Why Cite: A Writer's Perspective - Graduate Writing Center

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Why Cite? A Writer's Perspective


At some point—say, during a conversation or debate with someone—you’ve probably encountered the phrase “citation needed,” a call to provide some kind of source for the claim you’re making.

This phrase is more than just a quip: it expresses the importance of third-party support in answering your audience’s rightful skepticism. We're always looking for signs that someone is not just trying to “win” an argument but is genuinely invested in the truth.

Thus, in academic writing, citations serve a number of critical functions:

  • They give your claims credibility by anchoring them in facts and arguments from reputable sources.
  • They help your readers find those sources, allowing them to verify that you have represented your sources’ words and ideas accurately.
  • They also show that you’re a team player who gives credit to other scholars for their work.
  • Finally, citations credit you by allowing readers to distinguish sources' ideas from your original research and analysis.

In short, as our “How to Look and Be Smart” presentation explains, citing makes you appear more knowledgeable and trustworthy—and therefore more persuasive.

Citations are most definitely needed.

 

Ready to cite? There's a guide for that

The NPS citation guide lists departments' preferred or required styles and offers guidance from the Thesis Processing Office and Graduate Writing Center. It also contains rules and examples for the most commonly used citation styles and sources used at NPS.

 

More Information on the Importance of Citing

GWC - all topics list heading

All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

A-Z content menu

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

apostrophes

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

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B

body paragraphs

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

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C

capitalization

citations

citation software

citation styles

clarity

clustering

coaching sessions, about

colons

comma splices

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential elements

commas, Oxford

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

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D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent marker words

display equations

double submission of coursework

drafting

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E

editing your own work

editing: outside editors

exclamation points

executive summary

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F

FANBOYS

FAQs

footnotes

fragments

free-writing

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G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

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H

hyphens

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I

ibid.

incomplete sentences

introductions

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J

Joining the Academic Conversation

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L

LaTeX

library liaisons

lists, syntax of

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

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M

mathematics

memos

methodologies

misplaced modifiers

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N

nominalizations

note-taking

noun clusters

numbers

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O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

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P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases and clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

publishing

punctuation

purpose of research

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Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

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R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reusing papers

reverse outlining

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

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S

self-citing

semicolons

sentence fragments

serial comma

subjects, grammatical

significance

so-what?

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM/technical writing 

style

subject–verb agreement

subordinating conjunctions

summarizing

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T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisors

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

this, that, these, those

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

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U

United States or U.S.?

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V

verbs and verb tense

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W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process

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Z

Zotero

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