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Citing Sources and Preventing Plagiarism

Introduction

Outside sources are often a requirement for your papers and projects. The library can help you locate books, articles, and other materials to meet your needs, but that's only the first step.

Once you have located them you still have to use the sources responsibly. The main component to this is citing the sources correctly.

This tutorial will help you understand the purpose of a citation and how to create one for a bibliography or work cited page.

Where to Start

The purpose of each citation is to indicate where the information came from, and to provide the reader with enough information to access the original source. The type of source can effect the citation, but typically every citation requires the following information:

  • Author
  • Title (of book, article, or journal)
  • Publisher
  • Publication date
  • Page numbers
  • Volume and issue number (for journals)
  • URL (if a web source)
  • Database name (if from a library database)
  • Access date (if its an electronic source)

In a print book or journal, most of this can be found at the beginning of the source:

 

Title page of the book The World Without Us

 

 Image of the publication information inside a book

 

 

In online databases, the article's record (what you see when you first discover the article) should contain all the necessary information:

Citation information from article

Citations: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Video from North Carolina State University Library

Citation Generators

To transform the above information into a proper citation, you'll need to consult the appropriate style guide. The library has copies of each guide available for use. You also may want to use one of the many citation management/generator tools that are available either for free or a subscription fee.

A word of caution when using tools such as those listed below. Don't assume that the citation is correct, instead always verify the citation before turning in your paper. Glitches and uncommon formatting can cause trouble for these automatic generators.

 

Many library databases also include an automatic citation option. This is normally indicated by a quotation mark symbol. If you're using the library's Discovery system to find articles, you are able to use the citation function directly through there. This is a great resource, but remember to proofread the citation. Notice here how the citation created reads "INSERT-MISSING-URL". 

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