Citing your work: several copies of the major citation styles guides are available at the Reference Desk, including the MLA Handbook, as well as Turabian, Chicago, APA, CSE, AMA, etc.
How do I know if I need to cite something?
Harris, R.A. (2001). The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing With Plagiarism.
What’s the point of citation?
The purpose of a citation is usually to provide support or evidence for what you are saying; it tells the reader where this support or evidence can be found, and it typically does this by providing a reference to a bibliography, a list of detailed bibliographic information provided at the end of your document. When readers read your paper, they should be able to know where you the sources have come from and should be able to easily retrieve these sources based on the citation you provide. Additionally, providing relevant, concrete, and objective evidence in your research will lend yourself credibility as a researcher.
What does it mean when our paper assignments say to use a certain citation style?
There are different citation styles for different disciplines, and your professors will want you to use one of these styles to properly attribute the sources you have used in your research. Typically, the MLA format is widely used in the humanities, since the style is well-suited to citing literature and archival sources; while the APA format is widely used in the social sciences, since the style performs well with quantitative studies and analysis.
One reason that we can’t simply have one uniform citation style is that each academic paper can appeal to a vastly different audience than another. Since researchers working in different areas are writing for a specific audience, such as a science professor or fellow scientist, they want to make sure that their citations clarify information and sources that are most highly valued in their subject area. A writer in the social sciences would be more likely to cite a scholarly article than a writer in the humanities focusing on archival materials, so their citation system should match this.