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ACG Series: Citations: Introduction

In this Academic Communication Guide, learn about the basics of citations and some common citation styles and tools.

About the ACG Series

You're about to begin a short online module on citations, developed by NTU's Language and Communication Centre (LCC). This whole module should take about 30 - 45 minutes of your time.

This Citations module is one course in a series of Academic Communication Guides (ACG) that LCC is developing. The other courses in the ACG series are on Plagiarism and Visual Aids, and the links are provided below. 


A citation is defined as a ‘quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author, especially in scholarly work’ (Oxford University Press, 2021). A citation is basically a reference to a source. In our current multi-modal and inter-disciplinary education landscape, a source could be anything from an academic journal to a newspaper article to a YouTube video.  

A good adage to adopt when thinking about citations is ‘always give credit where it is due’. You should have already completed the Plagiarism course in this series. If the Plagiarism course explains ‘why’ you should cite, then this course explains ‘what’ you need to cite and ‘how’ you should go about doing it.  

Aside from giving credit to the original author of the idea or words you are using in your assignment, citations also show that you are drawing on other experts to support your ideas and reinforce the validity of your findings. Citing shows evidence of research on your part and allows your instructor to see how much you know about the topic you are writing about. In turn, this strengthens your argument.  

This condensed, self-directed module on citations aims to give you a better theoretical grounding on citation systems and some hands-on practice with citation. The three units in this module are:  

  • Unit 1: Recognise what citation is and what tools you should use to cite. 

  • Unit 2: Know what and when to cite. 

  • Unit 3: Understand how to apply in-text citations to quotes and paraphrases. 

Each unit should take approximately 10 minutes to complete (including quick checks of your understanding and a final exercise). The diagnostic quiz (located on the next tab - see top of the webpage) will help you figure out which units are recommended for you.  

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