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Citation Basics

Citing Sources

Why Cite?

  • Citations illustrate your research process.

  • Citations acknowledge the authors and researchers you relied on to develop your argument or point of view.

  • Citations allow your reader to identify and locate additional resources on your topic.


What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when someone uses words or ideas that are not their own and does not give credit to the original source of the information. If you use the words or ideas of someone else, you must either

  • Place the information in quotation marks and cite the source, or

  • Paraphrase or summarize the information and cite the source.


What to Cite

  • If the idea or information is not from your own mind or created by you, cite it.

  • Cite facts, data, journal articles, books, web pages, video, and images.

  • Cite non-traditional sources such as radio and a conversation with a friend.


Common knowledge is an exception, and includes well known facts such as, the President of the United States, or that France is on the European continent. If you are unsure if something is common knowledge, find a source and cite it.