There are a number of reasons why researchers cite their sources. A research paper, book, or article always builds on the work of other scholars who have come before. When you write a paper you're engaging in a conversation that has been going on for a long time, and hopefully contributing something that others will one day build on in their own work. Citing sources lets your readers know what ideas and scholars you are responding to in your paper, and whose work you're building on.
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