Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Why Citations Matter

Citations are a crucial part of what makes a successful research paper. Other important parts include your own original ideas, and the facts that you’ve gathered. Citations not only show your professors the path that you took to reach your conclusions, but you’ll also have a handy reference list to show you’ve worked hard to find sources that help shape what you’ve written.

The following video will help you understand why citations are so important.

Why Citations Matter Video

What is Common Knowledge?

It is not necessary to cite what is considered common knowledge.  How do you know what that entails?  The MLA Handbook, 8th edition gives a brief explanation of common knowledge; “Common knowledge includes information widely available in reference works, such as basic biographical facts about prominent persons and the dates and circumstances of major historical events.  When the facts are in dispute…it is good practice to document the material…”  (p. 10)

Common knowledge depends upon your readership.  What is common in one culture, country, discipline, etc. may not be common knowledge in another.  Know your audience.  If there is any question, it is best to cite your information.

Knowing When to Cite

Take our Plagiarism Quiz to gain a better understanding of when you need to cite resources.

Plagiarism Quiz

Citation Help

Learning to properly cite references following a specific citation style can be tricky. For help with citing with the most common citation styles, check out our Citation Help page.

Citation Help Page