How to Record References in a Science Project Paper

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The purpose of a science project paper is for students to explain why their experiment turned out the way it did, but references are needed to back up their results and to acquire credibility. The guidelines are the same as for a research paper. Teachers usually outline the preferred research paper guidelines and formatting style. Each formatting style has its own methods for citing references, but they all require two parts--in-text citations and a reference list.

  • Confirm the formatting style the teacher requires for the paper. "One of the most widely used and widely accepted citation formats by scholars and schools is the Modern Language Association (MLA) format," states Home Science Tools. However, some teachers prefer the American Psychological Association (APA) format.

  • Identify the types of sources for the science project in order to cite them correctly. Books, journal articles, electronic databases and websites are all cited differently. For examples, see the chart at http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_research_paper.shtml, or, for more in-depth examples, see the links below under Resources.

  • Insert in-text citations directly after a direct quotation or paraphrase in the body of the and a Works Cited page (or Reference List) as the last page of the paper. According to Science Buddies, "For every fact or picture in your research paper you should follow it with a citation telling the reader where you found the information." If you are using the MLA format, a citation shows the author's last name and the publication date in parentheses (Smith 2009). If you are using the APA format, a comma goes between the author's name and the publication date (Smith, 2009). For guidelines and examples of the Works Cited page (MLA) or the Reference List (APA), visit the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University. Links are listed below under Resources.

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