All you need to know about citations
So, you wrote your first research article, or you are about to turn in a term paper and the instructor has asked you to include at least 3 references. How do you acknowledge the sources you used? That is precisely where citation comes in. Citation not only gives credit to where it is due, but also helps the reader easily find sources in case they want more information on the topic (Patience et al., 2016). Most importantly, citing the proper source is considered a professional practice for students (Neville. “What, When and How to Reference.”). If the original source is not cited, the work would be considered an act of plagiarism, which is a very serious offence in academics. Before we learn how to cite, lets get the basics right about when to cite. When to cite and when not to cite? Anytime you refer to another author(s)’ published content, be it a journal article or a web article, you must refer to the original source of information, such as title of the work, authors, year it was published and where it was published (i.e. name of the journal or website). Please note, citing the original source does not mean quoting the original source verbatim. The information or idea from the source must be presented in your words. In case the exact words are quoted, they must be stated within quotation marks. However, when you are presenting your interpretation of an idea, then there is no need for citation since the interpretation is your original work. The same goes for providing an overview or drawing conclusions ("Research Guides: Citing Sources: When You Don't Need to Cite", 2019). Also, anything that is common knowledge does not require a citation. If you write, “it takes 365 days for the Earth to revolve around the Sun”, this statement need not be cited. Citations are not just limited to text, images, schematics, flowcharts, all are within the purview of citable items. If you are using an image from a source, even with modifications, the original source of the image must be referred to with the words “Image adapted from” <source>. How to cite? There are a variety of ways to arrange references in a citation; each journal has its own citation style. For academic papers, the most commonly used citation styles are MLA, APA, Harvard, and Chicago. These citation styles not only have their unique referencing style, but their own formats of papers, which may include a title page, a running head, an abstract etc. To learn more about MLA and APA styles, please visit: • APA: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_style_introduction.html • MLA: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_style_introduction.html • Chicago: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/chicago_styl e_introduction.html • Harvard: https://www.mendeley.com/guides/harvard-citation-guide Fortunately, there are several online servers that can generate citations of a specific format, given some basic user inputs. Some of the most widely used citation servers are: • http://www.citethisforme.com/ • http://www.citationmachine.net/ • http://www.easybib.com/ Citation manager When you are writing a manuscript that requires a number of citations, you are going to create a bibliography. In simple words, you will be creating a list of references comprising of articles, books, and documents. To manage such lists, software packages create databases of references that can be cited in a user-specified style. Software like Endnote, Zotero, Mendeley is extremely popular citation managers. These days, most journals include a citation download, where the citation for the particular paper will be downloaded in the format recognized by your citation manager software. The downside is that most of these need to be purchased. Many academic institutes purchase multi-user licenses that enable the software to download through the institute. Why does citation matter? Generally speaking, a citation is a primary parameter evaluated to determine the impact of your research. The number of times an article is cited shows how important a contribution the article has been in the concerned field of research. A higher number of citations also signifies higher research visibility. This is why researchers aim to publish in high impact factor journals where their work would garner more attention, and thus, receive more citations. Conversely, greater number of citations will, in turn, lead to an increase in the journal impact factor. Currently, academics are trying to ascertain the optimum metric to gauge one’s research output, considering factors beyond journal impact factor and number of citations. Elsevier recently launched CiteScore as a scholarly metric, competing with journal impact factor. Whether that is sufficiently transparent is what needs to be seen (Da Silva et al., 2017). While at it, check out the comprehensive research metric computed by Abbaqus, designed to provide the most accurate measurement of research impact.