Citing or documenting the sources used in your research serves three purposes:
- It gives proper credit to the authors of the words or ideas that you incorporated into your paper.
- It allows those who are reading your work to locate your sources, in order to learn more about the ideas that you include in your paper.
- Citing your sources consistently and accurately helps you avoid committing plagiarism in your writing.
If you cite a source in your bibliography simply like this:
it does technically indicate where you found it, and someone might be able to find it again. But:
- What if the URL breaks?
- What if your reader doesn't have access to Geisel Library's databases? (This is the URL to the PDF view of a journal article in the database ProQuest Science Journals.)
A good citation makes it easy for the reader to figure out the who, what, when, and where of the source. In MLA style, a citation also often indicates how it was accessed.
Within MLA style, the format of the citation also tells you "what"--that this source is a journal article that you accessed through an online database.