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While doing research and writing scholarly write-ups, such asessays, journal articles and doctoral theses, scholars all over the world are expected to follow certain practices. Citing the sources and giving due credit to all works from which ideas are borrowed is the most important one among them. Unfortunately, many scholars underestimate its importance, which often land them in trouble once the work is published or sent out for evaluation.
To put simply, a citation is a way of pointing out that certain information you have used in your scholarly article or thesis is not yoursbut taken from another source.Citations are typically included in the body of your work in the form of in-text citations or as a list of references at the end of the work. Here are a few reasons why citing your sources is important:
Ideas are the currency of academia, so it is appropriate to give due credit to another person's ideas, concepts, theories, and findings. It shows that you have been ethical in your research and carried it out in line with the guidelines followed universally by scholars. You must cite published materials of all forms such as books, journal articles, videos, doctoral theses, interviews, etc. Even if the information used in your work is from unpublished sources, you still should cite them appropriatelyin order to uphold the intellectual validity of such sources.
A dissertation or scholarly article without credibility has little or no value. Including citations in your work convinces your reader that you have carried outextensive research to collect information and your arguments are well-positioned.Citations also prove useful if the reader wants to verify or authenticate the information used in your write-up.
Citing your sources is the best way you steer clear of any charges of plagiarism - the malignancy that has gripped academia. The ideas, concepts, findings, theories and arguments of another person shouldn't be used unless proper credit is given to him/her. Passing another person's ideas off as your own,even if you do it inadvertently, is considered an extremely serious offence. Universities are taking special measures these days to ensure the originality of works submitted by candidates. If caught for plagiarism, your work is likely to get rejected by the authorities; or worse, you may be debarred from the university. As strange as it may sound, you should cite your own work if an idea of yours has been published previously elsewhere.
Just as you have borrowed from the works of other scholars, a person doing research in your field may want to draw from your work. Citations are important to help such readers identify and locate sources, in case they need to work on them themselves.
You borrow from the works of others to support your own argument or prove your hypothesis. The validity and factual correctness of your arguments are important criteria readers use for judging your work. Citing the sources is the best way to facilitate better judgement of your scholarly work as they support and validate the arguments used in it.
There may be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of works you could use to validate your points; but it is nearly impossible to include all of them lest your write-up runs into thousands of pages. So instead of elaborating each and every source, you can cite them in your body text, footnotes or endnotes. This not only saves your time and helps you abide by the word limit, but also directs the reader into a more detailed discussion relevant to your topic.
What readers look for in your scholarly work is its uniqueness - your ideas, arguments, and contributions to the field of study. The key here is to distinguish your work from that of others. Citing your sources helps distinguish your work from that of others, which in turn helps youestablish the uniqueness of your work. Your readers, thus, will be in a better position to judge your write-up as against the already existing scholarship in the field.
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