Common Citation Mistakes in Academic Writing


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Students might take improper citation slightly, especially if it mostly results in a low grade. However, inappropriate citation can result in plagiarism which has dire consequences, including getting kicked out of the course. Besides, part of good academic writing is knowing how to cite different sources.

The problem is that students might fail to know when and how to cite a source correctly. Changing citation rules, failure to write many academic papers, and lack of prior knowledge are some of the potential reasons learners in all academic levels struggle with citation. Even by grasping the basic referencing rules, a student can easily make mistakes. Listed below are the top citation mistakes that students tend to make while writing academic papers.

Wrong Usage of Ibid

It’s common for students to mix the terms ibid with op. cit or repeat the exact citations within paragraphs. While the abbreviation ibid is used when you want to cite the same source mentioned in a previous paragraph, op. cit refers to different pages in the same publication.

Overall, ibid is used for repeat citations. However, there are cases where ibid is not used in APA style. Therefore, consult your teacher or a classmate if you want to use any abbreviations in your citations but aren’t sure of the proper way to add them.

Running Head Formatted Incorrectly

When it comes to running heads, students fail to include them or format them incorrectly. Some even failed to add the page numbers or placed them poorly. Therefore, running heads are compulsory for any academic papers that are submitted for publication. Other rules to abide by when creating a running head include:

  • Ensure it’s the shortened version of the title of your paper.
  • It should be in all capital letters.
  • It should not exceed 50 characters.
  • Only the first page will have the words “Running Head”.

It’s best to format the running head as per the citation style. For example, in APA, the running head is inserted in the upper left corner, while in MLA, it appears on the upper right corner of the page and features the last name and page number. Students who have challenges writing the running head correctly can read uk best essays or request assistance at Royalessays.

Using et al. Incorrectly

Reading academic paper samples from a reputable essay writing service will give a student a clear picture of how to use et al. correctly. This is because most learners, to fill the word count, end up including numerous authors.

However, in academic writing, when referencing a source with multiple authors its recommended to use et al. followed by a period at the end of the phrase. Listing all the authors will make the writing look cluttered. Thus et al. eliminate the untidiness by indicating that more than two authors collaborated in writing the scholarly work.

Not Including Page Numbers

Inexperienced academic writers might be confused about where and when to include page numbers. Well, it all depends on the referencing style and the text you want to cite. However, it’s essential to include the page number in the in-text citation when it comes to direct quotes.

Failing to Cite in Alphabetic Order

It’s a common mistake for students to fail to arrange the sources in alphabetic order when creating a bibliography, works cited, or reference list. Some make a reference list based on how the sources appear on their academic paper. The correct way is to list all sources alphabetically regardless of how they appear in your essay. The references should be added to a new page.

Not Adding a Citation to Paraphrased Text

It’s easy for a student to summarize a passage of interest and fail to add a citation. For example, when a student paraphrases another author’s information, they must cite it even if you have expressed them in your own words.

Failing to give proper credit or closely paraphrasing another person’s writing without giving due credit is considered plagiarism in academia. However, if the text you include is common knowledge, there is no need to add a citation. Furthermore, you will know you have paraphrased correctly if the meaning of the text did not change, even after rewriting it in your own words and citing it based on the specified citation rules.

Lack of Consistency

In academic writing, consistency in citation style is essential. It’s wrong to use two styles of citation in the same paper. Using one style consistently proves to the writer that they have given due credit to other authors’ work, which helps to create uniformity when creating a reference list. Thus no matter the formatting style you are using, it’s best to maintain uniformity in the in-text citations and the bibliography created at the end of your writing.

Hi, I am Anurag Chawake, a passionate writer from New Delhi, India. I enjoy writing on topics such as general news, technology, and gaming. When I am not working, you can find me playing video games.



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