What is a Citation?
A citation is something that you include in your writing when you use information provided by another person. The purpose of this is to give the other person fair credit for their work and insight. It is also to give readers information on the source you used, in case they want to do their own investigating. The particular way in which you cite a source depends on the citation format/style you are using, and how you are using the cited information. There will be more about that later as we discuss how to cite a source.
Why is it Important to Cite Your Sources?
In addition to giving your readers important information and giving proper intellectual credit, citing a source gives your paper additional credibility. The first and most obvious point is that you are not taking credit for another person's work. The second is that you backing your writing up with evidence and inviting your readers to verify what you have said. Then, there is the matter of academic honesty. Using another person's work and not giving them credit is plagiarism. It doesn't matter if you don't use any direct quotes. If you have an uncredited summary, you are at risk of being accused of plagiarism.
What is the Best Way to Learn How to Cite Your Sources
Several years ago, this advice would have been different. We would have advised students to simply buckle down and learn the various citation requirements for inline citations, works cited pages, footnotes, and bibliographies. This would have also included learning to write annotations. Today, this is no longer necessary. Modern technology has made it easy to figure out how to cite your work.
Academic Databases and Citations
When you log into an academic database, either your schools' or an external database, and access an article to read you will be given information on how you are to cite that source. In many cases, you even have the option to select your citation format and you will be provided with the citation that you can simply copy and paste. Many articles that are stored on these databases also have notes in their text on how you should cite them.
Scholarly Articles and Citations
If you use a search engine to search for scholarly articles, you will often get the same results as you do when accessing an academic database. All of the work of writing the citation is done for you. All you need to do is copy and paste the citation in the proper space.
Apps for Citing Sources
Finally, there are many services available that will help you cite your sources. With these websites, all you need to do is find your service online, and they will format your citation for you. If you are using a hard copy of a source, you can scan the barcode, and a source will be created for you. How could things be any easier?