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Citing Your Sources

The Reasons for Citing

Scholarship does not happen in isolation. Rather, it is informed by the ideas, theories, and research of many different authors. As you engage with your topic during the research process, you will begin to establish an understanding constructed from the many voices, viewpoints, and concepts you come across.

Eventually you will need to put your understandings to paper. Since you will be drawing on the work of other scholars, you will need to clearly indicate which ideas come from which authors through the use of citations.

Citations are used to:

  • Clearly state the sources from which you built your research and/or argument.
  • Acknowledge the work of other scholars and give credit where it is due.
  • Allow others to follow your sources and, if interested, analyze the topic further.

By acknowledging the work of other scholars, you are able to lend authority to your research, gain the trust of your readers, and participate in the scholarly conversation.

What is the scholarly conversation?


Simply put, the scholarly conversation is an ongoing discussion, built on an exchange of ideas, that occurs in every discipline over a span of time. In fact, the scholarly conversation can span decades, and even centuries. A scholarly conversation is not your fleeting conversation at a coffee shop. Instead, it is intentional and deeply thought-out. Rather than communicating through spoken words and gestures, the scholarly conversation draws on other sources by way of quotations, paraphrases, and citations. It is in this way that ideas can evolve. Please watch the video from Oklahoma State Library to learn more about the scholarly conversation.

Make your voice heard

It is important to realize that your unique perspective can contribute to this conversation. In order to make your voice heard, you must engage in a clear and purposeful way, and play by the citation rules. 

Academic Honesty

The points above are compelling reasons to cite your sources, but it is also important to note the high cost of not citing, or doing so inadequately. Plagiarism can result when you present an argument, idea, or words from another author without giving them credit, and can carry severe academic consequences (including an "F" grade on the assignment or examination, or in the course). Depending on the severity and/or multiple responsible findings of plagiarism or cheating can result in disciplinary actions that might include but are not limited to: requiring special counseling, loss of membership in organizations, suspension or dismissal from individual programs, or disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion from the University. It is worthwhile to take a look at HSU's Academic Honesty policy.

More often than not, students plagiarize accidentally because they don't properly cite, quote, and paraphrase their sources. Luckily, Librarians are happy to help and the HSU Writing Studio staffs an amazing team of writing consultants who can help you with these writing techniques.

Avoiding Plagiarism

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Writing as a Process


In addition to the Writing Studio, there are many other resources that can assist you in honing your writing skills. HSU Library has numerous books in its collection that are dedicated to college-level writing. When doing research, it is especially important to ensure that you are skilled at quoting and paraphrasing your sources. This takes practice, so be prepared to spend many hours writing and revising your research papers. Another great way to develop yourself as a writer is to read the literature in your discipline. By understanding how other authors are using sources, you can emulate their approach and get inspired.

APA Style Tips

Here are some resources to help you learn more about avoiding plagiarism: