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Citing Sources: Plagiarism: The Basics

Information and guidance for avoiding plagiarism. Links to online resources including citation generators and plagiarism checkers.

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Plagiarism: A Definition

Plagiarism is the use of another's words and ideas without giving credit and claiming them as your own.

Most cases of plagiarism by college students are unintentional and due to mistakes or misunderstandings about how to cite properly.

This guide will help with citing a variety of sources and using in-text citations.

If you didn't write it, you have to cite it.

For a fuller explanation of plagiarism and best practices on how to avoid it, visit Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) website Avoiding Plagiarism

Types of Plagiarism

  • Submitting another’s work as your own.
  • Copying or rephrasing another’s work and not acknowledging the source.
  • Using another’s idea or argument as your own without recognition of the source.
  • Using text or information from Artificial Intelligence (AI), such as ChatGPT, without acknowledgement and claiming it as your own.
  • Using a paper you wrote previously and resubmitting for another class (self-plagiarism.

Citation Help

Librarians and Tutors are here to help you to cite your sources correctly and avoid plagiarism.

Library Databases, which are used to find articles, also provide tools to create citations. When looking at the document page, click cite to generate a citation in various styles. Always consult with your instructor if you need to double-check the citation against the official style guide.

Online Resources to help with creating citations and organizing your references/bibliography:

Plagiarism Checkers

Getting Citations from Databases

Omnivore, Google Scholar, and library databases will provide citations for sources.

Search to find books and articles. Click CITE.  Select a Citation Style. Copy & paste or export. Proofread using the instructions on this guide.

Easily generate and copy a citation with the CITE button in Omnivore  


Online Citation Generators

Always proofread the citations from a generator to check for errors, such as punctuation, capitalization, or dates

When To Cite

  • When quoting text directly from a source.
  • When you reword or paraphrase sentences or phrases from a source.
  • When summarizing a particular idea or argument.
  • When using facts, data, or information from a source.
  • When using information or text written by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool, such as, ChatGPT.

  • If you are unsure, check with your instructor.

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is factual information that is widely known and accepted and does not need to be cited.

  • Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president.
  • The sky is blue.
  • Broccoli is a vegetable.

Common knowledge can vary by your field of study.  What a science major knows as common knowledge may not be familiar to a business major.  Check with your instructor if you are unsure of whether or not something is truly common knowledge.


If you want to use the following original source information from Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, page 15:

Milk has been especially valued for two nutritional characteristics: its richness in calcium and both the quantity and quality of its protein.  Recent research has raised some fascinating questions about each of these.

Use a Quotation

To quote it directly:

“Milk has been especially valued for two nutritional characteristics: its richness in calcium and both the quantity and quality of its protein.  Recent research has raised some fascinating questions about each of these" (McGee 15).

Paraphrase or Summarize

To rephrase it:

Historically, milk has been prized for two nutritional properties: an abundance of calcium and the amount and quality of its protein although recent research raises some intriguing questions about both of these claims. (McGee 15)

These are examples of in-text citations using MLA Style and will lead the reader to the original source on the Works Cited page.

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