What are footnotes and citations for?

What are footnotes and citations for? The purpose of footnotes and citations in academic writing are:

  1. To indicate to the reader the source of a quotation or a more extended account of the subject mentioned in the text.
  2. To cite authority in support of a statement, opinion or hypothesis.
  3. To direct the reader to opinions on controversial issues contrary to those expressed in the text.

But in an essay, a research project, an MA dissertation or a PhD thesis, footnotes and citations also indicate to the examiners the extent to which the candidate has mastered the scholarly practices of their discipline. Showing that you can do footnotes and citations properly is an important task in academic writing. Examiners of PhDs, for example, expect one hundred per cent accuracy in the deployment of footnote systems, and will refer or fail candidates whose dissertations do not measure up.

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