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Citations: The why and what of citations

Why are citations important

Writing citations shows that you have done proper research by giving credit to authors and acknowledge their ideas. You avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors. Furthermore, it will allow your readers to find the sources you used by citing them accurately in footnotes or a reference list.


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Further reading

Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism Cover Image

Neville, C. (2010). The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. (2nd ed.). United Kingdom: Open University Press 

What are citations

⇒ Citing a source means that you show, within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from published material. 

⇒ Citations are a short way to uniquely identify a published work (e.g. book, article, chapter, website).

⇒ Citation practice varies but, depending on the type of source cited, a citation should contain all the information necessary to identify and track down the source. This can include elements like:

  • author name(s)
  • titles of books, articles, and journals
  • date of publication
  • page numbers
  • volume and issue numbers (for articles)
  • URL or DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
  • Date accessed

⇒ Citations may look different, depending on what is being cited and which style was used to create them.

What needs to be cited

Facts, figures, ideas, or other information that is not common knowledge. 

Ideas, words, theories, or exact language that another person used in other publications.

• Publications that must be cited include: books, book chapters, articles, web pages, theses, etc.

Another person's exact words should be quoted and cited to show proper credit.

When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!