When you quote people -- or even summarize or paraphrase
information found in books, articles, or Web pages -- you must
acknowledge the original author. It is plagiarism when you
- Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
- 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.
- Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them.
- Paraphrase that person's words without citing them
Cite, Reference or Document your sources:
When Not to Cite, Reference or Document your sources
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
| Radford, Marie L., Susan B. Barnes, and Linda R. Barr. Web Research:
Evaluating, and Citing. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.