How to Check a Paper Citation

by Christina Sloane

Most professors and teachers require students to include citations in their research papers. Citations are used for a variety of reasons: to verify that a valid source was used in writing the paper, to give credit to another author or researcher and to provide a path for readers to follow, if they are interested in your topic and wish to find more information. Checking each citation in a paper can be time consuming, but it is the best way to ensure that a work is valid, and can help you find valuable information on a subject.

Inspect the citations used in the paper. Depending on the style guide, these may be parenthetical, in-text citations or footnotes listed at the bottom of the paper. Each citation should include the name or organization of the cited writer, as well as the publication date of their work.

Make a note of the names and dates used in the citations you wish to check.

Look at the works cited list or bibliography, typically at the end of the paper. The references in these lists will also include name and date information as well as the name of the book or article used. Match these references up to their corresponding citations.

Search for the book or journal title used as a reference. You can do this easily by searching the online card catalog on an academic library website for a book or journal title. If the journal or book title doesn't return any results, you can search for it on a popular book seller site such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Borders, all of whom regularly carry textbooks. If you still can't find the title, ask your student where he or she obtained it.

Access a physical or electronic copy of the book or journal issue by accessing it online, retrieving it from your library shelf, borrowing it through interlibrary loan or purchasing a copy.

Using the volume and page number information in your student's reference list, locate the referenced material. Make sure that the information in your student's paper is consonant with the information in the cited passage.

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