Researchers
May 26, 2020

Understanding the Role of Citations in Academic Writing

The use of citations in research is a critical aspect that helps determine everything from origin of ideas to legitimacy of the published work. Because of the significance of citations, it is part of the basic foundation of all research and must be done accurately and thoroughly. To this end, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the role of citations in academic writing.
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Citing sources in writing is a practice that is begun in elementary school and then formalized as students continue in higher education. The importance of this academic requirement is often overlooked as something as minor as mastering a standard, but the implications go far beyond that matter.

For those who don’t pursue an education in scholastic areas, citations are a necessary annoyance or headache. But for others, this practice is crucial to ensuring credit is given where credit is due and can mean the difference between a highly cited or lowly cited paper ranking and academic impact.

Citations and Academic Legitimacy

For academic research to be considered impactful, it must contain specific elements. These characteristics set it apart from all other conventions and styles of writing. Academic research is always formal and must contribute to a specialized field in which its content is able to advance or expound on the current knowledge base.

These issues are complex, requiring in-depth analysis that is founded on scientifically sound evidence that can be repeated for accuracy and verification. Because of this requirement, the research aspect must be clearly described and any relevant sources used must be referenced and cited, no matter how small or large a role the information played in the research itself. 

Research that is published without credit to other sources can be viewed as skewed or unreliable. The information in the document is sourced wholly on the word of the researcher without backup data to make it credible and legitimate. This practice dates back for centuries and is based on common sense. The more experts who support your premise and theory, the more valid it is likely to be. But although citations are a necessity, the way researchers go about including their references may be different.

Attributes of Citation Styles

The use of citations doesn’t always look like a footnote or endnote in a research paper. With over 200 citation styles and reference points, it often comes down to the writer’s preference or publication’s requirements.

There are multiple formats that authors can include in their academic writing to credibly cite a source as relevant to the data they are referencing, such as:

●      Evidence-based - Theories and arguments of the author are supported through data and evidence that is visible, documented, and repeatable. Steps are transparent and can be checked for validity.

●      Formal - A formally stated argument is clearly expressed and sources that support the premise are referenced immediately for support of the argument.

●      Collegial - When an author uses an idea from another source, the original source is given credit in academic citations. This ensures that the author is not trying to take credit for the idea and that those reading the paper can follow the citation to the source of the information directly. 

●      Empirically consistent knowledge - Some information is relevant because it is consistent with what has been proven to be true in similar situations. Scientific evidence of a known truth can be applied to other experiments as a basis of fact when it is a parallel idea.

Because citations have so many purposes, there is no one way that is recommended over another. Over-citing is a safer bet than under-citing, so many scholars err on the side of the former. Subjectivity has no place in academic citations. If the information was used in your research, it should be cited in your academic writing.

Using Citation to Impact Your Research

As you compile your research and begin to write your paper, think about how you will integrate your citations. Consider the information that is necessary to include and in what order it should be added. Does it make sense to include the source in the text or would a reference to a footnote or endnote suffice?

Take into account the required formatting for citations of your institution or publisher. Two of the most common citation styles are APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association), with Chicago Style gaining in popularity.

As you write your paper, carefully use your citations to make as much of an impact as possible. Citations can be used to get the reader’s attention with a strong claim or prove to the reader that you have done the hard, thorough work to substantiate your claim. Citations can also be used to document other experts who support your research findings.

Be careful to cite all references to data other than your own. Plagiarism in higher institutions and academic writing is taken seriously. A strong researcher knows the value of researching their field for support. They also understand the need to respect the intellectual property right of other researchers.

Citing With Impactio

Because of the importance of citing research in an academic paper, it can be an area of concern for many published scholars. In order to ensure you have cited accurately and followed your writing’s academic impact, publish your work with Impactio.

Impactio is an all-in-one platform that experts use to create a professional profile. Citation data is tracked through mapping techniques that collect and trace your publications and citations. Scholars can access a community of peers to connect and network with and follow their own academic impact without lifting a finger.

When you want to ensure your citation and publication information are professional and clearly displayed, Impactio is the smart tool to use.

Tags Academic Writing Citations Publications
Jason Collins
Writer
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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