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Citing Sources

Finding the information for your research paper and determining whether that information fits what you need is just the first part of the process. Next, when you’re using this information in your own work, you’ll need to cite your sources to avoid plagiarism. Ethical standards require that you give credit to all published authors for their ideas. This is especially true in scholarship, but the principle of proper reference documentation applies to other areas as well. In addition, it is important to cite your sources so that someone reading your work can track them down and come to their own conclusions.

When Do I Cite?

According to the College of Arts and Sciences' plagiarism tutorial on "When do I need to document sources?" (2005),

"If you use any external sources in your work, you must document every instance you do so. There are several ways of incorporating outside sources into your own work.

Direct Citation

  • The source is quoted directly, word for word
  • The source material is reproduced without alteration (e.g., diagrams, charts, other audiovisual material)

Indirect Citation

  • Part or all of someone else’s idea is reproduced in your own words (what is commonly known as a paraphrase)
  • Someone else’s research is used or summarized
  • Facts or data are used that are not common knowledge
  • Source material is reproduced in slightly altered form while retaining the main idea or structure of the original

Both direct and indirect citations require proper documentation. Quotations, in particular, must be enclosed within quotation marks or set off in block quotes."

Cornell University. (2005). Recognizing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from