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Why cite?

Citing your sources provides proof that you have entered the scholarly conversation surrounding the topic of your project. You place your ideas and thoughts in the context of the research that has come before yours.

Citing pro tips:

  • Citing your sources gives credit to the authors and their work that you use to back up your research.
  • Proper citation also means you're working hard to avoid plagiarism.
  • When should you cite? Cite the resource if you quote from it, summarize or paraphrase any of it, use it as background info, or even if you think the resource is beautiful and you use it for inspiration.
  • Your reference list tells other scholars that you know what you're talking about, and they can trust that you've done your homework.

Every subject area has a roadmap of how sources should be cited.  Consider the citation format like rules of the road: everyone knows what the stop sign looks like and means, and everyone knows we drive in the right lane in the United States. In chemistry, that roadmap of rules is called the ACS Style Guide. And here's a quick reference guide to how to format your citations.