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Referencing and Citation


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Understanding Citation

This guide provides essential instructions with examples on using different citation formats, such as APA and MLA.

Citation is a short string of words that convey the required information pertaining to books, articles as well as other such documents, thereby enabling people to locate the sources easily. A citation integrates a set of standard components which convey the required information to recognize the source of information and track it easily, such as:

  • Name of the author(s)
  • Title of the books, articles, and journals
  • Date of publication
  • Range of pages
  • Volume number as well as issue numbers (for articles)

Borrowing others’ words and ideas in your own work without crediting the sources, either intentionally or unintentionally, is a serious academic and ethical offence known as Plagiarism. Referencing refers to the proper citation or acknowledgement for quoted source materials, paraphrased ideas and translation of other sources, etc. Referencing also proves your firm understanding of the subject and of your research.

Choosing a Suitable Style

The choice of citation style sometimes depends on the academic discipline involved. Check with your course instructor for the preferred citation style if you are not sure.

Some commonly used styles are:

Interactive tutorial on citation:

The purpose of this interactive tutorial is to provide information about citing sources properly and efficiently.

Why Do We Need Citations?

Citations are the foundation of knowledge propagation that allows other scholars to trace the sources of research as well as point the direction of research and investment (Silvello, 2018). It is important to cite your source when you make use of the words or ideas of another individual. This requirement is applicable to even others’ words or ideas are sought for projects such as books, journal articles, and web pages. Moreover, this rule is not only restricted to textual data, but extends to other formats including pictures, videos, or audios.  
There are three different objectives of citing or documenting the sources used in your assignment:

  1. This method attributes credit to the writer of the words or even concepts that have been integrated into your paper.  
  2. It becomes easier for the reader to find your sources if they wish to learn more about the concepts explored in your work. 
  3. It is required for you to cite your sources throughout the paper in order to evade plagiarism.  

Silvello, G. (2018). Theory and Practice of Data Citation. Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, 69(1), 6–20.

Citation Style

It is important to understand that different citation styles are employed by different disciplines in academics.  

This document will elaborately explore three different styles of citation.

  • APA style is commonly employed by individuals who are studying Social Sciences 
  • Similarly, the MLA style is used by individuals who are studying Humanities 
  • Students of Visual Arts or History typically use Chicago style.

If you are studying Science, different styles are employed in the field and it is better to seek the guidance of your lecturer regarding what style must be adopted.

If you wish to gain an in-depth understanding of the differences between APA, MLA and Chicago citation styles, you can refer to the citation style chart available on PurdueOWL.


Why Are there Different Citation Styles? - Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning

Research and Citation - Purdue Online Writing Lab