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ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political & Social Research)

Why Do We Cite?

What is Citation?

 A “citation” is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source.  It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:

  • information about the author
  • the title of the work
  • the name and location of the company that published your copy of the source
  • the date your copy was published
  • the page numbers of the material you are borrowing

Why Should I Cite Sources?

Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people’s work without plagiarizing.  But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:

  • Citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from. 
  • Not all sources are good or right – your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources.  Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else’s bad ideas.  
  • Citing sources shows the amount of research you’ve done.
  • Citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.

Doesn’t Citing Sources Make My Work Seem Less Original?

Not at all.  On the contrary, citing sources actually helps your reader distinguish your ideas from those of your sources.  This will actually emphasize the originality of your own work.   

When Do I Need To Cite?

Whenever you borrow words or ideas, you need to acknowledge their source. The following situations almost always require citation:

  • Whenever you use quotes
  • Whenever you paraphrase
  • Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed
  • Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another author or source
  • Whenever someone else’s work has been critical in developing your own ideas
  • If you are in doubt, it's better to over-cite than it is to under-cite!


Why and How should I cite Data from ICPSR

Data studies used in the preparation of papers, presentations and writings for publication should be fully cited in the resulting work


Building a Culture of Data Citation

Citation Tools