Inver Hills Community College - IHCC

Citing Your Sources

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Module 7: Citing Your Sources
You made it to the last module!  When you have completed this module, you should be able to:
  • describe when to cite sources used in your work
  • recognize different parts of a citation
  • list ways to avoid plagiarism
  • understand the reasons for copyright
Why Cite?
When you research a topic you may use information from articles, books, or the Web to support your ideas. However, you must credit the original authors of these sources by citing them. To cite means that you state where you found the information so that others can find the exact item again. In this way we build upon the ideas and knowledge of other people.

Tips for researching and citing:
  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas.
  • Write down the complete citation information for each item you use.
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas.

Parts of a Citation
Parts of a Citation

As you do your research, keep a list of your sources -- books, periodicals, and the Web. Below is the type of information you need to write down for a citation with each of its important parts labeled.  Remember, too, that the Library Catalog and the aticle databases you access through the Library will create a citation for you. 

                 Citation of a book

   Citation of an article from a periodical
         Citation of a web page
Citation Styles
There are a number of different styles or formats for citations. Which style you use depends upon the subject discipline you are working in. If you are uncertain about which style to use, ask your professor.

Each style includes the same basic parts of a citation, but may organize them slightly differently. The most common citation styles used at Inver Hills are:
  • MLA, Modern Language Association: The MLA style is often used by students in languages and English. 
  • APA, American Psychological Association: The APA style is often used by students in the social sciences.

Use these online guides for help on citing a variety of sources:
  (All OWL sites produced by the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University)
Plagiarism is presenting the words or ideas of someone else as your own without proper acknowledgment of the source. If you don't credit the author, you are committing a type of theft called plagiarism. When you work on a research paper you will probably find supporting material for your paper from works by others. It's okay to use the ideas of other people, but you do need to correctly credit them.

When you quote people -- or even when you summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles, or Web pages -- you must acknowledge the original author. It is plagiarism when you:
  1. Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
  2. Cut and paste passages from the Web, a book, or an article and insert them into your paper without citing them. Warning! It is now easy for professors and instructors to search and find passages that have been copied from the Web.
  3. Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them.
  4. Paraphrase that person's words without citing them.
Five Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism
  1. First, use your own ideas. It should be your paper and your ideas that should be the focus.
  2. Use the ideas of others sparingly -- only to support or reinforce your own argument.
  3. When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use.
  4. Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
  5. A good strategy is to take 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. It will help you think through what you want to say and help prevent your being too dependent upon your sources.

It's against school policy to plagiarize. Don't let it affect your education!  Here is the Inver Hills Community College Academic Integrity Policy.
Copyright insures that the person who created something -- whether a book or a piece of music -- is reimbursed for his or her intellectual work.  If there were no copyright protection, there would be no economic incentive to create these works.  Look for this symbol to see if a work is copyrighted.   ©

A copyright is a set of legal rights that an author has over his or her work for a limited period of time. Copyright covers everything from using images or sound files from the Web to photocopying.

Most information is protected by copyright. The exception is work that is in the "public domain," which can be reproduced or used by anyone. However, you must still credit the author. Some examples of public domain sources:
Public Domain Sources                                                                   Examples
Publications of the U.S. Government   U.S. laws and other publications of the Federal government, the U.S. Constitution
Copyright has been waived by the author.   Software called freeware
Works on which the copyright has expired   Works by William Shakespeare
Try these games to test your knowledge about citation and plagiarism.  Enjoy!

Goblin Threat
Game by Mary J. Snyder Broussard, Lycoming College in Williamsport, VA

MLA Drag and Drop Citation Exercise  

APA Drag and Drop Citation Exercise

Practice creating MLA or APA citations for a book, scholarly article, periodical, lecture, interview.  Click on the forward arrow or the Index button for more examples.
Created by the University of Washington.  
Wrap Up

You have completed Citing Sources and should be able to:
  • describe when to cite sources used in your work
  • recognize different parts of a citation
  • list ways to avoid plagiarism
  • understand the reasons for copyright

Congratulations! You have completed the Library Research Tutorial!   But before you go,  let us know what you think of the tutorial.  At the top of this page, find the blue box, Talk Back! and tell us.


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