What are citations?Written and oral projects at the college level often require research. The sources used, including books, videos, magazine or journal articles, images, websites, and interviews, must be documented in order to avoid plagiarism. Documentation means acknowledging the source of your information by including a citation at the end of the paper with a corresponding reference within the text of your paper. Citations include author, title, publication information, and anything else necessary to help the reader locate the original source.
What are style guides?Academic papers are written using standard formatting rules, or style guides. There are different style guides for difference academic disciplines. Two of the most commonly used style guides at Vermont Tech are the Modern Language Association (MLA) guide and the American Psychological Association (APA) guide; there are other styles, too, so if you’re not sure which to use, check with your faculty member or your course syllabus. Many of the library databases provide citation tools to help you get the information you’ll need to cite sources in your paper.
Why is it necessary to document (or cite) sources?
- Citations allow the reader to check sources for themselves
- Citations show your knowledge of sources pertinent to your topic and give credibility and support to your arguments
- Citations give credit to people from whom you’ve borrowed words and ideas
- Failing to give credit is considered plagiarism
When don’t I have to cite sources?
- If the information is common or general knowledge (if a fact can be found in five or more sources, it is considered to be common knowledge)
- If the information is completely your own idea
- If the information is from an encyclopedia or reference work, it is assumed that you will move beyond those sources (after getting an overview of the topic) to find articles, books or other sources to cite in your work
How do I use information from another source?Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are three ways to use information from another source.
- Quotations consist of text that is identical to the original and uses a narrow segment of the source. Quotations must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
- Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.
- Summarizing involves putting the main ideas into your own words, including only the main points. Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.