The acknowledgment of sources when writing an essay might seem like a walk in the park. However, there are many instances where students fail to acknowledge sources properly. And this can go unchecked.
Citing your sources plays an important role when writing academic papers. When you use ideas from different sources such as articles, books, or web pages, you need to include a citation that acknowledges the author.
There are many citation styles with varying formatting rules. The most common academic citation styles are MLA and APA.
When should you cite sources?
Citations are essential in every type of academic text such as research papers, essays, dissertations, and custom papers to name a few. Any time you summarize information, give examples, draw ideas or mention arguments that you found in a particular source, you’ll need to cite them.
When referring to a particular source, you’ll need to paraphrase or quote the original text:
- Paraphrasing a source: You need to put text into your own words. Ensure that your paraphrase is not close to the original words.
- Quoting a source: Copy the text directly and include it inside the quotation marks.
Whether you are paraphrasing or quoting, you need to include a citation to avoid plagiarism. Citing allows readers to locate the sources that you used. And this makes your piece credible.
Apart from citing scholarly sources such as journal articles and books, always remember to cite sources that you used for examples, ideas and evidence. These include YouTube videos, websites, lectures, social media posts, and dictionaries.
The preferred citation style
Most academic journals and college departments require students to use a specific citation style. Therefore, you should always go through the guidelines before you start writing and citing. If the tutor hasn’t specified any citation style, you should seek online essay writing service help or choose one and use it throughout the paper consistently. Your choice will depend on your discipline and field.
APA is a common citation style for students taking social sciences while MLA is preferred in humanities. Other courses such as engineering or medicine usually have their specific style. Always confirm with your tutor or read sample papers to find out which style you should use.
Full references and in-text citations
A citation will always have two key components:
- A full reference with all the required information to find the source
- An in-text citation near the relevant citation
In most instances, references are listed in the References or Bibliography section at the end of the paper. Full references usually have the title, author, and the source’s publication date. They also have extra information to help in the identification of the source. The format of a reference usually depends on the type of source. For instance, a journal article reference includes the page range, volume, and issue numbers where the article can be found.
They usually appear in parentheses. They specify the page number, year, and the author’s last name. Some styles usually cite using endnotes, footnotes, and bracketed numbers that match the entries of that reference. Every citation style has a specific rule about citing:
- Sources without a specific page
- Sources without a particular author
- Sources with no publication date
- Several sources by the same person
The citation generator
Since every style has a small difference in things such as capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, it can be hard to get all the details right. The best way to succeed in this area is by using a citation generator.
All you have to do is type in the details manually and the generator will produce a reference entry and in-text citation in the correct way. You can save the reference list and download it later.
Tips to avoid plagiarism
Plagiarism is the act of using another person’s words or ideas without acknowledging them. At times, it involves stealing another person’s work intentionally. However, in other instances, it usually happens through forgetfulness or carelessness.
As you write an academic paper, you’ll have to use other peoples’ works to find relevant and accurate information. You can avoid plagiarism by following the citation rules that we’ve shared with you here. Plagiarism is a big deal in the academic world. And it has serious consequences. You can easily avoid it by using the following tips:
Keep track of your sources
One of the best ways to avoid plagiarism is by forgetting where your ideas came from or presenting another person’s work unintentionally. You can easily avoid this by keeping your work organized and writing down a list of citations as you continue. Label your notes clearly and highlight statements that require citations.
Use a plagiarism checker
Most learning institutions use reputable plagiarism checkers to detect plagiarism. Plagiarism checkers help in scanning documents, comparing various publications and web pages, and highlighting sentences that are similar to other published texts. Before submitting your paper, always use a plagiarism checker. This will enable you to identify issues that could lead to plagiarism cases such as:
- Missing quotations
- Forgotten citations
- Paraphrased text that’s similar to the original text
Once you know the affected areas, you can easily fix the issues. Submitting your paper without checking for plagiarism can lead to serious consequences such as loss of marks or worse, suspension.
Every citation format has its rules. You need to go through the guidelines to find out which style you should use. Next, review the rules and regulations of the style and follow them while writing your paper. If you don’t want to do the work manually, you can use an online citation generator or seek help from reputable professionals online.