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Health 201: Community Health Work, Principles & Practice: Research Help/Citing Sources

Citation Anxiety

Citation produces a lot in 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, is 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 indicate where you got your information.  You can think of all scholarship--like paper writing and other research--as a converstation between scholars.  Citation is a way of name-checking others working in the same area.  It helps your reader track down the sources you used to create your report or build your thesis, 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 need to cite that too.  As and example, if you are writing a paper and mention that 30% of college studetns 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, you might mention that the planet Venus is the second closest to the sun and you wouldn't 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!

MLA Style Guides


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