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A citation is a way of providing credit for ideas that are not your own, original ideas or thoughts.

Using a citation style–such as MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, or ACS–is a way to consistently refer back to works you have used to write a paper, do a project, deliver a presentation, or any other work for academic credit. These styles exist to provide a discipline-specific structure for publications and to easily check references and sources.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Graceland University has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. For more information on what this entails, please visit the Graceland University Academic Integrity Policy page.

Sometimes people unknowingly commit plagiarism when they fail to cite sources using an accepted citation format. In most cases, when in doubt, cite your sources.

There are some exceptions, however. Certain pieces of information are considered “common knowledge.” Some examples may include:

  • Folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
  • When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment, including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, “writing is a process” is a generally-accepted fact.
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The Importance of Citation

For more information on why it is important to cite sources, this video from the University of Illinois Libraries explains why you should always cite your sources.