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Howe Center for Writing Excellence

Students enrolled in Project Dragonfly courses for graduate credit may use the services of Miami University’s Howe Center for Writing Excellence. As a writer, you will want to seek feedback from many different readers to ensure that your purpose for writing comes across as you intended and that your writing is clear and cohesive. 

The HWC writing consultants are experienced writers and fellow students who have been trained to work with you in an online setting. They’re ready and able to talk with you about your writing at any stage in the process from brainstorming ideas to revising a draft to final polishing. You can schedule a written online appointment here.

Miami University Library Services

Miami University Library staff are available to help you find resources, narrow your research topic, selective keywords, track down hard to find articles, and more. 

Early in the program, we strongly recommend exploring the Miami University Library website, logging in with you Miami student credentials and practicing downloading journal articles and ebooks. 

In addition, please review the quick video created by Miami University library and research specialist, Ginny Boehme. 

Video Resources 

Finding and Citing Peer-Reviewed Literature

Finding and acquiring the full-text PDFs of research articles is a critical skill for all graduate students. You are expected to be come adept at locating and summarizing unique papers and resources. Below are some key tips and guidelines for finding and citing original research papers. 

What is a peer-reviewed article?

Peer review is the process by which articles are selected for publication in academic/scholarly journals. The articles are evaluated for accuracy, proper research methodology, and the correct interpretation and use of data by other experts in the field. No other publications undergo this level of vetting.

How can I confirm that an article is peer-reviewed?

If you are looking for peer-reviewed articles, there are a number of ways to locate them. One way is to limit your database searches to only articles in peer-reviewed publications. Many databases allow you to do this. For example, most EBSCOhost databases have a box labeled "Scholarly" or "Peer Reviewed" in the limiters section under the main search boxes. 

Another way is to use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory:

  1.     Go to
  2.     Click on "Databases A-Z"
  3.     Click the letter U and choose, "Ulrich's Periodical Directory." (If a security warning pops up, accept the certificate. This is safe.)
  4.     Log in using your Miami username and password
  5.     Enter the name of the publication in the box clicking on advanced search, then more limiters, and checking the box in Key Features that shows "refereed/peer-reviewed." If "Journal" displays for the "Serial Type" then your article is peer-reviewed. You may also see a little icon of a referee's jersey noting the journal as a peer-reviewed publication.

What does ‘citing literature’ mean?

Citing literature is when one consults current articles from scientific journals about the research that’s been done on a particular topic. Visiting your school or community library or ‘Google’ may provide you with preliminary background information, but typically these resources won’t give you enough on the current scientific research in your topic area.  You will need to reference a broader database, like Miami University’s Library system, to see the breadth of knowledge currently published on your topic.

For your lliterature citations, we ask that you look for scientific journal articles or excerpts from academic books as your primary sources. An alphabetical listing of literature cited -- also known as the bibliography or references section – should appear as the last page(s) in your paper. 

How should I reference my sources in the text I write?

Your paper should synthesize or weave current research into the text of the paper. Examples are listed below.

“In Trinidad’s Nariva Swamp recently, a project began to reintroduce blue-and-gold macaws back to their native habitat, with an integral component of the project including engaging the local community in stewardship and monitoring activities (Plair, et. al., 2003).”

“The study group consisted of 100 tenth-grade students who, prior to this study, exhibited several signs of nature-deficient disorder (Louv, 2008) including…”

“There are many reasons to be concerned with the affective experience of visitors at zoos and similar institutions. Dierking, Burtnyk, and Falk (2002), while reviewing primarily cognitive effects of zoo visits, noted the acute need to understand…” 

Where should I put my in-text citations? 

The first and second examples above put the citation after the description of the research (Plair et al. 2003 is put towards the the end as is Louv, 2008). Citations placed at the end of a statement are known as non-integral or subject-focused citations. The last example starts with the citation itself (Dierking, Burtnyk, and Falk 2002). This is known as an integral or author-centered citation

In science writing, it is often preferable to use non-integral or subject focused citations because it keeps the readers attention focused on your writing. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The following video explains this in more details. 

Video Resources 

How to avoid mis-citing sources? 

Finding citations and knowing where to put them is only part of good academic writing. Even more important is properly representing the content within the articles. There are a couple of ways you can mis-cite a reference including:

  • Errors of misattribution - referencing a group of authors who did not really do that research. For example, you may find a paper that statest that “urbanization is increasing” and cites a paper. If you cite only the article you are reading, not the one that they cite, you are misattributing that statement. In such a case, you are expected to acquire the actual paper that showed that urbanization is increasing, read it, and then cite it properly. 
  • Errors of oversimplification - It can be tempting to read the title and abstract only and summarize a paper in an overly simplistic way that fits your desired narrative. For example, you may be searching for a citation tha supports your idea that increased screen time is a problem for teens. However, good academic writing will involve you reading and reporting on all the nuances of that study, not just the prevailing narrative you are promoting. 

Video Resources 

  • How to avoid mis-citing sources (4:54) - Highlights the importance of properly citing the content of the papers you including avoiding errors of misattribution, oversimplification, and more. 

Should I cite websites and, if so, how do I find the date? 

First off, try to avoid citing websites. Many websites report on original research data presented in journal articles. As Master’s students, it is expected that you will search out the original source to verify claims or come up with your own thoughts based on the data. Citing a website is warranted when no other data is available or the website presents original and critical supplemental information to published research. 

If you need to cite a website and the date published is not readily available, the following can help you determine the date:

Try to avoid quotations

Relying heavily on quotes can be an indication that a writer does not fully understand the topic. While a well-placed quote can add to a paper, it is usually preferable to paraphrase the information you read. A great way to do this is to read the section of the article that pertains to your work and then re-write what the author(s) said without looking back at their words. If you decide to use a quote, be sure to use only a sentence or two, and avoid using more than two quotes in your paper. 

Avoid citing citations

If an article you are referencing (Article B) cites another author’s work (Article A), you need to go back to the origin of the idea (Article A) to cite that reference. This is because the original author may have been misrepresented by the second (don’t assume that all papers are accurately cited).  

Style of your literature citations

The default citation style you can use for in-text citations and bibliographies at the end of papers is the American Psychological Association (APA). However, aside from in-text citations and bibliographies, it is not necessary to follow APA style throughout a paper. Also, you may choose to use a different style if it fits better with your professional goals. Consistency is one mark of professionalism in writing, so the main intent is to be consistent with your in-text citation style and the style of the literature cited section at the end of your paper.


APA example 1- when referencing an article/quotation WITHIN the text of your paper

Use this within the sentence: (Author’s Last Name, Year of Publication). For example:

  • “… the study (Plair, 2003) showed that more birds were found in….”

 For more details on in-text citations:

APA example 2- for your Literature Cited/Bibliography section at the END of your paper

Brewer, K. (2002). Outreach and partnership programs for conservation education

where endangered species conservation and research occur. Conservation Biology 16(1), 4-6.

For more APA details on end of paper references:

Remember that you may choose to use a different citation style if it fits better with your professional goals. A number of citation management options are available here -

And here is a link to Miami’s library page where you can learn how to manage your resources with tools like EndNote and Zotero -

Where can I find articles?

As a Miami graduate student, you have been given access to the university’s online library—a huge collection of databases and online research journals at One of our favorites is Science Citation Index Expanded (requires login; scroll to find in alphabetical list).

Where can I find articles?

Miami University Library has access to thousands of journals and resources. 

Miami University Interlibrary Loan - If you come across something that does not appear to be available, you can also make a request via Interlibrary Loan. This video, from Miami University Library staff, shows how to do that. 

Google Scholar – Although searching the regular Google site will likely not give you many scholarly papers, Google Scholar is a great place to locate information and articles on current research. Note that the full-text PDF of each article may not be fully available via Google Scholar. However, you can identify articles with Google Scholar and then request the full text acces from the Miami University Library. 

The Bibliographies – At the end of every scientific, peer-reviewed journal article is a bibliography that includes all of the cited papers that author used for his/her research. These bibliographies can be a goldmine for your papers.

Additional Resources