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 "Core Principles of Correct Citation" video and our "How to Look and Be Smart" presentation explain, 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