Get Started with Basic Research: Citing Sources

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Why Cite?

When you quote or paraphrase the idea of another person in your research paper or speech, you must provide a proper citation for the source. These citations:

  • give credit to the author
  • enable others to locate the source that you cited
  • improve the credibility of your work, especially if you cited authoritative sources

If you use other people's words, ideas, or work (including graphics, charts, and tables) without properly giving them credit, you are committing plagiarism, which is a serious violation of NSU's academic honesty policy

There are many forms of plagiarism, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Not properly citing your sources when paraphrasing or quoting
  • Re-using your own class paper/assignment in other classes (self-plagiarism)
  • Copy-and-pasting from another paper, website, or article 
  • Buying, selling, or submitting a paper written by someone else as your own

Use the chart below to help you determine when something should be cited. 

Ask yourself... Should I cite?
Is it someone else's words? Yes, cite it as a quote 
Is it someone else’s idea or theory but in my own words? Yes, cite it as paraphrased
Is it my own idea or experience?  No need to cite
Is it common knowledge?  No need to cite

Hint: You can usually regard information and facts as common knowledge if you can find that same information in at least five credible sources without it being cited. However, when in doubt, cite it!

Paraphrasing

Be careful when paraphrasing information into your own words. Simply swapping out some words with synonyms is not proper paraphrasing. You must critically analyze and interpret the original passage and restate the essential points entirely in your own words. For more tips about paraphrasing, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Citing Sources

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources. In-text citations are placed within the body of your paper near the information being quoted or paraphrased. Complete bibliographic citations are listed at the end of your paper as references or works cited. There are many different citation styles so be sure to use the one utilized by your program/discipline. While librarians cannot tell you how to cite a specific source, they can help you use the style manual and other resources to find examples. Here are a few of the most common citation styles with links to library resources for help:

Keep in mind that the penalties for plagiarism are the same whether or not it was intentional. Ignorance is not a defense when facing academic discipline or dismissal for plagiarism. If you are not sure whether an act constitutes as plagiarism or you have questions on citing sources, be sure to ask a librarian.

How to Know When to Cite:

Related Guides:

Citation Styles

The format of a proper citation depends upon the citation style being used.  Most commonly, students are required to use APA or MLA.  
For consistency, both of these styles provide specific standards for:

  • citing within the body of a paper (in text)
  • a bibliography or reference list at the end of a paper

What do you think?

Is copy-and-pasting from another paper, website, or article a form of plagiarism?
Yes: 2 votes (100%)
No: 0 votes (0%)
Not Sure: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 2
Is re-using your own class paper/assignment in other classes a form of plagiarism?
Yes: 2 votes (100%)
No: 0 votes (0%)
Not Sure: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 2
Do I need to cite other people's words, ideas, or work such as images and charts?
Yes: 2 votes (100%)
No: 0 votes (0%)
Not Sure: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 2

Step 1: Identify the source type. Step 2: Plug the citation information into the correct format based on APA Style. Step 3: Add the citations to the Reference list.

Visit our APA page for sample citations for other types of sources.

Step 1: Identify the source type. Step 2: Plug the citation information into the correct format based on MLA Style. Step 3: Add the citations to the list of Works Cited.

Visit Purdue's OWL for sample MLA citations for other types of sources.