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Citation 101

Librarian-crafted instructional guide for how to cite and manage sources

Citation - Scholarly Integrity

Citation isn't just about arbitrary rules - it's about scholarly integrity!

When we cite our sources, we acknowledge that we are building off the research and thoughts of others. Whether we are using their exact words or just their ideas, as scholars of integrity, we need to note where these words and ideas have come from to give credit to the original source. To use other scholars' ideas or work without citation, claiming it as your own, is called plagiarism, which is a serious charge whether you're a student or a professional (see below for more on Calvin's policies on Academic Honesty and plagiarism).

Not only does citation honor and protect other scholars' work, it gives us more credibility too. When we share our research with our sources cited properly, our readers will know they can trust us, because we have gathered lots of evidence from other scholars to support our ideas, and we have been honest and transparent in this process. Plus, we help our readers in their own learning journey by listing those sources we've found useful, which they can then consult as well.

So, there is a reason for why we cite sources, and it is actually important! We all want to show our professors that we've done our assignments correctly, but we also want to develop habits of humility and integrity, as scholars who have learned from others and want to help others do the same.

When Do We Cite?

**Basic Rule of Citation: Cite anything that originates from outside you - from the work of others' - that is not common knowledge.**

When to Cite
Need Citation Don't Need Citation
Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, website, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject
Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments
When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.
When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials When you are using "common knowledge," things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
When you reuse or repost any digital media, including images, audio, video, or other media When you are using generally-accepted facts (e.g., pollution is bad for the environment) including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities (e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact).
Text here obtained from Purdue OWL's Avoiding Plagiarism

What is "Common Knowledge"? It can be tricky to determine what exactly is common knowledge, but think of it as non-specific, non-disputable statements or facts that most people know or could find in a general reference source like an encyclopedia (examples: Pollution is bad ; George Washington was the first president of the United States ; The Amazon rainforest is located in South America). When in doubt, ask your professor or a librarian!

Plagiarism at Calvin