Writing papers for nursing school doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You probably haven’t written a research paper since high school, and citing your sources was never the easiest part. There are so many tiny rules to follow: indentation, punctuation, order, etc. And APA Style is most likely new to you. Luckily you have decided to return to school at a time when citing your sources (no matter the style) has become as easy as a few clicks of the mouse.
Free Resources to Help You Cite Your Sources
There are many free resources to help you through the citation process. For quick reference, try the APA Style website. From the basics to the most in-depth information about “works cited,” the APA Style site has the answers you’ll need.
Microsoft Word also has a function that will help you cite your sources. Open your document and click on the “REFERENCES” tab at the top of the page. Then click “Insert Citation” and then “Add New Source.”
You can insert the information about the article — Author, Title, Year, City and Publisher — in the box that pops up.
After you add the source information, Word allows you to insert it where you need it. It also saves it for later use. The best part is that it’s a free function of software you already own.
Citation Machine is another free source for your Works Cited page. It will search titles for you and gather the information for your text, or you can enter the information manually. To create your Works Cited entry, follow these simple instructions.
- Click the “Create citations” button
- Click the style you want in the “Choose a Citation Style” box — APA.
- Type in the title of the source you want to cite.
- Select the publication you’re using. (After selecting your publication, Citation Machine will gather the information for it. If the information can’t be found, you will be prompted to enter it yourself.)
- Click “Final Step.” This page will show you the information for the text you’re using. This is also where you can add information that Citation Machine couldn’t find.
- Click “Create Citation” at the bottom of the screen.
- The properly formatted reference will appear on your screen. Copy, paste, done!
And these are just a few examples. A simple Google search will turn up countless tools and other writing resources. Most schools — Lamar University, for example — have writing centers that will help you for free, no matter whether you take your classes on campus or online.
Paid Resources for Writers
There are also web-based tools that will not only organize and format your references, but also guide you through the writing process. PERRLA Online, for example, will help you outline your papers, keep track of assignments, set reminders and more. With this particular product, you don’t even need Microsoft Word. Type your paper into PERRLA Online and it will convert your paper into a standard Word document you can send to your instructor. “PERRLA is intuitive and easy to use, even if you’re not tech savvy,” says Jessica Skinner, an online RN to BSN student. “It’s a lifesaver!” It costs $39.95, which may be well worth it for online RN to BSN students who have anxiety about writing papers.
Staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page can be the hardest part of any writing assignment, but it doesn’t have to be. Just start writing. Remember, no one has to ever see your first draft, so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. And you don’t need to worry about your grade on your first draft either. Once you get going, you’ll find that the rest comes easy — or at least easier than you thought when you were staring at an empty page.
Don’t be afraid to ask your instructors for help. That’s what they are there for. Discuss topics with your classmates. Nursing is a team effort, so there’s no reason that nursing school shouldn’t be. Sharing ideas is not cheating.
The fear of writing and citing your sources correctly shouldn’t keep you from going back to school for a BSN. There are more writing resources at your fingertips than ever before. You may think that you’ll never need to write in your nursing career, but who knows? You might decide to move into a leadership or research role where written communication will be an important part of your job. You might even decide you like writing!
Learn more about Lamar University’s online RN to BSN program.