When researching, you must keep track of where you get your information. After all,
There's a lot of crap out there,
And readers want flowers, not fertilizer.
Readers don't go to your research work hoping what you say is true. They expect it to be true. By citing a credible source, you show that your know what you are talking about and didn't pull your ideas out of thin air. They also allow those who want to know more a resource to discover more, as well as your critics to fact-check your work. While there are many different style guides that format the actual citation differently, all guides require you find the following five pieces of information about each source you use:
WHAT TYPE OF SOURCE IS IT?
WHO MADE IT?
WHAT'S IT CALLED?
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
WHEN WAS IT MADE?
Here's a handy chart for what this means for 80% of the sources you'll use:
Be aware of different combinations of these sources (for example, an online video will require both film and web information). If you cannot find a piece of information, note that. Also make sure to note the page you got each piece of information from, as you may need this for in-text citation.
Okay. I got what I need.
Now how do I make the citation?
There are various different styles of citation specific to certain majors of industries, like Associate Press style (AP), American Medical Association style (AMA), and the Counsel of Science Editors (CSE). However, there are three common citation styles used by most K-12 schools and college majors:
Modern Language Association (MLA) style: This style is used by the humanities and is intended for research and analysis based from an objective point of view. Researchers in MLA disciplines should focus on the precise language of evidence. MLA uses in-text citation of evidence. Disciplines that use MLA include literature, film, theatre, linguistics, communications, religious studies, and music.
American Psychological Association (APA) style: This style is used by the social sciences and is intended for research and analysis based on personal observations and data collection. Researchers in APA disciplines should focus on how recent or timely the evidence is. APA also uses in-text citation of evidence. Disciplines that use APA include education, psychology, economics, political science, geography, business, and history courses.
Chicago (Turabian) style: This style is essentially MLA style, but requires full citation on the footnotes on every page instead of in-text citation. Chicago is usually used for large bodies of research that cannot be read easily in a single sitting. Almost every discipline requires Chicago at the Master's thesis and PhD levels, but some schools introduce it earlier.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU USE?
MLA for english and the arts.
APA for history and sciences.
The two subjects that, statistically, require the most written research are English and history--meaning it's important for you to know and be able to use both style guides. Click on the link below to look at the proper style guide you need: