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M E 466: Multidisciplinary Engineering Design

Guide to using library resources for students in ME 466.

All you need to know about citations

What is a citation?

A citation is a link that connects two different sources of information. In the same way that a hyperlink sends you to a specific webpage, a citation directs you to a specific source of information. Unlike a hyperlink, a citation is meant to be read by a human and not a machine. For this reason, they are most often plain text and not interactive (i.e. they are not clickable).

How are citations used?

Citations are used to indicate where, and from whom, a fact, idea, or quote came from. This information can be used by readers for fact checking and to explore related information sources. In fact, citations are a fantastic research shortcut: when you find a good paper, you should check the citations as they will likely contain other good readings.

When do I need to cite a source?

If the words or ideas are not yours, then they need to be cited. This applies to direct quotes (“ ”) and paraphrased (i.e. summarized) information. If you reuse a fact, statistic, data, equation, formula, image, picture, video, etc. then it too needs to be cited.

Why is citation important?

There are two very important reasons to cite information. The first is an ethical argument: citing is a way of crediting the work of our peers. There’s even a whole field of study dedicated to analyzing citations.

The second reason citing information is important is that it shows your work. Teachers check citations because they want to see that their students know how to do research – that they can successfully search for, locate, and use information appropriately and ethically. Your peers may want to see your work for another reason: to learn from it or to reuse a source mentioned in your paper in their own research.

How do plagiarism and citations relate?

Plagiarism is the opposite of citing. While a citation gives credit to authors plagiarism denies authors credit for their work. Plagiarism is unethical and sloppy, so when in doubt cite the source! You can learn more about plagiarism from the Library's Understanding Plagiarism Guide.

Why are there so many citations styles?

There are a large number of citation styles available because different societies and publishers set different standards. As you gain experience you may find some styles easier to use than others. No matter which style you use, the important thing is to use it consistently.

Citation resources

Citation Anatomy

The order and punctuation of citation components is determined by the style you use however, the information in citations is nearly the same, no matter the style. Below are citation examples for four different types of sources: book, book chapter, journal article, and website. The different components have been color coded to make them easier to identify.

Adapted from: UC Davis Library. "Citation Styles" UC Davis Library Subject Guides. 2020-08-12. https://www.library.ucdavis.edu/guide/citation-styles/
Type Citation formula and Example citation
Book
 

Author Name. Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. 

Sedaris, David. Let's Explore Diabetes with owls. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2013. 

Book chapter
 

Author Name. “Chapter Title.” Book Title. Ed. Editor. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Chapter Page Numbers.

Sedaris, David. "Hejira." Every True Pleasure : LGBTQ Tales of North Carolina. Ed. Wilton Barnhardt. University of North Carolina Press, 2019. 157-158

Journal article

Author Name. “Article Title.” Journal Title Volume Number.Issue Number (Year): Article Page Numbers.

Gana, Myrsini and David Sedaris. “Is David Sedaris Funny in Greek?” World Literature Today 88.2  (2014): 41-44.

Website

Author Name. “Title of Page/Work.” Title of webpage/website. Publisher of website. Date of Publication. Website url, Date of Access.

Sedaris, David. "Santaland Diaries". Christmas and Commerce. This American Life. 20 December 1996https://www.thisamericanlife.org/47/christmas-and-commerce, 13 August 2020

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Erin Thomas
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150 Parks Library
Iowa State University
515 294-9886