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Citation Help: Home

Citation Help

This page explains why as well as how to cite your information sources and identifies citation styles most commonly used by students at Bristol Community College. You will also find "Quick Guides" for each of the styles, which can be printed out, if you prefer! Scroll down the page to find online writing guides and citing templates, plus tools such as citation generators and reference management programs. For additional information or assistance, ask a librarian or visit your local BCC campus Writing Center.

Why do I need to cite?

Citing your information sources is necessary in order to:

  • Give credit when and where it is due: Some scholarly disciplines value fresh interpretations of creative or historical works. Many others rely on a brief review of foundational ideas about a topic before introducing new research, theories or perspectives. It's important to distinguish between original ideas of your own and those of others. Citing information acknowledges the work of other researchers who produced work prior to yours. If you use a direct quote, or paraphrase information from any previously published work, include a citation to document those ideas which you incorporated from another researcher.
     
  • Build upon the research of others: Citing your sources demonstrates to your reader that your arguments and conclusions are supported by evidence of other researchers’ findings and not solely just your opinions.   
     
  • Enable further research: When you document others’ research in your work, you provide your reader with a path to additional sources they can consult for more information, enabling them to continue their own research on the same, or a related, topic.
     
  • Avoid plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of not giving credit to the sources of information you use in your writing. The responsibility of academic integrity rests with each researcher, from student to professional. Plagiarism is a serious offense in any intellectual community and is subject to disciplinary action at most academic institutions, including BCC!
     
  • Ensure academic integrity: You do not need to cite common knowledge. For example, you do not need to cite the fact that Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, but you would need to cite your source of information for the number of slaves he inherited from his father. Academic honesty requires citing anything you write or create that includes the words, or refers to the ideas, of another person.

How do I know which style to use?

Use the style recommended by your instructor; if none is recommended, choose one style and stick with it for consistency's sake. Both the Library and the Writing Center have access to style manuals for the major citation styles.

MLA - Serves scholars in the humanities (especially literature). Since many humanities scholars work with texts from all time periods, currency is not always essential. When citing, emphasis is placed on authorship; while both MLA and APA require the author’s name within the physical text (i.e. in-text citation), MLA does not require a date. For the full citation on the “Works Cited” page, MLA  features the date towards the end of the citation.

APA - The sciences and social sciences are often concerned with currency of information; hence, researchers place emphasis on the date a work was createdAPA style observes this by featuring the date immediately after the author’s name in the “References” page. Dates are also required for in-text citations.

CHICAGO - Offers two types of documentation: the Author-Date system is recommended for scholars in the physical, natural and social sciences, in order to showcase the date of publication within the text. Scholars focused on history and art as well as some social sciences are very concerned with origins of sources; Chicago’s Notes-Bibliography style format is preferred for this type of work. In place of in-text citations, it calls for detailed footnotes and/or end notes, to identify the source from which a particular piece of information was derived and provide relevant commentary. Chicago style also calls for a “Bibliography” at the end of the paper.

Citation Generators

Citation generators are web-based tools that assist you in formatting citations for your academic research projects. Some provide auto-fill content; however, you often must add information manually, and it is your responsibility to ensure correct spelling! What goes in, comes out - just as you type it. The following are links to some of the more popular generators, and most are free to use:

Reference Management Software

Annotated Bibliography Resources

Style Manuals

Online Citation Tools