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Citing Sources and Academic Writing

About this guide

This guide is aimed to help students through the often confusing process of citing sources and writing reference lists.

Here you will find background information and links to reliable websites that guide students through the process of academic writing.


The Why

Why do we cite books, journal articles, web sites, etc in a research paper? It's not just about plagiarism!

All writers must cite material...

  • To reflect the careful and thorough work you have put into locating and exploring your sources.
  • As a courtesy to your readers so they know where you found the information.
  • To acknowledge those authors who made possible particular aspects of your work. Failure to provide adequate citations constitutes plagiarism.
  • To demonstrate your integrity and skill as a responsible participant in the conversation of scholarship.

The How

Librarians are often asked, "How do I cite this book/journal article/web site in my research paper?" Writing guides (commonly referred to as style manuals) provide rules and instruction on research paper composition.

You should use a style manual in order to properly cite materials, set up footnotes or in-text citations, and/or a works cited list (aka: reference list, bibliography.) Different style manuals are used for different disciplines or subject areas:

All of these manuals are available at Healey. Many style manuals (or portions of them) are also freely accessible on the web, see Citation Style Guides tab on the right. Bookstores sell many useful paper or "pocket style" versions which students often find helpful. One of the most popular style manuals in print is A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker (NY: St. Martin's Press, 2012)

Be sure to check with your instructor if you are unsure which style to use for your research paper.

Academic Writing

UMass Boston offers support for academic writing through the Reading, Writing, and Study Strategies Center and the Graduate Writing Center. The Healey Library provides guidance on Plagiarism Awareness and Prevention 

Online Writing Lab (OWL) from Purdue University contains high quality information about academic writing and much more.

Healey Library | University of Massachusetts Boston | 100 Morrissey Blvd | Boston, MA | 02125-3393 | 617-287-5900