Plagiarism:  How do I correctly cite my sources?   Examples

Plagiarism, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is "the action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea,  [words, cartoon, graph, chart, PowerPoint] etc., and passing it off as one's own."

Bibliographies: A bibliography or list of references provided at the conclusion of your paper informs the reader about the materials you consulted for your research but does not sufficiently acknowledge where you acquired the specific information that you discuss and refer to within the text of your paper.

Documenting sources: To avoid plagiarizing, you must give credit to those authors and sources from which you obtained information or ideas. Consequently, along with the bibliography, you will need to document quotations, text which you reword or rephrase, and summaries of text or ideas that you incorporate into your own work. In writing your paper, should you include information from a book, article, or website without acknowledging the original material, you may be accused of PLAGIARISM. 

A "Parenthetical Reference" is one method of documenting a source of information. The examples of parenthetical references provided below follow the MLA style. However, should your instructor require you to use footnotes or endnotes instead of parenthetical references or require you to follow a style of documentation other than MLA, you can refer to the appropriate manual for instructions. Consistency in following the rules for a particular style is important. For additional examples of parenthetical references, refer to the MLA or APA style manuals.  Other style manuals such as Chicago and Turabian provide examples of footnotes and endnotes for documentation. 

  • Quoting: When you quote a source or refer to specific statements or ideas in another document, you will mark the text with quotation marks and cite the author’s last name and the page number(s) of the source in parentheses at the end of the quoted text.

        Example: "The purpose of parenthetical references is to document a source
        briefly, clearly, and accurately" (Trimmer 10). 

        In the example above, Trimmer is the author of the text that is quoted; the quote is
        taken from page 10 of that text. The parenthetical reference briefly documents the
        quote and refers the reader to the bibliography for the complete citation.

  • Paraphrasing another's words or text without specifically quoting also requires documentation.  Paraphrase means that you are rewording the text in your own words but maintaining the meaning of the original text.

        Example: Trimmer states that if you mention the author’s name in your report after
        referencing that author's ideas, you need only give the page number(s) of the
        source in parentheses (10).

         In this example, Trimmer's name is included in the text so that only the page is
         necessary to include at the end of the paraphrased material.  This brief
         parenthetical reference provides enough information about the source to lead the
         reader to the bibliography for the complete citation.

  • Summarizing a text or idea: At times you will want to refer to the entire book or article in your paper or you may decide to summarize an author's ideas.  In this situation you do not need to use quotation marks, but you will need to acknowledge the source within the text or at the end of the sentence or paragraph with a parenthetical reference.

        Example: Throughout Trimmer's 1984 guide to the new MLA style, he repeatedly
        emphasizes the necessity of complete and thorough documentation.


American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological
5th ed. Washington, DC: APA. 2001.

Gibaldi, Joseph. The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. NY: Modern
            Language Association of America, 1998.

"Plagiarism."  Oxford English Dictionary.  2006 Draft Revision.  England: Oxford University
           Press,  2007.  Saint Michael's College Library, Colchester, VT.  28 May 2007.

Trimmer, Joseph H. A Guide to the New MLA Documentation Style. Boston: Houghton
             Mifflin, 1984.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed.
            Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago: University of
           Chicago Press, 1993.

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