- January 18, 2023
- Posted by: IGBAJI U.C.
- Category: Academic Writing Guide
What is Citation? Meaning and how to cite sources
A citation is how you tell your readers where certain information in your work came from by including a reference or citation. You allow your readers to know that you borrowed a piece of information you used within your work from somewhere else.
When it comes to citations, you must cite your sources with enough details to allow your readers to track down the source themselves if they want to. Details about the author(s) or editor(s) must be included in a citation. In this article, you will learn what a citation is and some ways to cite your sources.
An in-text citation is a brief notation within the body of your paper or presentation that directs the reader to a more comprehensive notation, or end-of-paper citation, that includes all relevant information about the source.
Except when using your published work, you need not give credit for your ideas if you are stating them in a different way but if using “AS IS”, do well to reference your work accordingly to avoid Self-plagiarism. Additionally, you are not required to cite information that most of your target audience would already be familiar with.
There are a lot of reasons why you must cite your sources; citation isn’t just important; it is necessary; when you cite sources, you jump past the plagiarism hurdle; additionally, a citation is essential because;
- It allows you to give credit to whomever credit is due. The practice of properly attributing information to its creators cannot be overemphasized.
- For the sake of your readers, who may wish to check your facts or learn more about the topic, you must provide a link to the source.
- To clarify for the reader the relationship between your ideas and those of your sources.
- To strengthen the credibility of your writing by providing evidence that your claims are based on reliable research.
- To avoid getting sued or ruining your reputation in the real world or to get a better grade on your paper.
When should you make citations?
- When you use a previously stated idea or concept by referring to it.
- When you quote someone else or use something they said.
- When the work of others has influenced your work or the resources, you have gathered.
- When you use someone else’s original words, thoughts, ideas, or data.
- When a direct quote is used (using quotation marks).
- When you paraphrase an idea or words.
How to cite your sources
In academic writing, it is crucial to properly credit your sources. There must be a reference to the original author whenever information from another source (such as a book, article, or website) is used, whether directly or paraphrased; plagiarism occurs when someone presents the work of another as one’s own without giving proper credit to the source of information used.
Both the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) and the American Psychological Association‘s (APA) style of citation are commonly used when it comes to citation. It is important to check the guidelines for your institution (or the journal House you’re submitting to), to determine the citation style you should use.
There are times when you’ll have to decide on a citation style on your own. It’s important to settle on one writing style and stick with it all through your work, for diverse fields outside of the social sciences APA citation style is used, while the MLA format is mostly used for social sciences and humanities fields.
Many other citation formats are used in various fields of study, again, if you are unsure about the formatting requirements for your paper, you should consult your professor or read other papers in your field to avoid citing your sources wrongly. Your citations, in the majority of styles, should include:
- In-text citations embedded within your work.
- A bibliography or reference list that details every source you used.
Most in-text citations are parenthetical and include the author’s surname and the publication year of the cited work. In-text citations draw attention to the fact that a given idea was borrowed from somewhere else.
Parenthetical notes are the standard format for citing sources in both the MLA and APA styles (sometimes called parenthetical documentation). Brief source information, such as the author’s name, publication date, and page number, is typically enclosed in parentheses.
For example, in MLA style, (David, 195)
For APA style, (David, 2020, p. 195)
It is important to note, different information should be included in parentheses depending on the type of source and the context, all sources of information may not be cited as in the example above, for more information, see a manual for the specific style you’re employing.
It is common practice in Chicago and CSE styles to use superscript numbers or note numbers for in-text citations; these note numbers correspond to full citations that appear in either footnote (at the bottom of the page) or endnotes (at the end of the chapter or paper) or a list of cited references (at the end of the paper).
For the end-of-paper citations, also known as references, you should list all of the sources you consulted for your paper in a list so that your readers can easily find them in the body of your work. Whatever citation style you use, the data included in the reference entry will be roughly the same. In general, you should include the following for each source you use:
Name of author
Date of publication
A URL or DOI if the source was gotten from the internet or a physical location of where the source was published.
This information can be presented in diverse formats, depending on the citation style and the type of source used. Your reference list should typically be organized in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. A reader can then use the author’s name from the in-text citation to quickly locate the appropriate entry.