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How to Cite Sources in Your Research Paper

A guide on how to cite your sources and avoid plagiarism

What is a Citation?

A citation is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source and gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again.

Citations may include:

  • Information about the Author(s) or Editor(s)
  • The title of the work
  • The publisher
  • The date published
  • The page numbers of the material you are referencing

Why is Citing Important?

Citing is important because:

  • It gives credit to the authors and creators of the sources you used.
  • It gives your readers information about your sources and allows them to fact check.
  • It demonstrates your credibility and the work you have put into locating and exploring your sources.
  • It strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.
  • It protects you from plagiarizing.

When Should I Cite?

Whenever you borrow words, ideas, or data from another source, you need to acknowledge that source. The following situations almost always require a citation:

  • Whenever you use quotes
  • Whenever you paraphrase
  • Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed
  • Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another
  • Whenever someone else's work has been critical in developing your own ideas
  • Whenever you use a dataset created by another

From: Limestone University Library Citation Guide