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Citation and Plagiarism: Basics

Why do we cite?

There are 4 main reasons that it is important to cite your research:

  1. To show you have made a credible and well-researched argument. Your sources are proof that you have done your homework and picked authors that are experts on your topic.
  2. To be a participant in the scholarly process. Scholarship is about an exchange of ideas and knowledge. Good research cannot happen without a solid foundation. When you cite your sources, you are recognizing the ideas of others and building off of them, something that every professor is looking to see from their students.
  3.  To avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is a very serious act of academic dishonesty and can have major consequences for your academic career. 
  4. To allow your audience to find the sources for themselves. Good citations allow your reader to track down the original source for the information you used and understand what aspects of your argument were covered by this source. 

What do you cite?

  • Quotation: Put the exact words taken from a source no matter how short or long in quotation marks and cite in-text or in footnotes after the quotation mark.
  • Paraphrase: Restate the idea in your own words and sentence structure and cite in-text of in footnotes.
  • Summary: Break down the author's argument into a concise statement and cite in-text or in footnotes at the end of the summary.
  • Facts & Data: Facts and data that are not common knowledge need to be cited in text or in footnotes.

When in doubt, CITE!

More information on Avoiding Plagiarism

Choosing a Citation Style

Most disciplines have a specific citation style that they typically prefer, and the Library Research Guides for each department contain the most commonly used citation styles. However, you will want to consult your syllabus and/or ask your professor which citation styles he or she prefers.

If you are working on your Ed.D. or Ph.D., you should consult with the style guide that is provided by your department. Please contact your professor for assistance if you  have not received your style guide.

What makes up a citation?

Journal Articles:

Basic elements of a journal article citation include:

author(s), title of article, title of journal, volume and issue number, date of publication, page numbers.

Find this information for the article you want to cite: