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Citing Sources

What are Citations?

Citations are references to specific sources of information which allow the reader to find an article or information source used in a piece of work. Citations can take two forms:

  • In-text or Author-Date citations
    • These citations occur in the main text, and signal that the reader is using an idea from another source, either as a direct quote or paraphrasing. These are brief citations that typically only include the author, year of publication, and page numbers.
  • Bibliography, References, or Works Cited
    • These typically occur at the end of an academic article and provide all of the information necessary to find a source (e.g. Author, title, date published, journal or book title, page numbers, publisher, URL or DOI).
    • These can also take the form of footnotes in styles such as Chicago.

Why Use Citations?

Using correct and consistent citations is good academic practice. In addition to being a required part of producing academic research, good citation practices also achieve the following:

  • They give you credibility, by showing you have done robust research using specific articles, figures, images, datasets, and other forms of specialized and verifiable knowledge.
  • They acknowledge others who have shaped and informed your work.
  • They help readers learn more about your topic — and allow you to revisit research you may want to use in your work again.
  • They help you maintain academic integrity and avoid plagiarism.

Citations as Social Justice

Young girl with dark skin seated on a bench in front of a bookcase reading a Toni Morrison book with stack of books and a globe beside her. The bottom of the image says, "Cite black women."Citations can also serve as a form of social justice, especially when we consider authority and power dynamics within academia and research industries. Power dynamics within academia mean that those whose works are widely cited are more likely to be invited to give conference presentations, lead research projects, and collaborate on research articles — and all of these opportunities contribute to who is considered an authority and given tenure and promotion — and who is excluded. Below are some resources you can use to reflect on citations and power dynamics, including resources shared from Up//Root journal's BIPOC Citations: Positions, Understandings, and Interruptions.

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