Why Cite?

This video explains why scholars use citations and why students should too.

You’ve probably been told over and over again by your professors to cite your sources. But why do we need citations? 

Citing is a standard way of showing where you found your information and it serves several purposes. First, it tells your audience – whoever is reading your paper or watching your presentation – where you found your information. Put yourself in their position. Don’t you find an argument more compelling when it’s backed up by authoritative sources and reliable data? When you cite credible sources in your own work, it makes you look more credible. 

Second, citation gives credit to the source of information. Scholars and researchers spend a lot of time creating new information and putting it into the world. Imagine how you would feel if you spent weeks writing a paper for class, only to have a classmate copy your work and pass it off as their own. Citation is a simple way to acknowledge another scholar’s work and ideas. 

Finally, citations leave a trail for other scholars like yourself to track down useful information. You’ve probably noticed that scholarly articles always have a long list of citations at the end. This list of cited works allows you, the reader, to track down the sources and learn more about the topic. You can even verify that a source of information really said what the author claimed it did. 

In conclusion, citation is a form of connection. It connects scholars to each other, but it also shows how ideas and information are connected. It shows where ideas originated and allows us to track down and share quality information with each other.