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Psychology Research Guide

Guidance to help students with Psychology research papers and projects.

Citation Basics

When you write a research paper, you:

  • synthesize your own ideas with the works and ideas of others
  • add your voice to the conversations about a topic

When you do this, part of writing your paper is clearly marking what ideas are yours, and what ideas are those of other authors. In scholarly work like the papers you write in college, this sort of credit is given through citing your sources.

By citing your sources, you give credit to the authors whose work you've used. You also tell your readers where you got your information.

Not properly citing sources is plagiarism, or the theft of another person's work.

There are many different citation styles, but Pyschology generally uses APA (American Psychological Association) style. APA has two components:

  • in-text citations used throughout your paper to mark the specific content that is not your own
  • a References list at the end of your paper that gives detailed information about the sources used throughout your paper

In-Text Citations:

Anything that isn't yours must have a citation after the information. This lets your readers know where the information came from and gives credit to the original author or creator of that information. Things like:

  • Direct quotes (put in "quotation marks" - you are using another author's exact words)
  • Paraphrases or summaries (do not use "quotation marks" - you have put another author's idea into your own words, but must still cite the idea)
  • Statistics or data
  • Media like images or videos
  • ....Essentially, if it isn't yours, cite it!


The References list is its own page at the end of your paper. Each source that has an in-text citation is included. The References list gives all of the information a reader would need to locate your sources.

Questions about specific source types and how to cite them? Check out the resources below!

Citation Resources