The only way you’re going to pass your master thesis is if you know how to site properly. There are a lot of different ways to cite a paper. Three of the most common ones are Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA) and Chicago style.
Each of these has is used in a slightly different field. Obviously, the APA is meant meanly for citing in the field of psychology. The Chicago NB style, in the meantime, finds its home largely in the humanities. And finally, the MLA is used more broadly. Its creators have tried to create a system that is easy to adapt to different situations.
If you want to learn how to use each of these styles then you should definitely look into getting their handbooks or at least a summary thereof. You can find them in many different places. For example, here are three guides for MLA, APA, and the Chicago style. Even better, get one of the many citation programs out there as they’ll do it for you automatically! Here is a list of options that you can check out. As an extra bonus, each of the programs on the list is free!
When to cite
What no program can teach you, however, is when you have to site things. So that’s what I’m going to spend the rest of the article on. To make a long story short, you cite anything that you claim which isn’t common knowledge and can be disputed.
So, you could, for example, say that the US has 50 states without needing to cite any source. After all, that’s pretty common knowledge and not something anybody is going to dispute. Similarly, if you say ‘I suspect that we might be in for some years of division and conflict’ you don’t have to offer a source for that either. That’s just what you suspect.
If it isn’t in one of those two camps, however, then it needs to be cited – that is, unless that is the claim you’re going to spend the rest of the article actually demonstrating that this claim is true.
When in doubt
Now, do note something. Just because you think something is indisputable doesn’t mean other people will agree with you. For example, you might argue that our current age of innovation is faster than any we’ve previously seen before. A lot of people would agree with you. The eminent scholar Robert J. Gordon who wrote about how innovation was greater at the beginning of the 20th century would not. And as that book is pretty convincing, you’d, therefore, need to find a citation to defend your position.
For that reason, follow the rule ‘when in doubt, cite’ as that will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Besides, that way you’ll get up to the minimum citations you’ll need for your paper in no time flat!