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ESOL 400 Chu-Mraz: Citing Sources

Why Do We Cite?

Watch this video for an introduction to Citations By NCSU Libraries. CC BY NC SA 3.0.

Why Cite?

  •  Cite to avoid Plagiarism
  • Citing allows the reader to track down your resources easily and verify your resources.
  • Citing Makes your work more credible if you are using verified sources.
  • Allows you to join the conversation about your topic in the academic community by providing paths to converging ideas.


MLA Basics

Owl Guides listed below give formulas and examples of how to cite different sources in your work cited list (reference list).

Citing Correctly and Avoiding Plagiarism

Per Skyline College's Course Catalog, "Plagiarism is representing the work of someone else as his/her own and submitting  it to fulfill academic requirements." Plagiarism is cheating and is viewed as "academic dishonesty" and therefore, "academic misconduct." For more information, see Academic Integrity/Honesty.

You have plagiarized when you...

  • Turn in someone else's paper or essay as your own
  • Copy sections from another sources without properly citing the source
  • Copy and paste sections from a web page into your paper without properly citing the source. Information found on the Internet is not free
  • You express the ideas of another author and pretend they are your own original ideas                                                                                     

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit by citing sources whenever you use

  • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory

  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge

  • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words

  • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words

You don’t need to cite sources when the information you write about are common facts, your own original research, and/or your own opinions and evaluations.

Some tips to avoid unintentional plagiarism

  • Start early! Research and writing may take much longer if your native language is not English. 
  • Take accurate notes when you are doing research.
  • Write down the complete citation for each item you might use. If you have made copies of journal articles, book chapters, or other materials, be sure that the author, title, subtitle, date, and all the other necessary citation information is on the photocopy. If you aren't sure what information is needed for a citation, check the citation style you will be using.
  • Follow required style guide (APA, MLA) when you are writing your paper to properly credit your sources.
  • When in doubt, cite!