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CH 1010: Chemical Properties, Bonding, and Forces: Citations

Why cite your sources

Documenting Sources

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

By documenting your sources you:

  • Demonstrate to your reader how your own ideas stem from, differ from, or relate to those in your sources
  • distinguish your ideas from the ideas of others and give credit to others for their ideas (avoid plagiarism)
  • Lend credibility to your own work by citing credible sources
  • Assist your reader, who will want to be able to find the sources that you used
  • Share intellectual activity honestly and properly


Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using the words information ideas of another without properly documenting them. The WPI Academic Honesty Policy clearly specifies that plagiarism, the misrepresentation of the work of another as your own, is an act of academic dishonesty. It is also academically dishonest to allow another person to copy your work and present it as his/her own work. Cases of deliberate plagiarism can result in loss of credit for the assignment or the course project during which the plagiarism is committed. A serious act of plagiarism can result in the student's suspension from WPI.

Students will avoid plagiarism by learning to use and cite sources correctly.

When to cite your sources

You must provide a citation 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

Related Guides

What's in a citation

Citations at the end of your paper should always tell you:

  • Who wrote the source material? Who is the author, editor, artist, or organization behind the work?
  • What is it called? What is the title of the book, article, website, photograph, etc.?
  • When was the source was published? What is the date of publication?
  • Where  and by whom was it published? This will vary from source to source. For a book - who is the publisher; what city was it published in? For a website, what is the URL? For a journal article, what journal is it in; what is the DOI? 

Citation styles vary in how they present this information, but generally, these elements are always included.

Depending on the citation style you are using, in-text citations may take one of the following forms:

  • Parenthetical citations in your text following the borrowed passages, plus at the end of your paper a bibilogaphy (also called a works cited list or reference list)
  • Foototes or endnotes (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.

Check with your professor or project advisor about which citation style is appropriate to your field and topic.

Citing Chemical Literature

Most chemistry research uses some version of the ACS (American Chemical Society) citation style. The guides linked below go over different types of chemical information and how to cite them in ACS.

Queen's University Library - How to Cite Chemical Literature

Gordon Library - ACS Citation Examples

Williams College: ACS Guide

You can also use citation management tools, such as Zotero, to organize, share, and automate your citations.