Chapter 13: Works Cited

Introduction to Citations

A citation is a reference to another person’s work within the text of your essay. Before writing an academic essay you are expected to read what others have written on the topic, think about it, and construct an argument of your own. When you include a citation to another work within a paragraph of your own words and ideas, you prove to your audience that you have done some research before formulating your argument.

Citing other points of view on a topic positions your ideas within the scholarly conversation on a topic. When you are quoting numbers and statistics, citations provide a way for your readers to confirm that the information is factual and can be trusted. Whether you are asserting a unique take on a classic novel or developing an improved cooling valve for the International Space Station, citations give your audience confidence that you have done some exploring, you have done some thinking, and you know what you’re talking about.

Citations provide just enough details to lead your reader to the sources you used, in a standardized format. Students are often required to include scholarly citations in their academic writing, but other types of writing can benefit from citations as well.

Researchers in the social sciences tend to cite scholarly articles and the APA (American Psychological Association) style was designed for referencing secondary sources.

Researchers in the humanities often cite a variety of source types, including archived personal letters or first-edition works, which suits the MLA (Modern Language Association) style.

Both of these citation styles are developed by committees and updated every few years to reflect changes in information sources, so make sure you consult the most current manual.


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Write Here, Right Now: An Interactive Introduction to Academic Writing and Research Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.