Information Literacy 5 - Using Information Ethically
Valencia College Libraries

Module 5

computer.jpg [Read the following scene. Then, click "next page" to begin the learning module.]


Scene 5

English class, Tuesday morning.

PROFESSOR SAGE: Your paper including a complete Works Cited page is due on Thursday. You have already practiced doing citations for your Annotated Bibliography assignment, so this should be review. Remember that you will include only the sources that you actually used in your paper on your Works Cited page.

VAL (raising hand): What if we have questions about citing some of our sources? I have a web site that I'm having a little trouble with.

PROFESSOR SAGE: If you would like to stay for a minute after class I can take a look at it, but if you get stuck later at home, there are lots of other resources you can use. Look at the example sheet that I've given you, and if you still have questions, you can consult your handbook or the MLA Handbook available at the library. The library has lots of citation examples on their web site, so use those, too. If you're still stuck, you can also get help from the librarians or from the Writing Center.

MATT (raising hand): I have an article from a database that I'm using, and I remember that there was a list of citation examples for databases somewhere, but I forget where.

PROFESSOR SAGE: That's on the library web site, but you can get to it from Atlas. Login and click on MLA and APA Style Guides from the MyAtlas tab. All of the databases are listed under MLA Documentation of Electronic Sources.

MATT: Okay. Thanks.

PROFESSOR SAGE: Please remember to use in-text citations every time you quote, paraphrase or summarize. I do not want any of you to plagiarize, even unintentionally...


Image credit: Microsoft Clip Gallery

Introduction: Using Information Ethically



The final step in research is crediting your sources correctly. Val must use the MLA citation style consistently and correctly. This includes compiling a complete list of her works cited to insert at the end of her paper, and incorporating in-text citations and quotation marks where appropriate. Val needs to know when to use in-text citations and when they are not necessary, so that she can avoid plagiarism.


This module explains what plagiarism is and how Val can avoid it. Complete all activities to learn how to avoid plagiarism.



Image credit: Microsoft Clip Gallery

What is plagiarism?


"The unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work."

From The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2d ed.


If Val copies someone else's words into her paper and she does not give the original author appropriate credit for his or her work, she is plagiarizing. Val is stealing the hard work of another person and passing it off as if it were her own effort.


The bottom line: Using an author's words, thoughts, or ideas without giving credit is plagiarism.



Image credit: istockphoto

Which of the following situations are plagiarism?


 Toggle open/close quiz group



Types of Plagiarism

thief mouse.png Plagiarism can be either intentional or unintentional.  What does this mean? 

Intentional plagiarism: If Val purposely copied from another person and did not give him or her credit to hide the fact that material used was not her own work, she plagiarized. This category includes


Unintentional plagiarism: If Val is sloppy with her citations or documentation, she is still plagiarizing even if she didn't mean to steal. This category includes:


 Self-plagiarism, using an assignment created for another class without permission, can be either intentional or unintentional. Self-plagiarism is considered plagiarism because each assignment given by a professor is intended to add to Val's knowledge and skills. If Val simply reuses an old assignment, she will not learn anything new or add to her skills.


The bottom line: Plagiarism is intellectual theft, even when it is unintentional.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Gallery



Penalties for Plagiarism

F grade.png Plagiarism at Valencia can be considered either an academic offense or a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Penalties for an academic offense include:

Penalties for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct include:



POLICY AND PROCEDURE Number: 6Hx28:10-16

Academic Dishonesty


The bottom line: Plagiarism can have very serious consequences at Valencia. 


Image credit: Microsoft Clip Gallery

Review Questions

 Toggle open/close quiz group



Citation Styles

Val has already created an annotated bibliography in the MLA style, but she has heard that other classes use the APA style. She wonders when she would use one instead of the other.

chicago2.jpg There are actually lots of different styles used for creating citations. These include

At Valencia the two commonly used formats for creating citations are APA and MLA, but some professors may require other styles. If you are unsure, always ask your professor which style to use.


The bottom line: There are many citation styles. Ask your professor which one to use.


Image credit: Syndetic Solutions



APA stands for American Psychological Association. It is often used in




MLA is the Modern Language Association style. It is most often required in


APA and MLA use most of the same basic components in a citation; they just arrange and display them differently.



The bottom line: The two most commonly used citation styles at Valencia are MLA and APA.


Image credits: Syndetic Solutions



To Cite or Not to Cite?

question mark.png


Val knows that for her final paper she must use in-text citations as well as including all her sources on a works cited page at the end of the paper, but she is uncertain about when she needs to include the in-text citations.

In the next section, we will look at when to cite and when not to.



When Not To Cite

The following do not require citation:


Common Knowledge

If information is "common knowledge," or can be gathered from many sources, it does not need a specific cited source directly linked to it.  The same information appearing in three or more reputable sources is considered common knowledge. Examples of this often include:




However, if Val has any doubt, it's best for her to cite a source!


The bottom line: An author's personal thoughts and common knowledge do not require an in-text citation.


Image credit: pt. periodictable. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license



Help Val choose the common knowledge sentences that don't need citations.


 Toggle open/close quiz group


When to Cite

lightbulb.JPG Direct Quotations

If Val uses an author's exact words she must put them in quotation marks and cite the author, both in the body of her paper immediately following the quote and at the end of her paper.


Val can put an author's thoughts into her own words, but she must cite the source, again both at the end of the sentence and at the end of her paper.

And…changing only a few words does NOT constitute paraphrasing. Val really does have to reword the quote and paraphrase in HER own words!


Val can sum up an author's ideas in her own words, but because the ideas are not her own, she must cite in and at the end of the paper.


The bottom line: Direct quotes, paraphrases and summaries all require an in-text citation.


Image credit: Microsoft Clip Gallery

Direct Quotations Examples


tattooremoval.jpg Here are two examples of direct quotations in the MLA style:

In the second example, the author of the quotation is used to introduce the quotation and does not need to be included at the end of the sentence. If there were a page number for the source, this would be still be included in parentheses at the end in the MLA style.

Here's a link to the original article:

The full citation for these quotations would be included on the Works Cited page at the end of the paper:


Works Cited

US Food and Drug Admin. Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe? US Food and Drug Admin. US Food and Drug Admin., Oct. 2009.Web. 19 June 2012.



Image credit: ragz1138. Phoenix coverup during. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license


Paraphrasing Example

FDA.jpg In a paraphrase, Val takes information from a sentence or a group of sentences and puts it in her own words. This means that Val's paraphrase should not use the same structure as the original sentence nor the same words (except for words that are essential to the concept. In this case it would be difficult to rewrite the sentence without using either "tattoo" or "ink.")


Original Passage:

"While state and local authorities oversee the practice of tattooing, ink and ink colorings (pigments) used in tattoos are subject to FDA regulation as cosmetics and color additives."




The US Food and Drug Administration makes rules about tattoo ink, and cities and states are in charge of tattoo parlors (US Food and Drug Admin.)


The complete citation information goes on the Works Cited page at the end of the paper.



Works Cited


US Food and Drug Admin. Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe? US Food and Drug Admin. US Food and Drug Admin., Oct. 2009.Web. 19 June 2012.


Image credit: US Food and Drug Administration

Summarizing Example

fda scientists.jpg  When Val summarizes, she puts information in her own words, but the information is not taken from a sentence or two. It is taken from a larger section of the source, or even the entire source.


The FDA has not done enough research to decide whether tattoos are safe; they are looking into chemical reactions between ink and skin and the interaction among light, skin and ink (US Food and Drug Admin.)




Works Cited


US Food and Drug Admin. Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe? US Food and Drug Admin. US Food and Drug Admin., Oct. 2009.Web. 19 June 2012.


Image credit: US Food and Drug Administration

Read the following passage and then decide whether the quiz examples are plagiarized.

Assume that the citation given below is on a Works Cited page at the end of the paper:


"Obesity poses a major public health challenge. Each year, obesity contributes to an estimated 112,000 preventable deaths. Obese adults are at increased risk for many serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and its complications, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and respiratory problems, as well as endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancers" (Office of the Surgeon General 2)

MLA Works Cited Entry:

Office of the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of

Health and Human Services, January 2010. Web. 1 Nov. 2010.


 Toggle open/close quiz group



Test Your Knowledge!


Carefully read the original article on the history of tattoo in Hawaii


Now read the following student passage and identify all the problems you see in the passage. In the box below explain what is wrong with the passage and what you would do to fix it.


Captain Cook played a role in the breakdown of Hawaiian traditions including tattooing. Hawaiian tattooing was called "kakau," and Hawaiians considered it important for aesthetic, health and religious reasons (Pacific Islanders in Communication). Traditional Hawaiian tattoos took their patterns from nature. The designs were applied by specially trained kahuna, experts in one or more critical task, who applied pigment to the skin with a needle made from bone, tied to a stick and struck by a mallet. The process was a big secret, and the tools were broken afterward. In the nineteenth century this practice began to disappear. "Kakau was discouraged and suppressed."


Pacific Islanders in Communication. "History of Tattoo." Skin Stories: the Art and Culture of Polynesian

           Tattoo. PBS, 2003. Web. 3 Aug. 2012.


 Toggle open/close quiz question




A grade.jpg

...English Class, the following Thursday.

PROFESSOR SAGE: I was pleased with your papers. There were a lot of interesting topics, and most of you did very well with your citations. I am going to return them now. Please read my comments before you ask any questions about your grade.

[Sounds of papers being distributed.]

MATT: [to VAL] How did you do?

VAL: An A!

MATT: Me, too! You know, writing that paper was not as hard as I thought it would be. Breaking the process up into steps really helps. I think I'll be able to do this again for other classes.

VAL: I think so, too. Comp II here we come!


Image credit: Microsoft



This concludes Tutorial #5: Using Information Ethically. In this module you learned:

You also practiced identifying:




Image credit: Microsoft Clip Gallery