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 like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for your reader to follow through your research process. It provides evidence to support your work and improves 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 sun rises in the east. 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.
How to Cite?
There are several widely used citation systems, such as MLA, APA, and Chicago Style or Turabian. Ask your instructor which system you should use.
For MLA and APA style citations, see these guides for examples of how to cite:
Citing Sources: MLA Style
Citing Sources: APA Style
We also have a citation tool called NoodleBib 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.
What is Plagiarism?
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:
- Incorporating the ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, or parts of another person's writings, without giving appropriate credit, and representing the product as your own;
- Representing another's artistic or scholarly works such as musical compositions, computer programs, photographs, paintings, drawings or sculptures as your own;
- Submitting a paper purchased from a research or term paper service, including the Internet; or
- Undocumented Web source usage.
While it is sometimes appropriate to quote an author or to use his or her ideas, you must give the author credit when you do so. You give credit by citing the book, article, or website where you found the information.
Plagiarism can have 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, or expulsion.