Skip to Main Content

Citation Help

In academic writing it is important to cite resources you consult. This guide will overview the process for various types of resources and introduce you to software programs that can help with the process.

Ethical Citation Practices

In addition to how to correctly cite your sources, it's important to consider who you're citing and why. It's just as important to consider who you're not citing and why. This section of the Citation Help guide is an overview of ethical citation practices and resources to help you think critically about the politics of citation. 

  • Citations shape academic disciplines and national canons by including or excluding certain scholarship, and this can often result in excluding or discrediting historically disenfranchised scholarship and knowledge.
  • Explore the resources to below to learn about the feminist campaign to diversify citations, initiatives to #CiteBlackWomen, and challenges to decolonize your bibliography.
  • Navigate to Reed Citation Challenge to challenge yourself to cite specific scholars or areas of scholarship that you have not cited before.
  • Read the page on Referencing to dive in deeper about not only who you are citing, but how you are citing them. (Hint: avoid name dropping!)

This page is an overview of existing resources about citation practices and a guide for how to think about what it means to cite your sources ethically. For more information about the ethical use of images, see the anthropology research guide

How do we know what we know?


"Canon building is empire building. Canon defense is national defense. Canon debate, whatever the terrain, nature, and range (of criticism, of history, of the history of knowledge, of the definition of language, the universality of aesthetic principles, the sociology of art, the humanistic imagination), is the clash of cultures. And all of the interests are vested." [1]


[1]  Toni Morrison, “Black Matter(s),” in The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019).

Sara Ahmed on Citation

Sara Ahmed is a British-Australian feminist scholar whose works spans feminist theory, queer theory, critical race theory, and postcolonial theory. Her 2017 book Living a Feminist Life is a great resource on citation practices. Find the ebook version or the physical version in the catalog. "Citation is feminist memory," she writes. [2] Ahmed also runs the blog feministkilljoys, where she has published many essays and blog posts about citation practices, including the well-known "Making Feminist Points" in 2013. 


"I would describe citation as a rather successful reproductive technology, a way of reproducing the world around certain bodies. These citational structures can form what we call disciplines. [...] The reproduction of a discipline can be the reproduction of these techniques of selection, ways of making certain bodies and thematics core to the discipline, and others not even part." [3]


Ahmed asks us to question the way in which we usually cite the scientists, scholars, or researchers who are already established in our fields of study. If we cite what is easy, we risk repeating the exclusionary history of those fields. 


What You Can Do

  • Read the full essay "Making Feminist Points"
  • Establish your own guiding principles for citation in your research
  • When you cite sources from scholars who have been historically excluded or dismissed, consider how you're positioning their work within your field of study

[2]  Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), p. 15.

[3]  Sara Ahmed, “Making Feminist Points,” Feministkilljoys (blog), September 11, 2013,

Cite Black Women Collective

"We have been producing knowledge since we blessed this earth. We theorize, we innovate, we revolutionize the world." [4]


Founded in 2017 by Christen Smith, the Cite Black Women Collective is a public campaign to encourage academics to #CiteBlackWomen. On social media, on their podcast, and in their grassroots initiatives, the members of the collective work to advance the intellectual contributions of Black women that have been forgotten, erased, or overlooked. Their work follows five guiding principles.

  1. Read Black women's work
  2. Integrate Black women into the CORE of your syllabus (in life & in the classroom)
  3. Acknowledge Black women's intellectual production
  4. Make space for Black women to speak
  5. Give Black women the space and time to breathe


What You Can Do

  • Integrate these guiding principles into your research and scholarship
  • Follow @citeblackwomen on social media and participate in #CiteBlackWomenSunday
  • Buy #CiteBlackWomen T-shirts to support grassroots initiatives such as the Winnie Mandela School

[4]  Christen A. Smith, “Cite Black Women: A Critical Praxis,” Cite Black Women, December 21, 2018,

Citation Practices Challenge

“Consider what you might want to change about your academic citation practices. Who do you choose to link and re-circulate in your work? Who gets erased? Who should you stop citing?” [5]


In April 2015, Indigenous scholars Eve Tuck, K. Wayne Yang, and Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández proposed a year-long Citation Practices Challenge, calling on fellow scholars and students to make a public commitment to reflect on their citation practices. This was partially inspired by Sara Ahmed. The goal is "to stop erasing Indigenous, Black, brown, trans*, disabled POC, QT*POC, feminist, activist, and disability/crip contributions from our intellectual genealogies." [6]


Check out the related Citation Practices Challenge tumblr managed by Fiona Cheuk for resources, tips, and strategies for good citation practice.


What You Can Do

  • Think critically about who, how, and why you’re citing any given source
  • Identify specific scholars or areas of scholarship you want to be more intentional about citing (or not)
  • Participate in the Reed Citation Challenge, adapted from the Citation Practices Challenge

[5]  Eve Tuck, K. Wayne Yang, and Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, “Citation Practices,” Critical Ethnic Studies (blog), accessed May 31, 2021,

[6]  Tuck, Yang, and Gaztambide-Fernández, “Citation Practices.”