How To Correctly Cite Sources In Research Paper?


Citing the sources is essential in a research paper. You need to provide citations for every source you use in your research paper. The citations are provided from quotes copied verbatim from other sources and also for paraphrased text. When you do not provide citations for the sources, it is considered as plagiarism since the ideas are the intellectual property of another author, and due acknowledgement is compulsory. However, compiling references for your research paper can be time-consuming. Therefore, you can use this article as your reference on how to cite a research paper in the common styles of APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian. 

Which citation style should you use for your research paper?

The choice of citation style depends upon the discipline for which you are writing a research paper. Universities provide specific guidelines for the citation style that must be used in the research papers. So, you must consult your department before choosing a specific citation style. However, in most cases, you will have to choose a citation style that you may deem fit for your research paper. Here are the common citations styles and their usage in different fields:

  • APA citation style is most commonly used in social sciences subjects
  • MLA citation style is used in Humanities
  • Chicago citation style comprises two types:
  • Notes and Bibliography style is common in humanities disciplines
  • Author-Date style is common in social sciences subjects

What are the fundamental constituents of citations?

The fundamental aspects of citations for research papers comprise the following:

  • Name of the Authors(s)
  • Title(s)
  • Source Name (Journal Name or Book Name)
  • Editor(s)
  • Volume and Edition 
  • Date or year of Publication
  • Page Numbers 
  • City and Country
  • Publisher Name or University Name for Dissertations
  • URL for Web Sources
  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
  • Retrieval Date of Web Sources 


It is essential to remember that there are two factors to consider when deciding where to add citations: in-text and the list of references. The body of your work includes in-text citations. A reference list is often located following your paper and repeats the points mentioned in the in-text citation but does so in greater depth. There are several ways to reference works with different degrees of style. 

How to provide citations using different citation styles?

  • APA Style

Short references that guide readers to the reference entry are known as in-text citations. You should always mention them when you quote or rephrase someone else’s thoughts or words to avoid plagiarism. In-text citations in APA style encompass the following:

  • Author’s Last Name
  • Year of Publication (Author-Date Style)
  • For Quotations, provide the exact page number 

In-text citations consist of the following types in APA citation style:

  • Parenthetical Citation

According to the existing research… (John, 2021)

Narrative Citation

John (2021) asserts that…

  • Citation Style: Number of Authors

The parenthetical citation for one author is as follows:

(John, 2021) 

Narrative Citation for One Author

John (2021)

Two Authors: Parenthetical Citation

(John & Hume, 2021) 

Two Authors: Narrative Citation

John and Hume (2021)

Three or more Authors: Parenthetical Citation 

(John et al., 2021)

Three or more Authors: Narrative Citation

John et al. (2021)

Corporate Author: Parenthetical Citation

(UNICEF, 2022)

Corporate Author: Narrative Citation 

UNICEF (2022)

  • References: APA style

In the references section of your research paper, you must provide the references of the citations used throughout the paper. The sources must be listed in alphabetical order. Here is an example of a reference entry in APA style:

John, William. (2021). The basics of communication: A Brief Guide (3rd ed.). Penguin. 


How to Provide Citations in MLA style?

The two components of an MLA in-text citation are the author’s last name and the page or page range where the source is situated. Parenthetical and narrative in-text citations are also options for MLA style. Additionally, they are typically included just after a quote or a parenthetical. References to sources from which you have quoted or paraphrased are made in the body text. It is essential to be careful about citation punctuation and spacing because a single citation error would be counted as plagiarism. Therefore, it is always best to take help from professional editors, and you can take the help of experts at Research Proposal Help

Parenthetical Citation MLA: (Hansel 456)

Narrative: Hansel suggests that… (456)

Two or More authors are cited in the following manner:

(Hansel, Harari, and Pamuk 456)

More than Three Authors:

(Hansel et al. 456)

If the author’s name is missing, you can italicize the full title for books and for articles you can enclose the title in quotations. For example:

Books with Missing Author Name: A Brief History of Saracens shows “… “(245) or (A Brief History of Saracens 245)

Articles with Missing Author: “J.S Mill and Immanuel Kant: Virtue Ethics versus Categorical Imperative” states “… “or (“J.S Mill and Immanuel Kant: Virtue Ethics versus Categorical Imperative” 120). 

MLA Style: References Section

References in the MLA style are referred to as “Works Cited”, which appear at the end of the research paper. You can provide a list of works cited in the following format for books and articles:

  • Books with one Author

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. New York University Press, 2005. 

  • Books: Multiple Authors

Smith, William, et al. Political Perspectives in Russian Society. Penguin Publishers, 2022. 

How to Provide Citations in Chicago/ Turabian Style?

Chicago and Turabian styles use two citation styles: Notes and Bibliography and Author-date style. Notes and bibliography are common in humanities disciplines such as literature, arts, and history. These disciplines utilize footnotes and endnotes. There is a superscript number in the text that corresponds to each note. On the other hand, the author-date style briefly identifies sources in the text together with the work’s year of Publication and the author’s last name. A separate bibliography is provided at the end of the research paper for each citation in both styles. 

  • Notes and Bibliography 

Footnote Citation: William Smith, A Medieval History of India (New York: New York University Publisher, 2007), 26. 

If you cite the source mentioned above multiple times throughout the text, you can provide it in the following manner:

Smith, Medieval History, 25-26. 

Otherwise, you can use Ibid if you use the source consecutively. 

Bibliographic Entry

Smith, William. A Medieval History of India. New York: New York University Publisher, 2007. 

  • Author-Date Style
  • In-Text Citation 

(Smith 2007, 98-100)

  • Bibliographic Entry

Smith, William. 2007. A Medieval History of India. New York: New York Publisher. 


You can use the abovementioned examples as references to emulate in your research paper. Providing citations of the sources used in the text is essential for avoiding plagiarism. Also, it reflects academic honesty and builds your credibility as a researcher. 

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