Citing like a university student: how to protect your academic integrity

Kari Clarkson


Student studying at deskAcademic integrity is important no matter what level of school you’re studying at. What exactly is academic integrity? It’s being honest and ethical with your research and studies.

One large part of your future career as a university student that relates to academic integrity will be properly citing research in your assignments.

Your ideas are great and having them backed up by existing research makes them even stronger. This is where proper citations come in.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the basics of citing research in your work so you’ll be a citation pro by the time you start your university career.

Common forms of citation style

The most common styles of citation used are American Psychological Association (APA) style and Modern Language Association (MLA) style.

Before you start your projects, make sure to confirm which style of citation your instructor prefers.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about each type of citation style, our library offers downloads with some more details on both:

When to use citations

There are several circumstances for each citation style when you’ll need to cite your source.

  • Exact quote: taking content word-for-word directly from your source.
  • Paraphrase: using an idea from a source but rephrasing it in your own words.
  • Stats: using statistical information found in your source.
  • Facts and ideas: anything that is not considered common knowledge (e.g. the sky is blue) needs to be cited.Book flipping pages

How to place citations in assignments

Short quotes

For short quotes, paraphrasing, stats and most facts or ideas, you’ll generally need to include the author’s last name, the year the research was published and the page the information was taken from.

This information will usually follow the borrowed information in brackets. You can learn more about placing citations for the APA style on our web pages dedicated to APA style.

Long quotes

Quotes that are longer than 40 words or four lines to text need to be treated a bit differently. These quotes should have an introductory sentence and begin afterwards as a block indent with no quotation marks,

This is how a longer quote would look. Notice there are no quotations marks and it is at least four lines of text. These citations are a little trickier, but practice makes perfect! Make sure to bookmark any relevant pages so you can easily refer to them when managing your citations and reference lists. (Clarkson, 2019)

gif of a stack of booksHow to create a reference list

You can’t have citations without a reference list! Well, technically you could, but this would not reflect well on your academic integrity.

A reference list is where anybody reading your assignment will be able to find the full information about the sources you cite.

This list will appear at the very end of your assignment. It will be listed in alphabetical order by the authors’ last name. For books, it will typically follow this format:

Author last name, first initial. (year of publication). Title of the work. Place of publication: publisher.

The format may vary slightly depending on the type of publication you’re using (a journal article, website etc.) but you can find examples of most for APA and MLA styles in the guides from our library.

Citation manager

In our digital age, we now have access to a variety of citation managers to help organize and produce proper citations and references.

As you prepare to embark on your journey as a university student, it’s important to be equipped with the right tools to help you succeed.

As you’ll very likely become extremely familiar with citations and references throughout your university career, get ahead of the game now.

Become familiar with the process and it will be easier for you to adapt to academic writing.

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