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Citation Guide

Citation 101

Academic research is a necessity for students in higher education.  A major component of ethical research is the proper use and understanding of citations.  Understanding not only how to cite but why is essential to a working knowledge of information literacy.  The following pages will provide a basic introduction to the various aspects of citation, including a definition as well as discussions of in-text citing and plagiarism.  Don't forget to contact your librarian for further information on citation and information literacy.


What are citations?

According to Oxford language, a citation may be defined as a quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author, especially in a scholarly work.

(CITATION | Definition of CITATION by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.Com Also Meaning of CITATION, n.d.)

Writing a research paper involves finding and using the information found in books, journals, and websites.  Where you find your information must be recorded in your paper. The recording of where you found your information is called citing your sources. 

A "citation" is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source and is not your original idea/work. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:

  • Information about the author
  • The title of the work
  • The name and location of the company that published your copy of the source
  • The date your copy was published
  • The page numbers of the material you are borrowing


Why do we create citations?

  • As an assignment of importance and relevance to the work and expertise of another, both in recognition of the aforementioned qualities as well as in recognition of their ownership of the work and any societal value that may bring.
  • As an appeal to authority, or a source of expertise on a given subject, to add authority and thus influence to one’s own voice.
  • As evidence of one’s own due diligence in speaking from an informed and well-researched position.
  • As foundational information upon which a researcher has based and built their own contributing ideas.
  • As a contextual tool in which the reader may place the researcher’s own ideas and contributions.