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Library Resources for the First Year Student

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Documenting Sources: When, Why, and How to Cite

Documenting Sources

Research papers, Qualifying Projects, and other writing that incorporates information or ideas from sources must include suitable documentation of the sources.

You must provide documentation when:

Quoting directly from a source (copying the words of another)

Paraphrasing ideas or information from a source (rewriting a passage in your own words)

Incorporating into your paper information or ideas that are not general knowledge

The documentation may take one of the following forms:

Parenthetical citations in your text following the borrowed passages, plus at the end of your paper a list of works cited

Foototes or endnotes, that is, raised numbers following the borrowed passages in your text, plus citations either at the bottom of your pages or at the end of your paper.

By documenting your sources you:

Demonstrate to your reader how your own ideas stem from, differ from, or relate to those in your sources;

Support your ideas by showing that authorities in the field have similar ideas;

Assist your reader, who may want to look further into the sources that you found helpful;

Share intellectual activity honestly and properly.

Check with your professor or project advisor about which form of documentation is appropriate to your field and topic, and about books that give specific instructions about documentation.