Writing and Speaking

Why You Need to Cite Your Research Paper

Do you know the importance of citing your research paper? I will let you understand how essential citation is when writing your research papers.

You have to cite the facts, ideas, theories, figures, exact words, and other information from different sources and authors. Here you will learn how to cite a research paper, depending on what you are citing and the style you want to use.

The following are some of the reasons why you need to cite your research paper:

A citation is a fact-checking tool

Anytime you are writing a research paper about science, the accuracy of facts is crucial. You want to show your readers that what you tell them is not your ideas, but something scientists prove.

Citation serves as a reference for verification and demonstrates information’s reliability. For instance, you can decide to cite another study related to yours.

It helps to avoid plagiarism

Proper citation can help prevent plagiarism in your writing. Failure to cite the sources means that you own ideas while they originate from another author.

Plagiarism does not necessarily mean that you copy and paste other people’s work; it may occur if you don’t cite your paraphrased information correctly. It may also happen when you don’t use quotation marks.

Plagiarism is a serious offense and attracts severe consequences. Ensure you avoid plagiarism by citing the sources you have used effectively at the end of your research paper.

Citation makes you a great researcher

A good research paper should resonate between your ability to connect ideas and your attention to detail. A proper citation shows your capabilities in these two aspects.

An ideal citation shows details like accuracy, correct page numbers, and the author’s names. Being detail-oriented depicts good writing habits across your various research papers. For example, writing an annotated bibliography that requires a lot of information condensed in a small space shows your better research skills.

Give your readers more information

When you provide citations, your readers can search the sources and get more information if need be. This helps to get rid of vague thinking, generalization, and outright false claims.

Proper citations leave no room for questions in the minds of your readers regarding what you are writing. It also helps to avoid the use of passive voice.

Build your credibility as a scholar

Good citation plays a vital role in establishing the writer’s credibility among other scholars in the same field. A well-documented research paper shows you how credible you are to your colleagues.

Proper citation also helps to verify your work. Before academic papers get published on the websites or printed out, they are usually vetted by various auditors. Citing all your sources correctly helps your essay to go through the editing process with ease.

Gives credit to other authors

Many scholars usually base their arguments on other authors’ or scholars’ ideas when writing research papers. You can do this either by quoting the exact author’s words or paraphrasing them. Doing this respectfully and effectively gives the authors whose work has been used credit.

How to Cite a Research Paper

There are several citation styles that you can use to cite your research paper, as discussed below:

1.      APA Research Paper Citation Format

The American Psychological Association (APA) format is mainly used in social sciences and psychology papers. This is the specific format to follow:

  • Book: Author Name, A.A.. (Year of Publication). The Title of the Book. Publisher City, State: Publisher.
  • Website: Author Name, A.A..(Year, Month of Publication). The Title of the Article. Retrieved from URL.
  • Magazine: Author Name, A.A..(Year, Month of Publication). The Title of the Article, The Magazine Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.


2.      MLA Research Paper Citation Format

The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is used in writing humanities and liberal arts papers. This is the format of citing a research paper in MLA format:

  • Book: Author’s Last Name, First Name. The Title of the Book. Publisher City: Publisher Name, Year of Publication. Medium.
  • Newspaper: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “The Title of the Article.” Newspaper Name Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium.
  • Website: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “The Page Title.” The Website Title. The Publisher/Sponsoring Institution. The Date of Publication: Page Numbers. Medium.

3.      Chicago Research Paper Citation Format

The Chicago citing style is mainly used in humanities papers. Use the following format when citing your research papers in Chicago style:

  • Book: The Author’s Last Name, First Name, The Book Title. The Publisher City: Publisher Name, Year Published.
  • Newspaper: Author’s Last Name, First Name, “The Title of the Article.” Newspaper Name, Publication.
  • Magazine: Author’s Last Name, First Name, “The Title of the Article.” Magazine Title, Month Date, Year of Publication.


Citing your research paper is essential. It enables your readers to know the sources of your work and get more details from the cited references.

If you cite your sources correctly, you will help to prevent plagiarism in your papers. Citing also acknowledges and credits other authors’ or researchers’ ideas.

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