Citing and Referencing in Research Papers

Citing and Referencing in Research Papers

 Parlindungan Pardede

Christian University of Indonesia


Every research project usually relies in part upon the work of other scientific works. Citing other reputable sources which are relevant to your topic will add credibility to your ideas. In addition, citation could also be used to give examples of several points of view on a subject; call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with; highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original; distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own; and expand the breadth or depth of your writing.

However, any time you cite from external materials, you are required to identify the sources in the form of systematic references. This identification will not only give credit to the ideas and work of other scientists (and thus, prevent plagiarism) but also provide the readers with access to these sources.

The two basic components of a referencing system are the “text citation” and the “reference list.” The former is a brief identification of the information source, and appears in the text somewhere within the paragraph where the information is used. A full bibliographic version of the citation appears with similar listings in a separate reference list, usually placed at the end of the text. The precise format for each reference section varies considerably. Some institutions or journals use the American Psychological Association (APA) style; others, (Modern Language Association (MLA), Vancouver, or Chicago styles; and some others created their own style. In addition, some institutions or journals ask that citations be listed by the order of appearance in the text, whereas others oblige that they be listed alphabetically. Since the format used in the English Teaching Study Program of the Christian University of Indonesia (ETSP-CUI) is the APA style, discussions in the following sections are based on APA format and are consistent with the advice given in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. (2010).

In-Text Citations

Based on the closeness of your writing to the citation sources, there are three ways of citing other writers’ work into your own: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. The first one produces “a direct quotation”, whereas the other two produces “an indirect quotation” Quoting is using a narrow segment of the source by writing it identically to the original, The citation must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Although quotations, paraphrases, and summaries are frequently intertwined in a text, paraphrases and summaries are more recommended than quotations, because it is easier to combine them to a text without sacrificing the text coherence. However, quotations could also serve well as far as they can be integrated smoothly, as the following example illustrates.

One of the earliest works which discusses the potential of blogs in the classroom is Oravec’s (2002) article, “Bookmarking the World.” In the article she argued that developing a weblog can enable students to develop a unique writing voice and to become more analytical and critical. According to her, “through actively responding to Internet materials, students can define their positions in the context of others’ writings as well as outline their own perspectives on particular issues” (p. 618).

Main Procedures for citing

To cite using APA style, follow the following guides:

  • Use of the past tense or the present perfect tense in signal phrases introducing cited material, like Pardede (2010) reported…; Brown (2011) has argued.... To make your writing more interesting to read, do not use the same verbs, like ‘said’ and ‘stated’, too often in the signal phrase. Instead, vary the verb by using other word conveying the same meaning. The verbs listed below are worth to consider. You can also consult a thesaurus for more ideas.

affirmed           depicted          mentioned          noted              observed          outlined           described         analyzed           determined       pointed out       argued            posited            discussed         prescribed          assumed        assured           attributed         emphasized      recounted         claimed         commented      exposed         revealed           confirmed       highlighted       considered        suggested       indicated          conveyed          uncovered

  • Introduce the citation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the year of publication in parentheses;
  • If you quote directly, put the page number (preceded by “p.”) in parentheses after the quotation. However, the page number can also be put diectly after the year of publication in the parentheses. In this case, separate the year of publication and page number with a comma (,). Look at the following examples.

Siregar (2009) claimed that “using online media in a foreign language program is not only advantegous but also a necessity” (p, 39).

Siregar (2009, p. 39) claimed that “using online media … necessity”.

  • A short quotation of less than 40 words should be incorporated into the text of your paper and enclosed in double quotation marks with a reference to the author of the work quoted, the year of publication, and the page from which the quotation is taken, enclosed in parentheses, together or separately, depending on how you have worked it into your text.
  • A direct quotations of more than 40 words should be placed in a free-standing block of typewritten lines, and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented five spaces from the left margin. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation five spaces from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Kim (2007) considered that blogs is an effective replacement for all CMC applications to English learning, taking into account socio-technical systems theory. In relation to this, Halik, et al (2010), has adeptly noted that:

“The popularity of blogs among young people has made them appealing to educators seeking to integrate computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools at the university level. These tools are seen as having the potential for enhancing student engagement and providing an environment for collaboration and creation of knowledge” (p. 1).

  •  If you cite indirectly (in the form of paraphrases or summaries), identify the source by inserting between parentheses the last name of the author of the source followed by the date of publication. Putting the page number after the date of publication is optional. It is encouraged but not a must. For example,

In their recent study on the use of blog in language learning, Hourigan and Murray (2010) found that although students can use technology and are familiar with social media they are not ‘digital learning natives’ and therefore still need explicit instruction. This finding suggests that Hyland’s (1993, 28) concept of a familiarization course where students receive adequate tuition in ICT for learning purposes could still be applied to EFL classroom today.

  • When a work has two authors, always cite both surnames every time the reference occurs in your text. If there are three to five authors, cite all authors the first time. In subsequent references, cite only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.” and the year if it is the first citation of the reference within a paragraph. For example,

Blogs have been used in classrooms for a number of years now and the evidence suggests that blogs can positively enhance learning. The results of Pardede, Nazara, Jones and Hendrick’s (2009) study revealed that blogs can improve writing skills. Oravec (2002) claimed that the blog can empower students to become more analytical and critical, in turn improving a student’s self confidence. Pardede et al. (2009) also noted that students’ realization of having large audience in addition to their teacher and classmates made them more careful in their grammar and ideas.

  • If the citation is taken from the work of a group author, the name of the group is usually spelled out each time it appears in your text. The names of some authors are spelled out in the first citation and abbreviated thereafter. For example,

According to the National Board of Foreign Language Teaching [NBFLT], (2004), English could be taught as a local content in primary schools which have proper resources for the program. ……….


………………………….. NBFLT (2004) outlined ……..

  • If you cite from two or more sources with the same authors and date, add a letter suffix to the year of publication in the signal phrase in accordance with the alphabetical order of the sources’ titles.  Look at the following illustration.

According to Pardede (2009a), blogs are effective to use in EFL writing classes because …….

…………… Based on his experience with high school students, Richardson (2006) lists four things that blogging allows students to do. First, …. Second, …. Third, ….. Finally, …… This is in line with Pardede’s (2009b) research findings which indicated …

  • To cite from a web document, includes author’s name, year of publication, then page numbers if available (such as the one in PDF files) If the source lacks an author, cite the first one or two words of the title. If no date is given, place “n.d.” after the author’s name.   If the web page lacks numbering, replace page numbers from your parenthetical references. with paragraph numbers (indicated by abbreviation “para.” followed by the paragraph number you are citing from).  Do not use page numbers generated on a print-out of the web document.

The web document has an author, and year of publication but no page number:

A paragraph is “a group of about six to twelve sentences expressing a main idea” (Pardede, 2012, para. 1).

The web document is a PDF file with page numbers, written by three authors, and the date is known:

According to Brown, Leslie, and Stone (2011, p. 23), one of the most important aspects of language teacher education programs is language teacher technology education which equips teachers with computer skills and strategies to help learners learn a foreign language better and easier.

The author of the web document is an organization. It has no date and no page number:

In relation to the importance of CALL in a language teacher education programs, it should be noted that “the successful implementation of educational technologies depends mainly on the attitudes of educators, who eventually determine how they are used in the classroom” (Jakarta English Teachers Association, n.d.).

Reference List

In a scientific paper, this section should never be named “Bibliography”, because a bibliography contains references that an author may have read but were not specifically cited in the text. Bibliography sections are found in books and other literary writing, but not in scientific papers. The References part should contain all sources of citations used by the author in writing his paper. All of the citation sources must be arranged or ordered alphabetically and typed using double spaces.

To get a practical guide for writing references using APA style, see the Referencing Style for JET. To see how references are listed, study the following examples.

Examples of a reference list.

Arani, J. A. (2005). Teaching writing and reading English in ESP through a web-basedcommunicative medium: Weblog. ESP-world 4 (3).

Blood, R. (2002). Weblogs: A history and perspective. We’ve got blog: How weblogs are changing our culture. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing.

Brooks, K., Nichols, C., & Priebe, S. (2004). Remediation, genre, and motivation: Key concepts for teaching with weblogs. In L. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from

Creswell, J., P., Guttman, M., & Hanson, W. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In Tashakkori, A. & Teddlie, C. (Eds.), Handbook on mixed methods in the behavioral and social sciences. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.

Godwin-Jones, B. (2003). Blogs and wikis: Environments for on-line collaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7 (2).

Huffaker, D. (2005). The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom. AACE Journal, 13(2), 91-98.

Johnson, A. (2004). Creating a writing course utilizing class and student blogs. The Internet TESL Journal, 10(8). Retrieved January 20, 2010, from:

Mosquera, F. M. (2001). CALT: Exploiting Internet resources and multimedia for TEFL in developing countries. Computer assisted language learning, 14(5), 461-468.

Mynard, J. (2007). A blog as a tool for reflection for English language learners. Asian EFL Journal, 25, Article 2. Retrieved June 9, 2010, from: http://www.asian-efl

Oravec, J. A. (2002). Bookmarking the world: Weblog applications in education; weblogs can be used in classrooms to enhance literacy and critical thinking skills. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(5), 616-621.

Pardede, P. (2009a). Exploration of the attitudes of senior high school students toward the use of computers in language learning. JELT Journal, 13(2), 87-98.

Pardede, P. (2009b). Using BALL to Develop Writing Skills: Teaching College Students’ Interest and Perception. JET, 1(2), 1-14

Pardede, P. (2011). Using short stories to teach language skills. JET, 1(1), 14-27.

Philip, R., & Nicholls, J. (2009). Group blogs: Documenting collaborative drama processes. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 25 (5), 683-699.

Pinkman, K. (2005). Using blogs in the foreign classroom: Encouraging learner independence. JALT CALL journal, 1(1), 12-24.

Ray, J. (2006). Welcome to the Blogosphere: The educational use of blogs. Kappa Delta Pi Record, Summer 2006, 175-177.

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Zhang, D. (2009). The application of blog in English writing. Journal of Cambridge Studies, 4(1), 64-72.


Since Word Press format doesn’t allow to indent line two, three, and so on, the visual form of the reference list example above could be seen in this pdf file version. Feel free to click and download it.


  1. Dear Prof. Pardede,

    Please accept a greeting from Vietnam.

    This blog is really wonderful! I really like reading your articles. Stay up the great work! I believe many people are looking around for works you have posted. You are certainly a great help for them.

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