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Research & Writing Help

Citation Styles

In-Text Citations

What are in-text citations?

In-text citations are used in the text itself (not at the end) to indicate where you obtained information. In-text citations can be direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries. There are multiple ways that writers can use in-text citations,each serves a specific purpose. If you want to foreground the ideas of  a particular researcher/study, you can start with their name (seen in example 1 as a quote  or example 3 as a paraphrase/brief summary of the main findings). Sometimes writers want to summarize main points from several studies (seen in example 2). 

Examples using APA

1. Quote:

In an article examining elementary school children's literacy development, Jones (1991) found that "children were more likely to enjoy reading if parents read with them every day." (p. 34).

2. Summary from multiple studies:

Some scholars maintain that the linguistic identity among second generation immigrants was not as strong when entering adulthood (Martin, 1996; Wagner & Lee, 2023).

3. Foregrounding findings from study:

Zhang & Simon (2002) found that a strong connection to local communities promoted language and literacy learning.

Citing the work of three or more authors

If there are more than three authors of, for instance, an article, it can become cumbersome to write all their names. Adding et al. solves this issue. It comes from Latin and means "and others". You keep the last name of the first author and then add et al., like this:
In a study comparing the literacy development in twins who received the same education, Khan et al., (2013) found that there were no developmental differences.

*Note that these examples are not from real studies. These were created for illustrative purposes only.

References & Works Cited Pages

References or works cited pages are added at the end of a chapter, article, or book. They provide additional information about sources that were used for in-text citations.

How do I write one?

Formatting varies dramatically across style guides. Common components include: names of all authors, publication year, publisher, publication location, title, DOI number if available. If it's a journal, the reference will also include journal titles, volume, issue number, and page numbers. These are often presented in  alphabetical order (and in some instances depending on the style, they might be listed according to the order they were introduced in the text). Notice the formatting differences depending on the citation style you use. For example, the lack of capitalization of titles in APA compared to MLA, or the different placement of the publication year in APA (after the author names) and MLA (after publisher name). Note that requirements also change regularly (for instance, APA used to require the publisher’s location and DOI numbers used to be optional but are currently mandatory if available).

1. Example from APA

Seloni, L., & Henderson Lee, S. (2020). Second language writing instruction in global contexts: English language teacher preparation and development. Multilingual Matters.

Strauss, S., & Parastou, F. (2014). Discourse analysis: Putting our worlds into words. Routledge.

2. Example from MLA

Seloni, Lisya, and Sarah Henderson Lee. Second Language Writing Instruction in Global Contexts: English Language Teacher Preparation and Development. Multilingual Matters, 2020. 

Strauss, Susan, and Parastou Feiz. Discourse Analysis: Putting our Worlds into Words. Routledge, 2014.

Using figures

Adding figures is a great way to visually support what we're saying. Can we just throw in a picture and be done? No. In academic work, there are specific ways of using figures. The conventions for using figures entirely depend on the style guide. For instance, using figures in APA is not the same as in MLA. 

When using figures, writers need to be mindful of how they're guiding the reader. There are in-text references to the figure that are needed, such as "this data is seen in Figure 1 and Figure 2" so the reader knows where to look and to understand why it’s relevant. Depending on the style guide, it's helpful to label the images and include some kind of caption to connect the text and the image. 

If you use figures from a source, proper citation is needed to indicate where the figure is taken from.