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Citation Guide: Avoiding Plagiarism

What is a Citation?

Think of a citation as the full name of a resource. A citation usually includes the name of the author(s), the title of the work, the date the work was published, and the name and location of the publisher. Most formatting styles require additional information, but at a minimum, the components of a citation will help a reader pinpoint the exact work to which you are referring.

Your professor will likely ask that you use a specific formatting style. To find sample citations and resources for formatting citations, select the tabs at the top of the page for APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian styles. If you'd like to have your citations created for you, select the RefWorks tab to learn how to create an account, import citations and generate complete bibliographies.

What is Plagiarism?

Why do you need to cite? You cite the sources you use or consult to give credit to the original author. To use another's work without providing proper citation is plagiarism.

Besides concerns of stealing another author's work, you cite to:

  • strengthen your argument
  • back-up your ideas or disagree with another's
  • help other people find the sources you consulted

Using a purchased paper or a friend's paper is an obvious act of deliberate plagiarism. But even with the best intentions, you can plagiarize if you use too much of another person's work. So what's too much?

  • Using too much of the original work's words or phrases - Even if you include a correctly formatted citation, if you use too much of the original work's words, or if your sentence structure mirrors the original's, and you fail to mark those words or phrases with quotation marks, you are committing an act of unintentional plagiarism.
  • Incomplete or faulty citation - If you do not include the correct information or enough information in your citation or bibliography, you are committing an act of unintentional plagiarism.
  • Forgetting to include a citation - If you just lose track of what you're doing, you are committing an act of unintentional plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved from <>

Need Additional Help?

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