It's important to cite your sources, for a variety of reasons:
To give credit to the author(s) of your sources.
To avoid plagiarism.
To allow your readers to locate your sources (whether to confirm your claims or to perform their own research).
To show that you thoroughly researched your topic and can support your claims.
"If it is not your original words or ideas, give credit to the person whose words or ideas you are using," advises the UA's Dean of Students Office. Plagiarism violates the UA Code of Academic Integrity. Complete your own projects and papers, cite the work of others, and avoid these sanctions.
For more guidance on avoiding academic integrity violations, review these brief suggestions by the Dean of Students Office.
When should I cite?
You should always cite the work of others when paraphrasing, summarizing, or using direct quotes from another source. Review these definitions and examples to become familiar with these contexts. It is not necessary to cite information that is common knowledge, or your own original ideas, thoughts, words, and analysis. It's understandable to question how often you need to cite your sources, but it's generally better to be safe.
It's important to credit others when you use parts of their work. Complete this tutorial to learn when and how to best give credit to the work of others.
Which citation style should I use, and why?
Every discipline tends to follow a unique, consistent citation style when writing and conducting research. Depending on your major and the instructors you have, you may come across several different citation style requirements over the course of your academic career. If an instructor requires the adherence to a specific style, they will often state this in the syllabus or assignment outline. When in doubt, ask your instructor.
While citation styles may vary in punctuation, capitalization, and content requirements, the goal of a citation is always to make it clear and simple how one might locate and access that specific source for future reference. The elements to a citation (author, title, publication, publication date, access information, etc.) should work together to point the reader to a unique source.
This info sheet from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) portal contains good information on important elements of a data citation, as well as examples when you may be required to seek permission from the copyright owner prior to reproducing the data in your research.