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Learn about: Why and how to cite sources, plagiarism, citation style guides, and citation generators.
What does citing a source mean?
- Citing or documenting information sources is an important part of the research process.
- Once your research paper is complete you may need to create a Bibliography or List of Works Cited.
- To cite a source means to give credit for the original source of information, an idea, or way of articulating an idea. It is a standardized method of acknowledging resources used in your research.
Below is an example of an in-text citation and it's associated bibliography at the end of the article.
We'll use this article as an example.
- In the screenshot below, the authors Allen, Levintova, & Mohatt are given credit for the meaning behind the sentence outlined in red.
- At the end of the paper is a bibliography, where you can see the complete citation for the 2011 Allen, Levintova, & Mohatt article.
Why cite sources?
- Scholarly discourse
Scholars cite their sources and provide lists of the sources to give credit to the work of other researchers, and so that colleagues and others can locate the source.
- Document your research
Instructors are interested in knowing which ideas stem from the student and which ideas are built upon those of other writers. Citing sources gives your instructor a sense of how much work you've done on a paper -- what have you read? what have you thought about on your own?
If you don't cite your sources, you are not giving credit for the work of others. This is called plagiarism and is considered a serious offense by all universities.
How does one cite a source?
There are many different ways to cite sources using different citation styles.
Several standards have been created by different academic fields and publishers for documenting sources; MLA, APA, Chicago.
Check with your instructor if you are unsure which citation style is appropriate for your research paper.
Citation style guides provide the correct format to use for creating your Bibliography or List of Works Cited. Additional information pertaining to every aspect of the research process is also discussed at length.
No matter which citation style you select, the basic bibliographic citation information required is the same. Be sure to collect this information as your research progresses.
- For books: author, title, place of publication, publisher, and publication year.
- For articles: author, title of article, title of journal, volume, issue, date, page numbers, and doi or permalink.
- For web page resources: author, title of page, Web address or URL, and date of access.
See the Citation Styles Guides & Tools page for links to books and websites that will teach you how to cite both online and print sources using APA, MLA, and other citation styles.
Citation Generators & Tools
- Zotero - Download Zotero and install it as a browser plugin.
- Mendeley - is a free reference manager and an academic social network.
- Citation Machine - free but has ads.