Why Students and Scholars Should Cite Sources in Academic Essays

Why Students and Scholars Should Cite Sources in Academic Essays

Why is citing sources in essays such a big deal? Does anyone really care? Yes. Here are some reasons why.

Both high school and college students - and even graduate students - might wonder why citing sources is so important. They might even wonder why particular disciplines ask for specific formatting styles, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago. There are many good reasons. Here are just a few of the most significant.
Good Writers Let Readers Look at the Sources Themselves
A good writer will allow his readers to verify the information he has provided. Obviously, if he's citing his sources correctly and not manipulating their words, there's no reason not to let readers look at the original sources themselves.
If readers are interested in further reading, all they need to do is turn to the essay's bibliography. They then have all the information they need to track down the original source. And when a writer follows a specific format, the reader knows exactly how the bibliographic information is delivered, and all the information the reader needs to locate the source is available.
Listing Sources is a Good Way for Writers to Prove Themselves Credible
If a writer says something that seems dubious to her readers, the readers will likely not continue reading her essay or they will doubt it entirely even if they continue reading. However, if the writer cites an authoritative source to back up what she has to say, then readers will have to decide if they find her sources credible.
An easy way to add authority or credibility to one's essay is to back up one's words with an expert's point of view. While an essay writer might not seem like an authority at all, her sources can make all the difference in the eyes of her readers.
Incorporating and Citing Sources is One of the Best Ways to Avoid Plagiarism
It's true that information that is considered common knowledge doesn't have to be cited in a student's essay. But what if a student has done some hefty research and isn't sure what might be considered common knowledge and what isn't?
It's best to cite the sources the student used when conducting his research, especially if he has any doubts. If he cites all of his sources properly, he can't be accused of plagiarism.
Citing Sources in an Essay is a Good Idea With an Academic Essay
Whenever there is a doubt, a student would do best to cite her sources. Not only does listing her sources allow her readers the chance to look at the original writings themselves, but it also helps her establish her own credibility. It's also a great way to avoid plagiarism. Really, there are no good reasons for a student not to use sources in her essay.


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