Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Cite Sources

Many students think their ability to cite sources is their teacher's main concern in evaluating a research assignment. Citations and bibliographic formats differ from discipline to discipline and sometimes from assignment to assignment, depending on the audience. Although correct citation is an important skill to learn, it is a mechanical one and of less concern in this process. Chapter 5, "Academic Integrity and Documentation," covers citation style in more detail.

Understanding why writers use citations in academic research can help you decide when to use them. First, it is unethical and illegal to use the ideas and words of others without acknowledging and recognizing those who own the intellectual property rights to those ideas and words. Acknowledging intellectual ownership shows respect for those who have contributed to the field of knowledge and for the achievements in that field. Citing reliable sources gives your research and writing credibility, showing your familiarity with the work of a scholarly community and your understanding of how you are contributing to it.