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Understand Citations — Understand Citations


“In research writing, sources are cited for two reasons: to alert readers to the sources of your information and to give credit to the writers from whom you have borrowed words and ideas.” Hacker, Diana, et al. A Writer's Reference. 7th ed., Bedford/St. Martins, 2011.

Why do we emphasize citations so much?

  1. Citations build support for your project 
  2. Citations help you locate sources
  3. It's the ethical thing to do.

This guide will help you recognize the common elements of a citation, and recognize the type of source it is pointing to.

Academics use quotes and ideas from the works of others to enter into the scholarly conversation. They demonstrate why the topic they have chosen is important (since others are reading and writing about it), and acknowledge the works of others that they use in their work.  

And - of course - it's the right thing to do! UConn students are responsible under the Student Code, Appendix A on Academic Integrity, for acknowledging the research and ideas of others, knowing what plagiarism is, and creating accurate bibliographies. Whenever you use the quotes or the ideas of others, you must indicate where you found them. Each citation should include enough information so that the reader can easily track down the material.

When do I cite?

You need to cite anything that you found in outside sources, whether the source is from a printed or online source, or directly from an interview with someone who is providing data for your paper.

  • Direct Quotes
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summaries
  • Facts, Data
  • Anytime anything originated outside of your own skull!

When don't I cite?

Information that is established as common knowledge doesn't require a citation. 

Common knowledge is typically defined as information that is common enough to appear in dictionaries, encyclopedias, reference books and appears the same way in multiple sources.

When in doubt, cite!

Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Created by North Carolina State University Library:

Need Help?

Need help figuring out how to properly use citations?