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Research Process: A Step-by-Step Guide: Step 5: Cite


Citation: the basic, pertinent information needed to find the full text of a publication. Citation formats vary according to the field of study and/or requirements of particular publications.

Citation Style: dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting. Styles include MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian.

Bibliography: a list of citations that appears at the end of a paper, article, chapter, or book. The bibliography is called a Works Cited list in MLA. The bibliography is referred to as a list of References in APA format.

Annotated Bibliography: each citation is followed by a brief note—or annotation—that describes and/or evaluates the source and the information found in it.

-- Thanks to Dixie State University Library for permission to use their definitions.

Why cite?

All scholarly research is built upon knowledge of the past literature in a field.  Without that knowledge, a paper is opinion only and not scholarly.  This includes student papers.

So citing does serveral things:

  • Allows a reader to find the references useful for their own research
  • Avoids plagiarism
  • Ensures that a paper is given due consideration as a valid contribution to scholarship

Using Information Legally and Ethically

The legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of information goes beyond avoiding plagiarism and properly citing sources.

Researchers should be knowledgable about issues related to: 

  • privacy
  • censorship
  • freedom of speech
  • intellectual property
  • copyright
  • fair use