Available at the reference desk:
The trick to effective writing using sources is remember that sources come from people, and the people you cite are helping you build a case, make an argument, or explain ideas. Use your sources strategically as allies and informants.
In most cases, your best bet is to know your material well enough that you can set a source aside and write about its ideas in your own words. When you can sum up the main point of a source instead of quoting from it excessively, that will save your reader time and will demonstrate that you really know the material. It will also leave more room for you to put your own stamp on the ideas you are writing about. Use of direct quotations when accuracy of a key phrase is important or when you want to call attention to the particular wording of an idea.
The Everyday Writer has good information about integrating sources effectively in academic writing. You will also find the tutors at the Writing Center are knowledgeable about the best way to incorporate source material into your writing.
There are at least three reasons why writers cite their sources:
The primary rule of thumb for when to include a citation is: Provide a ciation when the words OR ideasare not your own. The exceptoin to this rule is when the information is common knolwedge - fimple factual information found in multiple sources. However, you also should use this checklist to be sure your citaitons are complete.
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 citaiton 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 informaiton (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