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year {link}.
Lee, Bruce. 03.09.2004. Birth of a Nation. Retrieved 18.01.2017.
The IEEE citation style
IEEE is an abbreviation for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). This style is controlled by a specialized organization for various technical industries and is primarily used in electronics, engineering, computer science, and telecommunications research papers.
When writing using this format, the in-text citations are included in numbered brackets that refer to comprehensive references.
How to cite a research paper in IEEE format
A proper IEEE format should have the following elements:

Top – 19mm (0.75″)
Bottom – 43mm (1.69″)
Left & Right – 14.32mm (0.56″)

The content font should use the Times New Roman style, with a size of 10 pt. The first sentence of every paragraph should be notated, and the spacing should be single. Below is an informative citation guide for various sources in IEEE format.

For books

K. Author, “Title of chapter in the book,” in His Published Book, xth ed. The City of Publisher (only U.S. State), Country: Abbrev. of Publisher, year, ch. x, sec. x, pp. xxx–xxx.


K. Chen, Linear Networks and Systems. Belmont, CA: WadsworthPress, 2003.

For conference papers

K. Author, “Title of paper,” presented at the Abbreviated Name of Conf., The city of Conf., Abbrev. State, Country, Month and day(s), year, Paper number.


Caratelli, M. C. Viganó, G. Toso, and P. Angeletti, ” Analytical sparse element location method,” presented at the 32nd ESA Antenna Workshop, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, Oct. 5p, 2010.

For periodicals

K. Author, “Name of paper,” Abbrev. Title of Periodical, vol. x, no. x, pp. xxx-xxx, Abbrev. Month, year.


Ito et al., “The use of amorphous oxide TFTs in electrophoretic displays,” J. Non-Cryst. Solids, vol. 354, no. 19, pp. 2777–2782, Fp. 2008.

For software manuals

Name of Manual/Handbook, x ed. (year). Accessed: Date. [Online]. Available: http://www.url.com

K. Author (or Abbrev. Name of Co., City of Co. Abbrev. State, Country).

Why are citations important in a research paper?
The key reason for citing your references properly is to avert intellectual dishonesty. Expressing the ideas of other scholars without appropriate acknowledgement violates scientific ethics. While this is not the best ethical standard, it is basic decency. 
This is due to your solid feeling of ownership of your physical features, intellectual responsibilities, and accomplishments. As a student, you might strongly desire to understand who or where you gathered your research from and how your ideas developed.
You have to use a free plagiarism-checking tool as a student. You must properly cite a source, even if you have rephrased the idea you took from it. It is critical to properly reference a source so that the ideal authors receive proper credit for their ideas. It is also essential to the overall process of research journals and consumption for the following reasons:
1.      To prevent plagiarism
Citations help authors to quote others’ work properly. It will assist you in recognizing where you gathered your information from.
2.      The honor of intellectual property rights 
Your research work may include relevant material legally protected by intellectual property rights. Trademarks, patents, industrial information, and geographical indications are some examples. Films and architectural elements are examples of creative works for entertainment.
3.      To provide relevant evidence
Appropriately citing research and data enables you to provide evidence for essential aspects of your paper. This is particularly important when arguing for a particular position.
4.      To provide information on source documents
Citations help authors check for data and even the argument’s reasoning. It also assists in directing your audience using sources where they can obtain more comprehensive information about the point you referenced and the discussion topic.
Proper referencing allows professors and other authors to better judge a work’s potential effect on its field by placing it in its appropriate context. In the field of research, numerous sections and disciplines need information. They also have various formats and standards for what constitutes proper referencing.
The rules of citations vary depending on the type of source you cite in your research. Most citation formats have common elements that, as a writer, you must use. These sources include research papers, technical reports, books, patents, court cases, conference journals, podcasts, YouTube videos, and social media posts.
Small afterword
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