It may seem like citing your sources is tedious, but it's important and there are many reasons to do it.
Attributing and documenting your sources:
- Helps you avoid plagiarizing.
- Allows the reader to find your research sources. Think of citations as footprints leading the reader through some of the steps you took to reach your conclusions.
- Provides evidence for your arguments and adds credibility to your work by demonstrating that you have sought out and considered a variety of viewpoints on a given topic.
- Is standard practice for scholars and students engaged in written academic conversations. By citing your sources, you demonstrate that you are responding to this person, agreeing with that person, adding something to what so-and-so said and so forth.
In The News
In 2004 Doris Kearns Goodwin, a well-known historian, was involved in a big plagiarism scandal. After receiving her PhD from Harvard University, she enjoyed a successful career teaching, publishing, making regular television appearances and more. She even won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995. So what happened? It was discovered that large passages of her book were taken from an earlier work by someone else - with no attributions to the original source. Faced with accusations of plagiarism, the publisher settled with the author of the original work out of court.
Her excuse? Oops - she says she got her notes mixed up and confused direct quotes from outside sources for her own thoughts.
Her reputation as an historian and award-winning author was tarnished.