Philosophy: Writing & Citing

Guides to Writing about Philosophy

Why Cite?

Once you have gathered your resources, you want to make sure you have properly cited the information in your paper.

Why do we cite? Is it just hazing from professors? Or it just a random exercise that has no use except to confuse you?

  • Citing is part of a conversation. You want others who read your paper to see the resources you used. I might read you paper and find something really interesting that I want to read. Citing means I can find it.
  • You also cite to give the authors of the work you are referencing proper credit. Would you want someone to take credit for something you spent a lot of time writing?

When you think about citing in terms of "could someone else find this?," it seems a little less like a random exercise (punishment) and more like a roadmap to your resources.  For example, if you needed to find a book, what would you need to know?

  • Book's title
  • Book's author
  • The edition and year (is a medical textbook from 1950 the same as one today?)
  • The publisher (is the Bible the same from publisher to publisher?)

Once you are armed with this information, you can find the book.  That's all citing is -- a map to provide a way for others to find what you used.  In fact, a useful research tool is to look at what other authors have cited, or built their work on, for sources for YOU to use.


Citing Your Sources

Ready to cite the sources used in your project/paper? Check your assignment instructions or syllabus, or ask your instructor about the citation style requirement for your class. The APA and Chicago (a.k.a., Turabian) styles  are frequently used in philosophy.

Online guides for APA & Chicago citation styles:

Books about APA & Chicago styles:

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