Is Avoiding Plagiarism The Main Reason to Cite Sources?
Not plagiarizing the writing of others without crediting those others is
often the most common reason students give for why sources must be
As covered by copyright and fair use, this reason is not as straightforward
as you might imagine.
Aside from that, there are many reasons why you cite sources that have
nothing to do with protecting yourself against charges of plagiarism. That’s
what this lecture is about.
Some Rhetorical Purposes for Citing Sources
Places your research within the context of other work on the subject.
Answers the question: what is your research adding to this body of knowledge?
Acknowledges conflicts with other research findings.
Answers the question: why is your research challenging the findings of others?
Provides support for critically important claims that are based on the evidence of
Answers the question: where is the evidentiary support for this claim?
Directs reader to bibliographical information (not only where to find the source but
also what weight to give the evidence).
For example: a first-tier, peer-reviewed journal article by a major researcher will
have more weight with readers than a lower-tier journal or industry produced
report or article.
Rhetorical Purposes for
Citing Sources that are Less Familiar
The previous slide discusses the reasons for citing sources that
are grounded in writing for academic journals where
researchers present findings for peer review.
Internal documents within a company or organization are also
referred to by using a citation style.
For example, an engineer needs to refer to the original
proposal in a progress report after a problem arises that is
tied to something that was not addressed in a bid proposal.
Companies and organizations often develop their own styles
for citing sources using as file names/numbers etc.
Documentation Styles Are:
Discipline, company, organization, publication, and can even
be culturally specific.
Using a documentation style that is recognized by the
discourse community you are in means you are:
Easily recognizable as belonging to that discourse
Novices often make the mistake that because documentation
styles differ in how they handle various citation needs, this
means that styles are arbitrary and interchangeable --- not
Using automatic reference tools.
If you use Word, learn how to use the reference tool.
The reference tool automatically inserts citations based
on a style you choose and prompts for bibliographic
information as you are writing a document.
Warning: if you are doing a master’s thesis or submitting
a document for peer review, it’s a good idea to check that
the tool got everything right. It’s not perfect, but for our
purposes, it will work fine.
Two Basic Citation Systems
Name-Year System Used By:
-MLA: Modern Language Association
-APA: American Psychological Association
Numbered-Sequence System Used By:
-CMS: Chicago Manual of Style
-CBE: Council of Biology Editors
-IEEE: Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers
There are many others that can be categorized this way.
Rhetorical Moves for
Some silly example sentences that follow are used to make a point.
Direct and Indirect Citation
Direct citation. Author (and/or work) is identified directly and
cited by parenthetical reference or through a footnote or
Indirect citation. Author (and/or work) is not identified but
cited parenthetically or through a footnote or endnote.
How to choose. If the author and/or work should be
emphasized, then use a direct citation. If not, then use an
Two Parenthetical Documentation Styles
APA [emphasis on date]
Brie (1988) showed that the moon is made of cheese.
Cheddar (1990) reached the same conclusion.
MLA [emphasis on page number]
Brie showed that the moon is made of cheese (111-19).
Cheddar reached the same conclusion (40-52).
Typically, APA is used in the social sciences, where the date of a research
study is relevant to understanding it’s findings, while MLA is used by
disciplines in the humanities (English, history, etc.), where the location of a
quote is relevant for following the writer’s interpretation of what it means.
Three Documentation Styles Using Endnote Systems
CMS [superscript number placed at the end of sentence.]
Brie showed that the moon is made of cheese.¹ Cheddar reached the
CBE [superscript number placed closed to author’s name]
Brie¹ showed the moon is made of cheese. Cheddar² reached the same
IEEE [uses brackets around superscript number placed close to
author’s name or reference to research]
Brie[¹] Brie showed that the moon is made of cheese. Cheddar[²]
reached the same conclusion.
These differences in formatting are simply what was agreed upon to keep
documents consistent, and to differentiate the style from others.
All Documentation Styles
In-text citation information (parenthetical or superscript) must
be accompanied by a corresponding entry in a Works Cited,
References List, or Bibliography where information about the
source is provided.
Basic elements of a bibliography (any documentation style):
Name of author
Name of text
Date of text
Publisher of text
The Writing Center at Colorado State is a useful resource
for understanding documentation styles.