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Citing Sources and Academic Writing

Citing Sources

The Why

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

  • It shows you have put both thought and effort into finding and using your resources
  • It tells your readers where you got your information, so they can find it themselves
  • It shows recognition to authors who have also researched your topic or within your field of interest; it gives credit where credit is due
  • It demonstrates "your integrity and skills as a responsible participant in the conversation of scholarship"[1]
  • BONUS: It can make you look good – the quality of your sources reflects on you as a scholar and the quality of your work

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 is A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker (NY: St. Martin's Press, 2018)

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