One of the most important reasons to cite your sources is to avoid plagiarism, which is a violation of the Foothill College Academic Honor Code. Citing your sources is a standard academic practice that helps your reader find the resources you used to write your paper. You might think of it as leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for your reader to follow through your research process. It provides evidence to support your work and increases your credibility.
When to Cite?
Whenever you copy a paragraph, a sentence, or a phrase from an article, book, website, etc., you must put quotation marks around it and cite it, i.e., state where the quote came from. Even if you paraphrase information you have read, it is necessary to give credit to the author by citing where you found the information. There is an exception: You are not required to cite "common knowledge," facts that many people know or can easily find out; for example, the Earth orbits the sun. However, it is not always clear what is considered common knowledge. Does everyone in your class know that Walt Whitman was an American poet? If you're not sure whether something is common knowledge, it's best to be on the safe side and cite it.
There are several widely used style manuals, the most common of which are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago Manual of Style/Turabian. Ask your instructor which style you should use.
For MLA and APA style citations, see these guides for examples of how to cite:
The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) is also an excellent resource for information on conducting research and citation styles.
Many databases provide citations for articles. In Ebscohost databases, for example, you can click on in the margin to the right of an article to get the citation in several different citation styles. Be sure to always double-check such citations to ensure they are correct.
We also have a citation tool called NoodleTools that will help you develop your citations. NoodleBib helps you create citations and much more! Use it when you start your research to organize your sources, take notes, and write outlines.
Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty in which you present someone else's work, words, or ideas as your own. The Foothill College Academic Honor Code identifies four examples of plagiarism:
Plagiarism has consequences. You may receive a failing grade on your paper, and your grade in the class may be lowered. You may also be reported to the Student Affairs and Activities Office; administrative penalties include disciplinary probation, disciplinary suspension, and expulsion. Find more tips on avoiding plagiarism here.
Full-text online version of this well-known guide to English grammar and usage.
A guide sponsored by the Capital Community College in Hartford, CT.
Writing resources for ESL students from the Purdue Online Writing Lab.