I have been doing some research on citations and haven't been able to get a clear answer on this.

When writing a project report, in which sections is it appropriate to include citations?

In this context sections refers to; abstract, introduction, literature review, problem statement, etc... Can I include citations in any of them? Or only specific sections? Are there sections where citations should be avoided?

If answers can include sources for me to continue researching on my own that is appreciated.

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  • What style are you using?
    – hszmv
    Oct 31, 2019 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


Assuming you're not following any specific style manual, citations can go pretty much anywhere except for the abstract and the conclusions/final statements.

The idea is that the abstract should be a short summary of your document, so any citation is essentialy wasted space. The conclusions should follow naturally from the research you've done, so, again, it doesn't make much sense including citations; you're supposed to write something new or at least specific to your study.

Of course citations mostly belong to the literature review section, but they should be fine anywhere else too.

My sources are my own limited experience in writing theses, PhD proposals and reading scientific articles.

  • 1
    +1, as a person that writes academic papers for journals, and peer reviews journal articles (six this year), I agree. Also same goes for Theses (like for a Master's Degree) and Dissertations (for a PhD) and similar papers.
    – Amadeus
    Oct 31, 2019 at 15:55

It largely depends on the style you're writing your paper in, but typically you would include a separate page called works Cited that will give the full citation of all works used and is arranged alphabetically by first word in a citation (usually the author of the work, though other mediums may have different formats). If you're writing to a page count, this page usually will not count to the threshold (i.e. If you need to write a five page paper, with works cited, then your works cited page will begin on page six, not page 5.).

You will also include a smaller citation in the main text that includes the first significant word of the text and the page number(s) where you drew the statement from. The way this is done is usually style dependent.


Citations can go anywhere in an academic journal article, even in an abstract or title:

Shanks, D. R., & Vadillo, M. A. (2019). Still no evidence that risk-taking and consumer choices can be primed by mating motives: Reply to Sundie, Beal, Neuberg, and Kenrick (2019). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(4), e12-e22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000597

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