Ask a Librarian
Why is it necessary to cite sources?
Fundamentally, we cite our sources because information is the intellectual property of the creator and we need to give them credit for their work. If we don't, that's called plagiarism - and it is theft. The Writing Center at UW-Madison has an excellent resource on avoiding plagiarism. Beyond this, it's best practice to cite your sources because it creates a research trail that you (or someone else, like your instructor) can follow and it provides evidence of the information you present.
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COPYRIGHT & FAIR USE
Copyright gives the owner of a work exclusive rights to that work. Exceptions to this include items in the public domain, items with Creative Commons licenses, and items used under fair use.
Remember, failure to follow the guidelines of copyright, public domain, Creative Commons, and fair use is called plagiarism.
See UW-Superior's resource on Copyright & Fair Use to learn more.