The Importance of Citing the Sources in a Research Paper

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Research paper writing is an exercise which requires support and guidance from more knowledgeable sources. There is no research paper assignment which you will be able to complete without the use of sources. You will be referring to books, journals, online sources and even television documentaries to collect enough evidence to support your theory and to collect information on the topic you are researching on. It is mandatory to cite the sources you have used for your research, in your research paper document. This applies to each and every piece of information taken from any of the sources you used for reference.

It is not just enough to cite all the sources you use but it is important that you do it in the correct way. As you become familiar with the various styles of documentation, you will find that the main aspect that distinguishes each of the documentation styles is their method of citing the sources. It is not just the pattern that changes but also the title of the page in which you give the information on the sources. In some documentation styles it is presented as a reference page where as in certain other styles it is known as the bibliography. You will also learn how to make parenthetical references or in-text citations to suit the various styles of writing. It is extremely important to mention your sources in the method suggested by the manual of the style you are using for your research paper. If you fail to cite your sources in the appropriate manner, it will not be accepted. In normal cases the sources are to be cited as per the instructions given in the style manual. But you should always look out for specific instructions in the assignment guidelines regarding the bibliographical references.

It is quite natural for students to forget to mention all the sources. But whatever the reason is, academic assignments without complete bibliographical references will not be accepted. Understanding the importance of citing the sources will save you a lot of trouble. Using the information provided by a source without giving due credit to the author is considered as plagiarism. Unfortunately, plagiarism, intentional or unintentional, is considered a criminal offense. If you are caught with information which is not cited, you will be accused of plagiarism and punished duly. Hence it is not worth it to take a chance with it.

Certain documentation styles ask for sources to be cited twice, once as an in-text citation and then again in the bibliography page. In such cases you should make sure that both are done as per requirements. A style manual of the particular style you are using should be kept with you for reference while writing your research paper. Since each aspect about the pattern of citing the sources have been finely defined, without a style manual for reference, you will not be able to do it perfectly.

Citing the sources without fail is very important when it comes to research paper assignments. Academic research papers are meant to help you to get enough practice in research which will in turn help you move higher up in your academic career with ease. By paying enough attention to these writing assignments and putting enough effort into your research papers, you will be helping yourself.

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