A citation is basic bibliographic information about a source organized in a specific format. Citations contain the title, author, publishing information, and access information in the case of electronic sources.
The way that a citation is organized is determined by a citation style. Citation styles are usually defined by professional organizations and are specific to academic disciplines. Your professor may require you to use a particular style. Commonly used citation styles are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and CMS (Chicago Manual of Style).
Citing your sources is an important and required part of any collegiate research and writing. Citations are a way to acknowledge your source and provide necessary information about the resources used in your research. But why?
To Give Credit
Standard practice requires giving credit to the author of the original words, ideas or research to show honor and respect for their work and their legal rights.
To Avoid Plagiarism
Citing your source ensures that you are not taking credit for the work of another.
To Maintain the Accuracy and Credibility of Your Work
Citations establish that your data and facts are correct and allows the reader to check the source for themselves.
To Allow Readers to Trace and/or Expand On Your Research
Citations provide a trail to the original research or idea and facilitate additional study and research.