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Encouraging Academic Honesty: Citing Sources

Resources for faculty and students on academic honesty . Includes information on Plagiarism, citing sources, and the Heidelberg IRB office

Intro to Citations

Citations document for your readers where you obtained your material, provide a means of critiquing your study based on the sources you used, and create an opportunity to obtain information about prior studies of the research problem under investigation. The act of citing sources is also your best defense against allegations of plagiarism.

Citing the works of others is important because:

  1. Proper citation allows readers to locate the materials you used. Citations to sources helps readers expand their knowledge on a topic. One of the most effective strategies for locating authoritative, relevant sources about a topic is to review footnotes or references from known sources ["citation tracking"].
  2. Citing other people's words and ideas demonstrates that you have conducted a thorough review of the literature on your topic and, therefore, you are reporting your research from an informed and critically engaged perspective. The list of sources used increases your credibility as the author of the work.
  3. Other researcher's ideas can be used to reinforce your arguments. In many cases, another researcher's arguments can act as the primary context from which you can emphasize the significance of your study and to provide supporting evidence about how you addressed the "So What?" question.
  4. The ideas of other researchers can be used to explain reasons for alternative approaches. If you disagree with a researcher's ideas or you believe there is a gap in understanding the research problem, your citations can serve as sources from which to argue an alternative viewpoint or the need to pursue a different course of action.
  5. Just as the ideas of other researchers can bolster your arguments, they can also detract from your credibility if their research is challenged. Properly citing sources prevents your reputation from being tarnished if the facts or ideas of those cited are proven to be inaccurate or off-base. It prevents readers from concluding that you ignored or dismissed the findings of others, even if they are disputed.
  6. Ideas are considered intellectual property and there can be serious repercussions if you fail to cite where you got an idea from. In academe and the professional world, failure to cite other people's intellectual property ruins careers and reputations and can result in legal action. Citing sources as a student in college will help you get in the habit of acknowledging and properly citing the work of others.

Ballenger, Bruce P. The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers. 7th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2012; Citing Information. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Harvard Guide to Using Sources. Harvard College Writing Program. Harvard University; Newton, Philip. "Academic Integrity: A Quantitative Study of Confidence and Understanding in Students at the Start of Their Higher Education." Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 41 (2016): 482-497; Referencing More Effectively. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Using Sources. Yale College Writing Center. Yale University.

(Based on a USC Libguide)

Online Citation Guides

Online Citation Guides

Covers basic how-tos of citation with examples for the most common citation styles here at Heidelberg. If you're using one not on this list, please contact a librarian in our chat or through email!

Purdue Owl Writing Lab

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University features great resources for a variety of citation styles, such as APA, MLA and Chicago Style, and has been a research staple for undergraduate and graduates students for years!

Heidelberg University Writing Center

At the Writing Center, trained Writing Consultants offer individual writing assistance for all Heidelberg University classes, at all stages of the writing process. Our goal is to aid students in developing the skills to think and work independently on future writing projects.

Hours & sign-up info

  • Make appointments on the Writing Center schedule at
  • Monday-Friday 12:00PM-7:00PM
  • Sundays 12:00PM-5:00PM

Drop-ins are welcome, but students with appointments are given priority! Please note that at certain times of the semester, the Writing Center is busy and students who bring in papers the day before they are due may find that the Consultants cannot give them the time they need. Students are encouraged to schedule their appointments early in the writing process.


  • Every Monday: Saurwein 232
  • Tuesday-Sunday we’re located in Campus Center 313: The Owen Center