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Cite Your Sources

Getting Started

Most academic writing draws on earlier research that has already published. It's important to research thoroughly to learn as much about your topic as you can and to credit your sources. Citing sources benefits you and the people whose work you reference in your own research:

  • Citing sources demonstrates you've researched your topic and shows that you've read important research in the discipline
  • Citations that support your ideas provide credibility and authority for your work
  • Giving credit to the sources you've used protects you from charges of plagiarism
  • Good bibliographies and citations provide useful records for additional research
When to Cite

Generally, you should provide a citation for any idea that is not your own, including:

  • Direct quotations
  • Paraphrasing a quotation, paragraph or idea
  • Summarizing someone else's idea or research
  • Any specific reference to a fact, figure or phrase

You do not need to cite widely accepted knowledge (for example, the earth rotates on its axis each day and around the sun each year) unless you are using a direct quotation. When in doubt, provide a citation.

Citation Styles

The most commonly used citation styles are created by:

  • The Modern Language Association (MLA Style)
  • The American Psychology Association (APA Style)
  • The University of Chicago (Chicago Style)

This Guide to citation provides detailed information on how to use these and other citation styles and also how to use a citation manager, Zotero, which is recommended and supported by the TriCollege Libraries.

Manage your Citations

The College supports use of Zotero, a robust citation management tool. See this Guide, Zotero: A Citation Tool for everything you need to know about how to set it up and use it to track and organize your research!

Find Support

Librarians and RIAs are happy to help you and answer questions about properly citing your work! Additionally, you may want to look into the resources offered by the Writing Center and the Writing Associates Program

Summaries on this page are taken from the University of Wisconsin Canvas module on Citation