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Research Process: Reading Citations

Parts of a Citation (Library Lingo)



  1. A quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author, esp. in a scholarly work
  2.  information that identifies a book or an article. It will usually have an article title, author, publisher, and date.

See Also:

Article - a story, report, opinion, paper…published in a newspaper, journal, magazine, encyclopedia, or on the Internet. A collection of articles make up a journal.

Bibliography - A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. It is usually found at the end of a book or an article.

Periodical: Another name for a magazine, journal, or newspaper. These items are published at regular intervals (or periods (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.).

Journal - A periodical devoted to publishing original research and commentary on current developments in a specific field of study (example: Journal of Early American History),  Journal articles are usually written by the person (or persons) who conducted the research. Longer than most articles in popular magazines, they almost always include a bibliography or list of works cited at the end.  Articles from scholarly journals are considered more authoritative than those published in popular magazines.

Publisher - A person or company that prepares and issues books, journals, music, or other works for sale.

Source  - In citations, the source generally refers to the publisher, in other words, the source will identify who produced the article or book being cited.

Style - A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting

Reading Citations

Why Citations Matter

Why do you need to cite the sources you use for your papers?*

1. Your professors expect you to read about the research of others, and to bring together their ideas in such a way that makes sense to you and will make sense to your readers. Therefore, it's essential for you to cite your sources in any research paper you write. The academic reasons for doing so are to give credit to those who have done the original research and written the article or book, and to allow readers (your professors) to look at them if needed to find out if you have properly understood what the author was trying to say.

2. On a practical level, citing your sources is a way to show that you've done the assignment. If your paper contains no citations, the implication is that you have done a piece of original research, but that probably was not the assignment. Citations (along with the bibliography) show that you have consulted a variety of resources as the assignment required. They're also an acknowledgement of your indebtedness to those authors.

3. So you don't feel you need to hide the fact that you're drawing from one of your sources. That's what it's all about.

*Adapted from: Taylor, Bill. "A letter to my students." Academic Integrity Seminar. 29 Feb. 2008