Why citing 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 reference list
If you need further assistance with citing sources, use Ask A Librarian.
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, web site). 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. Choose an appropriate style guide for your needs.
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 publications
- Publications 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!
Choosing a style
Because there is no one standard citation style used at Centre:
- Ask your professor which style s/he prefers for the course.
- Consult a style guide for examples of using various citation styles to create in-text citations, bibliographies and reference lists, or use citation software (EndNote or Zotero) to assist you in tracking sources used and building in-text citations and bibliographies.
- Use a standard style, such as MLA, and be consistent with it throughout your paper.
- Ask a Reference Librarian for help in citing sources or the Writing Center for citation and paper-writing assistance.
Plagiarism occurs when you borrow another's words (or ideas) and do not acknowledge that you have done so. In this culture, we consider our words and ideas intellectual property; like a car or any other possession, we believe our words belong to us and cannot be used without our permission.
Plagiarism is a very serious offense. If it is found that you have plagiarized -- deliberately or inadvertently -- you may face serious consequences. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources - both within the body of your paper and in a bibliography of sources you use at the end of your paper.
Some useful links about plagiarism:
- Centre College Academic Policy
Addresses plagiarism under Academic Honesty
- Avoiding Plagiarism
From the UCLA Library
- Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It
From Indiana University's Writing Tutorial Services.
- Plagiarism: Overview
A resource from Purdue University.