In a research paper, a citation is a formal reference that:
Different academic disciplines use different formats for their citations (APA, MLA, Chicago) but most include common elements like author, date, and source of publication.
Why do I need to cite sources?
There are three main reasons to cite your sources when doing research.
|Cite it!||No citation needed.|
|- others exact words||- common knowledge|
|- others ideas & opinions||- your own words, ideas & opinions|
|- images, photos, artwork & video||- easily observable phenomena|
|- computer code, experiments, & data||- generally accepted facts|
|- and more . . .|
Remember, when in doubt, cite it!
Which style should I use?
When writing a research paper, the discipline (English, history, psychology, biology, etc.) determines the citation style you will use. You should also be sure to check with your instructor to find out which style your instructor prefers.
Here's a chart from Purdue OWL comparing ALA, MLA and Chicago citation styles.