Skip to main content

Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

Citation

We avoid plagiarizing by giving credit or attribution when we use others' ideas, whether we are paraphrasing or quoting. In academia, this practice of giving credit is called citation. There are many ways to do it, that is, there are different citation styles. But all include some key components; a list at the end of a work of other works referred to, an indication in the body of the text when the work of another is used. 

Why is Citing Important?

Citation is an important part of the research process not only because it allows you to give proper credit for the ideas of others and avoid plagiarism. It also allows others to identify and locate the materials used in your work. Many readers rely on citations to identify other relevant literature on a topic. And it demonstrates the depth of your research showing that you have read and engaged the relevant literature on your topic. This indicates that you have an informed understanding of your subject and enhances the credibility of your findings.

What Needs to be Cited?

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise refer to the work of another, you must cite the source using either a parenthetical citation, footnote, or endnote. In addition, a References page or Works Cited page is almost always placed at the end of your paper.

Parenthetical citations (also referred to as "in-text citations") are abbreviated citations that direct readers to the full bibliographic citations listed in your Works Cited or References list. In most cases, parenthetical citations include the author's last name and the page number for the information cited.

Footnotes and endnotes contain full bibliographic citations for the first time a source is cited and abbreviated citations (author's last name and page number) for each successive citation. The primary difference between footnotes and endnotes is that footnotes are placed numerically at the foot of the same page where the references are made, while endnotes are placed numerically at the end of the essay on a separate page entitled Endnotes or Notes.

Which Citation Style to Use?

Different academic disciplines use different citation styles. The three most popular citation styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago. It is always best to ask your professor which citation style they prefer, but as a general rule these styles are used as follows:

  • MLA: Art, Literature, and the Humanities
  • APA: Psychology and the Social Sciences
  • Chicago: History, Humanities, and the Sciences