quinebaug valley community college

Cite Your Sources

How do I cite my sources?

You must follow a standard style or set of guidelines for citing your sources. Which style you should use depends on (1) your instructor’s requirements or (2) the academic discipline for which you are writing the paper.

The three most commonly used style manuals at QVCC:

All are available in the libraries at Danielson and Willimantic.

Why do I have to cite my source?

When you write a college research paper or essay, you must cite the sources you used (and for some assignments, those you merely consulted) to defend your thesis or construct your argument. Citing your sources:

  1. helps to demonstrate that the facts, information and opinions you express are valid, credible, and worthy of your reader’s attention;
  2. provides evidence or support for your arguments;
  3. allows a reader to find your research sources;
  4. demonstrates where you fit into the academic conversation; and,
  5. helps you to avoid plagiarism.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is theft. If you present another person’s words, ideas or creative products (including images) as your own, then you are stealing from that person. At QVCC, instructors may assign a penalty for student work that contains plagiarism and may report that student for disciplinary action (QVCC Student Handbook 8).

When does a source need to be cited?

You must cite a source whenever you:

  • use a direct quote
  • paraphrase
  • summarize
  • use an image other than clip-art or an image you create yourself

Do sources come with ready-made citations?

  • The good news: Sources you find using online QVCC Library “find” search buttons will come with a ready-made suggested citation, usually available in several styles. Look for the citation tool or ask a librarian for help.
  • The bad news: Every citation generated by a machine is susceptible to errors. Common errors include capitalization, mixing up the different formats for citing journals and magazines, and too much or too little URL or DOI information for online sources.
  • What should you do?
    • Copy and paste citations from library databases: you will save yourself some time and probably get all the elements of the citation that you need (such as author, title, etc.).
    • Check the format using a style manual or one of the library’s downloadable guides–see the links above.

May I use a citation generator?

Yes! we recommend Knight Cite , created by a college student and maintained by a college library. Choose MLA, APA, or Chicago/Turabian formatting. Create a free account to save, edit, and download your citations.

Citation generators are interactive tools that let you enter each separate component of a citation into a data field (for example, you enter the author’s name, the title, the year the article was published or the date you accessed the information online). Then, the tool generates a citation. Remember, every citation generator makes mistakes. It’s up to YOU to make sure your citations are formatted according to the style your instructor assigns.