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Citing Sources

What's a citation? What's a style guide?

A citation presents the essential details that identify the source of certain ideas or language. This is important in academic work for several reasons:

  • A citation strengthens a piece of work by demonstrating that the author has consulted relevant sources.
  • A citation gives the original source credit for their work and can help to prevent accidental plagiarism.
  • A citation enables readers to follow the author’s research process and, if they wish, to evaluate the author’s sources for themselves.
  • A citation shows that the author has mastered the conventions of academic research and writing.

A style guide is a set of guidelines for the content and formatting of citations. There are several style guides that are commonly used in academic research and different disciplines may use different style guides. For example, MLA style is commonly used in the humanities, while APA is commonly used in many of the social sciences.