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Writing Strategies and Grammar

Understanding Citations

Gaining a quick familiarity of the importance of citations will help writers consider the structure of the papers and work with the arguments students choose to prove their thesis. Students are often very familiar with the section of the syllabus addressing plagiarism. It often contains strong and sometimes intimidating language - but fear not! Plagiarism and correct citations are important concerns, but a rhetorical understanding of citations will create a better sense of use for every source a paper needs.

The reason we use and create a means (in whatever format is required) to cite outside sources is to:

  1. Establish Credibility: Learning the facts. When conducting any sort of research and writing, students are responsible for learning new materials and applying it to their studies.
  2. Credit the Original Author: Give credit where credit is due. In order to become an expert, students must first learn from the experts and apply their own analysis. If students take credit for another author’s work, it reflects poorly on the entirety of the work itself.


There are several ways in which students can source materials in a paper. The distinctions between each are important for doing different jobs for an essay. No matter how the sources are implemented, citations are a must.

  • Quotation: The exact words of the author. This is copied directly from the source and must appear with quotation marks to indicate reference. This is most easily used to support or counter-argue with the author’s ideas or words.
  • Paraphrase: State an idea in your own words. In order to paraphrase, writers need to successfully change the wording and structure. Paraphrasing is useful for explaining a point or statistic where exact wording isn’t vital.
  • Summary: Overview. When a main idea is shortened in summary, this gives the reader essential information without using all the original material.
Note: Writers are often unsure or unfamiliar with implementing citations into a research paper. The DSC Writing Center often deals with making sure in-text and works cited/reference pages are used correctly and make cohesive sense. While this normally involves using the standards by style guides, the question of WHY we cite research and WHAT it does for research papers isn’t always asked by writers, and it absolutely should be!

How we cite from the UNC Writing Center

Why we cite from the UNC Writing Center