Research Paper Style Sheet

To help with your papers

Your final papers, while based on library research, should present your own thoughts and arguments. Write in the first person (yes, you may use "I"). Be sure to support your arguments with evidentiary data. If you choose to use unpublished (web-based) materials as evidence, you must do this in conjunction with published academic studies. Provide a complete bibliography with full citations at the end of the paper. See syllabus for full citations and bibliographic style.

Citing Sources

Citations — that is, giving credit to others for their facts, ideas, and statements — are an essential part of any research paper. References, including page numbers, must always be included, even in rough drafts — this way they can't get lost!

You must always give a reference for:

  • direct quotations
  • opinions and theories not your own, whether or not you agree with them
  • information that is not "common knowledge." Remember that what one author confidently states as "fact" may not be accepted by another, or may actually be disproved or challenged by more recent publications. Protect yourself by citing your sources.

If you discover that someone else has previously published your own brilliant idea, you may still claim it as yours, but give her or him credit too. Full and generous acknowledgement of the work of others will make your own originality apparent. For example, you could write:

Rowley (1940:122) claims that the archaeological evidence indicates that the Whoopee were vegetarians, but I am convinced that the presence of human bones in garbage piles proves that they were cannibals. This has also been argued by Roger Bingo (1960), but upon linguistic evidence alone.

Note well the citation style. Standard practice in social science writing (Chicago Style) — and what I want for this class — is to provide parenthetical in-note citations. You may use textual footnotes or end-notes, but I prefer not to see bibliographic end-notes or footnotes (MLA style using 'ibid'), with the exception of URLs (see below).

As you will notice, a single parenthetical citation may be used to refer to one page in one work, to several pages (connected or disconnected), or to pages in several works. Furthermore, one note may refer to the whole of a work, or to several complete works.

When a parenthetical citation follows a direct quotation, the citation follows the quotation but precedes the sentence's period. The parenthetical citation here is: (author's surname [space] year: page #).

"Moreover, the sense of personal efficacy that for many youths is lost in the margins of several arenas is reconstituted and regained, especially for males, in the postures and demeanor that control the streets" (Vigil 1978: 9).

Please note that this kind of quote would be run in with the text and not separated off from the body of the text using marginal indents. Quotes do not need to be separated from the text unless they exceed 5 lines in length or include more than one paragraph. Indented quotations are not surrounded by quotation marks. The parenthetical citation will follow as usual, except that the period goes at the end of the quote, and there is no punctuation after the parenthetical cite when the whole thing is indented.

When you summarize in your report material from one section of a book or article by a single author, or where several sources are in essential agreement, you can indicate this by using a single cite at the beginning of your key sentence:

Anthropologist Roger Rouse (1994) has dedicated an entire study to the exploration of the effect that migration has on Mexican families. His account draws on the experiences of...

Or, the form can be:

Most studies of curanderismo to date have focuses their analyses on the use of the healing system, usually in comparison to the model of Western medical care (Marín 1983; Mayers 1983; Goldkind 1953).

When more than one author is included in a single citation, separate these using a semi-colon. This is because a comma is used to different works by the same author.

To cite a website or unpublished article from the web, in a footnote or endnote give the name or organization behind the website or article, the URL for the site, and the date you accessed the site.

Top Tips

  1. Never begin a sentence, "Since the beginning of Western history…" or anything remotely similar.
  2. All commas and periods go inside quotation marks ("...,"), even when a single word is quoted. All semi-colons and colons go outside quotation marks ("...":).
  3. data is plural, datum in singular. media is plural, medium in singular.
  4. Prefer active to passive sentence constructions. This makes for clearer reading, and accords agency where it is due.
  5. its is the possessive form; it's is a conjunction for it is or it has. Since you will in general be avoiding conjunctions, you will not spell its with an apostrophe (unless it is part of a quotation).