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Lemieux Library

Research Toolkit


On this page:

  • Learn what citations are and why they are important
  • Different citation styles and where to find style manuals
  • How to use citation generator tools

Ask yourself:

  • Does my assignment require a specific citation style?
  • Have I cited all of my sources?

See also: Types of Sources and Writing Center Resources on citations and references

What is a citation?

A citation identifies for the reader the source of the origin for an idea, information, or image that is referred to in a work.

In the body of a paper, the in-text citation acknowledges the source of information used. At the end of a paper, the citations are compiled on a References or Works Cited page. A basic citation includes the author, title and publication information for the source. Other elements such as journal issue and page numbers are added to help the reader find the original work.

Citation Basics:  1.	Place IN-TEXT CITATIONS in the body of the paper to acknowledge the source of your information. This is meant to be a shortened version of the full citation that appears on the final page of your paper.  a.	Example: Planning intergenerational activities in retirement homes helps keep the elderly connected with the younger generation and improves their mental state. For example, a recent study of Korean elders (Rodriguez, 2003) found that patient depression rates were lower in retirement homes that sponsored occasional social activities with local school children than those that did not.  2.	Place full citations for all your sources on the last page entitled REFERENCES or WORKS CITED (different citation styles require different titles). Full citations are meant to provide readers with enough information so that they can locate the source themselves.  a.	Example: Rodriguez, R. (2003). The elder population: Psychology and well-being. New York: Penguin Books.  3.	APA or MLA are citation styles. Each has different guidelines for how source information (author, title, year…etc.) should be formatted and punctuated for both in-text citations and for the References or Works Cited pages.

Why cite?

Besides avoiding plagiarism, these are the reasons why you should cite your sources:

  • It is the right thing to do (give credit to the person or organization who had the idea)
  • It shows that you have read and understand what experts have had to say about your topic
  • It helps people find the sources that you used in case they want to read more about the topic
  • It provides evidence for your arguments
  • It is standard practice for students and scholars
  • It is professional 

Avoiding Plagiarism: Helpful Links

What do you need to cite?

Are you quoting two or more consecutive words from a source? Then the original source should be cited and the words or phrase placed in quotes. Use quotes when you want to convey to the reader the language of the original text.

If an idea or information comes from another source, even if you put it in your own words, you still need to credit the source. Be careful when you paraphrase to reflect your own writing style, not the original author.

General Knowledge vs. Unfamiliar Knowledge
You do not need to cite material which is accepted common knowledge. You would not have to cite the fact that Big Ben was in London, but you would have to cite little known facts about Big Ben, e.g. dimensions of the tower, who it was named after. If in doubt whether your information is common knowledge or not, cite it.

When we think of citing sources, we usually think of books and articles. However, if you use material from web sites, films, music, laboratory manuals, lecture notes, special application software, graphs, tables, etc… you will also need to cite these sources. 

Citation Styles

Commonly assigned citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago. Style manuals provide examples of proper citation for different sources, as well as other formatting recommendations.







RefWorks is an online research management tool.  It allows you to collect, manage and organize research papers and documents.

You can read annotate, organize, and cite your research as well as collaborate with friends and colleagues by sharing collections. ​

Since it is web-based, once you have set up your personal account, you can access RefWorks anywhere you can connect to the Internet. It is available to all SU students, faculty, and staff.

To access: RefWorks 

For more information check out the guide: New RefWorks @ SU!


Zotero logo; reads Zotero with a red Z and the rest in black text

Zotero pronounced “zoh-TAIR-oh”) is free application that collects, manages, and cites research sources. Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, insert citations into Word documents, and create bibliographies.

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