Citation and Style guides
While APA and MLA are used in core courses, many disciplines, journals and institutions have their own styles (Sample list found here and an extensive list here). Consult with your professors about the guide for your "discipline" -- you might also consider using RefWorks citation manager to help you in your quest for proper citation format.
Citing Sources and Ethics
Why is proper citation important?
References alert your reader to the resources that helped shape your work - the words, ideas, pictures, opinions, data and even methodologies of others. To incorporate sources properly, one needs to keep track of the facts and expert opinions gathered during the research process, and then use both in-text-citations and bibliographic citations to alert readers where they can find the resource. Regardless of format or style, the central goals of any citation remain the same: crediting the referred source (author/creator), and giving the audience enough information (title, publisher, city) to locate the source. Failure to cite your source, or even failure to cite properly, is plagiarism. Whether intended or not, improper citation leads the reader to believe that you are taking credit for the work of another.
In-Text Citation alerts the reader who-said-what:
Below we have a sample paragraph. The first sentence is the author's statement. The next two sentences paraphrase two supprting sources and offer examples of the in-text citation which alert the reader that the author relied on other sources for information:
Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, New York City mayors are not merely local leaders; the problems that NYC mayors face and the solutions they espouse often influence policies across the nation. Mayor Giuliani's work on immigrant rights-to-services ultimately had an impact at the national level, because the National Conference of Mayors adopted the strategies that came out of the 1997 immigration conference that Giuliani hosted in New York City (Shaw 19). Similarly, Mayor Bloomberg served as host to a meeting of 15 mayors in 2006, which resulted in a "statement of principles" aimed at "stopping the flow of illegal guns into America's cities;" subsequently, the principles have been endorsed by over 450 mayors, as well as the US Conference of Mayors and the National Conference of Black Mayors (Mayors).
Bibliography & Works Cited helps the reader to find the source information for themselves:
The in-text citations above would alert the reader that the author got this information from someone named Shaw and from either an anonymous or corporate author. To find out more about NYC mayoral roles in nationally-adopted policies -- or at least Shaw's and the Mayors' "take" on these roles – the reader can look in the Bibliography or Works Cited under "Shaw" and "Mayors" to find enough information to be able to locate these works. In our example, the reader would find bibliographic entries like these (which are in APA format, 6th ed.):
Mayors Against Illegal Guns (2009). Coalition history. Retrieved 8/27/2009, from http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/about/history.shtml
Shaw, K. (1998). Citizenship services in New York City. Migration World Magazine, 26(4), 19.
Is it ever okay to NOT Cite? As a general rule, you do not need to cite what is called “common knowledge,” that is, information that can be found in numerous places and is likely to be known by many people.
1) The statue of Liberty is in NY harbor
2) New York is a multicultural City
3) Michael Bloomberg was elected to two terms as mayor of New York City, and is seeking a third term.
NOT COMMON Knowledge
1) The Statue of Liberty’s index finger is 8 feet long
2) 6.3% of Brooklyn’s population is Asian
3) James Duane was the first Mayor of the City of New York (1784-1789) after its evacuation by British forces.
The bottom list would need citations. If you are unsure whether information you want to include is "common knowledge" or not, find a source for the information and cite that, for example, look in an almanac, encyclopedia or some other general reference source.