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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 to find the source of the author's facts or ideas.

A citation is a standard way to describe a published or unpublished source (book, journal article, chapter, website, figure, image, idea, etc.). This makes it easy to find the source and provides some consistency. They are found in bibliographies, reference and work cited lists at the end of articles and chapters in books.

A citation may look different depending on the work being cited or the citation style.  Most citations consist of these common elements:

  • author name(s)
  • title of book and journal (also called source title)
  • title of article
  • place of publication, publisher (for books)
  • volume and issue (for journal articles)
  • date of publication
  • page numbers



Angelou, Maya. A Brave and Startling Truth


New York:  Random, 1995.


Ray, Robert B. “How to Teach Cultural


Studies.”  Studies in the Literary

 Imagination 31.1  (1998) :  25-36

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)

A DOI 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. DOIs allow you to connect directly to a specific article, avoiding potential problems like broken links or missing URLs. To find the DOI for an article you're citing, use the Lookup link. To find an article from a DOI, use the DOI resolver

Why Cite?

  • To distinguish between what is yours and those of others. So, don't cite your opinions, ideas, thoughts, interpretations, judgements, personal experiment, personal observation, commentary, analysis, argument, rarrative, description, designs, figures, images, etc...anything that you originated.
  • To acknowledge someone else's work and ideas.
  • To let others know that these are not your words (if you disagree with them).
  • To receive credit for the work you have done (shows off your research and writing skills).
  • To provide your readers with specific information (author, title, publication date and publisher, volume, issue and page numbers) to verify your sources or pursue a topic further.

Citing to Avoid Plagiarism

Taken from the Student Guidebook to Resources and Citation - Pearson Publishing

1. Provide clear attribution of outside sources.

2. Identify all works and phrases taken from sources by  enclosing them  within quotation marks.

3. Follow all quotations, paraphrases, and summaries of outside sources with appropriate and complete citations.

4. Use your own words and sentence structure when you paraphrase.

5. Be certain that all summaries and paraphrases of your sources are accurate and objective.

6. Include all print and retrievable electronic sourcs in the References page that follows the body of your papers.

7. Provide documentation for all visual images, charts, and graphs from printed or electronic sources.