It's quite true that citing sources in any research work is critically important.
Citations are helpful for many reasons, such as those listed in "Why Should I Cite Sources." Some of these are more important than others, so I've ranked them in what seems to be the most important to the least important reasons to cite your sources.
The first and best reason for that is because other people's words, research, and ideas belong to them, and none of us have a right to steal those and claim them as our own. If we do that, we are committing the crime of plagiarism. While it's unlikely that authors would "call out" a high school student who plagiarizes their work; however, there are plenty of highly respected authors who lost a lot of credibility when they were caught plagiarizing, even nominally and unintentionally. Cite your sources in order to give proper credit to the source of your work. The most important reason to cite sources is to give credit to the creators of the data instead of stealing their work and calling it your own.
Second, the information or arguments you present in your paper are stronger because you support your own views with evidence from experts. If you believe cloning is wrong, for example, the reader is quite free to disagree with you. If you back up your argument with the opinions of several authoritative sources, such as a leading researcher or the Surgeon General, your readers are more likely to consider your argument to be valid. Find the most powerful and persuasive sources you can to help make the best case possible for your own views and opinions.
Third, citing sources demonstrates that you did research and gathered information from a variety of places. Of course, this is only true if you actually did that. If you have, let's say, 20 citations in your paper but they're all from just 2 or 3 sources, you're not demonstrating a significant amount of scholarship. In fact, you're making yourself look a bit lazy, as you're taking a lot of information from a few people in order to write the required paper. Sometimes this is dependent on the paper requirements, but more often than not it is the writer's choice. Using multiple sources, as long as they are scholarly and informative, makes you look like a better researcher because you've complied a variety of useful data.
Fourth, readers who want to know more about something specific you've included in your paper, such as some research findings or work from someone who is an expert in the field, will be able to find it from the citations in your paper. Citations are linked to your bibliography pages, so readers know exactly where your information came from and how to seek it out for themselves. This isn't as important as some of the previous arguments, it seems to me, but it is the truth.
Finally, citing sources to avoid taking the rap" for an idea is the weakest reason to use citations. The truth is that, if it's a "bad idea" and you include it in your paper, that demonstrates more about your lack of judgment than it does about your sources. Deflecting blame is a poor reason to act, so simply make sure you only include good, solid arguments and data in your paper. Cite them properly, and you'll be set. No blame necessary.
I'd add one more advantage: citing sources is
standard practice for scholars and students engaged in written academic conversations.
By using citations, you're demonstrating your scholarly credibility, something valuable in necessary in the academic world.