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Citations: Introduction

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Why and How You Cite Your Resources

As a writer and a researcher, you need to use information ethically and responsibly. Citing your resources is how you do this. Citations help you:

  • Show which ideas and elements are yours and distinguishes them from the ideas and information you incorporated from your resources. It gives your references credit for their work and helps you to avoid accidental plagiarism.
  • Finding and using resources that were done by experts on the subject or who experienced events first hand also demonstrates that you have consulted reliable sources from which your ideas grew. Citations enable other researchers to track down your sources to learn more. Your research in turn becomes part of that research conversation if other researchers in turn use your ideas and research.

There are many types of citation styles and which one you select may depend on your professor or your academic/professional discipline. The most common styles are

  • APA (American Psychological Association) citation style is used primarily in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and criminal justice and the professional fields such as business and nursing, but it can also be used for other subjects.
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style is used primarily in the humanities, such as English, philosophy, music, and religion, but it can also be used for other subjects.
  • Chicago/Turabian citation style is used primarily in history, but it can also be used for other subjects. Chicago/Turabian style differs from most other styles in that rather than in-text citations, superscript numbers in the text of the paper refer readers to notes with corresponding numbers either at the foot of the page (footnotes) or at the end of the paper (endnotes). A bibliography is often required as well.
  • CSE (Council of Science Editors) citation style is used in the sciences, such as biology, physics, chemistry, and engineering, but it can also be used for other subjects.

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