A citation is a shorthand guide to finding an existing work. That work could be an article, a book, a video, a webpage, a video game, or many other things.
Here is a breakdown of an article citation on black holes by Stephen Hawking. The citation is in APA style. There are thousands of citation styles. One of the popular styles in Computer Science writing is IEEE citation style. [IEEE = Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers]
There are many reasons to cite the work of someone else in your own work. Among those reasons:
+ To give credit for the source of an idea or quoted section of text. This is one important step in avoiding plagiarism. It is also the ethically correct thing to do.
+ To build a historical context for what you are discussing.
+ To build on the ideas of others to strengthen your own argument. Alternately to denounce/argue with/disagree with/comment upon the ideas of others when you don’t agree with them.
In general, whenever you refer to or quote from something or someone, you should include a citation so that the person reading your work can follow-up, to read deeper on that piece of information and gain context and/or to verify that you represented the information accurately.
+ U-M Librarians have created a Citation Help research guide, which has a section specifically on IEEE style
+ IEEE Citation Guidelines - formal guidelines directly from IEEE
+ Make an appointment with your computer science librarian Jamie Niehof
Once you find sources for a research project, how can you keep track of them? How can you get citations into the right citation style? One method is to use a citation management tool.
Citation management tools help you:
+ organize references, PDFs, and images
+ take notes on references and PDFs
+ format Works Cited lists and in-text citations in hundreds of citations styles automatically
For larger research projects, it is a good idea to use a citation manager for help organizing, instead of relying on manually entering or copy-pasting resources into a GoogleDoc or MS Word Doc. One of those citation managers is Zotero, which has an online version and a browser extension.
We recommend a simple citation generator like ZoteroBib (at zbib.org) to assist you with creating citations. You might already use another citation generator like KnightCite or Citation Builder — they are essentially the same.
ZoteroBib allows you to add IEEE as a citation style using their dropdown menu.