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Information Literacy


Any time you use or refer to a work created by someone else, you should always provide a citation to the original work, even if you rephrased the source in your own words. If you are using a direct quote, be sure to put it in quotation marks or use a block quote. Citation is particularly important when you are turning in assignments for Relay or are publishing something for the public.

To jump directly to the Relay APA citation guide, click here.

Why Cite?

Citations are important for the following reasons:

  • Academic/Intellectual Honesty: Citations give credit to authors whose works have provided you with the information, idea, or resource that you have used, and allow you to distinguish your own work from that of your sources.  In your work at Relay, you are being graded on your own work, so it is important that you indicate when the work is your own and when you used the ideas of someone else. 
  • Copyright: The United States has laws about how you can legally use the work of others. While citations aren't enough to guarantee that you are legally allowed to use the work of others in the way that you plan to use it, your use is more likely to be legal if you provide a citation to the original work. 
  • Credibility: Citations provide support for your arguments and demonstrate the depth and breadth of your research. If you back up your claims with citations of authoritative sources, others are more likely to trust that you have done careful and thorough research into the subject. 
  • Allowing Others to Find Your Sources: Sometimes, your audience may want to learn more about a subject you have written about.  If you provide citations to your sources, they can track down your original sources and read them for themselves. This is why you should always be sure to include enough information in your citation to allow others to find your original sources. 

How to Cite?

There is no single correct way to provide a citation, although several conventions exist such as the MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles. The most important thing is that you are consistent, that you are clear to your audience about which parts of your work were originated from someone else, and that you provide enough information so that other people can find the work in question.  At minimum, your reference should include as much of the following information as possible:

  • The title of the resource
  • The author of the resource (this may be an organization rather than an individual)
  • The date the resource was created
  • The URL where the resource can be found

Relay uses the American Psychological Association (APA) citation style, and in your work for Relay, citations should follow this style whenever possible. The guide below gives examples for how you can cite your sources. If what you are trying to cite does not match exactly with any of the examples on the APA guide, don't be afraid to use what one APA blogger calls a "Frankenreference" (McAdoo, 2010). In other words, mix and match examples as needed. It is more important that you include enough information to find the original resource than that you follow APA format exactly. 

You should be sure to collect all the information you need for a citation when you first find a resource you may want to use in an assessment, so that you don't need to hunt down resources again.  For articles, books, and websites, citations managers like Zotero can be useful tools.

Creating APA Citations

The video below gives a quick overview of how to create APA citations. The full APA citation guide can be found in the box below the video.

Relay APA Guide

Citation Resources