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Getting Started

A citation tells readers that the information provided originated from a different source. It also provides the information needed to locate the source if needed.

Give your paper credibility

Often, your opinion is not enough. You need to back up arguments with research. Think of a criminal court case; lawyers need evidence in order to have a strong argument. Rely solely on their opinion and they will almost surely lose. The same goes for you. When reading a research paper professors wants to claims backed up with reliable information.

Give others credit for their work

Citing a source properly gives appropriate credit to the person who created the work you’re using. It also makes clear what is your work and what is theirs. Writing books, journal articles, and other content is hard work. Properly citing sources gives credit where it’s due.

Avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas without giving them credit. In other words, taking personal credit for the work of other people. Being caught plagiarizing can result in disciplinary action by your professor or the university. Professionals who plagiarize can be fired. To avoid plagiarism, cite correctly.

Because your professor says you have to

There are a lot of reasons why you should or have to cite, but at the end of the day you need to cite because your professor often says you have to. Not citing sources in your paper can get you in trouble as described above, but it can also cost you points on your assignment.

Each time you locate a useful resource:

  • Save It: To your computer or flash drive, send it to yourself as an attachment in an e-mail, print it out. Make sure you have it for when you need it.
  • Cite It: If available, copy the full citation to a Word document. If the option isn’t available, create the citation yourself.
  • Annotate It: Write a short annotation about how you will use the resource to answer your research question. This is helpful for when you’re writing the paper.

This process helps you save time when researching and writing an assignment. Saving each article prevents you from losing them later on. Citing the article helps create the reference page as you conduct your research, saving time when it comes time to write the paper. Annotating the article serves as a reminder of how it will be worked into your paper, making it easier to organize your assignment.