How to Cite Sources

Students sometimes think that citations are necessary only when using material that is a direct quote. This is not true. A citation is necessary any time you include any information or idea that is not, yours (that is, directly or indirectly derived from someone else's thinking or writing). Any non-original idea that you fail to cite is plagiarized. Plagiarism is stealing. It can result in your failing the course!


The purpose of citations is to permit other researchers to locate the sources used. It is important to make them complete and understandable. For every source, include the title author(s), and date. For books, note publisher and place of publication. For articles, note the name of Journal, volume number, issue number, and page numbers.


All references should be identified at the appropriate point in the text by the last name of the author, year of publication, and page number where needed. Identify subsequent citations of the same source the same way as the first.

When to give credit

  • referring to someone else’s ideas, opinions, or theories, such as by paraphrasing.
  • copying exact words.
  • reprinting or copying graphical elements such as diagrams, illustrations, maps, charts, and pictures.
  • using ideas from others given in conversation, interviews, correspondence (letters or email) or heard during lectures, speeches, and from media such as television and radio.

Why Cite?

Citing your sources has several specific benefits for you the student. Of course, a primary benefit is that it shows you are crediting your sources and so avoiding the possibility of plagiarizing. Even more important though is that it gives you credit. It is concrete documentation of the hard work you have done in researching the background of your topic including the ideas other people have had on the subject. Professors generally respect and reward well-researched papers.

Citations achive several resolutions:

  • Identify the source of an idea, specific words, or other material in order to acknowledge its contribution to your paper. It is the existence of these acknowledgments, or lack there of, that is the determiner of whether material has been plagiarized.
  • Enable the reader to locate the original source.
  • Provide the reader with a sense of the relevance and quality of the sources used in researching the paper and, hence, a sense of the quality of the paper. Indicators of quality include.

Attribution:

Attribution, at its most basic level, requires that you include a bibliographic citation for each source that you use.

Typical elements in bibliographic citations from the print publication world include.

    Who:

    Depending on the material type:

    • Who wrote or created it?
    • Who published it?
    • Who produced it?

    What:

    What type of material did your source come from? A different material types have different citation elements so "what" to record can differ from source to source.

    Where:

    Where was it published?

    Where did you find it?

    When:

    When was it published?

    Did it appear in a particular edition of a larger work? What are the details of the particular edition?

    Did you access it on a particular date?