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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.
Besides avoiding plagiarism, these are the reasons why you should cite your sources:
Avoiding Plagiarism: Helpful Links
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 managers are tools that can help you stay organized while doing research, and make creating citations and bibliographies a snap. They help mitigate a lot of the stress of organizing sources and making citations, which leaves more room for the researcher to focus on the actual ideas of their work!
The Library supports two citation managers: RefWorks and Zotero.