One of the most important reasons to cite your sources is to avoid plagiarism, which is a violation of the Foothill College Academic Integrity Policy. Citing your sources is a standard academic practice that helps your reader find the resources you used to write your paper. You might think of it as leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for your reader to follow through your research process. It provides evidence to support your work and increases your credibility.
When to Cite?
Whenever you copy a paragraph, a sentence, or a phrase from an article, book, website, etc., you must put quotation marks around it and cite it, i.e., state where the quote came from. Even if you paraphrase information you have read, it is necessary to give credit to the author by citing where you found the information. There is an exception: You are not required to cite "common knowledge," facts that many people know or can easily find out; for example, the Earth orbits the sun. However, it is not always clear what is considered common knowledge. Does everyone in your class know that Walt Whitman was an American poet? If you're not sure whether something is common knowledge, it's best to be on the safe side and cite it.
See the tabs above for information on APA, MLA, Chicago, and NLM styles. The NoodleTools tab has information on a citation tool called NoodleTools that will help you format your citations.
Many databases provide citations for articles. In Academic Search Premier, for example, you can click on in the margin to the right of an article to get the citation in several different citation styles. Be sure to always double-check such citations to ensure they are correct.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty in which you present someone else's work, words, or ideas as your own. The Foothill College Academic Integrity Policy identifies four examples of plagiarism:
- Incorporating the ideas, words, sentences, or parts of another's writings, without giving appropriate credit, and representing the product as your own;
- Representing another's artistic or scholarly works such as musical compositions, computer programs, photographs, paintings, drawings, or sculptures as your own;
- Submitting a paper purchased from a research or term paper service, including the Internet; or
- Undocumented Web source usage.
Plagiarism has consequences. You may receive a failing grade on your paper, and your grade in the class may be lowered. You may also be reported to the Student Affairs and Activities Office; administrative penalties include disciplinary probation, disciplinary suspension, and expulsion. Find more tips on avoiding plagiarism here.
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