Writing A Strong Research Paper: How To Make References Correctly


Okay, so you now find yourself in a position of being tasked with writing a research paper. You have chosen your topic, done your research and have written the bulk of the paper. The only thing that you are unsure of is how to record correctly your references. Don’t worry, you are not the first, and neither will you be the last person to find this problematic initially. In the rest of this article, I will explain the process for you.

Keep a record as you go along:

If you have already written the bulk of your essay, then fingers crossed you have already done this if you are about to start then great timing! The best piece of advice that I can give you is to keep a detailed list of all of your sources as you find them. There is nothing worse than coming to the end and having to backtrack – Or winding up having sleepless nights worrying that you have forgotten to credit someone for their input.

You might be wondering exactly what you need to include in your references. Well, the answer is that it depends on whether you are referencing a something from the internet or something more old school like an article or a book. They will all require you to cite:

Author and title.

You should speak to your course tutor for the rest of the information. Chances are they will have a handout that they can give you specifically for this purpose.

To underline or not underline?

Underlining just like italics is subjective. It will be required in some instances but not all. Underlining is most frequently used when citing a reference on the internet. (We have all seen the hyperlinks through to different sites) Therefore to avoid any confusion it has become standard practice to use italics where underlining would once have been used. Again, check with your tutor if you are in any doubt as to what to do.

Understanding the different reasons for referencing

Plagiarism, or knowingly copying someone’s work without giving them the proper credit is a major offence. Nowadays, it can sometimes seem as if the only reason academics reference is to ward off accusations of it. However, there is so much more to referencing and it is important to understand that it is also used for:

Citing – acknowledging the source

Referencing – Describing the document (the source)

Bibliography – A list of the documents that you have used