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Citing Sources

Photo of a journal article's Reference listMastering the art of citing research sources is crucial for academic success and intellectual integrity. Proper citation not only gives credit to original authors but also strengthens your arguments and avoids plagiarism. By citing sources, you provide readers with a pathway to the original research, allowing them to verify your information and explore further.

Citation Styles

Preferred citation styles vary by academic discipline. For example, APA is commonly used in psychology and other social sciences, MLA is favored in the humanities--particularly literature and language studies--and Chicago is frequently employed in history and some social sciences. Your professors may dictate which citation style to use for their courses; be sure to consult your course syllabus or ask your instructor if you're unsure which style to apply.

Style Guides

Each citation style has its own guide, available in print or online, that explains how to properly format in-text citations, footnotes, and bibliographies. Some of their most useful features include detailed examples of how to cite various types of sources—books, journal articles, websites, and more—as well as guidelines on how to handle complex citations, such as multiple authors, missing information, or less traditional sources like in-person interviews, blog posts, or YouTube videos.

Explore our Style Guides page for examples, helpful websites, and where to find style guides in the library.


Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's work, ideas, or expressions without proper acknowledgment, presenting them as your own. It can take various forms, including copying text verbatim without quotation marks, paraphrasing someone's ideas without credit, using media like images or videos without permission or citation, and even reusing your own previous work without disclosing it. To avoid plagiarism, always provide proper citations for any sources you reference, whether you're quoting directly or paraphrasing.

Drake University takes plagiarism and other forms of cheating very seriously, and each college and school has outlined definitions and penalties in the Student Handbook.

Citation Managers

To stay organized as you collect your sources, consider using a free online citation manager like Zotero, EndNote Basic, or Mendeley. These tools help you organize your references, generate citations, and format bibliographies effortlessly. Consult our citation manager guide to learn more.