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Library Research Tutorial for AU Scholars: 5a) When to Cite

Knowing When to Use Citations

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the ultimate form of academic dishonesty. It is trying to pass someone else's work and/or words off as your own.

Most students realize that they are not supposed to quote from another author's work without a citation. However, many students do not realize that paraphrasing an author without a citation is also plagiarism.

When in doubt, cite your source. It is better to look unoriginal than to look dishonest.

Citations in Action

Citations not only locate a piece of writing within the context of a particular schoarly debate, they also allow writers to make claims based on the authority of another expert.

  • For example, a scientist researching the possibility of AIDS vaccines may rely on some data gathered by the Center for Disease Control. By using a citation, the scientist tells the reader that the data came from another source; the reader can accept the authority of the the named source, or use the citation information to check the accuracy of the original data.
  • Similarly in the Humanities, a scholar analyzing Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice may cite a philosopher or literary critic. This allows the scholar to identify the type of interpretive lens / theoretical framework being brought to the analysis without having to re-create the entire philosopy.

Explore the image below -- mouseover the targets to learn more about how, when, and why citations are used in academic writing.