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BIO 343: Immunology: When to Cite

When to Cite

Citing Sources of Information

You, like other scholars, must cite the sources of information you use. Citing others' work fulfills a number of purposes:

  • it can be a way of recognizing the contributions of pioneers in a field
  • it identifies the original publications in which an idea or concept was first presented
  • it provides access to other readings on the topic of the work at hand
  • it can be used to identify theory, philosophy or methodology
  • it is a way to refer to work of one's own or others that is being critiqued or corrected

Guidelines for deciding when to cite:

You don't need to cite if:

you use information that seems to be common, background knowledge (Example: The vast majority of birds have functional wings.)

You DO need to cite if:

you refer to or describe specific information that you have taken from a source (The Galapagos flightless cormorant has rudimentary, non-functional wings.)

you refer to a theory or idea from a source

you want to incorporate a figure, table, or photograph from another source

Avoid plagiarism in scholarly writing:


do NOT cut and paste text from an electronic source with the intention of paraphrasing the text after copying it -- this practice makes it easy to accidentally plagiarize by following the original text too closely


THINK about the information that you're using from another source and when you understand it sufficiently, you'll be able to say it IN YOUR OWN WORDS

Special note for Scientific Writing

do NOT use direct quotations; in scientific writing, you express the information and ideas you have taken from other sources IN YOUR OWN WORDS, rather than how the author says it

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