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Citing Information Sources in Research Projects

Plagiarism can be defined as using someone else’s words, ideas, images, or data without properly acknowledging the original source. Examples of plagiarism include:

  • copying exactly someone else’s work without acknowledging the original source
  • altering someone else’s words, ideas, images, or data and presenting them as one’s own
  • claiming as one’s own work that was created, altered, or revised by someone else.

Plagiarism is a serious offense and can result in academic or legal penalties; however, plagiarism can be avoided by using information in an ethical way.

Ethical use of information ensures that the original creator of a source is properly acknowledged each time his or her words, information, ideas, or images are used in another work. This is achieved by documenting, or citing, information each time it is used.

Proper documentation of sources serves several purposes, including:

  • providing complete publication information for a source
  • giving credit to the original creator of a source
  • enabling the reader to more easily find the original source
  • providing a standardized style for recording that information.

Documentation styles provide guidelines for citing sources within a research project as well as in a list of references or works cited. These guidelines are established by various professional organizations according to the discipline or field of study, such as:

  • Modern Language Association (MLA): literature, languages, and other humanities
  • American Psychological Association (APA): psychology and other behavioral sciences
  • University of Chicago (also called Turabian): social sciences.

Check with the course instructor to determine which style is required for your research project. Follow these links for assistance with the styles most commonly used at this college (you will need Adobe Reader to view or print the first four PDF documents below):