Peirce College Library :: When to Cite


Avoiding Plagiarism and Citing your Sources

When do you have to cite your sources?

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism Case Study: A Tale of Two Papers

Further Information about Plagiarism and Citation


When do you have to cite your sources?

  • When you quote something, you must give credit by citing your source.

  • When you copy something word-for-word, you must give credit by citing your source.

  • When you paraphrase someone's ideas, you must give them credit by citing your source

  • When you summarize someone's ideas, you must give them credit by citing your source

What is plagiarism?

  • Copying or paraphrasing another's words without documenting (or citing) your source.

  • Stating or summarizing another's ideas or opinions without documenting your source.

  • Downloading something from the Internet, including a graphic, and then using it
    in your paper without documenting your source.

  • Making a copy of someone else's paper and then handing it in as your own.

  • Paying for or otherwise obtaining a paper or presentation, and then handing it in as your own
    (this includes, of course, papers written by friends and fellow students).

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Plagiarism Case Study: A Tale of Two Papers

Take, for example, the student who must write a paper about Tuvalu, a small country.
The paper must include a brief description of the country's location, a picture of the country's flag, and a discussion about a current event or newsworthy item. Imagine that the student located a flag on the Web and a periodical in an EbscoHost database, and then wrote the following small papers:

Here is an example of an unacceptable student paper

Tuvalu is a small island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Two-thirds of the 11,000 inhabitants depend on subsistence farming for all their income, yet there are no streams or rivers. Rainfall is the only source of freshwater. Unfortunately, because Tuvalu lies only 15 feet above sea level, the islander's crops-even their very homes-are now threatened by global warming. More frequent cyclones and higher tides, both of which are caused by increasing global temperatures, are leading to flooding and coastal erosion. The people are very frightened. Should the end come for Tuvalu, its inhabitants may be able to flee to New Zealand or some other country, but this is by no means certain.

This flag illustrates Tuvalu's geography and history. The British Flag, in the upper left-hand corner, shows that Tuvalu was once a colony of Great Britain. The yellow stars on a blue background represent Tuvalu's many little islands spread out across the Pacific Ocean. What a shame it would be for such a proud country to simply sink beneath the waves!

What's wrong with this paper?

  1. All of the red portions indicate that the student copied directly from the EbscoHost article. Without quotes around the copied parts, and without using proper in-text citation, the student has plagiarized.
  2. In fact, the student didn't cite the EbscoHost article at all. How is the reader to know where the student got this information? Even if the student has not copied exact words from the article, acknowledgement of the ideas and facts borrowed from the article is still necessary.
  3. The student did not cite the source of the Tuvaluan flag.
  4. There is no list of works cited.

Example of a properly cited student paper:

The small island country of Tuvalu, population 11,000, is threatened economically and demographically by global warming. "The weather has grown more tempermental, with lengthening droughts and more frequent cyclones, and seas have risen. At their highest point the islands lie only 15 feet about sea level, so flooding and coastal erosion have become commonplace. As seawater seeps into the soil and wells, it is turning the water table salty, endagering crops such as taro, the islanders' mainstay of life" (Glausiusz para. 1). The author goes on to state that should life in the islands grow more difficult, and evacuation become necessary, it is by no means certain that the people will be allowed to flea to New Zealand or some other country (Glausiusz para. 3).

This flag illustrates Tuvalu's geography and history. The British flag, in the upper left-hand corner, indicates that Tuvalu was once a colony of Great Britain. The yellow stars on a blue background represent Turvalu's many little islands spread out across the Pacific Ocean ("Tuvalu"). What a shame it would be for such a proud country to simply sink beneath the waves!


Fig. 1. Flag of Tuvalu. "Tuvalu." The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 29 Sept. 2010.
Web. 18 Oct. 2010 <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tv.html>.

Works Cited

Glausiusz, Josie. "New Pacific Migration." Discover. May 2002: 76.

Academic Search Elite. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Tuvalu."The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.

29 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010 <https://www.cia.gov/

library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tv.html>.

What's right about this paper?

  1. Quotation marks: The student properly used quotation marks to indicate when sentences were copied directly from the source.
  2. In-text citation: The student provides citations to the original source materials. In the text, the citations come at the end of the borrowed ideas, words, or sentences.
  3. Citation of the graphic: The student remembers to cite the source of the flag.
  4. List of works cited: The student includes an alphabetical list of all sources quoted, paraphrased or summarized. If this were a real research paper, the list of works cited would be at the end of the paper, and begin on a separate sheet of paper.

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Still have more questions? Check out the websites below or consult the
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
, 7th edition.

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab: Avoiding Plagiarism

Duke Univeristy Library's Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

Georgetown University's Honor Counil: What is Plagiarism?

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