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Citation Styles and Plagiarism: Citations

What is a Citation?

A citation describes a source and provides information about it in a standard format. Citations are located in the bibliography, works cited, or references of an article, book, chapter, encyclopedia article, etc. Citations enable the reader to identify and find any sources listed.

Citations also give credit to other authors for their ideas, rather than making it look like the author of the work was the original source for an idea.

Generally, citations tell you the title of the work, who wrote it, the date it was published, where it was published, and who published it.

Why Do We Need to Cite?

Citations tell your audience where you got your information from. Writers should always cite words and ideas that come from someone else. This includes citing quotes and paraphrased content.

In-text citations are usually short and include the author and date. In-text citations direct the reader to the bibliography, works cited, or references. In the bibliography, works cited, or references the writer will have a complete reference to the cited work, which allows the reader to find the cited work. 

Citations are important for for several reasons:

 

Credibility & Evidence

Citing your sources shows that you did research on your topic. You gathered evidence relevant to your work and that makes it stronger.

 

Distinguish Your Work

Citing shows which ideas come from others and which work is your own. 

 

Finding Information

Citing your sources allows your audience to find the sources so that they can learn more about the topic and evaluate the sources for themselves. Your audience can read and critique the sources you used, and critique the arguments you made based on those sources.

 

Acknowledge Others

Citing your sources acknowledges the contribution other researchers had on your work. You want other writers to cite your work because it shows when your work has influenced another. 

 

Integrity

Citing your sources demonstrates your academic honesty and integrity. 

 

Avoid Plagiarism

Properly citing your sources helps you avoid plagiarism. Using quotes sparingly and good paraphrasing also helps you avoid plagiarism. Both quotes and paraphrasing should be cited. 

How Can You Use Citations to Expand Your Research?

Citations create a family tree for the body of research in a field. 

  • A research article will have citations to the articles, books, and other sources that informed that research article. Similar to parents, each cited resource contributed material to the research article. 
    • To find the “parent” resources that contributed to an article, look at the references, works cited, or bibliography.
  • A research article will be cited when it is used in future articles. In this case the research article is like a parent, and the articles that cite it are its children. 
    • To find the “children” that cite an article, search for the article title in Google Scholar or a ProQuest database. Google Scholar will often provide a link to “Cited by”, which are the articles, books, etc. that cite that article.
  • Citations can also be used to find similar articles. Theoretically, if articles share similar citations then they will be about similar topics. The more citations the articles share, the more similar they are (like siblings); the fewer citations they share, the less similar they are (like cousins). 

Secondary Citations

You should always try to use the original source in your research. If you are reading an article or book and the author cites another resource that is relevant to your research, you should use the citation and references to track down the original cited resource.  

For example, look at this passage by A. Student:

In the past, faculty could conceptually differentiate between extramural speech, personal communication that did not related directly to the university, and intramural speech that reflected on their university and was grounded in their status and expertise (Rowe and Brass 2011).

It sounds like the article by Rowe and Brass is perfect for your research. If you want to use this article for your research you should use the references to track down the original article and critique it for yourself. You never know when an author will misrepresent or misunderstand another author’s work, or you may interpret the article differently.