Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

BIO 102: Organismal Biology: Citing Sources

CSE

Available at the reference desk:

Why Cite Sources?

There are at least three reasons why writers cite their sources:

  • To establish credibility with readers by calling on solid, reputable sources as "expert witnesses"
  • To provide readers with the information they need to delve further into the topic
  • To give credit where it is due and avoid plagiarism

The primary rule of thumb for when to include a citation is: Provide a citation when the words OR ideas are not your own. The exception to this rule is when the information is common knowledge - factual information found in multiple sources. However, you also should use this checklist to be sure your citations are complete.

  • Did I provide a reference for every idea that came from a source? Cite all of your sources, even if you put the information in your own words. You do not have to cite sources for "common knowledge" - factual information that can be found in multiple sources such as dates or widely-known information.
  • Do all of my in-text references have a complete citation in my list of sources and can the reader easily move from an in-text reference to the full citation in the list?
  • Does my reader have all the information needed to find each source? 

Because scholars in different disciplines emphasize different things when they read citations, there are many different styles. The MLA style, used for literary studies, makes sure page numbers are provided in an in-text citation because the exactness of a quotation matters; the APA style used in psychology and other social sciences include the year of publication, because when research was conducted is considered particularly significant. The Chicago Style is used by disciplines such as history and religion, which value sources so much it is common to put all the information about a source in a footnote as well as in a bibliography at the end of a paper.

Whatever style you use, citations typically include author, title of the work, and publication information (for books, place, publisher, and year published; for articles, the journal, volume, date, and page numbers; for websites, a URL may be needed). Check out this link from the Pudue Online Writing Lab for additional practical advice: Avoiding Plagiarism

Ask Us!

Spring 2021 reference (research) help:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License