Research Citation Information

Why Cite Your Sources?

Citations are the key to avoiding plagiarism.

  • If the information in your paper or project is not the result of your own analysis, it was created, developed, or compiled by other writers and is their intellectual property, so they deserve credit for their work.
  • Plagiarism usually results in a failing grade and/or removal from the class.


Citations provide the reader with the ability to retrace your research steps.

  • This map of your research adds credibility to your work.
  • It allows you to defend your work by showing the resources you used in developing your ideas.


How Do You Cite Your Sources?

Ask your professor for the name of the specific style guide you are to use – many majors require a specific citation style.

  • Every citation style will require different uses of punctuation, capitalization, authors’ names, etc.
  • Incorrect citations may lower your grade, so you must proofread each citation carefully.


Consult the specific style guide for information.

  • The most widely used style guides at SFA are The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (MLA style) and The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA style).
  • Electronic assistance is available.
    • Current versions of word processing software provide citation choices that allow you to insert the citation in the appropriate format.
    • Many of the electronic databases you can access through Steen Library supply citation help screens that allow you to compile citations in the format you need.
    • A variety of online citation creation sites like KnightCite and Landmarks Son of Citation Machine exist, which provide help with APA, MLA, and Chicago style citations.
    • While helpful, these sites are not perfect – you must still proofread carefully using the appropriate style manual.


Mendeley is a free reference manager using both online access and a desktop client.   It helps you organize your research, collaborate with team members, and share your research.  Articles can be exported from research databases, sorted into folders and organized.

Mendeley is compatible with Windows Word, Mac Word, OpenOffice 3.2 and BibTeX.  Once you download Mendeley Desktop you can install the Word Plugin.  Without leaving Word, you can format citations and a bibliography according to the citation style you are using.

Your library can be synced so that all your articles and papers can be accessed on the cloud or offline.

Sign up and download your Mendeley Desktop reference manager here: