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Get Started With Research

Use this guide to become a more skillful researcher. Learn how to develop research questions, choose credible sources, evaluate your sources, cite them correctly, and avoid plagiarism

Tips for Citing Sources

It's important to make sure you collect all the information you need to cite a source as you gather your information so that you won't need to look it up again, so:

  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
  • Write down the complete citation information for each book, article, etc. you use as you go along
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas

Citing Sources Matters

When you write a research paper, you use information and facts from a variety of resources to support your own ideas or to help you develop new ones. Books, articles, videos, interviews, and Web sites are some examples of sources you might use.

Citing these sources of information in your work is essential because:

  • It gives credit to the author of the original work who provided you with the information or idea
  • It allows your audience to identify and find the source material in order to learn more about your topic
  • It gives your paper more credibility because it shows you're supporting your arguments with high-quality source. It also helps earn your readers' trust because you're telling your readers the source of your facts so that they can confirm them for themselves
  • It helps you avoid plagiarism

This three-min. video from The Harness Library illustrates why it's important for you to cite your sources. Watch, Learn, and Enjoy!

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What Do You Cite?

Cite all outside sources you use in your research paper! Citing is required for sources you quote word-for-word, for sources you paraphrase (rewrite using your own words), and for sources from which you summarize ideas within your work.

Where to Cite:

You need to cite your sources in two places:

  • Within your work at the place where you are incorporating the information.
  • In a comprehensive list of all sources you’ve cited throughout the paper.

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‚ÄčCiting Within the Text of Your Paper:

Direct Quote Example

The quote below appears exactly as it does in Joanna Santa Barbara's article on child-rearing in the Encyclopedia of Violence Peace and Conflict

“Adjusted data from seven U.S. surveys between 1968 and 1994 show a decline in approval of disciplinary spanking from 94% to 68%, or 26 percentage points in 26 years” (Santa Barbara 243).

Tip: Use direct quotations selectively. In fact, the MLA Handbook advises you to quote only those words, phrases, lines, and passages that are particularly interesting, vivid, unusual, or apt."

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Paraphrase Example

This sentence takes the information above and puts it into the author’s own words.

Studies show that Americans are becoming more critical of the concept of spanking children. Between 1968 and 1994 the so-called “approval rating” of spanking children dropped from 94% to 68% (Santa Barbara 243).

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Summarize Example

The sentence below distills the main idea of the original information. 

Studies have shown that Americans just don't approve of spanking like they used to (Santa Barbara 243).

 

Citation Styles

Your instructor should tell you which citation style he or she wants you to use. Click on the appropriate link below to learn how to format your paper and cite your sources according to a particular style.