Everyone who does research bases some part of it on someone else’s materials. Knowledge is accumulated over time. We acquire knowledge through talking to others, by reading, by examining, by experimenting, by creating, by questioning and by analyzing the works of others -- and combining those understandings with our own experiences and ideas.
- Citations help the reader of your paper (often your professor) learn where you acquired the information presented in your research.
- Citations often bolster your main points or claims in your paper by providing the assertions of an outside authority.
- Giving credit to the original author is not only the right thing to do, but it's required in the scholarly community. Scholars need a way to check the facts of claims in a scholarly paper. Citations allow them to trace those facts back to the original source and test them for accuracy.
- Questioning and examining scholarship is part of an open society and the research process. Even if you disagree with the conclusions of a writer, you should credit (cite) the source.