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Citation and Plagiarism

Citing Sources: What does this mean and why is it important?

Citing sources is a necessary part of participating in scholarly conversation. When you use evidence to support an argument or claim, you must credit that evidence by providing some sort of citation. This allows your audience to trace your ideas back to their original sources.

Note: We often focus specifically on creating reference lists (also known as "works cited pages"), but it's important to understand that style guides such as APA Style produced by the American Psychological Association or CMS produced by the Chicago Manual of Style also dictate things like:

  • The organization of content in a manuscript or paper
  • The style of writing
  • The steps for preparing a manuscript for publication

Even more, any source you list as a reference, such as on your Works Cited page, must also be cited within the text. In-text citations come with their own set of guidelines for each style.

Citation Generators: A Note

Heard of citation generators? We have too! There are some great ones out there.

Use them -- definitely -- but use them with caution. Generators do not always pull in the correct information from your sources. In other words, don't just copy/paste! Give generated citations a once over and double check that everything is formatted properly when you import citations into your paper. Word processing programs like MS Word and Google Docs handle things differently.