Citing Your Sources
When you use other authors' ideas and words in your own writing, it is important to credit them - even if you do not quote their words exactly as written.
Citing your sources allows your reader to identify the works you have consulted and to understand the breadth and scope of your research. Footnotes, endnotes, and lists of works consulted provide substantiation for your own findings and ideas.
Practicing "cite as you write" and keeping track of ideas and quotations that you use in your own writing helps you to avoid plagiarism or charges of research misconduct.
When you reproduce an author's exact wording and phrasing, you must place the text within quotation marks or set off the text in block quotes or other formats recommended in various style manuals.
Even if you re-word the material in your own terms, a practice called "paraphrasing," you must credit the source of the information.
You can find guidelines for quotation practice in many style manuals or guides for researchers. A useful introduction can be found in chapter 12 of The Modern Researcher by Jacques Barzun and Henry Graff (5th ed., 1992 in REF LB 2369 .B28).
Plagiarism is defined in the University of Arkansas Catalog of Studies as "offering as one’s own work the words, ideas, or arguments of another person without appropriate attribution by quotation, reference or footnote" (section on "Academic Regulations: Academic Honesty").
The consequences of plagiarizing another's work can be very serious for one's course grade or for one's entire academic career. Plagiarism and academic dishonesty go beyond simply cutting and pasting text from an article or book into your paper without attribution; they can include paraphrasing without attribution or even citing sources that you have not consulted in your Works Cited list.
There are hundreds of citation styles. Your instructor, department, college, or editor may recommend that you use a particular style—or they may ask that you simply be consistent. Four of the most commonly-used citation styles in academic writing are:
- MLA (Modern Language Association) Style
- APA (American Psychological Association) Style
- Turabian Style
- Chicago Manual Style
Links for additional style formats are also available.
A number of library databases offer "Cite" tools that will automatically format a citation for you in a number of styles. These tools can be helpful if you have just a few items to cite in your paper.
Look for buttons or links to help generate your citation.
Learn more from our short video on these tools.
We encourage you to double-check these computer-generated citations against your style manual.
Citation managers are software programs or browser tools that allow you to collect and organize citations to books, articles, or other materials that you have used in your research. These tools make it easy to "cite while you write" by allowing you to insert citations into your writing in hundreds--even thousands--of different styles.
The Libraries offer support for and training on several different citation managers:
RefWorks is a web-based bibliography manager that the University Libraries provide for the entire campus. RefWorks allows you to save citations to a personal database and then format those citations in footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies.
Once you create your own personal RefWorks account, you can access your database of citations from any computer, anywhere with an Internet connection. You can easily import citations from dozens of different library databases. Your citations can then be exported directly into your paper in dozens of different citation styles.
EndNote Basic (also known as EndNote Web) is another web-based bibliography manager that the University Libraries provide for the entire campus. EndNote Web allows you to save citations to a personal database and then format those citations in footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies.
Once you create your own personal EndNote account, you can access your database of citations from any computer, anywhere with an Internet connection. You can easily import citations from dozens of different library databases. Your citations can then be exported directly into your paper in dozens of different citation styles.
Zotero is a Firefox addon that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's easy to use and open source (free!). A new standalone version also works with Google Chrome or Safari. Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies.
Although Zotero itself is free, you may find that you need to pay for additional cloud storage if you save a lot of PDFs to your Zotero library. Prices start at $20 a year for up to a Gigabyte of online storage.
EndNote bibliographic software is also available as client software for Windows or Mac computers. EndNote can be purchased at an academic discount from the UA Campus Computer Store.
Because the University Libraries pay for a campus-wide subscription to both RefWorks and EndNote, we are not able to provide in-depth support for the EndNote client. However, if you are an EndNote client user who needs help with custom connection filters for UA subscription databases, please contact the Web Services Librarian.
The University of Arkansas Quality Writing Center (QWC) offers tutoring and instructional materials to help you with paper composition and documentation. You can even submit a draft online for comments.
The QWC also offers frequent workshops on Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism.
The Graduate School has online guides for preparing theses and dissertations. In addition, you may want to check with your academic department to determine what citation format (APA, MLA, Chicago, CBE. etc.) they recommend.