In college and universities, students need to submit research papers in their respective subjects for the successful completion of their degree. A research paper helps to develop and nurture the analytical skills of the students. They also help to develop a firm knowledge about the topic. Research paper writing remains incomplete without the proper usage of citations. As the academic paper discusses or explores various key social, scientific, technical and financial issues, proper citations should be used to increase the authenticity.
What are citations?
Citations are the reference(s) to the original published or unpublished source which has been used in the work. It is an abbreviated alphanumeric expression which is used as a footnote or as a bibliographic entry used as an acknowledgement of the relevance of former intellectual works. There are various accepted citations styles, such as Harvard, Oxford, MLA, APA and many more.
In general, there are three types of citation systems which are followed. They are as follows:
It refers to the sequential system of numbers used in bracketed form or either as superscript. The number refer to the footnotes or the endnotes, i.e., at the end of the paper which provides the details of the source.
For example -
“The business cycle is the economist's metric for describing the current state of the economy.”1
The note would look like:
- Gregory Mankiw, Macroeconomics (Worth Publishers Inc.,U.S, 2002) 46-50
It may be located as a footnote at the foot of the respective page or as an endnote at the end of the research paper. It acts as supplementary information which encourages further reading.
Also known as Harvard referencing, it has full or partial citations enclosed at the end of the sentence where the reference is used.
For example -
“The business cycle is the economist's metric for describing the current state of the economy.”( N. Gregory Mankiw, 2002, p 46-50)
This style makes citing easier and only displays limited information which the reader needs.
A recently developed citation system, where a superscript number is used in the reference. At the end of the research paper, the numbers are arranged according to the names alphabetically as used by the author.
Where citations should be used?
When you take the references from other sources to write your research paper, the source should be given its due credit in your assignment. Some of the sources that require proper citations are:
- Books and journals
- Newspapers and magazines
- Websites and other e-sources
- Films, documentaries and advertisements
- Letters and email
- Notes of the lecturer.
Citation styles differ according to the topic, subject and academic field of the research paper. A number of organizations have introduced their own style of citation according to their requirements. Some of them are flexible while some of them follow specific formats. Some are used in Humanities subject while some are suitable for science assignments. According to the usage in the subjects, the most important and significant citation styles are:
Abbreviated from Chicago Manual of Style, it is generally used in economics, history and fine arts. It is almost similar to Turabian style and offers a choice of several formats provided it results are concise and clear to the reader. The two basic documentation systems, namely notes and bibliography and author-date are permitted in this style of referencing. Scholars choose according to their need and subject.
Also known as author-date system, it is a specific kind of parenthetical referencing which is recommended by eminent associations. It uses a short author-date reference (Mankiw, 2002) inserted after the quoted text with a detailed information about the source at the end of the paper or book.
It is the most commonly used citation style in subjects of arts and humanities. The format used is parenthetical referencing with author–page or author-title-page. Like (Mankiw, 56) or (Mankiw, Inflation, 56)
The most commonly used format in legal systems is Bluebook, especially in the American courts. All the references used are footnoted as inline citations and are also common in court submissions. A separate sentence or a separate clause is added after the usage. The British legal citation follows Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities.
In science, engineering and medicine:
American Chemical Society style is used in chemistry and other physical sciences. In this style, the numbers are repeated throughout the research paper with an explanation at the end.
Developed by the American Mathematical Society where the initials of the author with the year are inserted in the text and at the starting of the reference. For e.g., (GM, 02)
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) introduced their own style where the citation numbers are enclosed in square brackets consecutively and repeated in the research paper as required.
In social sciences:
The style of American Psychological Association is the most common form of referencing style in social science subjects. It is similar to Harvard referencing with an alphabetical list of sources on the reference page.
American Political Science Association Style:
It is also one of the most prominent citation style used in social science subjects. It is almost similar to CMOS.
Significance of citation usage
Usage of citation is mandatory in any research paper. It increases the authenticity and the trustworthiness of your research paper. The most important reasons of uses of reference citation are as follows:
- It acknowledges and provides the duly credit to the authors and the intellectual ideas which you have used in your research paper or assignment.
- It provides a legitimate trail by which your evaluator can locate the sources which you have consulted in making the research paper.
- It verifies the evidences which you claimed in the paper.
- It helps to build accuracy and avoids unnecessary plagiarism.
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