Using and Citing Sources

In everyday conversation, we refer informally to what friends, family, and colleagues have said. Similarly, in academic writing, we also make use of the observations and ideas of others, but we cite these sources formally and in stylized ways. Using and citing sources appropriately:

  • identifies the academic conversation in which you are participating and clarifies what other authors are participating
  • enables your readers to locate your sources and to learn more about the topic from them
  • allows your reader to establish the reliability of the information you present
  • helps justify your choice of topic and methodological approach
  • acknowledges the originator of a particular term, concept, or theory, and the intellectual property of others
  • can strengthen your work by allowing you to affiliate yourself with ideas and opinions with which you may agree, and distance yourself from those with which you disagree
  • helps you avoid committing plagiarism


Click the sections below to learn more about issues related to using and citing sources.