How to write references for a research paper

When starting to write their term paper, thesis or any kind of a research paper, every student asks “How to make correct references and footnotes?" In the methodical literature of the educational institution, it is not always possible to get information about how to do it correctly. In order to fill this gap, we have prepared this guideline to provide you with all necessary information on this problem. First of all, you need to understand the concept of a referencing, i.e. why to use references in your paper.

It should be started with the fact that in most college papers a student initially does not invent anything new, but uses the ideas of other researchers. To present them he needs to use quotes from other scientists in a particular field of scientific knowledge, while the student has no right to engage in plagiarism and "steal" other people's thoughts.

In order to make a paper look like a true a scientific work, the student needs to learn how to write references and cite the text correctly. The creation of references should begin at the stage of selection and analysis of the sources, since the borrowing of a piece of text from any source, for example, the journal "Economics and management", it is necessary to make references to the author of the cited text. To write a quote, a student has to write the borrowed text using quotation marks and after the closing quotation mark put a footnote sigh or reference.

Before the quoted text, the author should be indicated by writing a phrase like: «Professor Hegleman indicates that...". In order to make proper references and not to overdo it with citations, the student needs to understand that there must be a reasonable number of citations in the text. So in the term paper, there should be from five to seven quotes, in the abstract or essay – from two to three quotes.

Therefore, to make references correctly, a student should take into account the following points:
  • Make only accurate and reliable references
  • Make notes for the sources that will be referenced during the preparation of the paper. Otherwise, you will not remember the exact location of certain parts of the borrowed text
  • Referencing should be reasonable and have a real need. There should not be too many references in the text
  • There should be at least one reference for each source in the list of references.

Citation and referencing rules

If you want to cite a source, you should use basic citation formats. However, the rules can vary depending on the discipline, the journal where you are going to publish your article, the university, and the country. Therefore, you should check out individual citation formats required by a certain publishing agency or educational institution.

You are expected to encounter every specific format for the materials you are going to present to the public. A specific journal has its formatting rules as well as a particular university expects a writer to cite texts and write references according to the established standards.

The essential component of any scientific work is a scientific citation. In scientific works, it is a must to make references to the sources from which the materials or individual results are borrowed. You should also make references to the ideas and conclusions on the basis of which you have developed your own research and studies the issues. Such references provide an opportunity to find relevant sources, check the accuracy of the citation, to obtain the necessary information about these sources (its content, language, volume).

The use of bibliographic references in scientific works is mandatory. You make references when you need:
  • To cite text fragments, formulas, tables, illustrations
  • To borrow formulas, tables, illustrations, etc. not as a quotation
  • To paraphrase someone else's text
  • To analyze the content of other publications in your paper
  • To refer the reader to other publications where the discussed material is given in a full form.

The absence of a reference constitutes copyright infringement and an incorrectly executed reference is considered a serious error. All sources referred in the list of references must be indicated in the text of the paper.

Also, it is a gross error if there are citations and references in the text of the paper but they are not presented in the list of references, and vice versa.

In assessing the bibliographic apparatus of the paper, no less attention is paid to the quality of cited sources. The main requirements to the sources given in the paper are their reliability and compliance with the topic under study. The latest scientific articles and monographs (including foreign ones) are recognized as the most authoritative sources of information for scientific works. When referring to these sources, attention should be paid to the scientific qualifications of the authors, as well as the credibility of the journal in which the article is published.

When writing a theoretical chapter of the paper, a student should show that he has studied the classical works by referring to the relevant sources. If you need to find out what outstanding works you should look through before writing a paper you should do a comprehensive literature search or take necessary information from your teacher.

How to make accurate references

If you want to craft a smart research paper, you should learn how to make references to the works of other authors. The rules below will help you master this skill:
  • When referring to other authors, it is necessary to indicate his or her last name, and their initials. This recommendation is often ignored in the academic and scientific literature, so you can find links to authors without specifying the initials. If in student's work the author is quoted from a secondary source, in which his initials are not specified, information about the author can be found in the literature list of the secondary source or found in other sources, for example, on the Internet
  • In scientific texts, it is common to indicate the initials of the cited authors before the last name.
  • It is not recommended to write the full names of the cited, even if their names are well known, for example, S.Freud not Sigmund Freud, etc.). The entire text of the work should be made in the same style, indicating only the initials and names of the authors cited.
  • It is not recommended to start the paragraph with the initials and the last name of the cited author.
  • When citing other authors, you should pay attention to the gender of the author cited.
  • When quoting, make sure that you do not confuse the cited author with a known namesake and do not quote twice the researcher who changed his name or took a pseudonym.
  • Most often mistakes are made when women scientists are mentioned in their works, whose names and initials do not allow concluding about their gender.

Practical referencing tips

Footnotes and references to the sources of information is a mandatory element of the research paper. In most cases, students include the footnotes in the research paper on the final stage of preparation of the research using for this the automatic edition of Microsoft Word.

Experienced teachers, know-how with the help of references to identify whether the work is written independently. They evaluate how well a student researched the topic and whether he studied every detail of the issue. References often allow the teacher assess the quality of the paper as a whole.

References are used to refer to a specific source or an author, whose quote is given in the text of the paper.

Below, there are some tips on making references:
  • One of the practical suggestions it the more links to different sources of information the student have used, the more comprehensive, in the opinion of the teacher, the paper is.
  • Typically, the first section of the research paper is theoretical and consists of descriptions of the topic on the basis of data already available in books, textbooks, scientific journals, etc. Therefore, in this part of the paper, there should be a reference on each page, and it is better to have several references per page. So do not be lazy, and after each quote make sure to include a reference or a footnote.
  • In the process of writing the first draft of the research paper, you should immediately indicate the book, where the material was taken or the author, if it is a quote. Then, at the final stage of the paper design, you will only have to format the references correctly, without reviewing all the sources to remember where the information was taken from.
  • Each department may have specific recommendations as to formatting term papers or other research papers containing accurately prepared tips on how to write references for a research paper. Sometimes they prescribe a minimum number of references to be used in this or that kind of a paper. If there is no such a training brochure, then you can safely use the generally accepted rules of reference design in the scientific world.

Basic citation formats

If you give a quote from another author's work, the quote must be taken in quotation marks and after should go a link to the source. For example, you want to quote an extract from the article by J. Kuzben and M. Willvich "Universities of the Eastern Europe: differences in academic assessment". The citation should look like this: As noted in the work by Kuzben and Willvich, " The assessment scale ECTS is based on the assessment of the student's level of training, that is, how the student performed the work compared to other students” (Kuzben and Willvich 2011:208 ).

You can make a quote in another way, specifying the names of the authors, year of publication and other details. For example, according to Kuzben and Willvich, " The assessment scale ECTS is based on the assessment of the student's level of training, that is, how the student performed the work compared to other students” Kuzben, J., Willich, M.,2011. Universities of the Eastern Europe: differences in academic assessment. 45 (5):208.

When citing use these standard citation tips:
  • After a quote in the brackets you write the author’s name and the year of the publication, for example, “...” (Browntail 2005). The reader will find a complete reverence in the reference list.
  • If you refer to a book, you should write a page number in the brackets after semicolon. For example, “...”(Browntail 2005:147).
  • If you cite two authors, make sure to write the last name of each author. For example, “...” (Browntail and Norfolk 2007). If there more than two authors of the cited source, you write the last name of the first author and then write and others and indicate the year of the publication. For example, (Browntail and others 2006).
  • If you need to cite a paper, a book or journal article but you do not know who the author is, you can write Anon. that means anonymous and then indicate the year of the publication. For example, “...” (Anon.2001).
  • If you want to reference the source found in another book, you should refer it like this: (Browntail 2006, in Education Today 2015).
  • For a string of quotes use semicolons. For example, (Browntail 2005:147; Norfolk 2007:56; Saurwhein 2010:488).
  • If a citation is a part of the statement do not forget to place the period. For example, “.... students are assessed twice a term (Browntail 2005:147).”

What to avoid when citing the text

Here are some more tips on how to cite the sources in a proper way. The ones below will tell you what to avoid when citing the sources and when it is not necessary to use quotes or references:
  • It is not recommended to start paragraphs with a quote and also to place one quote immediately after another. You should avoid quotations, the authorship of which is unknown or which contain well-known commonplace facts.
  • In order to prevent the literal rewriting of someone else's text, the form of citation should be varied. The citation does not have to be direct. A direct quote is needed where everything said by the author is important up to the intonation nuances and style. so you need a direct quote if the source presents an original view on the issue, contains a capacious definition, the author's interpretation of the subject of the study. A direct quote is OK when you need it to confirm your own statements. The use of a direct quote is justified if the position of the author is criticized, therefore the most vulnerable ideas of his works should be given in full. You need a direct quote when you analyze the features of the author's style (for example, in literary and philological works).
  • In other cases, the citation may be indirect, i.e. you can interpret, summarize or paraphrase them.

With these tips you are sure to get a high score for properly formatted and referenced research paper!

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