Skip to Main Content

Boatwright Memorial Library

Why Scholars Cite Sources

 Why Cite Sources?

Documenting the sources of information used in your research is an essential step, as necessary as selecting, evaluating, and reading them. Reports of research and its findings are not considered valid and legitimate unless the researcher documents the resources and methods used to conduct that research. For a scientist, this entails a detailed account of materials and methods used in the lab or the field. For the social scientist, it may mean including copies of surveys, questionnaires, observations, or other methods used to gather information. For any researcher using verbal or graphic materials, regardless of the medium--print, Internet, film, photographic, microfiche, etc., it means indicating exactly what materials were used and what information came from which source. The purpose of this documentation is to allow other persons interested in the subject of the research to verify information or to carry the inquiry further. Accurately and completely documenting the sources of information used in a research report or essay is therefore essential to the scholarly conversation that is the whole purpose of research.

Styles of Documentation

Different fields of inquiry have developed different styles, or rules, of documentation.  Many social sciences and some sciences prefer APA.  Some of the other social science social sciences, like education, economics, or political science, prefer Turabian or Chicago style, as do many fields in the humanities, such as classical studies and religion. Scholars of literature tend to prefer MLA style.  Scientific writing has many different formats, depending on the discipline. For more information see the "Guides to Scientific Writing" page. You should consult with your professor to determine which style you should use for any project.

Avoid Plagiarism

MLA Citing (McMasters Library)

MLA Paper Format

If your professor has told you to format not just your citation but your entire paper using MLA Style, this website has a detailed explanation of what that means.

Ignore the Turnitin Box at the top. You do not need to upload your  paper to be checked against the Turnitin database. Always consider your personal privacy and intellectual property interests before making use of such a service.


Getting Started

Zotero is a free citation management tool that can automatically import citations into your personal account, organize sources into folders, and generate bibliographies in a variety of citation styles. It also includes a word processor plugin for formatting footnotes and parenthetical citations.

UR Libraries subscribe to Zotero unlimited storage for personal and group cloud storage. Users can create as many research groups as they like, with as many members as they need. Sign-up with your email to use this storage. 

  • Zoterobib is a quick cite tool for citing individual items or creating bibliographies on the fly.
  • Zotero downloaded to your personal computer offers the full citation management features and syncs with the web. Zotero web version offers the majority of the features of the download version and syncs with your Zotero library if you have downloaded Zotero.

Learning Resources

Video Tutorial

UR Online Resources

Online Tutorials from Linked-in Learning

With more than 1,300 courses taught by industry experts—and more added every week— is designed for all levels of learners and is available whenever you’re ready to learn. You can even view the resources on your iOS or Android mobile device (via web site or mobile apps).

Current faculty, students, and staff have access to a University subscription of resources.  Please click the Access Linked in Learning link.  You will then get a UR login page for — use your UR NetID and 16-character password before being redirected to's web site.  

Access Linked in Learning

Sample topics: Writing a Research Paper;  Excel 2019 Essential Training; Word 2016 Essential Training; Improving Your Memory; Photoshop CC 2017 One-on-One: Fundamentals; Time Management Fundamentals; Programming Foundations: Fundamentals