Why do we Cite our Sources?

- to acknowledge where we got the statistics, facts, or ideas we are expressing
- so that others can verify that we have interpreted the information we are using correctly
- so that others can assess the validity of any given sources to determine for themselves if that source is reliable
- so that others can read more on the subject if they are interested
- because it is required by educators, who are assessing student knowledge, research skills, writing and thinking
- because we all have the right to know that people using our information and ideas are acknowledging that they got them from us, and that they are using the information correctly
- because if we don't acknowledge our sources, we are in fact plagiarizing, which is academic dishonesty

How do we Cite Our Sources?

Usually, we create a bibliography, which is a list of all the sources we used for our research.

The information we need to record is:

title and author of book, encyclopedia, or website used
date and place of publication
date web-based information was accessed

(That sounds simple, but in fact creating a formal bibliography can be pretty finicky.)

To Simply Record Your Sources

If your teacher only wants a list of the sources you used, you could just fill in and hand in this "Research Sources" sheet:

(This sheet is adapted from a sheet created by the WGSS library in Langley.)

To Create a Formal Bibliography: Three Options

Easiest Way

EASYBIB! Put your source info. directly into EasyBib, which will create a bibliography for you, and then you can print it off. There are other excellent bibliography generating sites as well (RefWorks, NoodleBib), but the only one that I have found that is free is EasyBib, and it works really well. (See note below re. MLA vs. APA style bibliographies.)

Second-Easiest Way

You can also use these excellent, older, NDSS bibliography sheets to learn the rules for creating a bibliography, and create your bibliography in Word. (This is the best way if you wish to create a bibliography in French at the moment, as I don't have other tools in French yet.)

Rules for Creating a Bibliography in English

Most Challenging Way

If you want to know all the details so that you can create a letter-perfect bibliography and feel that you are learning all the details of bibliographic formatting, here are two websites that explain everything very well:



You will grapple with all these details if you do post-secondary work, and your teacher may want you to work with them now. It's really not worth spending a lot of time trying to memorize these things, though, because they are just procedural details. People doing academic work end up looking them up every time they do a paper. The important thing is that you know why you cite your sources, and what info. you need to record about your sources (see above), and that you record that information accurately.

Note re. MLA vs. APA Bibliographic Styles

There are two main styles of bibliography: MLA style is used for English, socials, and other subjects, except for Science; APA is used for science, and for the study of education in post-secondary. Both of these styles cover essentially the same information, and one is not more sophisticated, or difficult, than the other. They are just different in the details. MLA style is often the only one used in high school.

If you use EasyBib to create your bibliography, it will create an MLA style list for you. Unfortunately, to create an APA style sheet you have to sign-up and pay. Talk to your Science teacher about this is he or she asks you to do a formal bibliography for a science paper.