I'm writing a longer paper for a course as part of a final project. The paper is on a topic we didn't cover in class and is obviously intended as a way to let me teach myself something we didn't have time for. As such, I'm using other people's ideas for my paper nearly every single sentence. I'm unsure of the convention for determining exactly what bits I need to cite and how often I should cite it, but I'm pretty sure it's not that I need to cite something every sentence. Is there some sort of convention for this sort of thing?

2 Answers 2


Generally, you cite a paper in the first occurrence of its matter and in occurrences where the matter is significant.

For instance, suppose you are explaining about a method that is proposed in a paper. You cite it when you first state the method. After which it is understood that whenever you use the term, it refers to the one cited initially. If you are discussing two are more methods, explain each one separately by citing them and you also ought to cite at a tabulation during result comparison. Same goes for citing concepts; cite only when the concept is first introduced.

Other than that, citing for every sentence would be only be redundant and doesn't make the manuscript look neat either. If you do feel that you are in a position to have to cite nearly every sentence, then your content is probably largely of matter covered in your reference and not of your own. You ought to make appropriate edits in that case.


In every sentence where you present other people's ideas, you must cite those people. If several sentences stem from the same source, then begin with 'According to Jones(1992)..' or similar.

In an Introduction you cite a lot. Use your own words to structure the Introduction, e.g. to motivate and frame the topic. In a Discussion, citations will also be prevalent where you reflect upon existing ideas.

How you stand out as a person in the text, is in your disposition of the topic. You must learn how to use references dynamically. You must convey ideas of the past as an interesting story while adding your own little share of original thoughts.

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