What is Attribution?
In life, attribution refers to
- the quality, characteristic , or feature belonging to an something or someone. For instance, gregariousness or friendliness could be an attribute of somone’s personality
In writing and speech, attribution refers
- to the act of citation–i.e., the act of identifying the source of information, noting
- for a summary, paraphrase, or quote.
The terms attribution and citation are synonymous.
Related Concepts: Archive; Authority (in Writing & Speech); Canon; Citation Tools; Intellectual Property; Paraphrase; Quote; Summarize
Why Does Attribution Matter?
In workplace and academic writing, writers and speakers attribute sources so their audiences will take their work seriously. Educated readers are critical: they ask questions about the trustworthiness of a source. When writers and speakers cite sources, they know their audiences will evaluate the source from five critical perspectives–i.e., the CRAAP test:
People attribute sources
- to acknowledge the ideas of others that contributed substantive to your works and thinking
- to adhere to copyright law and avoid plagiarism
- to follow professional standards of ethical behavior in the workplace
- to bolster their authority, their ethos in texts, when composing
- to allow readers to access their source(s), which they might want to do in order
- to more fully assess the source’s credibility
- to identify the status of the conversation on the topic.
To learn more about the importance of attribution, see Citation.