Skip to Main Content
Library Logo Banner Image

Academic Honesty

Why We Cite

Writers commit plagiarism when they fail to acknowledge that they have used the words or ideas of another person in their own writing. In academic writing this acknowledgement usually takes the form of a citation. But citing the ideas of others is important for other reasons:

"When you cite and document sources, you acknowledge any material that you have borrowed from a source, and you join the conversation on your topic by adding your own interpretation. Simultaneously, you give interested readers (including your instructor) a way to join the conversation: Accurate entries in the text and list of works cited allow your audience to find and read your sources so that they and evaluate your interpretation and learn more about the subject themselves. Accurate entries also demonstrate the care with which you have written your research project, and they reinforce your reputation as a sound scholar." 

                                                     - Rebecca Moore HowardWriting Matters. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. p. 298

How to cite a source depends on the conventions of the academic field that you are writing in. Some of the most common citation styles are MLAAPACSE, and Chicago.  For more help, see the Citation Help tab to the left