Why Do We Cite?

Learning Outcome

After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify why using citations is important.

It’s important to understand why citations are a fundamental part of any research assignment, aside from being a requirement. A citation is a reference to a source that contains key pieces of information about that source in order to find them.

The following are 3 key reasons why citing is important.

Reason 1:  For Scholarly Communication

Two clear silhouettes facing each other in front of bookshelves with muted colours around the silhouettes.

By reading, analyzing, and including scholarly sources in your assignments, you are contributing to and participating in scholarly communication!

You grow in your understanding of a field of study by learning from its subject experts. As educators, you apply educational research to improve your teaching practices and meet Alberta Education’s Teaching Quality Standard 2d.

Reason 2:  To Give Credit and Show Professionalism

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This is key for showing professionalism and evidence in your paper.

You will mainly use scholarly and professional sources as evidence to support your research and give credit to their findings. Citations allow others (and you!) to find the sources used in your paper to learn more about them.

Reason 3:  To Avoid Plagiarism

Watch this short video to learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Module 5.1 – Plagiarism Video Transcript

It might help to think: is this my own idea or did I read or hear about it in one of my sources? If it came from somewhere else, cite it.


The main reasons why we cite are to:

    1. Participate in scholarly communication,
    2. Give credit to our sources,
    3. Avoid plagiarism.

Media attribution:

“[What exactly is citing summary]” from NorQuest College Library’s Intro to APA tutorials is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International.


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APA Style Citation Tutorial Copyright © 2020 by University of Alberta Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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