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Information Literacy Instruction

Why citing is important

It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:

  • To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
  • To be a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
  • To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
  • To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by way of footnotes, a bibliography or reference list

If you need further assistance with citing sources, use Ask A Librarian.

What to cite

You must cite:

  • Any words from books, book chapters, articles, web pages, theses etc. that you referenced that you summarize, paraphrase or quote directly in your paper or presentation.
  • Charts, graphs, images, data that you did not create yourself.

When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!

Prepare to create a citation

When you read a source that you might use in a paper or presentation, always record the following information, to make citing it later easier:

You will always need: For books, you will also need: For articles you will also need:
Author(s) name(s) Publisher (ex. McGraw Hill) Journal title
Title Place of publication (ex. Chicago)

Journal volume and issue

(there is not always an issue)

  Year of publication Date (often month and year)
  URL, if accessed online page numbers
    DOI or URL if accessed online
    date accessed

Choosing a style

Because there is no one standard citation style used at Centre:

  • Ask your professor which style s/he prefers for the course. Some common styles are APA, Chicago and MLA.
  • Consult a style guide for examples of using various citation styles to create in-text citations, bibliographies and reference lists, or use citation software (EndNote or Zotero) to assist you in tracking sources used and building in-text citations and bibliographies.
  • Use a standard style, such as MLA, and be consistent with it throughout your paper.
  • Ask a Reference Librarian for help in citing sources or the Writing Center for citation and paper-writing assistance.

Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when you borrow another's words (or ideas) and do not acknowledge that you have done so. In this culture, we consider our words and ideas intellectual property; like a car or any other possession, we believe our words belong to us and cannot be used without our permission.

Plagiarism is a very serious offense. If it is found that you have plagiarized -- deliberately or inadvertently -- you may face serious consequences. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources - both within the body of your paper and in a bibliography of sources you use at the end of your paper.

Some useful links about plagiarism: