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How To Format References In A Research Paper: 8 Simple Tips


The references in a research paper are the most important section of the paper. It can be the difference between a passing grade and failure. Plagiarism is a serious offense against ethics and the original author’s work. There are eight simple tips to help format a research paper.

  1. Verify from the instructor what format they expect. A vague “don’t forget to cite your work”, is not normally the method teachers structure assignments. Ignorance is not a defense when under fire for plagiarism.
  2. Err on the side of caution. Be sure to track every article, book, blog you read as well as videos, interviews and other sources that are used. Even if you decide not to quote or paraphrase the material, you lessen the risk of forgetting something. It is difficult to prove a mistake.
  3. Make sure that every reference you retain matches the citations in the text. If you are in doubt site and make sure that there is a matching source on the reference page.
  4. Performing an internet search for references or reference pages should return results for various university websites that offer guidelines for every research style used by their institution. This information is normally the most current information available. There are free resources for legal briefs, chemistry, and medical research, among others.
  5. YouTube has videos available that will walk through the steps like a free tutor. Unlike, using an assigned tutor, you can access these videos 24/7 not just during school business hours.
  6. Use the resources available at libraries, school resource centers, writing labs and the instructor. These are free, but the hours are limited.
  7. If none of these options work, there are numerous websites that will not only craft a reference page, but be willing to craft the entire paper, for a fee. There are ethical concerns about using these resources, so be sure this is really necessary.

The most important page of the paper is the most difficult for the student to execute. Often it is the stress of the importance of the grade and reputation that causes the heart palpitations and sweaty palms. Before the anxiety becomes so great reach out and uses any of these tips to help craft the best possible reference page and then go get a treat. It will be well earned.