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The Research Process

Quick Tip

Students will often "lose points" for incorrect capitalization of titles found within citations. Each citation style has different rules for capitalization that should be strictly followed. Not sure what to capitalize? Use the tool below for help.

Citing Your Sources

When writing papers or creating original work in any form, you must give credit to those from whom you've borrowed ideas, words, or materials, even if you are paraphrasing or summarizing. Citing your sources allows you to:

  • Demonstrate that your thoughts and ideas have a factual basis.
  • Show your readers/audience what research you have done.
  • Direct readers to the sources you used for their own research.

By properly citing your sources, you avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking someone's ideas and passing them off as one's own. It can be done intentionally and unintentionally, but either way, it can get you in serious trouble--both academically and legally.

When You Should Cite a Source

When you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or refer to someone else's work, you are required to cite the source.

Things to Cite:

  1. Direct quotations from a source.
  2. Paraphrased and summarized words, ideas, theories, or opinions of another person.
  3. Facts, such as statistics, charts, or graphs compiled by someone else.

What Does Not Need to be Cited:

  1. Your original research or own ideas and discoveries.
  2. Common knowledge within a field of study.

Creating Citations

Depending on your discipline or course, a citation style may be preferred or required. For more information on different citations styles and how to cite specific sources, check out our Citation Styles Guide.