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How to Do In-Text Citations in a Research Paper

by Karen L. Blair, Demand Media

    Proper in-text citations within a research or term paper can make the difference between a passing and failing grade, as failure to provide proper in-text citations can lead to a charge of plagiarism. Using in-text citations helps tell the reader where the information you are discussing originated. In other words, it gives credit where credit is due for the origination of ideas that you are coordinating within the text of your paper. Even if you are taking all of your information from a single source, in-text citations are still a very important element of your paper and should not be overlooked.

    Step 1

    Use an in-text citation whenever you are discussing an idea that is not your own. Any information, including images, statistics, data, ideas, quotes or paraphrases, that you use from another source must be cited within the text of your paper.

    Step 2

    Place the in-text citation within the text of your paper after the information that the citation refers to. In most cases the citation will go at the end of the sentence, but in some cases where you are discussing a concept in more than one sentence, you will put the citation after a set of sentences that are all discussing the same idea or concept. Additionally, sometimes you will have more than one idea within a sentence, and each idea will come from a separate source. When this is the case, you will have multiple in-text citations within the sentence.

    Step 3

    Review the guidelines of the particular type of writing style that you have been requested to use in writing your paper to determine the proper format for your in-text citations. Some of the most common citation methods include APA, MLA and Chicago. An example of an APA in-text citation would look like this: Jones and Jones (2007) discovered the principle of excitation. Alternatively, it may look like this: Researchers have recently discovered the principle of excitation (Jones & Jones, 2007).

    Step 4

    Ensure that each in-text citation matches up with a full citation placed in your reference list, which may be termed a bibliography or works cited list. This allows a reader to look at a citation within the text of your paper and then refer to the reference list to find the full details of the citation so that she can investigate the topic further on her own.

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    Tips

    • Ask your professor what style of citations he would prefer you to use when writing your paper.
    • In general, the punctuation for your sentence will go after the in-text citation.
    • Computer programs are available to handle your in-text citations and reference lists for you. These programs will ensure that your citations are always formatted properly and will allow you to select the proper citation style.

    Warning

    • Without proper citation, you can inadvertently plagiarize another person's work.

    About the Author

    Karen L. Blair has been professionally writing since 2001. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the "Journal of Sex Research," "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" and "Psychology & Sexuality." Blair received her M.Sc. in psychology at Acadia University and her Ph.D. in social psychology at Queen's University. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow and research consultant.

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