Why Citation is Important
It’s important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:
- To show your reader you’ve done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
- To be a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
- To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
- To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by way of footnotes, a bibliography or a reference list
- Citing a source means that you show, within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from another place.
- Citations are a short way to uniquely identify a published work (e.g. book, article, chapter, website). They are found in bibliographies and reference lists and are also collected in article and book databases.
- Citations consist of standard elements and contain all the information necessary to identify and track down publications, including:
- author name(s)
- titles of books, articles, and journals
- date of publication
- page numbers
- volume and issue numbers (for articles)
Citations may look different, depending on what is being cited and which style was used to create them.
What to Cite
You must cite:
- Facts, figures, ideas, or other information that is not common knowledge
- Ideas, words, theories, or exact language that another person used in other publicationsPublications that must be cited include books, book chapters, articles, web pages, theses, etc.
- Another person’s exact words should be quoted and cited to show proper credit
When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!
Academic organizations and some disciplines outline their own styles of how to cite sources and format research papers. You may have heard of or used some of the styles before.
Consult these print and online style guides for examples of citing sources in the text of your paper and a bibliography or reference list
- MLA: Modern Language Association [Humanities]
- APA: American Psychological Association [Social Sciences] APA Reference Style
- CMS: Chicago Manual of Style [various subjects]
- IEEE: Institute of Electronics & Electrical Engineers
Manage Your References
Use these tools to help you organize and cite your references
You can even use MS Word to manage your references; here is the video for that.