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Research Process: Researching and Writing: Cite Your Sources

This guide has been created to provide quick access to resources that support the research process.

Quotation of Sources

Libncsu. (2014, July 23). Citation: A (very) brief introduction [Video]. YouTube.

A direct quotation is defined as, "reproduc[ing] word for word material directly quoted from another author's work" (American Psychological Association). A direct quote is the exact words of the original author without any changes to the text unless specified.

The following guidelines may help further your understanding of when to provide an in text citation:

  • Cite direct quotations that you copy from another source
  • Cite statistics and data
  • Cite pictures, illustrations and other multimedia
  • Cite resources located in the public domain
  • Cite online sources including websites, articles, blogs, listservs, discussion boards, etc.

An indirect quotation (paraphrase) is when you express an idea or concept from another author’s work in your own words. 

Using an indirect quote involves taking information from the original source and paraphrasing or putting it into your own words. When you paraphrase, you must also credit the original source (American Psychological Association).

The following guidelines may help you when citing indirect (paraphrase) quotations.

  • Cite all indirect or paraphrased quotes
  • Cite ideas or concepts from another author that are not your own original ideas

Common knowledge refers to information you can reasonably expect the general public to know such as widespread facts, dates or historical events.

Common knowledge does not need to be cited; however, a good practice is to speak with your instructor or librarian when you are unsure if information is common knowledge.


  • There are four seasons in the year

  • There 365 days in a year

A personal communication may be a private letter, memos, some electronic communications (e.g., email or messages from non-archived discussion groups or electronic bulletin boards, personal interviews, telephone conversations and the like.  Because they do not provide recoverable data, personal communications are not included in the reference list.

You may wish to cite material provided by your instructor, guest speakers, or other classroom material such as lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations.  If the material is posted somewhere online, cite the resource directly.  If the material is only available from the instructor or presenter, treat the resource as a personal communication.  

Classroom notes should be treated as a personal communication, as they are non-retrievable.

Working Bibliography & Citation Style Guides

Compiling a bibliography and correctly citing sources ensures honesty, integrity and completes the research paper.

​​​​​​​Keeping a working bibliography is a great way to keep track of your information sources.  Record information about the source  including:

  • author or editors
  • title and subtitle
  • place of publication and publisher
  • year of publication
  • volume and issue information
  • URL or DOI

Common Bibliographic Styles