Attribution, Citation, References

  • Understand the legal and ethical implications of misuse of the creative works of others
  • Avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty by understanding when you need to provide citations in your research.
  • Attribution refers to the act of citation–i.e., the act of identifying the original source for a summary, paraphrase, or quote.
  • Citation refers to a reference to textual research.
    • Synonyms include cite, citation, quote, quotation
  • References, Works Cited, Bibliography refers to the bibliographical information authors provide so readers can follow up and read more about a subject.
    • Bibliographical Information: the author names; source/date of publication).
  • Citation Style, Citation Systems refer to the templates for providing bibliographical information endorsed by different Discourse Communities/Communities of Practitioners.
    • Popular Citation Styles: IEE, MLA, APA, Chicago Style Manual

Attribution refers to the process of giving authors credit for their ideas, words, and other creative media. People acknowledge their indebtedness to the ideas and creations of other people informally in daily conversations. In workplace and school contexts, people acknowledge the sources that inform their work in order

  1. to respect people’s original ideas, copyright and patents and perhaps indicate how scholarly conversations and contributions evolve over time. (See Authority is Constructed and Contextual).
  2. to adhere to copyright law and avoid plagiarism
  3. to follow professional standards of ethical behavior in the workplace
  4. to bolster their ethos
  5. to allow readers to access their source(s), which they might want to do in order
    1. to more fully assess the source’s credibility
    2. to identify the status of the conversation on the topic.

When writers attribute sources, they use citation. A citation refers to information about where a source is from and who authored the source. People cite sources

  • when they mention someone else’s ideas, words, and other creative media.
  • when they quote directly from someone’s writing or spoken texts
  • when they paraphrase a text
  • when they summarize a text.
Whenever you answer yes to any of the following questions, then you must document the source.

But be careful: Avoid stringing together a list of sources and calling it a research paper. College instructors tend to be very critical of essays that read like laundry lists of loosely tied-together ideas. Connectedness is key; learning how to balance another writer’s words with your own requires patience, practice, and diligence in thinking-through multiple drafts of a document.

Is the information taken directly from another source?
Is this information generally well known? In other words, is this information part of the common domain–i.e., the knowledge, assumptions, and so on that experts in a field already know or assume?

Am I paraphrasing or summarizing someone else’s original thoughts?
If you cite three or more words from the original or even one word that was coined by the author, you should acknowledge your indebtedness by placing quotation marks around the borrowed terms.

Will summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting the source add a layer of authority to your interpretation or argument?
Perhaps the source is influential, which may sway readers’ opinions regarding the strength of your argument or conclusions.

Citation Styles

You must acknowledge your indebtedness to other authors throughout your project by following an established method for documenting sources. Many academic and professional disciplines have unique procedures for citing material, which you will need to familiarize yourself with if you hope to be taken seriously as a knowledgeable and competent contributor to your chosen field. Although style guides differ in regard to where the author’s name or publishing source is listed, they are all designed to ensure that proper credit is given to authors. As you know from your experience as a writer, developing insights and conducting original research is difficult and time-consuming, so you can understand why people want to receive proper credit for their original ideas.

  • MLA:
    Modern Language Association) style is primarily used in the fields of English and foreign languages.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) style is often used in psychology and education. Education and social science professors commonly ask students to follow the APA (American Psychological Association) style for citing and documenting sources. APA differs from MLA in a number of ways, including the overall structure and format of the essay, but the major distinction between the two is APA’s use of the year of publication, rather than the page on which a particular quotation appears, for the in-text citation. APA requires in-text publication dates because of the particular importance of a study’s currency to research reports in the social sciences. Information in this section pertains to the guidelines established by the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  • Chicago Style is used in many social science fields.
  • CSE (Council of Science Editors) is for the scientific community
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) for the engineering community..

In order to assess what sort of citation style they need to follow, writers need to assess their rhetorical situation and consider genre conventions.

Serious repercussions, both in and out of the classroom, may follow when writers fail to cite their sources.