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Beyond Google: Research for College Success

Citations, Plagiarism, Copyright, and more...


  • Understand the purpose and parts of a citation
  • Understand how the citation helps you locate a source
  • Understand how to cite your sources using either MLA or APA
  • Understand the issues around copyright, fair use, and more...
  • Understand what is plagiarism


If you are at this Lecture #6 site and reading this text, need I mention that you should have completed quiz #6. 

Following the above objectives, this lecture elaborates on the readings from the textbook and provides activities on citations and copyright issues. 

You are now in the process of preparing your third draft of your annotated bibliography (due next week).  All copyrighted works selected for your final annotated bibliography should be cited properly and it should be free of plagiarism

Below, at the very bottom, please consult the links to the MLA or APA style manual.  Please review all feedback that I have provided in your previous submissions and adjust whatever is needed in your document, accordingly.

Any questions you may have, please do not hesitate to email me or drop by my virtual office hour.   

6.1. Citations

A citation is a brief description of one specific information source, usually appearing in a bibliography, list of references, or a database. It includes enough information to permit the reader to find the source and may appear in a number of variant formats, e.g. American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), or Chicago Style.

A citation is made of parts, each part indicating specific information about the source. You can usually tell what type of source is being described by looking carefully at the citation. So for example, the citation below is in MLA 8th ed style and it refers to an article found in a journal called the Journal of Social History.  The various parts of the citation are highlighted in different colors. 


Guy, Donna J. "The Women's Suffrage Movement in Argentina from Roca to Peron." Journal of Social History, vol 47, no.1,

Fall 2013, pp. 238-239. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/jsh/sht015

Author Lastname, Firstname (and other initials if available). "Title of article in quotation marks." Title of journal in italics. volume number, issue number, Date, page number(s). Database, doi [or URL when doi is not available]


If this article were to be formatted in the APA 7th edition, it will look like this: 

Guy, D. J. (2013). The Women's Suffrage Movement in Argentina from Roca to Peron. Journal of Social History, 47(1), 

238 - 239. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/jsh/sht015

Author Lastname, First initial (and other initials if available). (Date) Title of article (no quotation marks). Title of journal in italics, volume number(issue number), page#-Page#. Database, doi [or URL when doi is not available]


Accurate citations allow you to track down the most difficult-to-find sources, wherever they may be located.  Citations can  represent any written, spoken, or broadcast source, including Web sites, a single chapter from a book, the text of a law or treaty, an interview, or a documentary video. 

6.2a. As such, you MUST cite, reference or document your source:


  1. Whenever you use factual information or data you found in a source, so your reader knows who gathered the information and where to find its original form.
  2. Whenever you quote verbatim two or more words in a row, or even a single word or label that's distinctive, so the reader can verify the accuracy and context of your quotation, and will credit the source for crafting the exact formulation. Words you take verbatim from another person need to be put in quotation marks, even if you take only two or three words; it's not enough simply to cite. If you go on to use the quoted word or phrase repeatedly in your paper, however, you don't need to cite it each subsequent time.
  3. Whenever you summarize, paraphrase, or otherwise use ideas, opinions, interpretations, or conclusions written by another person, so your readers know that you are summarizing thoughts formulated by someone else, whose authority your citation invokes, and whose formulations readers can consult and check against your summary.
  4. Whenever you make use of a source's distinctive structure, organizing strategy, or method, such as the way an argument is divided into distinct parts or sections or kinds, or a distinction is made between two aspects of a problem; or a particular procedure for studying some phenomenon (in a text, in the laboratory, in the field) that was developed by a certain person or group.
  5. Whenever you mention in passing some aspect of another person's work, unless that work is very widely known, so readers know where they can follow up on the reference.

6.2b. When Not to Cite, Reference, or Document Your Source


  1. When the source and page-location of the relevant passage are obvious from a citation earlier in your own paragraph. If you refer to the same page in your source for many sentences in a row, you don't need to cite the source again until your refer to a different page in it or start a new paragraph of your paper.
  2. When dealing with "common knowledge," knowledge that is familiar or easily available in many different sources (including encyclopedias, dictionaries, basic textbooks) and isn't arguable or based on a particular interpretation; (i.e. the date of the Stock Market Crash, the distance to Saturn, the structure of the American Congress, the date or birth of the discoverer of DNA. This is commonly available knowledge. Obviously, what counts as "common knowledge" varies from situation to situation; when in doubt ask - or cite anyway, to be safe. Note that when you draw a great deal of information from a single source, you should cite that source even if the information is common knowledge, since the source (and its particular way of organizing the information) has made a significant contribution to your paper.
  3. When you use phrases that have become part of everyday speech: you don't need to remind your reader where "all the world's a stage" or "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" first appeared, or even to put such phrases in quotation marks.
  4. When you draw on ideas or phrases that arose in conversation with a friend, classmate, instructor, or teaching assistant - including conversation by e-mail or other electronic media. You should acknowledge help of this kind, however, in a note. Be aware that these people may themselves be using phrases and ideas from their reading or lectures. If you write a paper that depends heavily on an idea you heard in conversation with someone, you should check with that person about the source of the idea. Also be aware that no instructor or teaching assistant will appreciate your incorporating his or her ideas from conversation verbatim into your paper, but will expect you to express the ideas in your own way and to develop them.

6.3. Citing your Sources

Well, by now, you should know that a citation is an important part of the research process. There are a number of different styles or formats for citations. Which style you use depends upon the subject discipline you are working in. If you are uncertain about which style to use, ask your professor.

Each style includes the same basic parts of a citation, but may organize them slightly differently. Two commonly used styles are: 

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association.  This MLA guide is used primarily by Majors in English, Literature, Fine Arts, and World Languages.  It provides guidance on format and citation styles, e.g., (a) how to list your works cited in the Reference (or bibliography) section, (b) how to refer to numbers in your research papers, (c) how to create headings for your research paper, etc.  The links below are worth a look.  Bookmark these links, if your major uses the MLA guide.  You won't regret it as it will be a lifesaver for you in writing papers throughout your time in college.
Guide to citing sources in MLA style:


APA stands for the American Psychological Association.  This APA guide is used primarily by majors in the Social Sciences, namely Psychology, Business, Education, Nursing, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work.  It provides guidance on format and citation styles, e.g. (a) how to list your works cited in the Reference (or bibliography) section; (b) how to refer to numbers in your research paper; (c) how to create headings for your research paper; etc.  The links below are worth a look.  Bookmark these links, if your major uses the APA style.  You won't regret it as it would be a lifesaver for you when writing research papers throughout your time in college. 

Quick Reference Guide:

Sample APA paper:

Watch this video on citing in APA style: Introduction to APA Style Manual, 7th edition from CSUDH Library.

6.4 Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as: “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person: the act of plagiarizing something.”   In other words, Plagiarism is presenting the words or ideas of someone else as your own without proper acknowledgement of the source.  If you don't credit the author, you are committing a type of theft called plagiarism.  Hence, when you work on a research paper you will probably find supporting material for your paper from works by others.  It's okay to use the ideas of other people but you need to correctly credit them.  

When you quote ANYONE -- or even when you summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles, or Web pages -- you must acknowledge the original author. It is PLAGIARISM when you:

  1. Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
  2. Cut and paste passages from the Web, a book, or an article and insert them into your paper without citing them. Warning! It is now easy to search and find passages that have been copied from the Web.
  3. Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them.
  4. Paraphrase someone's words without citing them.

6.5 Understanding what plagiarism is, starting with Copyright

Copyright is a complex and confusing area of the law these days. But you should know the following about copyright:

  1. Everything that is produced is automatically copyrighted. The U.S. Copyright Office puts it this way: "Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is 'created' when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. 'Copies' are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device…” Thus, a book, Website, sound recording, or photograph are all examples of works that are automatically protected by copyright immediately upon their creation. The U.S. Copyright Office’s website at gives in-depth information.
  2. There is no need to register for copyright or to put any words or symbol on an item: it is copyrighted merely by existing. The owner can, of course, register for copyright, as well as putting a notice on the work such as:

Copyright 2020, College of Staten Island/CUNY. All rights reserved.

The right to copy (i.e, to control intellectual property) is protected for many years. The U.S. Copyright Office tells us:

“A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of 'a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,' the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death.

  1. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.” A helpful chart can be found at: Is it a Public Domain Work? from the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana
  2. Does that mean I cannot use a copyrighted work? No. Here is what the Copyright Website says:
  3. “The 'fair use' provision of the law says use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
  4. In some countries, copyright must be registered to become effective.
  5. In the United States, copyright is established as soon as a work is created

6.6 Works in the PUBLIC DOMAIN ... for you to freely use!

Also, there are numerous works that are freely available for anyone to use and they are in what’s called the Public Domain. Works in the public domain include works with the following characteristics:

  • Originally Non-copyrightable such as ideas, facts, titles, names, short phrases and blank forms
  • Lost Copyright such as all works published before January 1, 1978 that did not contain a valid copyright notice may be considered to be in the public domain. This also included materials with "no known restrictions" such as photographs on flickr with this designation.
  • Expired Copyright for which the statutory copyright period has expired.  These include iterary works written by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, & William Wordsworth; music written by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Mozart, and Sebastian Bach; artwork such as the Mona Lisa, paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Eduard Monet, and most recently Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and Edward Hopper.
  • Government Documents are not copyrighted, and therefore are considered to be in the Public Domain. These works fall under the public domain because they have been paid for by public funds.  Consequently, if you obtain a government document from the net, such as a law, statute, agency circular, federal report, or any other document published or generated by the federal government, you are free to copy or distribute the document.
  • Works Granted to the Public Domain if the copyright owner grants the work to the public domain.  ‚ÄčIf you have an interest in seeing what is available in the public domain, Project Gutenberg makes available thousands of literary works in the public domain and The Getty Museum makes available thousands of artwork that in the public domain.


6.7 Fair Use

"Fair use" allows the use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances: commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education.  However, each time you use a work that has a copyright holder, whether the work is in print, on a website, on a music CD, in a television broadcast or in a movie, you need to consider these four factors.

  • The purpose – Non-profit, educational and personal uses are more likely considered fair use than those intended to generate a profit.

  • The nature – Nonfiction works are more likely to be considered fair use than fiction…Fair use would most likely favor published, printed works.

  • The effect on the potential market – Economic interests of the copyright holder. …a use that affects the current or future profitability would most likely not be considered fair use. (Butler, 2001)

Examples of "fair use" in an educational setting:

  • Students and instructors may make use of videos or sound recordings in creating multimedia presentations - for use in the classroom ONLY.
  • Instructors may copy small portions of books or journals for supplemental readings, but they are not allowed to copy the entire work -- for use in the classroom ONLY.

Now, Go to Blackboard Course site for LIB 102...

Please log in to Blackboard to complete the following listed in Lesson#6.  Any assignment, quiz, or tutorial given in this lesson MUST be completed on or before March 7, 2023 and submitted by 11:30pm.

  1. Complete Tutorial: Cite and Avoid Plagiarism.
  2. Submit 3rd draft of annotated bibliography - a book and a reference source, or two other articles.
  3. Work on creating proper citations for each annotation in your bibliography
  4. Prepare for next mini-quiz scheduled for March 8, 2023, which is based on the above readings and modules in Blackboard for lesson #6





CREDIT: With permission, partial content on this web page was adapted from the University of Idaho Information Literacy Portal.