5.1 Why Do We Cite?

Sarah Adams and Debbie Feisst

Learning Outcome

  • Explain why using citations is important.

It’s important to understand why citations are a fundamental part of any research assignment, aside from being a requirement. A citation is a reference to a source that contains key pieces of information about that source so that the audience can locate the information themselves.

Citing is important for three key reasons:

1. To participate in scholarly communication

You grow in your understanding of a field of study by learning from its subject experts. Through research, you acquire current knowledge and methodologies from leading business analysts and scholars. By reading, analyzing, and including academic or industry-related sources in your assignments, you are contributing to and participating in knowledge creation.

2. To give credit and demonstrate professionalism

The use of research is key for showing professionalism through reasoned evidence. You will use scholarly and professional sources as evidence to support your research. Citations allow others (and you) to locate your sources and learn more.

3. To avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism may be textual, structural, or conceptual. Textual plagiarism uses the language of the source without using quotation marks or a citation. Structural plagiarism is the use of sentence structures that are used in the original source. Changing a few words but keeping the sentence structure the same is still plagiarism. Conceptual plagiarism is the use of another person’s ideas.

Watch this short video to learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it. Answer the five questions. The Submit button appears at 2 minutes and 59 seconds.  In Step 5 of the video, seeking help is recommended. Use only your own university’s library and resources. 

(Direct link to How to Avoid Plagiarism in 5 Easy Steps video)

It might help to think,  “Is this my own idea or did I read or hear about it in one of my sources?” If it came from somewhere else, cite it.



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5.1 Why Do We Cite? Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Adams and Debbie Feisst is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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