Mastering the Art of Academic Citations
In academic papers, you must properly reference your sources. Include a academic citations for the original author whenever you quote or paraphrase from a source (such as a book, article, or website).
Plagiarism occurs when someone else’s ideas are presented as one’s own without giving proper credit to the source.
APA and MLA are the most popular citation formats. The easiest way to generate citations in various formats is with Scribbr’s free Citation Generator. An authentic, properly styled source will be generated once you provide the URL, DOI, or title.
When should you include a reference?
In all forms of scholarly writing, citations are essential. There are a few situations where they’d be useful:
It is important to credit your sources to prevent being accused of academic plagiarism properly.
To properly attribute this work to its creator
So that they can verify your claims using the sources themselves
You must provide a reference if you use information from another source. To do so, one must typically quote or paraphrase:
Using quotation marks around a copied passage taken verbatim from a reference.
Paraphrasing involves restating the source material using your own words. The paraphrase must depart significantly from the source material. You can utilize the online paraphrase tool if you’d rather not reword everything from scratch
You must provide proper citations no matter what you use for a source—direct quotes, paraphrases, or summaries. Don’t just rely on scholarly materials like books and journal articles for your ideas and examples; reference everything you use. Internet resources, lecture videos, and YouTube are all included.
NoteCommon knowledge is something you can reference very infrequently. For example, the fact that Tokyo is Japan’s capital city is assumed common knowledge.
What format should you use for your citations?
Check the rules or ask your instructor to determine the citation style required by your institution (or the journal you are submitting to).
Sometimes it’s up to you to decide which citation format to use. Make sure you stick to one style throughout:
APA “style” is commonly employed outside the social sciences.
In the humanities, MLA format is the norm.
Learn the differences between the two most widely used citation formats by reading our article on APA vs. MLA.
Notes & Bibliography
Parenthetical references to sources typically include the author’s last name and the publication year (also known as author-date citations).
An APA-style in-text citation illustration Darwin wrote that evolution “can act only by very short and slow steps” (p. 510 of his 1859 book).
In numerical citation styles, a number is put into the text to match an entry in a numbered reference list as an alternative to this type of in-text citation.
Vancouver numerical citation example natural selection “can act only by very short and slow steps” (1, p. 510), indicating that evolution is a very slow process.
Additional citation formats involve using either footnotes or endnotes to document your sources. These citations need to be included in the text itself. Thus, they can be more detailed and are only sometimes accompanied by a complete reference list or bibliography.
Bibliographies and reference citations
A reference list (or “Bibliography” or “Works Cited,” depending on the style) is where you list all of the sources that you cited in your text. Typically, it is formatted with a hanging indent at the end of the paper.
It doesn’t matter what citation style you use; most reference entries will include the same basic data. Common items to have for each source are:
Name of author Title Date of first publication
Receptacle (the book an essay appeared in or the journal an article was published in)
Place of Publication (of the Publisher; can be an Internet address, DOI, or even a street address)
What details are provided in a citation depends on the type of source used and the referencing style. Different styles of presentation (e.g., capitalization, italics) and presentation of the information are also possible.
Your reference list should typically be organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. The reader can then use the author’s name from the in-text citation to locate the appropriate entry quickly.
The entries in your reference list are given numbers in numerical citation styles, often in the order in which you cite them. The relevant entrance is located by the reader using the textual occurrence of the corresponding number.
Plagiarism is the practice of claiming the work of another as one’s own. It’s a major crime in the classroom. To ensure that your university paper is original, it will be scanned by plagiarism detection software.
Accidental plagiarism is more likely to occur when working with many sources. Some common mistakes include failing to properly cite a quote or paraphrase a source without sounding too similar to the original.
Avoid embarrassing situations by running your plagiarism check before submitting your paper. Given the findings, complete the bibliography or reword the text as needed.
Check out our in-depth review of the top 10 online plagiarism checkers, or use the free version of our recommended tool, the Scribbr Plagiarism Checker.
The Citation Checker on Scribbr is an innovative AI-driven feature that flags discrepancies and typos in your in-text citations. It also provides a suggested solution for each error.
This is the quickest and easiest way to check your APA-style citations for correct formatting.