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Why Cite Sources?

Professors ask you to incorporate resources into your paper to back-up your ideas with authority.

Citations enhance your argument and provide support for your ideas.

When professors read your paper, they want to be able to follow the thread of research, to see how your ideas fit with the ongoing conversation.

Citations can be followed to discover the sources used to develop ideas. Tracing the citations through multiple articles or books can provide an overview and history of the topic.

This idea of scholarship as a conversation means you have a voice in the exchange of ideas and a responsibility to other researchers to give them credit for the work you use to build your own ideas.


Copyright protection generally covers original works in a fixed format, such as music, novels, and pieces of art.

Copyright is not an indefinite protection. In the United States, it generally lasts 70 years past the life of the creator.

You can protect your work by filing for a copyright protection. There are various forms of protection available to you.

Copyright Clearance Center

Creative Commons


The bibliography at the end of your research paper includes complete information about each resource you borrowed ideas or data from.

The components you will need to include will vary depending on the type of source you are using and the citation style, but generally include information about the author, title, and publication details.

For a printed such as a book, you will generally be able to find the information you need on the cover or the first few pages inside, such as the copyright page where you will find the publication date, publishing institution, author, title and more.

For an electronic resource, details usually can be found in the header or footer of the website. You can also consult the About page of the website.


Information has Value

The creation of information and information products requires a commitment of time, original thought, and research.

Being an ethical user of information requires you to show respect for the hard work of others.

That is why it is so important to use sources in a responsible and ethical manner by providing credit where credit is due.

This also keeps your ideas from being confused with the work of others.

It works both ways. Your creations are protected too!

Academic Integrity

Anytime you use another person's words or ideas, you must cite them both in the text of your paper and in a works cited list at the end of your paper. This is true for both quotations and paraphrased ideas.

Intellectual property is an idea or invention that comes from someone's mind. Respecting another's hard work and intellectual output is ethical behavior, but it also benefits you if a person references your work in the future.

This is where the notion of attribution comes into play. When you use someone else's intellectual property, you must properly give them credit by attributing them in your work.

In-Text Citations

When you cite a source within your paper, be sure to record key elements that will allow your reader to know where you found your information and who influenced your work.

An in-text citation provides basic information about a source.

The exact information depends on the citation style but always will include the author and sometimes the date or page number.

Take notes of quotes authors' names, date of publication and page numbers as you go. Create a document and use the citation creator options in the library's databases and/or Zotero each time you access an article or read a book.

This way, keeping track and citing your sources will be easier when it is time to write your paper(s).

Citation Styles

Some common citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Each one requires you to include similar types of information, but may differ slightly in the details, such as the way components are ordered or formatted.

APA is common in the sciences and social sciences.

MLA usually is used in English, literature, and other humanities disciplines.

Consult your syllabus, your professor, and the following websites for citation examples and formats:

Purdue OWL

APA Style