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Scientific Writing: Citing Sources


When looking at cited work or citation metrics, we assume that the work is being cited because the paper was read, used, and important. However, citations are a form of documentation and reasons for citations can vary. 

Here are some examples of reasons work is cited:

1. Paying homage to pioneers 9. Alerting others to forthcoming work
2. Giving credit to related work (homage to peers) 10. Providing leads to poorly disseminated, poorly indexed or uncited work
3. Identifying methodology, equipment, etc. 11. Authenticating data and classes of fact--physical constants, etc.
4. Providing background reading 12. Identifying original publications in which an idea or concept was discussed
5. Correcting one's own work 13. Identifying original publications or work describing an eponymic concept or term, e.g. Hodgkin's Disease
6. Correcting the work of others 14. Disclaiming the work of others (negative claims)
7. Criticizing previous work 15. Disputing the priority claims of others (nagative homage)
8. Substantiating claims From Eugene Garfield (1965) "Can Citation Indexing be Automated?"

Avoiding Plagiarism

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools allow you to save, share, and annotate references as well as create citations and bibliographies. Popular citation managers include:

Citation Resources