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Documenting and Attributing Sources

by Dr. Suzan Harrison

Documentation (the footnotes and bibliography or citations and works cited page) and attribution (the introduction of the author in the text of your paper) are both vital components of academic writing.

Reasons for Documentation

  • Documentation tells your readers exactly where they can go to read the source material for themselves.
  • Documentation gives credit to the original authors.

Reasons for Attribution

  • Attribution or a signal phrase gives more specific credit to original authors by naming them right in the text of your paper.
  • Attribution also clearly establishes the boundaries between your ideas and a quote,, paraphrase, or summary of someone else's ideas. That way, credit goes where it's due.
  • Most professors want to see your mind at work on the topic. If you don't use attribution properly, you may inadvertently give up credit for your own ideas. If your citations and attributions are clear, your own thinking will stand out as distinctively your own, so that it can be rewarded.