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citation guide: Avoiding Plagiarism

Why should I cite my sources?
  • To acknowledge ownership of information
  • To show the basis of your knowledge
  • To invite academic dialog regarding your work

When should I cite my sources?
  • You cite a source when the information is not your own.
  • You cite a source when the information is not common knowledge
  • Example: George Washington was the first President of the United States is common knowledge, and it would not need to be cited.
  • Example: George Washington's wife Martha was first married to Daniel Parke Custis is not common knowledge, and it would need to be cited.

How do I cite my sources?
  • When you quote the original source: Copy the original source, word for word, and footnote the source.
    Example: "The big picture is about knowledge building: each piece of reported research adds to the collective construction of knowledge. Research serves as the foundation on which new contributions to knowledge are built. Without citation, there is no reliable and organized system for knowledge building, no mortar for securing the foundation" (Walker and Taylor 9)."
  • When you paraphrase the original source: Reproduce the exact content of the original in your own words and footnote the source.
    Example: Walker and Taylor emphasize that the real reason why we cite source we have consulted is to contribute to the creation of shared knowledge. The research of others is the base on which new understanding is established. If we did not cite the work of others, there would be no accepted method "for knowledge building" (9).
  • When you summarize the original source: Convey the idea of the passage in your own words and footnote the source.
    Example: Walker and Taylor point out that the real purpose of citation is to create a shared knowledge base (9).

What does "In My Own Words" mean?

Troyka gives the following example of the changes that need to occur to make it your own words. (498) Notice how you cannot copy phrases even if the majority of words have been changed. The bold phrases in the examples below are unacceptable and are considered plagiarism even though there is notation.

Original Source:
Unfortunately, different countries have different ideas about exactly how close is close. It is easy enough to test your own "space reaction": when you are talking to someone in the street or in any open space, reach out with your arm and see where the nearest point on his body comes. If you hail from western Europe, you will find that he is at roughly fingertip distance from you. In other words, as you reach out, your fingertips will just about make contact with his shoulder. If you come from eastern Europe, you will find you are standing at "wrist distance." If you come form the Mediterranean region, you will find that you are much closer to your companion, at little more than "elbow distance." Morris, Desomond. Manwatching. New York: Abrams, 1977: 131.

UNACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASE
ACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASE
Regrettably, different nations think differently about exactly how close is close. Test yourself: When you are talking to someone in the street or in any open space, stretch your arm out to measure how close that person is to you. If you are from western Europe, you will find that your fingertips will just about make contact with the person's shoulder. If you are from eastern Europe, your wrist will reach the person's shoulder. If you are from the Mediterranean region, you will find that you are much closer to your companion, when your elbow will reach that person's shoulder (Morris 131). According to Morris, people from different nations think that "close" means different things. You can easily see what your reaction is to how close to you people stand by reaching out the length of your arm to measure how close someone is as the two of you talk. When people from western Europe stand on the street and talk together, the space between them is the distance it would take one person's fingertips to reach to the other person's shoulder. People from eastern Europe converse at a wrist-to-shoulder distance. People from the Mediterranean, however, prefer an elbow-to-shoulder distance (131).
Different countries have different ideas about exactly how close is close. West Europe prefer to be at arms' length from the person they are talking to while east Europeans prefer wrist distance and the Mediterranean like elbow distance (131). Expected amounts of space between people when they are talking differ among cultures: in general, people from western Europe prefer fingertip-to-shoulder distance, from eastern Europe, wrist-to-shoulder, and from the Mediterranean elbow-to-shoulder (131).


Works Referenced
  • Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Fifth Edition. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999.
  • How to use Sources and Avoid Plagiarism. Retrieved May 20, 2003, from http://www.wlu.ca/writing/handouts/usesources.htm
  • Troyka, Lynn Quitman. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers. Fifth Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999.
  • Walker, Janice R. and Taylor, Todd. The Columbia Guide to Online Style. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  • Why We Cite Sources in Academic Papers: Three Reasons. Retrieved May 20, 2003, from http://www.wlu.ca/writing/handouts/cite.htm