In academic writing, you're asked to recognize those who've helped build your knowledge and ideas. This is done in the form of a citation and it tells your reader (usually your instructor) where you got your information.
It’s important to cite your sources every time you’re using ideas or information from someone else. This includes when you summarize information, paraphrase (put things into your own words), or use a direct quote.
Paraphrasing means you restate what an author said in your own words; summarizing is when you talk about the main concepts or points. A direct quote is when another person's exact words into your own writing.
You will always cite your sources twice. The first time is in the body of the paper with a short note called an in-text citation. In MLA style, it's the author’s last name and the page number of where you found the information.
Then you cite a second time at the end of your paper with a list of works cited. These citations have all the details your reader would need to get back to the original source like author name(s), article or book titles, dates, and a few other key elements.
Citing sources adds credibility to your argument. Citing is proof that you did research and that your conclusions are based on reliable information.
It helps you avoid plagiarism by giving credit to the people whose ideas and research you used to make your argument.
Citing shares the sources you discovered by presenting information about your sources in a standardized format that any scholar can use to track down the very same sources you consulted.
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