Nova A.
Nova A.

How to Cite a Research Paper in Different Citation Formats

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Published on: Jul 18, 2021

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

How to cite a research paper

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Properly citing research papers is a vital aspect of academic writing. However, it can be a daunting task for many students and researchers, leading to confusion and potential plagiarism issues.

Inaccurate citations can result in serious consequences, including loss of academic credibility, rejection of research papers, and even legal action. 

Therefore, it is crucial to understand the fundamentals of research paper citations and master the art of citing them accurately.

In this blog, we provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to cite research papers effectively. 

From understanding different citation styles to citing various types of sources, our expert tips and tricks will equip you with the necessary skills to excel in academic writing.

By the end of this blog, you will have a clear understanding of the importance of proper research paper citations and the tools to create accurate citations with ease. 

Whether you are a student or a seasoned researcher, our guide will help you to cite your research papers correctly and confidently.

So, let’s get started.

What is a Citation Style?

A citation style refers to a specific set of rules and guidelines used to format and organize references or citations in academic writing.  

It provides a standardized format for citing various sources such as books, journals, websites, and other scholarly materials. 

Citation styles define how information is presented within citations, including elements such as author names, publication dates, titles, page numbers, and more. 

Commonly used citation styles include APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, Harvard, and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Basic Citation Elements

When citing a research paper, there are several basic elements that you need to include in your citation. The specific format and order of these elements may vary depending on the citation style you are using. 

Here are the essential components of a citation:

  • Author(s) name(s)
  • Title of the work (e.g., research paper, article, book)
  • Journal or conference name (if applicable)
  • Publication date
  • Volume and issue number (for journal articles)
  • Page range
  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or URL (for online sources)
  • Publisher (for books)
  • Edition (for books)
  • Place of publication (for books)

Purpose Behind Citations

The main purpose behind citations is to acknowledge and give credit to the original authors or creators of the information and ideas that are used in academic writing. Citations serve several important purposes:

  • Attribution

Citations provide a way to attribute the work of others and acknowledge their contributions to the field. By citing references, researchers demonstrate intellectual honesty and integrity.

  • Avoiding Plagiarism

Citations help to avoid plagiarism, which is the act of presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own. By citing the original sources, researchers show that they have properly referenced and relied on existing knowledge.

  • Verifiability

Citations allow readers to locate and verify the sources used in a research paper. They provide the necessary information to access the cited materials, replication of experiments, and fact-checking.

  • Building on Existing Knowledge

Citations create a network of interconnected ideas, enabling researchers to build on previous research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their field. By referencing earlier works, researchers can demonstrate how their own work fits within the broader scholarly conversation.

  • Establishing Credibility

Proper citations enhance the credibility and reliability of research papers. By citing reputable and authoritative sources, researchers strengthen their arguments and support their claims with evidence.

The citation style you will select will depend on the discipline in which you are writing. However, in most cases, the professor assigns a citation style to students. Therefore, consult them first and then start writing the research paper.

How to Cite a Research Paper in Different Referencing Styles?

When you write a research paper, you must cite the sources you use in your paper. The main citation styles used in academic writing are:

  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Chicago citation style
  • ASA (American Sociological Association)
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
  • Harvard citation style

The basic information is the same in all citation styles. However, only the format to present information depends on APA, MLA, Chicago, and any other citation style. Let us discuss these referencing styles in detail.

APA Research Paper Format

APA is the most common research paper format, and it is generally used in psychology and social sciences papers. However, it is not limited to such disciplines.

Also, it is not a complex citation style, and students normally use this style to format their research papers.

For your help, we gathered some formatting rules that you should follow when writing the research paper in APA format.

  • Use 1’’ margins on all sides of the page.
  • Double spacing is required throughout the paper.
  • Use 12 pt font size.
  • Top left of every page, add a header that includes a short title.

Also, in APA format style paper, the research paper should include:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Main body
  • References

Here are some specific APA formats for different kinds of sources:

WebsiteAuthor, (Year, Month Date of Publication). Article title. Retrieved from URL
BookAuthor, (Year of Publication). The Title of work. Publisher City, State: Publisher
MagazineAuthor, (Year, a month of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp
News PAuthor, (Year, Month Date of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx

APA Format In-Text Citation

In-text citations direct the readers to reference entries at the end of the paper. It is usually used when you describe another author’s work or ideas.

The APA in-text citation has two major elements:

  • Author’s last name
  • Year of publication

Also, when you cite the source, you must add the timestamp and page number.

For Example: (Alexa, 1993, p. 45)

The APA in-text citation comes in two different forms:

  • Parenthetical
  • Narrative

Both types have different styles of citation. In parenthetical citation, you write like this (Alexa, 2010), but in a narrative, write the citation in this format Alexa (2010).

Take a look at this sample and get a better idea of the APA format style research paper

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MLA Research Paper Format

MLA citation is another common research paper format, and it is mainly used in the humanities and liberal arts subjects. Scholars, researchers, or students mainly use this style to format their writing assignments.

However, when you write the paper in MLA format, use the title “Works-Cited List” for your reference list.

Here are some formatting rules that you should know when drafting the research paper in MLA format.

  • Use 1’’ margins on the top, bottom, and sides.
  • Use double spacing throughout the paper.
  • Keep the font size 12pt.
  • Write the title of the paper in the title case.
  • Write all the text in Times New Roman.
  • Place last name and page number at the top left of the page.

Therefore, keep these rules in mind and format the MLA-style research paper effectively.

Given below is the MLA formats for different kinds of sources:

WebsiteLast Name, First Name. “Page Title.” Website Title. Sponsoring Institution/Publisher. Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium.
BookLast Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher City: Publisher Name, Year Published. Medium.
MagazineLast Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Magazine Name Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium
News PaperLast Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name Publication Date: Page Numbers. Medium.
Blog Postsast name, Middle name, Surname. “Title of the blog post.” Blog Title, Publisher, date posted, URL.
Twitter@twitterhandel. “Description.” Twitter, date, time. URL.
InstagramLast name, first name. “Description” Website Title, date, URL.

Check this sample and write a research paper in MLA format without any difficulty.

Chicago Style Research Paper Format

Several researchers also use the Chicago style, and it is also normally used in humanities and book bibliographies. In this citation style, the writers cite sources in endnotes and footnotes. Also, this style allows the writers to demonstrate acceptability to the related references used in the content.

The following are the Chicago-style formatting rules that every student or researcher should follow.

  • All text should be double-spaced except for block quotes.
  • Use 1’’ margins on all sides of the page.
  • Keep the font size 12pt.
  • Write all the text in Times New Roman.
  • Page number includes at the header of the first page.
  • New paragraphs ½ inch indented.

For your help, we also gathered the Chicago-style citation to cite sources of different kinds.

WebsiteLast Name, First Name. “Page Title.” Website Title. Web Address (retrieved Date Accessed).
ArticleLast Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume Number (Year Published): Page Numbers
MagazineLast Name, First Name. Article title. Magazine Title, Month Date, Year of publication.
News PaperLast Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name, Publication Date.
Youtube VideoLast name, First name, “Title of Video.” YouTube video, length. Date published. URL.
TwitterLast name, First name. Twitter Post. Month Day, Year, Time. Tweet URL.
InstagramAuthor(s) of the post (@handle). "Text of the Instagram post." Instagram, Date of posting. URL.
Blog PostsFirst name Last Name, “Title of Blog Post,” Blog Title (blog), Month Date, Year of Post, URL.
BookLast Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher City: Publisher Name, Year Published.

Also, look at this sample and get help from them for your research paper.

ASA Research Paper Format

The Sociological Association creates this citation style, and scholars use it for writing sociology research papers.

The main elements of the ASA paper are:

  • Title Page
  • Citation and In-Text Citation
  • Heading
  • References

Here are some formatting tips that will help you in writing the research paper in ASA forma

  • In the top right corner of the page, include page numbers.
  • Use double spacing throughout the paper.
  • Keep the font size 12 pt.
  • Use 1 ¼ margin on all sides of the page.
  • The text must be readable and use Times New Roman font.

Below are the ASA citation style guidelines for citing different kinds of sources.

WebsiteAuthor’s Last, First Name. Date of Publishing. Title. Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year (link).
Magazine ArticleAuthor’s Last, First Name. Year of Pub. "Title." Magazine Name, Month Year, pp. Inclusive page numbers.
BookAuthor’s Last, First Name. Year of Publication. Title. Country of publisher: Publisher.
Newspaper ArticleAuthor Last name, First name. Year of publication. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper (italicized), Month date, pp. Numbers.

Here is an ASA sample paper for your ease.

IEEE Style Research Paper Format

The IEEE citation style is used in electronics, computer science, engineering, and IT. This citation style is an official style of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Also, the IEEE citation style has three main parts:

  • Author’s name
  • Title of the work
  • Title of journal or book

Like all other citation styles, the format, page numbers, and other information will differ depending on the types of cited sources.

The following table shows how you cite different kinds of sources in your research paper.

HandbooksName of Manual/Handbook, x ed., Abbrev. Name of Co., City of Co., Abbrev. State, year, pp. xxx-xxx.
Conference PaperJ. K. Author, “Title of paper,” presented at the Abbreviated Name of Conf., City of Conf., Abbrev. State, Country, Month and day(s), year, Paper number.
LecturesJ. K. Author. (Year). Title of lecture [Type of Medium]. Available: URL
PeriodicalsJ. K. Author, “Name of paper,” Abbrev. Title of Periodical, vol. x, no. x, pp. xxx-xxx, Abbrev. Month, year.
ReportsJ. K. Author, “Title of report,” Abbrev. Name of Co., City of Co., Abbrev. State, Country, Rep. xxx, year.
Thesis and DissertationJ. K. Author, “Title of thesis,” M.S. thesis, Abbrev. Dept., Abbrev. Univ., City of Univ., Abbrev. State, year.
WebsiteFirst Name Initial(s) Last Name. “Page Title.” Website Title. Web Address (retrieved Date Accessed).
BooksJ. K. Author, “Title of chapter in the book,” in Title of His Published Book, xth ed. City of Publisher, (only U.S. State), Country: Abbrev. of Publisher, year, ch. x, sec. x, pp. xxx–xxx.

We collected an example that helps in your IEEE citation-style research paper.

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Harvard Style Research Paper Format

The Harvard citation style is used in economics, and it is based on an author-date system. Also, in the Harvard style, the body of your paper contains in-text citations.

Here are some tips that you should follow in writing the research paper in Harvard style.

  • Arranged reference list alphabetically.
  • Only the title of the source should be in italics and underlined.
  • Use double-spacing.

However, some institutes have their own rules for the Harvard style, so check them first and then start writing.

The below table shows different kinds of sources and their Harvard-style format for your research paper.

BookAuthor A and Author B (year) Book Title. Place: Publisher name.
Journal ArticlesAuthor Surname, Initial. (Year) Title of article. Title of journal, Vol. no. (Part no./Issue/Month), Pages, use p. or pp.
Thesis or DissertationAuthor Surname, Initial. (Year). Title. Designation (Level, e.g., MSc, PhD.), Institution.
ReportAuthor Surname, Initial(s) or Corporate Author., (Year of publication). Title of report. Paper number [if applicable]. Place of Publication: Publisher.

Here is an example for you to understand this citation style even better.

Looking for more information? Check out this video below.

Tips for Citing a Research Paper

Citing a research paper accurately is crucial for maintaining academic integrity and providing proper attribution to the original authors. Here are some essential tips to help you master the art of research paper citations:

  • Understand the Citation Style

Familiarize yourself with the specific citation style required by your discipline or institution, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago. Each style has its own rules for formatting citations, so make sure to consult the appropriate style guide.

  • Gather Complete Information

Collect all the necessary information about the source you are citing. Be meticulous in recording this information to ensure accurate citations.

  • Use Citation Management Tools

Consider using citation management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote to organize and generate citations. These tools can streamline the citation process and help you manage your references effectively.

  • Follow Proper Formatting

Pay attention to formatting details such as italics, capitalization, quotation marks, and indentation specified by the citation style. Consistency and adherence to the style guidelines are essential.

  • Cite Direct Quotes and Paraphrased Information

Whenever you directly quote or paraphrase someone else's work, provide an in-text citation or a footnote to acknowledge the source. This applies to both written text and visual materials like charts or images.

  • Include Page Numbers

When citing specific passages or ideas from a source, include the corresponding page numbers in your citation. This allows readers to locate the exact information you are referencing.

  • Verify Citations for Accuracy

Double-check your citations to ensure they are correct and complete. Cross-reference the information with the original source to avoid any inaccuracies.

  • Give Priority to Scholarly Sources

Whenever possible, cite scholarly sources such as peer-reviewed journals, academic books, and reputable conference proceedings. These sources carry more credibility and strengthen the validity of your research.

  • Be Consistent

Maintain consistency throughout your citations. Follow the same citation format for all sources within your research paper. This includes in-text citations, footnotes, and the reference list or bibliography.

  • Seek Guidance

If you have any doubts or question about citing a research paper, consult your professor, mentor, or a reliable style guide. Getting expert guidance can help ensure accurate and proper citation practices.

By following these tips, you can effectively cite research papers and demonstrate your commitment to academic integrity while showcasing the valuable contributions of others to your work.

In conclusion, proper citation is a crucial component of academic writing and serves multiple purposes. Utilize an essay writer to master the art of citing research papers and ensure the accuracy and integrity of your work.

If you are looking for further assistance with your academic writing, consider checking out 

We offer a range of services, including essay writing, editing, and proofreading, as well as expert guidance on various aspects of academic writing. 

Whether you need help with citations, grammar, or formatting, has the resources and expertise to help you succeed. 

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References - Citation Style Manuals





Nova A.


Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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