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Citing Your Sources

This guide will help you cite your sources properly to avoid plagiarism, important for students to maintain academic integrity. It also introduces various tools for creating and managing citations, including library-supported Zotero.

Why bother to cite your sources?

Citing the sources you use when writing any paper is important for the following reasons:

  • Provides proper credit to the scholars whose works you used within your paper.
  • Helps you avoid plagiarism by properly attributing quotes and ideas to the source from which they came.
  • Shows readers what kind of research you have done in writing your own paper.
  • Provides readers all the information they will need to track down the sources you used should they want to do some further reading or use those sources to support their own research.

Failing to properly cite your sources is called plagiarism. Not only does engaging in plagiarism tarnish your academic and personal integrity, it is also considered an act of academic misconduct, which can result in serious disciplinary actions, sometimes expulsion. 

What should I cite?

All kinds of things!

  • Books
  • Articles (Newspaper, Scholarly, Magazine, etc.)
  • Websites
  • Blog posts
  • Tweets
  • Movies
  • YouTube videos
  • Interviews
  • Speeches
  • Advertisements
  • Output of a program that utilizes artificial intelligence
  • ...and more

...essentially, anything you did not create yourself, that is not your own original thought, should be cited.

Also, did you know that you can self-plagiarize? If you quote your original thought as documented in another paper, for example, you should cite yourself!

Facts about plagiarism

Did you know...

  • A study by The Center for Academic Integrity found that almost 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once.
  • According to a survey by the Psychological Record 36% of undergraduates have admitted to plagiarizing written material.
  • A poll conducted by US News and World Reports found that 90% of students believe that cheaters are either never caught or have never been appropriately disciplined.

Read more facts at

Tutorial Video: Why and how do we cite sources?

This video uses MLA and APA styles in its examples, but the discussion of why citation is necessary applies to any style.

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