How to Cite a Research Paper

In academic writing, citing sources is essential to avoid plagiarism. That is why students at all educational levels need to know how to cite a research paper. Furthermore, academic papers must have credible sources. The references also follow a specific citation style preferred in that discipline or as specified by your professor. Want to know how to cite a research paper in MLA and APA? Read on.

how to cite a research paper

Importance of Citing a Research Paper

Citations act as a roadmap for where the readers of the research paper can find where you obtained your information. Thus the readers can expand their knowledge on the topic under discussion. Citations also prove to the professor that you have thoroughly reviewed the available literature on the subject. It also shows you have written your research paper from an informed perspective.

Using other researchers’ ideas in your essay acts as evidence to support your argument. Overall, citing sources is a student’s best defense against allegations of plagiarism which carry a hefty penalty such as being expelled from that college.

What are 3 ways to cite?

There are three main methods of referencing to a source document in the text of a research paper. These methods are:

  1. Directly quoting from another source
  2. Paraphrasing the source material
  3. Providing a summary of longer passages

You must cite a source in a research paper whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize other authors’ ideas. How you present the citation depends on the style you will use. There are several citation styles. For example, social and behavioral sciences prefer APA. On the other hand, humanity courses use MLA. Other citation styles include Chicago/Turabian style, IEE, and AMA.

What are 3 Ways you Can Correctly Cite Research?

Depending on the citation style you are following, you can correctly cite research using three basic approaches:

  • Note citation- include a full citation in a footnote or endnote and indicate it with a symbol or superscript number.
  • Parenthetical citations- involve adding the details of the source in the text in parentheses. This can include the author’s last name and publication date, i.e. (Tom, 2018) or the author’s last name and page number (Tom, 2018, p. 222)
  • Numerical citations-include a superscript or a number in brackets that corresponds to an entry you numbered in the reference list.
how to cite a research paper

How to Cite a Research Paper

APA and MLA are the the standard citation styles preffered in academia. Here are tips on how to use both formats.

How to Cite in a Research Paper MLA

Here is how to cite a book and journal in MLA.


Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Edition, Publisher, Year of publication. The in-text citation follows the (author’s last name page).

Example: Roberts, Laura Weiss. University Student Mental Health: A Guide for Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Leaders Serving in Higher Education. American Psychiatric Publishing, 2018.
In-text citation: (Roberts 16)

Journal Article

Author last name, First name. “Article title.” Journal Name, vol. Volume, no. Issue, Month Year, pp. Page range, DOI or URL.

Example: David, Ryan. “Ana Tijoux’s Joyous Rebellion: Modeling Transnational Protest Through Song.” Latin American Music Review, vol. 47, no. 2, Fall/Winter 2020, pp. 105–125, doi:10.7560/LAMR41203.
In-text citation: (David 203)

How to Cite a Research Paper in APA

When using the APA format, the research paper in text citation follows the author-date method, and the information is in parenthesis.


Author, A.A.. (Year of Publication). The Title of work. Publisher City, State: Publisher.
Example: Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In-text citation: (Kahneman, 2011)

Journal article:

Author last name, Initials. (Year). Article title. Journal Name, Volume(Issue), Page range. DOI or URL
Example: A+ndreff, W. (2000). The evolving model of professional sports finance. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(3), 257–276.
In-text citation: (Andreff, 2000)

how to cite a research paper

How to Cite Websites in a Research Paper

The standard procedure for a research paper referencing a page from a website is to include a short in-text citation and a corresponding reference stating the author’s name, the date of publication, the title of the page, the website name, and the URL. Here are examples.


Author’s Last Name, Initial(s). (Year, Month, Day of publication). Article Title. Website. https://URL
In-text citation: Parenthetical: (Author’s Last Name, Year of publication)

Example: Sloan, B. (2017, April 10). Fish likely impacted by Great Pacific garbage patch. The Ocean Cleanup.
In-text citation: (Sloan, 2017)


For a research paper source citation in MLA, the Works Cited entry for a webpage lists the author’s name, the title of the page (in quotation marks), the site’s name (in italics), the date of publication, and the URL. The in-text citation usually lists the author’s name. The exact format applies to blog posts and online articles from newspapers and magazines.

Example: Nunez, Christina. “The Facts About Ozone Depletion.” Environment, 10 Jan. 2023,
In-text citation: (Nune)

How to Cite Websites with No Author or Date of Publication

In MLA, when no author is listed, cite the company name/organization as the author only if it differs from the website name. If the organization name is also the website name, start the Works Cited entry with the title instead, and use a shortened version of the title in the in-text citation. If no publication date is listed, only include an access date at the end instead.

Example: Organization Name. “Page Title.” Website Name, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

In APA, when a page has no author specified, list the name of the organization that created it instead and omit it later if it is the same as the website name. When it doesn’t list a date of publication, use “n.d.” instead of the date.

Example: Organization Name. (n.d.). Page title. Website Name. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from URL

How to Cite Blog Posts

References in a research paper for a blog post include the post’s title, which is not italicized, but the blog’s name is. The same format applies to online newspaper and magazine articles. The in-text citation would include the author’s last name and year of publication.

Example: Author’s last name, Initials. (Year, Month Day). Article title. Blog/Publication Name. URL
In-text citation: (Last name, year the blog was written).

Bottom Line

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