All You Wanted To Know About Making Citations In A Biology Research Paper


Citation refers to a source of information and appears as a shortened in-body expression in work. Citations are a key component of any research paper. Before embarking on your writing, you will need to familiarize yourself and become an expert in using them.

  • Why do we cite
  • Citation provides an appropriate channel of acknowledging and giving credit to other people's works. We show respect to others by citing them in our works. It gives credibility to one’s knowledge and allows the distinguishing of one’s knowledge from others. By using citation, we prove our ability for critical thought and deduction. Just as important is to give readers the ability to follow up on references we have used as well as verify the validity of your deductions by checking your sources.

  • What do we cite
  • When writing our research paper, it is expected that we acknowledge any material that does not originate from us. This includes but is not limited to text, graphics, visuals, conversations, audio, artistic works and maps. Information that is common knowledge does not need to be cited. When in doubt always opt to cite.

  • How do we cite
  • Different citation styles exist. The most widely used include:

    • Harvard
    • MLA (Modern Language Association)
    • Chicago/Turabian
    • APA (American Psychological Association)
    • CSE (Council of Science Editors)

    Local variation of the above styles also exist. None of these styles supersedes the other or is necessarily wrong. Therefore a general rule of thumb is to check the preferred style used by your faculty or publication the paper will be submitted to and follow it. Learn the use of the selected style and consistently use it throughout your paper. Do not mix styles.

    Most faculty and publications will offer guides to their preferred styles including variations. It’s important not to directly quote a source. Use the information and reformat it using your own words. Only include sources of information that you have used in your paper.

  • When do we cite
  • Anytime we use, refer or include information that does not originate from us, we are required to make a citation. Pictures, tables, and other media will have citations on their captions.

In conclusion, making citations is an absolute requirement for a successfully written paper. Custom guides that elaborate the required citation style to use will be readily available for your reference from faculty and publications.

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