A citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It can also be used to locate particular sources and combat plagiarism. Typically, a citation can include the author’s name, date, and location of the publishing company, journal title. A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and formatting.
Academic institutions and scientific publications demand references for all sources used in the course of writing. Students and researchers often view this as a complicated process that requires too much time and effort. The complexity of this exercise, to the students, increases as there are various types of information materials consulted in the course of writing their research and related assignments. Information materials that could be cited or referenced to such research writings include all print and non-print materials such as books, journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, students’ projects (like theses and dissertations), dictionaries, encyclopedias, letters, lecture/class notes, posters, manuals, brochure, directories and, photographs. Other electronic resources include web pages, social network text, archived e- mails and messages, online audio and video files.
The followings are valid reasons why a student or researcher must refer to, quote and cite sources in his or her research writing:
1) It is an evidence that research is based on facts. Citations to sources help readers expand their knowledge on a topic. One of the most effective strategies for locating authoritative, relevant sources about a topic is to review footnotes or references from known sources.
2) It shows the theoretical foundation of the research and, therefore, you are reporting your research from an informed and critically engaged perspective. The list of sources used increases your credibility as the author of the work. If you disagree with a researcher’s ideas or you believe there is a gap in understanding the research problem, your citations can serve as sources from which to argue an alternative viewpoint or the need to pursue a different course of action.
3) It justifies the reliability of the research findings and conclusion. Properly citing sources prevents your reputation from being tarnished if the facts or ideas of those cited are proven to be inaccurate or off- base. It prevents readers from concluding that you ignored or dismissed the findings of others, even if they are disputed.
4) It allows interested readers to track and follow the cited works for the continuance of knowledge. In academic and the professional world, failure to cite other people’s intellectual property ruins careers and reputations and can result in legal action. Citing sources as a student in college will help you get in the habit of acknowledging and properly citing the work of others.