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Citation produces a lot of anxiety in paper writers, particularly when it's something we don't do on a regular basis.
The good news is that citation is not magic, it has a definite set of rules that you need to follow carefully, a little like a recipe or a line of computer code.
- Why do we cite? The main point of citation is to indicate where you got your information. You can think of all scholarship--like paper writing--as a conversation between scholars. Citation is a way of name-checking others who are working in the same area. It helps your reader track down the sources you used and it also helps avoid plagiarism.
- What is plagiarism? When you copy someone else's words exactly as written without quoting it, that's plagiarism. You're taking credit for writing something you haven't written. But it's also a little tricker than that. If you use an idea that's common knowledge, you don't need to cite that. As an example, if you are writing a paper and mention that 30% of college students in San Francisco report that they plan to pursue graduate education, you need to indicate where you got that info. It's not a commonly known fact. However, if you write that the planet Venus is the second closest to the sun, you wouldn't need to cite that, because that's commonly known factual information.
- It's tricky, but keep practicing. Refer to the resources on right and when in doubt, cite it!
NoodleTools is a web-based tool geared to helping students complete their research projects. NoodleTools offers citation, note-taking, outlining, annotation, and writing tools. It also allows for collaboration between peers and for students to easily share projects with instructors.
Need more info? See NoodleTools resources below.
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