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Why Cite?

  1. To give credit to those whose work you have used (whether by direct quote or by paraphrasing).
    • Academic ethics require that writers be credited for their work and their writing. If you intentionally or unintentionally use the work of another without giving proper credit, you have plagiarized.
    • Researchers "stand on the shoulders" of those who have gone before
  2. To provide evidence to support what you are saying.
    • A good bibliography of high-quality material demonstrates that your project is based on credible evidence.
    • When well-integrated into your paper (or project or research), that evidence creates a strong and convincing paper or project. It demonstrates that you know and understand the field in which you are working and have evidence to support your claims/arguments/explanations.
    • If your work is based on poor evidence, the credibility of your project is undermined.
  3. To allow your readers to find and read your sources.
    • Professionals trace back to the original sources to expand their own understanding and to use those sources in their own research.
    • A reference list that does not provide the information needed to find the sources is worthless to the reader.

Why a specific citation style?

  1. Using a consistent style in a bibliography (or reference list) lets the reader know where in the citation to expect to find a title, where to expect to find an author, etc -- without actually labeling the parts of the citation. It makes it easier for your readers to understand your citations and find the sources you have cited.
  2. Although a variety of citation styles exist, each academic discipline will usually use a specific style. By using a single style such as APA or IEEE, a profession's readers are familiar with the style and understand how to read and interpret it.

What do I need to know?

  1. How to cite sources within the body of the paper -- in-text citation
  2. How to create a list of sources cited in your paper -- the bibliography or reference list.
  3. How to use a specific citation style

Last Updated: 2/16/12