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PSYC 2301 - Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology

A resource guide for Psychology Research Methods class

Why Cite?

After your writing is done, your readers may need:

  • To locate and read your cited sources in order to interpret the information for themselves.
  • To better understand where your idea/theory came from, and then judge your idea based upon the evidence used.
  • To track the research path of the topic through learning what articles/sources you consulted.

Why you need to give the credit to the authors who created the sources you used.

This is about the ethical use of information. Citing quality sources demonstrates your understanding of the research topic and giving the readers insight on how the topic has been studied in the past. The quality of the sources you cite also give credence to the quality of your study.

Why do I have to cite my sources in a specific style?

A style helps readers to identify and find the sources an author used.  For example, you cite book chapters and journal articles differently.  By reading your references, readers would know immediately what kinds of information you cited.

Why are there so many different styles?

Different disciplines create different citation styles to accommodate a disciplinary tradition of scholarly communication.  For example, in the sciences and social sciences, many use the Author-Date system.

Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism


By starting your paper early you give yourself sufficient time to run a thorough literature search, which will give you opportunities to explore a wide range of resources.


Be sure to keep good records so you will have a list of the resources you have used.  It is extremely important to keep a record of where the ideas for your topic come from by taking notes, highlighting, keeping original printouts or photocopies.

For example: 

  1.  Record the author’s name, title, and publication information of what you’ve read.
  2. Write down or highlight the URL for information acquired from the web.
  3. Don't discard the information or notes you have collected until the paper has been graded and returned to you.


The only time you don't need to cite a source is when an idea is either common knowledge or of your own creation. You will need to cite a source if the information is coming from a website, a speech, or a scholarly article.  When quoting, paraphrasing ideas or statements that were created or authored by someone other than you, you must cite your source. Make sure that you cite your sources within text of the reports and document them at the end of your paper.  Familiarize with yourself with citation style guidelines, such as APA, MLA, etc. It is important to learn the documentation style used in your subject area. When in doubt, ask your instructor or a librarian for help.