References are important to avoid being accused of plagiarism - basically stealing another person's words, facts, ideas, images, etc. The best way and for most college classrooms, the only way to avoid being accused of plagiarism is to "cite" the material you based your paper on and the statements used within the essay. Citing this information adds credibility to the knowledge and data you are providing within your research paper.
References generally should be listed in the order the information appears within the document for ease of use by the reader and to avoid any confusion. A paper's appearance - neat, orderly and consistent in format -- adds credibility to the document and gives the reader confidence the author's work is reliable.
Works Cited - The title placed on your reference or source citing listing at the end of your research paper when using Modern Language Association (MLA) format. This list only includes the materials actually used within your paper - not material used as background information. Background type information that lays a foundation for your research to build off of is not cited within the MLA format.
References - The title placed on your reference or citing listing at the end of your research paper when using the American Psychological Association (APA) style format. Like the MLA format, this list only includes the materials actually used within your paper - not material used as background information.
Bibliography - The title placed on your reference or citing listing at the end of your research paper. This listing is different from "Works Cited" or a "References" listing because a "Bibliography" listing also includes any sources that may be related to the paper's topic even if the source was not used in the essay. For works to be cited in a Bibliography , the information only needs to be of interest to the topic.
Generally and widely accepted styles used include:
American Psychological Association (APA) - This citation style focuses attention on specific punctuation, abbreviations, how tables of information are designed, types of headings, and the presentation of statistics.
Modern Language Association (MLA) - This citation style is suited for humanities subjects.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) - This dual style is suited for both humanities type essays and for research papers in areas of physical and social sciences - it's a versatile citation system that is considered the style used by the "real world" - newspapers, magazines, etc. CMS uses two systems of documentation - notes/bibliography and an author/date citing style.
Lesser used or field specific styles include:
Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) - Formatting required to have articles printed in any of the organization's journals.
Council of Biology Editors (CBE) - This citation style is used primarily in the fields of mathematics, biology, biotechnology and medicine. This style also has two styles of citation - author/date or numbers. The sources list falls under the title of "References."
National Library of Medicine (NLM) - A citation style for medicine utilized by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This listing has a style for citing authors, clinical trials, and other subject matter unique to the field of medicine.
American Medical Association (AMA) - Considered a must for writing within the fields of medicine and science. Similar to NLM style but with major differences when citing web sites and writing out publication dates.
American Chemical Society (ACS) - As it name states, this style is used for writing in the chemistry field.
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