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How To: Cite Your Sources


What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when someone uses someone else's ideas, or work and doesn't acknowledge where it came from. In essence, they try to pass those ideas off as their own (OED). One thing to remember is that even if someone else's words are being used unintentionally it is still plagiarism.

How do I avoid plagiarizing (even accidentally)?

The first thing to do to ensure that you don't plagiarize (even accidentally) is to cite every idea that isn't yours.

It is ok to take people's ideas and reword them, but you still have to cite the original person. 

A few tips from the Harvard College Writing Program to help ensure that you don't plagiarize:

  • Keep track of your sources--use something like Zotero to keep yourself organized
  • Quote your sources properly--always use quotation marks for direct quotes, even if it's really short
  • Do your citations as you go along--so you know you haven't forgotten any (don't save them for the end)
  • Avoid reading your classmate's work for inspiration--you'll need to cite them for their ideas too
  • Paraphrase carefully--acknowledge your sources explicitly and maintain the integrity of their ideas
  • Plan ahead--research often takes longer than you think and it is easy to get careless and sloppy when you are rushing

If you would like some additional resources related to avoiding plagiarism or the best practices for quoting and paraphrasing, check these out:

Here at HWS

The Colleges take academic integrity and plagiarism very seriously. These policies are explained in great detail in the:

The Writing Fellows at the CTL and the Writing Colleague assigned to your class are all happy to help you appropriately quote, paraphrase, and use sources in your papers.

Plagiarism Tutorials