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How to Cite Sources in Your Research Paper: Professional Advice


Most students agree that they can easily find materials for their research papers, but they often have troubles trying to add these materials into their papers. Students understand that plagiarism is unacceptable; that is why they learn how to cite the sources properly. Professionals recommend students to follow this simple advice in order to avoid plagiarism.

  1. The best technique that you can employ is to paraphrase the information that you want to use in your paper. After you read it, it is a good idea to put it into your own words and write it down. Do not forget to note the source of the material. Remember that if you use three and more words in a row from the reference, you have to use quotation marks.
  2. When you cite the sources, you will not jump into the trap of plagiarism. You should check the formatting guidelines provided by your supervisor. Students usually use one of the three most popular formatting styles; which are MLA, APA, and Chicago. These styles explain how you should format the author’s name, date of publication, and some additional information. Citing itself is simple after you learn the general rules and find several good examples to follow.
  3. You should quote a source exactly the way it is written in the book, article, or blog. In most cases, it is better to avoid long quotes; do not provide quotes longer than 40 words. Every graduate student should be able to paraphrase information. Paraphrasing takes some time, but it helps you avoid negative comments from your supervisor.
  4. When you cite a direct quote, you should provide a page number in addition to the standard form of citing. If you use online content, you should add a paragraph number.
  5. You should be aware of self-plagiarism, which is when you use your own material that was written earlier. It may sound strange, but you should cite yourself because self-plagiarism is also not allowed.
  6. All the sources you have used should be included in a reference list. Depending on a research paper formatting style; it may be called a list of references, bibliography, or a list of works cited. You should study the style requirements carefully, or else you will make lots of mistakes and upset your supervisor.
  7. It is your task to check whether you cited all the sources and formatted your list of works cited properly. It is also a good idea to use free anti-plagiarism software and ensure that your paraphrasing is good enough.

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