A citation (or reference) is a short, multi-part description of a source. When you are engaged in scholarly discourse, which you are, as a student of the University of Arkansas, you are required to produce research documentation that is clear and concise, so that anyone can retrace your steps to replicate and validate your research. A good citation will lead the reader to the source of the information. Each of the fields of study have agreed on a citation style that meets the needs of their research community.
See our video on How to Read a Citation for assistance in understanding the parts of a citation.
Citations are usually created to conform to a specific style, so that researchers have a common language for writing and understanding citations.
Communication classes often use the APA Publications Manual, which is available at the Mullins Help Desk.
Many academic databases have a citation generator built in. When you are looking at the detailed information for an item that is of interest to you, look for a link or button for citing (often a quotation marks icon). If the link is available, you will see a screen which provides you with a handy citation generator for various style manuals. Choose the style manual that your instructor has specified for this project, then cut and paste into your bibliography, reference, or works cited page.
Since it is sometimes difficult to retrace your steps to find an article citation, it is much easier to create your reference list by gathering citation information while you are doing your research! Taking good notes now saves a lot of time later.
Citation managers are software programs that help you save and organize citations. They are helpful for large research projects using 20 or more citations, but are not really a time saver for smaller projects. Here are some commonly used citation managers.