Learn about: Why and how to cite sources, plagiarism, citation style guides, and citation generators.
What does citing a source mean?
Citing or documenting information sources is an important part of the research process. Once your research paper is complete it will be necessary to create a Bibliography or List of Works Cited. To cite a source means to give credit for the original source of information, an idea, or way of articulating an idea. It is a standardized method of acknowledging resources used in your research.
Why cite sources?
- Scholarly discourse. Scholars cite their sources and provide lists of the sources to give credit to the work of other researchers and so that colleagues and others can locate the source and understand the context of the idea and perhaps find more similar information.
- Document your research. Teachers are interested in knowing which ideas stem from the student and which ideas are built upon those of other writers. Citing sources gives your teacher a sense of how much work you've done on a paper -- what have you read? what have you thought about on your own?
- Ethics. If you don't cite your sources, you are not giving credit for the work of others. This is called plagiarism and is considered a serious offense by all universities.
How does one cite a source?
There are many different citation styles. Several standards have been created by different academic fields and publishers for documenting sources; MLA, APA, Chicago. These, in turn, have been adapted to meet the needs of particular areas of study or types of information. Check with your instructor if you are unsure which citation style is appropriate for your research paper.
All style guides provide the correct format to use for creating your Bibliography or List of Works Cited. Additional information pertaining to every aspect of the research process is also discussed at length.
No matter which citation style you select, the basic bibliographic citation information required is the same. Footnotes or endnotes will also require page numbers. Be sure to collect this information as your research progresses.
- For books: author, title, place of publication, publisher, and publication year.
- For articles: author, title of article, title of journal, volume, issue, date, and page numbers.
- For web page resources: author, title of page, Web address or URL, and date of access.
See the Citation Style Guides page for links to web sites that will teach you how to cite both online and print sources using APA, MLA, and other citation styles.
Citation Generators & Tools
- Citation Machine - Available free of charge. Supports MLA and APA styles.
- EasyBib.com - Features an online MLA or APA style bibliographic composer called EasyBib.
- EndNote - Supports many citation styles. Available to UAF students. Contact UAF Computing.
- Zotero - Download Zotero and install it as a browser plugin.