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       Research paper citation can be a bit tedious and sometimes frustrating, but proper citation is critical for all research works and, certainly, for a good grade.  A student must therefore be very careful to follow the research paper citation format required by a teacher, instructor, or professor.  At many colleges and universities today, a standard institution-wide research paper citation format has been adopted, and this has assisted students significantly, reducing errors and the constant review of the specific format required by several different instructors. 

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       Research paper citation was begun by educational institutions, so that students would honestly give credit for the ideas, thoughts, and quotations of others whose works have been used in the production of a paper.  It is considered a part of academic honesty and is a practice to which students must adhere. Initially, the formats required were horribly cumbersome, with a numerical system, and the “footnotes” placed at the bottom of each page, including author, title, etc.  These were to be separated from the text by a typed line.  Gradually, some instructors and institutions required a numerical system but allowed all “footnotes” or “notes” to be included at the end of the paper.  Even today, this is often seen in books that have involved research.  For standard papers, however, research paper citation has become more simplistic and requires far less information.

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       MLA and APA have become the most widely accepted formats for research paper citation at both the secondary and university levels, although, in some professional programs, such as medicine, unique formats are required. 

       Both MLA and APA citation formats require that the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number(s) from which the thought or quotation has come be included in some parenthetical form.  These citations are listed within the body of the paper immediately following the paraphrased data, concept, or idea or any direct quotation used.  When the author’s name is actually used in the sentence construction, the format is a bit different, but similar in both formats.

       Fortunately, most instructors and professors supply students with a detailed informational packet of the citation format required, including examples of virtually any type of work to be referenced.  If not, the MLA (Modern Language Association) and the APA (American Psychological Association) both publish booklets in which their citation formats are described in detail, and students can readily obtain copies of these booklets.  Even Internet sources provide instructions and samples for free, so there really is no excuse for making mistakes with research paper citation formats.  Diligent students will have no problem with citation formats!

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