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A curated guide for sociology students

Citing Your Sources

Avoid Plagiarism!

Plagiarism is the act of using another person's ideas or writing as your own. Typically, when you write a research paper, you use primary and secondary sources to support your original ideas and interpretations. Consulting such sources and using them to help you write your paper is appropriate—as long as you keep a few simple things in mind.

1. Try to paraphrase.

Your interpretation of findings shows more of your understanding than using blocks of direct quotes. 

2. Put quotation marks around others' original ideas.

Sometimes though, you can't actually say it better than they can. That's fine! Just make sure your readers know it's directly quoted from the article.

3. Always cite the source.

If it's not your original idea or observation, cite the source! This goes for both paraphrases and quotations.

Pay Attention to Citation Styles

While it would be great, there isn't just one way to cite a source. This section is to help you cite your sources properly, using ASA (American Sociological Association) or more common styles like MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, etc. 

Not sure which style to use? Always ask your professor! Often they'll specify which they'd like to see in your paper, but it never hurts to double-check.

Citation Generators in Search Tools

Some databases and other library search tools can generate citations for sources that they index. They don't provide the same help with collecting and organizing sources, but this can be a quick and easy way to generate a few references. Be sure to check these automatically-generated citations to make sure they are correct before using them in your paper!


The library's discovery system includes a "Citation" button with search results that provides citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.
OneSeearch citation feature

Google Scholar

The "Cite" link that appears with each result in Google Scholar will provide citations in several styles.

Google Scholar citation feature


Library Databases

EBSCOhost, ProQuest, and other library databases often include a "Cite" tool on item pages.

EBSCOhost Cite tool ProQuest Cite tool


Resources for ASA Citation

American Sociological Association (ASA) Style 

ASA style is a format for writing specific to the field of sociology. It was created by the American Sociological Association, the primary scholarly association for sociologists in the United States, and it specifies the arrangement and punctuation of footnotes, bibliographies (references), and in-text citations. The ASA style guide is currently in it's 7th edition (as of 2022).

Resources for ASA Style

ASA's Quick Tips
Straight from the source, these are helpful tips to getting started. HOWEVER, this guide hasn't been updated since it's fourth edition. Always double check your citations.

University of Nebraska-Kearney's ASA Style Guide 
One of the most comprehensive guides on current ASA style outside of the book. It provides citation examples (both in-text as well as reference) and additional links for citation help.

A free browser add-on for storing citations and generating bibliographies in ASA, as well as other citation styles. See also our guide on how to install and use Zotero. 

Other Citation Styles

Other Common Citation Styles by Discipline

APA: psychology, education, and other social sciences.

MLA: literature, arts, and humanities

Chicago: primarily history and archival studies, but occasionally humanities, sciences, and other social sciences.

Turabian: designed for college students to use with all subjects

AMA: medicine, health, and biological sciences.

APSA: political science, international studies

IEEE: engineering

Complete discipline listing from the OWL at Purdue

Also includes in-depth citation tips for several disciplines (including ASA)

Our Citation Guide

Includes APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and resources for other discipline-specific citation styles.