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How to Cite Sources

Academic Papers

• An academic paper can be defined as a paper that uses outside resources of any kind, rather than your own creativity and imagination. Writing a poem, short story, memoir, or novel does not require any citation, although authors of historical fiction usually provide a bibliography or some other type of recognition for the basis of their plot and/or characters.
• In a paper you write for class, there are three main things that require a citation: direct quotes from articles, books, or websites; photos, graphs, or other images; and ideas that you might have reworded or paraphrased, but are no longer direct quotes.

Direct Quotes

• A direct quote should be cited immediately following the last quote mark: “Mobility and independent action have long characterized nomadic pastoralists” (Bates and Rassam, p. 124).

• Depending on what citation style your professor asks you to use (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.); your citation will look different. If you use footnotes or end notes, the number of the note should immediately follow the quote mark, where the parentheses (…) are above.

• “Mobility and independent action have long characterized nomadic pastoralists.”8 The appropriate bibliographic reference would then be listed under 8 in the end notes, or at the bottom of the page for foot notes.

• Microsoft Word will create footnotes by pressing CTRL+ALT+F or it will create and endnote by pressing CTRL+ALT+D. You can also find footnotes under the Insert menu, under Reference. Word will number your notes automatically as you go along, changing the numbers if you add or delete!

• Be sure you have all the correct bibliographic information such as author name, place of publishing, and copyright date. If you cite a website, be sure you have the date you accessed the site, when the site was last updated, and an author of the page if you can find it (title of the page will substitute here if there is no specific author or webmaster listed).

Photographs & Other Images

• Photographers, cartographers (mapmakers), and tacticians (they make a lot of graphs) are just like authors, whose work is considered intellectual property. If you are borrowing it for your paper, any images, graphics, models, and photographs must be cited.

Paraphrased Ideas

• When you “paraphrase,” you are rewording another author’s ideas instead of using a direct quote. Paraphrasing is often used to summarize or consolidate an idea, or perhaps to highlight an author’s broader point in a large work. Citing a paraphrased idea is just as important as citing a direct quote, because often a professor looking for plagiarism can tell when an idea is not typical of that student.

• When do you need to cite paraphrased ideas?
Putting the ideas from your source into your own words does not relieve you of the responsibility of having to cite your source. The only exception to this is when the paraphrased material is "common knowledge", a term that refers to the information that occurs in many different sources. (If you can find three sources that say the same information, you can usually regard that information as common knowledge.) In general, the mencahincs for citing paraphrased material are the same as a direct quote: the citation (parenthetical documentation or footnootes and endnotes) needs to come immediatelyafter the end of the idea. If you have introduced the name of the your source directly into your text (usually by using the author's name), you can generally assume that your readers will understand that all information that occurs from that point down to your next citation come from that source--so long as you keep the author's name and the citation within the same paragraph.

Can "pharaphrased" ideas actually be plagiarism?
If "paraphrased" in this case means poorly done paraphrases, the answer to this question, unfortunately, is yes. When you use information from other sources and do not use footnotes, you are saying two things to your reader in academic situations: (1) this information is specific to this source (it is not "common knowledge") and (2) these words are neither the author's words, nor his or her phraseology. A correctly done paraphrase does not use the author's words or the author's sentence structure. You must re-cast the sentences into your structures and use your own vocabulary. Word re-arranging is still plagiarism, even if is followed by a citation. If the author uses specialized terms or especially well-selected phrases, it is permissible for you to quote those terms or phrases and build your own sentences around those quotations. Citations are still required, of course. If you find that you must use three or more of the same words from the original text in the same order that they were used in the original, you need to quote, rather than paraphrase.

Quality Sources: DOs and DON'Ts of What to Use

Your professor is always telling you to use “legitimate” or “credible” sources, right? So, what qualifies in those categories? A good way to judge the difference between quality and not-so-quality sources: racy headlines and lots of pictures aren’t likely to have the most reliable information, but a journal that publishes academic articles is probably a good place to begin.
Unless you’re trying to write a paper about popular culture and need examples from People or Seventeen, most people avoid the weekly or monthly popular magazines. Below are some examples of things to avoid:

• Periodicals like National Enquirer, People, The Onion

• Websites expressing extreme political views or articles in propaganda materials trying to recruit people to specific ideologies.

• Popular television or radio shows, novels, and personal websites.

Some alternatives, that are monitored by the academic community and whose information is typically reviewed by other scholars:

• Journals and other publications with articles by scholars that have been peer-reviewed by other experts on the subject.

• Magazines published by national professional organizations (like the National Association of Music Educators, etc.)

• Sites hosted by the United Nations, a state, federal, or foreign government, national or international scientific associations, or other organizations that are nationally or internationally recognized (like the American Red Cross or the Nature Conservancy)