Many of us first learned to cite our sources because we were required to for class. However, citing sources is not simply about following rules. There are two main principles behind the convention for citing sources.
There are several major citation styles. Each style was developed to meet the needs of researchers working in different disciplines. The styles you are most likely to need to use at University of Redlands include:
Don't worry about memorizing every detail of each style. Instead:
You don't need to cite a source for ideas that are considered common knowledge, such as that Frederick Douglass was a well known orator, statesman and leader of the antislavery movement, or that Francis Crick and James Watson are known for discovering the structure of DNA.
However, anytime you reference specific ideas, such as the words of Frederick Douglass as set down in his book My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) or Crick and Watson's article "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribonucleic Acid" published in Nature, you do need to cite those ideas and give credit to their source.
Plagiarism is considered one of the worst ethical breaches a researcher can commit, so it is better to err on the side of caution in deciding whether to cite a source. Your instructor and librarian can help you think through situations where you are not sure whether you need to cite a source.
All citations have some common elements, regardless of what kind of document you are trying to cite and what style you are citing in. The most common elements are:
Each document that you cite will have attributes corresponding to multiple rules in the style guide. For example, you might be citing a document that is a book, written by two authors, and was published as an ebook that you found in a library database. There are rules covering each of these elements and you will need to consider all four of them in constructing your citation.
Citation style guides have excellent indexes. Use the index to look up each rule that pertains to the document you are trying to cite and then put them all together, using an example citation as your starting point.
Practice creating citations for these sources in a style of your choice.