Original post on 3/15/15 (theundergradexperience.blogspot.com)
Citations! The source of every high school students fantasies. I can still feel the joy that surged through my high school English classroom whenever a paper that required citation was assigned. Obviously I am being sarcastic. Everyone hated those assignments, but luckily for me and others who decided to continue our education, we won't have to worry about citations anymore. Sarcasm once again! If you plan on continuing with higher education, you will learn to become best friends with citations. It is a necessity for higher level writing for reasons I will elaborate on.
As annoying as citations may seem, they are quite useful not only for you, the author, but also for potential readers and the sources themselves.
First, let us look at how citations benefit me, the author? If you are reading this article, chances are that you need to know something about citations whether it is for an assignment or for your own use. It is good to utilize citations in your writings because it gives sound evidence that you can base your propositions on regardless of what it may be. Imagine listening to someone who always blurts out questionable statements, for example, claiming that the government is collecting data from our cellphones. As a spectator, the first question I am thinking of is, how do you know that? What information do you have to back these claims you are making? There are plenty of people that make claims like this lacking any source to back their claims. The result is a void argument and a questionable reputation. The more often this occurs the less likely people will take your propositions seriously whether it be through your writings or statements. This can be detrimental and cause barriers for future works. This can all be avoided by utilizing sound sources and citing them. Personally, I have come to enjoy using writing as a medium to translate my ideas and thoughts. I write about things I am passionate about and try my hardest to depict those ideas in the most effective manner possible. Citations have become a powerful tool that I have utilized in backing my claims and producing strong proposals. As a writer, you should be passionate about the material you produce whether it be for an assignments or personal ventures. Citations will ensure your material will withstand any critique that might be thrown at it.
As a reader, this is greatly appreciated because I can rest assured that the resulting material is of high quality. Whether the material you are reading is simply to acquire general knowledge or to be utilized for another material, both the author and the reader benefit greatly from the utilization of citations. As a reader, you get the additional benefit of having links to other materials that can provide you with further reading on related topics.
How about the original authors? Well, the most obvious benefit is the exposure your work gets when it is cited. Not only is the person who is using your material going to read your work, but other people who could potentially read that persons work. As an author, this is also a nod of approval for your work. This should excite you because your work is being appreciated and contributing to the world of information.
Altogether, citation is a great tool that transcends much farther than points on an essay or avoiding plagiarism. Citations help with the propagation of knowledge. My advice for students is to put the effort towards understanding citations and taking the time to utilize citations and to do so properly. Below are a series of links that will help you understand citations as well as databases that provide accurate data you can use for your paper or other projects. Feel free to comment on this post if you have a good links not mentioned on here.
CIA World Factbook
- Other .gov and .edu websites. Do an advanced google search for the topic, filtering the results for .gov and/or .edu