Citing sources is the hallmark of professional and scholarly communication. As a scientist or engineer, you communicate how you built your work and reached your conclusions. By citing sources, you:
Citing sources encourages you to think. By documenting how others' ideas connect to yours, you get the concepts more firmly in your head. Anything else is cheating yourself on your education.
Plagiarism is bad. Whether you content-scrape, buy another's paper, or just don't keep track of what you're doing, it's a breach of professional ethics if intentional, and also a sign of incompetence if unintentional. Either way, be aware of what constitutes plagiarism, and don't do it.
Each research field has its practice on when to cite a source. You can develop a better understanding of practices in a specific field by reading more. Here are five principles with examples to get you started*.
(All examples used below are from a highly cited article by Staiger, P. et al. ** ) You must cite sources if you:
Besides the above examples, a general principle is when in doubt, cite your sources.
*Princeton University. Academic Integrity at Princeton: When to Cite Sources. https://www.princeton.edu/pr/pub/integrity/pages/cite/ (accessed September 9, 2016).
**Staiger, M. P.; Pietak, A. M.; Huadmai, J.; Dias, G., Magnesium and its alloys as orthopedic biomaterials: A review. Biomaterials 2006, 27 (9), 1728-1734. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2005.10.003
Typically, citation includes both of (1) an in-text citation and (2) a reference list at the end to provide full bibliographical information.
A bibliographic record typically includes:
Each discipline or a specific journal has one or more citation styles to format the in-text citation and reference list. See below for typical citation styles in various disciplines. Check with your professor or publication editor if they have a preferred style guide.
American Mathematics Society (AMS) Style