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Osceola Writing Center

Citing and Plagiarism

Academic integrity is highly regarded in American universities and colleges. When we use other people's ideas and other people's words, we are required to provide credit to the original author. This credit is given by utilizing citations. Different styles require different formatting of citations, but they all require for you to cite your source of information.

What is Plagiarism?

When you break it down, plagiarism is simply using someone else's intellectual property without acknowledging where you got the information. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional; intentional plagiarism may be dealt with more harshly than the unintentional variety, but in either case, you may be held accountable for not giving credit appropriately.


Common Misconceptions

1. All I need is a works cited / references page.

If you have a works cited / references page, but you do not have in-text citations, then you are still in danger of plagiarizing. Without the in-text citations, your reader does not know what information in your paper came from a source or what is yours. In addition, it's impossible to know whether you even consulted a source that you listed (apart from plagiarism checking software like Turnitin).

2. One in-text citation is enough.

While this may be true if you only have 1 sentence that contains information from a source, many people believe that if they cite a source somewhere within a paragraph that they are covered even if other information from the source is contained in other places within the paragraph. However, you typically need to cite each sentence that contains information from a source.

3. I only need to cite if I use a quote.

Citations are required for quotes and paraphrases. If you get information from a source, whether you choose to use the sources exact wording (quote) or use your own wording (paraphrase), the citation follows the idea.

4. As long as I change a quote a little, I don't have to use quotation marks.

If you choose to paraphrase, you must make sure that you change the original enough so that it's in your own words. If you change a word or two, or simply rearrange parts of the original wording, you are still plagiarizing.

5. I learned the information a long time ago, or before I did my research, so I don't need to cite it.

There are certain instances where information may not need cited. This kind of information is usually called "common knowledge." Still, it doesn't matter how long ago you learned something, if you use specific information in your paper that is not common knowledge, whether you knew it previously or not, you will need to cite it. For example, let's say that someone was in 10th grade and he/she learned that 9 million people per year are diagnosed with kidney stones, this information is probably not considered common knowledge unless your audience is made up of kidney doctors. Consequently, you should try to find a source for the information again (and with the power of the internet, that should be pretty easy).



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