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How Do I...?

A guide to help you get started with library research.

When using a source in a project, make sure you cite the source. Using citations gives credit where credit is due but it also supports your argument. Citations in writing are like showing your work in math. You need to demonstrate to the reader how you came to know and write/present this information. Using a specific style to write and create citations and references creates uniformity for written communication.

Not using citations can lead to plagiarism. Plagiarism is a major academic offense and can get you in trouble (fail an assignment, a class or be dismissed from the college).

Health Sciences use APA Style for writing and creating references and in-text citations.

Visit the APA site on D2L for more information.

You can also check out Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) on APA.

About APA Style

The best scientific writing is spare and straightforward. It spotlights the ideas being presented, not the manner of presentation. Manuscript structure, word choice, punctuation, graphics, and references are all chosen to move the idea forward with a minimum of distraction and a maximum of precision.

To achieve this clarity of communication, publishers have developed rules of style. These rules are designed to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material. Editorial style concerns uniform use of such elements as

  • punctuation and abbreviations,                                    

  • construction of tables,

  • selection of headings,

  • citation of references, and 

  • presentation of statistics.

When editors or teachers ask you to write in APA Style®, they are referring to the editorial style that many of the social and behavioral sciences have adopted to present written material in the field. APA Style was first developed in 1929 by a group of social scientists who wished to establish sound standards of communication. Since that time, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields and has been used by writers around the world.

Learn more about APA Style guidelines in 
the The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition.



APA Tips:

  • Watch your capitalization in the title of journal articles. The APA handbook says in section 6.29, "Capitalize only the first word of the title and of the subtitle, if any, and any proper nouns; do not italicize the title or place quotation marks around it.  Finish the element with a period." Capitalization for books and websites differ.

  • In article references, include the DOI or the URL to the home page of the journal not the URL form the database. The APA handbook says in section 6.32, “If no DOI has been assigned to the content, provide the home page URL of the journal or of the book or report publisher. If you are accessing the article from a private database, you may need to do a quick web search to locate the URL. Transcribe the URL correctly by copying it directly from the address window in your browser and pasting it into your working document (make sure the automatic hyphenation feature of your word processor is turned off).”

  • Auto generators for citations are rarely 100% correct.  Always check against the manual.



To paraphrase is to summarize another's ideas in your own words. This is one way you can borrow from a source without plagiarizing.  Paraphrasing and using direct quotes are how you will show evidence in the form of in-text citations in your project.

How to Paraphrase

  • Read the original text until you grasp its meaning; then set it aside.

  • Using your memory, write down the main points or concepts. Do not copy the text verbatim.

  • When reading a passage, try first to understand it as a whole, rather than pausing to write down specific ideas or phrases.

  • Be selective. Unless your assignment is to do a formal or "literal" paraphrase, you usually don't need to paraphrase an entire passage; instead, choose and summarize the material that helps you make a point in your paper.

  • Think of what "your own words" would be if you were telling someone who's unfamiliar with your subject (your mother, your brother, a friend) what the original source said.

  • Remember that you can use direct quotations of phrases from the original within your paraphrase and that you don't need to change or put quotation marks around shared language or common vocabulary shared by a community of scholars.

  • Check your notes against the original to ensure you have not accidentally plagiarized.