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Citing Sources & Plagiarism

How to correctly cite research sources and avoid plagiarism.

What is a Citation?

The purpose of a citation is to provide the reader with information necessary to find the source of the author's statement. A citation is a standard way to describe a published or unpublished source, such as a:

  • book or book chapter

  • journal article

  • website

  • a figure

  • image

A citation makes it easy to find the source and provides some consistency. They are found in bibliographies, references and work cited lists at the end of articles and chapters in books.  A citation may look different depending on the type of source you use and the citation style.  Most citations consist of these common elements:

  • author's name

  • publication date

  • title of the source


   Angelou, M. (1995). A brave and startling truth. New York: Random House.

   Edwards, K. S., & Shin, M. (2017). Media multitasking and implicit learning. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 79(5), 1535-1549.

Why do we cite?

  • To distinguish between what is your work and those of others. 
  • To acknowledge someone else's work and ideas.
  • To receive credit for the work you have done (shows off your research and writing skills).
  • To provide your readers with specific information to verify your sources or pursue a topic further.
  • To avoid plagiarism.

How to cite to avoid plagiarism

  • Provide clear attribution of outside sources, including visual images, charts, and graphs. 
  • Identify exact words and phrases taken from sources by enclosing them within quotation marks..
  • Use your own words and sentence structure when you paraphrase, while keeping the original meaning.
  • Follow all quotations, paraphrases, and summaries of outside sources with appropriate and complete citations.
  • Be certain that all summaries and paraphrases of your sources are accurate and objective.
  • Include all print and electronic sources in the References/Work-Cited page that follows the body of your papers..

What is a DOI (Digital Object Identifier)?

A DOI or Digital Object Identifier is a unique code assigned to a digital object (such as an article from a database) used for location and identification. You'll often see the DOI for an article listed on its first page. Clicking on a DOI takes you directly to a specific article, avoiding potential problems like broken links or missing URLs. 

  • DOI Lookup-  Look for the DOI for a specific article.
  • DOI System Site  - Website of the International DOI Foundation (IDF) that provides Digital Object Identifier (DOI) services and registration, and is the registration authority for the ISO standard (ISO 26324) for the DOI system.