Which citation style to use depends on the discipline of your course and professor for whom you are writing. The two most popular styles are MLA for humanities courses and APA for the sciences. Many social science courses may use the Chicago/Turabian style. When in doubt, ask your professor which style they prefer.
Each citation style has a handbook describing the details of writing citations for various types of resources. The library has at least one copy of each handbook on reserve or in the reference collection that can be located by searching the online catalog.
There also are many citation helpers on the internet. Remember, when you are using a citation builder you should always double check the format of the citation before including it in the final version of your paper - they may be machines but they are not always perfect!
Citing your sources in a research paper allows you to give credit to the creators of the information you are drawing on.
You should cite a source whether you are including a direct quote or paraphrasing. Beyond giving credit and avoiding plagiarism, citing your sources also proves that you are building your argument on solid evidence.
By completing your research project, you are adding your voice to an ongoing conversation about your topic. Providing citations allows your reader to follow the trail of your research to see what others in the discussion are saying. Here is some more insight from the Yale University Center for Teaching and Learning:
"Academics conceive of scholarship as an ongoing and collaborative enterprise. Rather than try to invent a field from scratch, we read what others have discovered and try to build on or extend it in our own work. One scholar’s sources can therefore be an invaluable contribution to another’s research. So while we read your work looking for your original ideas, we also want help knowing how to pursue related questions. In this way, acknowledging your sources greatly enhances your paper’s value, as it shows readers where they might look to test, explore, and extend your conclusions."
Yale University Center for Teaching and Learning. Why cite your sources in academic writing? (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://ctl.yale.edu/writing/using-sources/principles-citing-sources
Sometimes you need more than a quick citation builder. In addition to helping you format citations and bibliographies, citation management software allows you to organize and take notes on your sources in one place, as well as share references and collaborate on projects with colleagues.
Check out this guide to the citation management tools Mendeley and Zotero. (Link opens in new tab)