To acknowledge the author(s) of the work that you used to wirte your paper.
To provide context to your research and demonstrate that your paper is well-researched.
To allow readers to find the original source and learn more about some aspect that you mentioned only briefly in the document.
To enable further research by letting others discover what has already been explored and written about on a given topic.
What and When to Cite?
You should always cite other people's words, ideas and other intellectual property that you use in your papers or that influence your ideas. This includes but isn't limited to books, journal articles, web pages, reports, data, statistics, speeches, lectures, personal interviews, etc. You should cite whenever you:
use a direct quote
use facts or statistics that are relatively less known or relate directly to your argument.
From the ASU Library. Some strategies for avoiding plagiarism.
Academic Integrity and Plagarism
Academic integrity, student cheating and plagiarism are concerns of the utmost importance to university faculty, administrators, writing center and tutoring staff, librarians and academic advisors. The short, straightforward definitions of academic integrity and plagarism are meant to assist persons interested in understanding more about these issues.
Most sources define academic integrity (or academic honesty) as the foundation for academic life. It is the manner in which you behave in an academic environment when you do research, write a paper, or create a project. The fundamental five values in this academic process are honesty, trust, respect, fairness, and responsibility. Academic integrity is the commitment to live by these values. Plagiarism is an aspect of academic integrity in that using another's ideas, words, theories, illustrations or graphics, opinions or facts without giving credit is dishonest.
To use, steal or represent the ideas, words or products of another as your own ideas, words or products. Use of someone else's ideas, words or products without giving credit to the author or originator is considered plagiarism.
When using or quoting word for word the words of another person it must be acknowledged. Summarizing or paraphrasing the words or ideas of another without giving that person credit is also plagiarism.
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