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The University of Iowa Libraries

Lichtenberger Engineering Library

Citing Sources: What is a Citation?

Citation format instruction for technical & scientific writing.

What is a citation?

When doing research it is often necessary to consult other research. When you use an idea or statistic that comes from another source, you need to reference that source; failure to do so is considered plagiarism.

The citation is the reference to that original source (i.e., book, paper, article, web site, etc.).

A citation usually includes four important pieces of information:

  • author(s)
  • title
  • publication
  • date

With this information, the reader can find the original source.