Citing Sources

A. K. A.
The Bibliography

Choosing Reliable Sources

In order to write a research paper, you first need to find out information about your topic.

This is called doing research.You can't get around it!

Make sure sources that you cite in a research paper are reliable. To be reliable means that you can trust the information (duh). Books, magazines, and websites will be the primary places you will be looking for information; however, not all information on the internet is reliable. For instance, a project on Bat Boy is not recommended, even though there is a lot of information available in Weekly World News.

There are however many sites which are very reliable, one of which is Wikipedia. While information on Wikipedia is not guaranteed to be accurate, science articles are often written by experts in the field and are generally a good source of knowledge. Another positive about Wikipedia is that many articles also have sources listed at the bottom which will provide you other places to look for your topic. Look for a links section like the following example:

External links

Here are some useful criteria for deciding if a website is reliable:

Websites which appear to be run by a single person may be unreliable. Unless directed there by your teacher, you should be wary about using information from these sites. If you are worried that a site you found by a simple web search is inaccurate or unreliable, ask your teacher or librarian.

Writing a Citation

Whenever you do research, it is important to say where you got your information from. This way, you give credit to the people who wrote the book or website you looked at.

You also want to be sure you are not taking someone else's writing, from a book or website, and putting it in your report word for word.

This is called plagiarism.It is dishonest! (and possibly illegal...)

After using a source to write your paper, it is important to cite in on your works cited, or bibliography, page. However, each medium of information (books, journals, TV, internet ...) has a different method of citation. In addition to this, the writing experts in the world cannot decide on one way to cite work which is appropriate for everyone. The one group which seems to lead the rest is the Modern Language Association (MLA). Here's how to cite some material in the MLA format:

Book
Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication.
Magazine or newspaper
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages.
If you are using a fancy scholarly journal, like American Mathematical Society Monthly, there is a different format:
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year): pages.
Website
Name of Site. Date of Posting/Revision. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sometimes found in copyright statements). Date you accessed the site <electronic address (this is www.something.com)>.

More information on these formats can be found in the OWL labs.

The Science Buddies group provides a helpful guide to explain the format for a science fair research paper.