How to Cite Sources

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How to Cite Sources in Sociology Papers

There are several acceptable alternative forms for making footnotes, citations, and references. The form that sociologists use is derived from the American Sociological Review, the major Journal of the American Sociological Association. This abbreviated version was taken from "Notice to Contributors," American Sociological Review, February 1994 59(1):iii-iv.


Students sometimes think that citations are necessary only when using material that is a direct quote. This is not true. A citation is necessary any time you include any information or idea that is not, yours (that is, directly or indirectly derived from someone else's thinking or writing). Any non-original idea that you fail to cite is plagiarized. Plagiarism is stealing. It can result in your failing the course!

The purpose of citations is to permit other researchers to locate the sources used. It is important to make them complete and understandable. For every source, include the title author(s), and date. For books, note publisher and place of publication. For articles, note the name of Journal, volume number, issue number, and page numbers.

All references should be identified at the appropriate point in the text by the last name of the author, year of publication, and page number where needed. Identify subsequent citations of the same source the same way as the first.


If author's name is in the text, follow it with year in parentheses.
... Duncan (1959) ...

If author's name is not in the text, insert, in parentheses, the last name and year.
... (Gouldner 1963) ...

Page number, if necessary, follows year of publication after a colon. Page numbers are used for direct quotes or specific statistics.
... Kuhn (1970: 71) ...

Give both last names for joint authors. Give all last names on first citation in text for more than two authors; thereafter use "et al." in the text.
... (Carr, Smith, and Jones 1962) ... and later ... (Carr et al. 1962) . . .

For institutional authorship, supply minimum identification from the beginning of the complete citation.
... (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1991: 117) ...

Separate a series of references with semicolons and enclose them within a single pair of parentheses.
... (Burgess 1968; Marwell et al. 1971; Cohen 1962) ...

Your paper might look something like the following fictitious example:

Duncan (1959) argues that sociologists have a firm grasp of the causes of social inequality while other authors are not so sure (Gouldner 1963). The widening of the gap between the rich and the poor during the 1990s (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1991: 117) contradicted some long-held theories of the convergence of social classes (Burgess 1968; Marwell et al. 1971;Cohen 1962).


The last page(s) of the paper should contain a complete list of all works cited in the paper. The heading of the page is References (not Bibliography). All works, whether books, periodicals, interviews, or other sources, should be included in one list in alphabetical order.

Information about books should be listed in the following order: author(s), date, title, place of publication, and publisher. The title of a book should be underlined or italicized. Put the author's last name first and arrange the references in alphabetical order. If there are multiple authors, list only the first author's name last name first, and list all others with first name before last. Examples:

Bell, Daniel. 1973. The Coming of Post-lndustrial Society. New York: Basic Books.

Coleman, Richard, Lee Rainwater, and Kent McClelland. 1978. Social Standing in America. New

Dimensions of Class. New York: Basic Books.

For articles, indicate information in the following order: author(s), date, title, name of journal, volume number, issue number, and page numbers. Enclose the title of an article in quotes and underline or italicize the name of the journal. Volume number should be followed by issue number (in parentheses) followed by a colon (:) and finally the page numbers.


Glenn, Evelyn Nakano and Rosyln L. Feldberg. 1977. "Degraded and Deskilled: The Proletarianization of Clerical

Work." Social Problems 25(1):52-64.

Della Fave, L. Richard. 1980. "The Meek Shall Not Inherit the Earth: Self-Evaluation and the Legitimacy of Social

Stratification." American Sociological Review 45:955-71.