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Information Literacy and the Research Process: Citations

This guide was created to address the information literacy general education outcome.


Step 1

What is a citation?

A "citation" is how you tell your readers that certain information in your paper came from another source. (What Is Citation? n.d.) Academic writing allows you to use the words and ideas of others as long as you give credit where it is due. That's why it's important to follow the rules on citing your sources.

  • Citations in your reference list provide the information your reader needs to locate your sources if they would like to read the original work.
  • In-text citations allow your reader to tell which ideas are yours and which ideas came from another source. For example the citation below would appear the reference list for this page, and the in-text citation would appear at the end of the first sentence above, to indicate that exact idea came from another source.

What Is Citation? (n.d.) Retrieved August 3, 2016, from

Step 2

Why are citations needed?

  1. Citing your sources correctly is one of the best ways to prevent plagiarism.
  2. Citing sources helps establish your credibility. Unless you already hold an advanced degree, you are not an expert on your topic. Citing sources lets your readers know that you did the research and the facts you share in your paper are backed by credible sources.
  3. Citations allow interested readers to track down your sources and read the original research.

Step 3

Citation Styles: Why do you need rules?

Citation styles (like APA, MLA, Chicago, A&P) are used to provide consistency. Citations help to ensure all the information about a resource is there and is easy to read. Different disciplines follow the different styles based on the needs of their disciplines.

There are tons of citation rules, but you DO NOT have to memorize them all. There are numerous reference guides, manuals, and online tools to help you. Use the Purdue OWL for a quick online reference to major citation styles. For more in-depth information There are a number of books available from Vann Library. 


Ask A Librarian

Ask A Librarian

If you have any questions about the Research Process, using library resources, or completing these modules, please contact one of our Reference Librarians via the contact information below. You can always call a librarian at 260.638.VANN (8266). Librarians are also available through text at 260.222.5054.


Reference Librarians

Kerri Killion-Mueller, MLIS

Reference & Instruction Librarian

260.399.7700, ext. 6046

Amber Pavlina, MA, MLS

Reference & Instruction Librarian

260.399.7700, ext. 6067





Lee & Jim Vann Library

Pope John Paul II Center

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Room 101 & 201